Posted by Editor on 08/16/06
Steve Lacelle Interview
Steve Lacelle is leaving the Canadian Cycling Association at the end of August after approximately 18 months as the COO (Chief Operating Officer). We spoke with Mr Lacelle earlier today about his tenure at the CCA.
Canadian Cyclist - This seemed to come out of the blue; there was no inkling that you were moving on!
Steve Lacelle - Quite honestly, it happened really fast; within six weeks, right after Road Nationals. I had a few offers in the Spring, and I turned them down. I wasn't ready and the organization (CCA) wasn't ready. I wasn't looking - I was headhunted - it just happened.
I called Pierre (Blanchard, CCA President) August 2nd and let him know, we talked about it. My fiancé and I thought about it long and hard, but this is the best thing for me and the organization (CCA).
(Note: Mr Lacelle did not want to mention the company he is going to, because that company is not ready to announce his appointment yet)
CC - Why do you say this is good for the CCA?
SL - I think a lot of the dirty work is done, and that's the stuff I am good at. The organization is now ready for a more recognizable figure. They won't have to deal with the financial stuff (ie, the clean up); that is all done.
I have talked to the Board to ensure that there is a good transition. I will help who(m)ever takes over in the next few months as a volunteer; up to the AGM if necessary. Someone like a Ken Read (skiing) would be good.
CC - When will the replacement search begin.
SL - I believe it will start as early as next week. I can tell you that the dirty work is done, and the list of candidates the Board is looking at is going to be strong; there's some impressive names there already.
CC - What would you say are your major accomplishments at the CCA?
SL - First of all, we cleared up the financials. '05/06 will see revenues up to $3.1 million, which is in line with projections. I also think we implemented a sound organizational structure, and this has allowed the hiring of discipline-specific coaches. I believe that we (the CCA) have restored credibility with the PSOs (Provincial Sports Organizations), sponsors, Sport Canada and other key stake holders.
I'm pleased to see that a lot of good young riders are coming up. Karol-Anne Canuel's fifth place (Junior Worlds Road Race) is just one example.
CC - What do you feel hasn't yet been accomplished?
SL - We certainly didn't invest enough resources in our National Championship events, however, we have taken steps already to change that. I think we should also have committed more resources to outreach programs, to get kids in grassroots programs across the country, and we should have done more for coaching development for our up and coming coaches. But we had to prioritize, and we went for High Performance first.
CC - What sort of person do you think the CCA should be looking for in a replacement?
SL - I think they need someone more in the sport; it needs someone with more cycling experience, more technical experience in the sport. The business side is in good shape now, so a person with some cycling experience, someone with a media profile would be beneficial.
CC - Are you talking about an ex-athlete?
SL - Possibly, if the skill set is right, that's why I mentioned Ken Read, or a Pierre Lafontaine (swimming). The CCA needs someone now who can make a long term commitment - the pieces are in place, they need to pull it together.
CC - You came from the corporate world, into a sports organization and are going back to the business world. From your perspective, what do NSOs (National Sports Organizations) have to do better?
SL - That's a difficult question... They have to ensure that their house is in order, and do a better job on the business side. They need to show how partnerships will add value to the partner; most don't think about what they can offer the partner. It is a difficult situation, to offer the profile that business is looking for when you compare it to other opportunities like the arts and culture.
In cycling, what's happening in the UCI ProTour hasn't helped. Companies are leery of partnering - doping came up all the time when we would talk to companies. Cycling is going to have to set its sights lower; they won't land the one million dollar sponsors yet. It is going to be a matter of consistently building little wins. One way, is we are going to go for more regional partners for National Championships.
CC - Would you consider staying with cycling, possibly running for a spot on the Board?
SL - In the long term, yes, I would always consider it. I've grown to love the sport, and if I can stay involved, I will.
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