Vice President | NBC Sports Next, United Kingdom and Ireland
The First Call: What is your company name?
Fiona Hampton: BRSGolf by GolfNow, a division of NBC Sports Next.
TFC: Please give us a short overview of your company.
FH: We are the leading providers of tee-sheet management systems to golf course partners and the provider of tee-time booking platforms, enabling millions of golfers to book their round of golf online.
TFC: Where are you and your company located?
FH: Our international HQ is located in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
TFC: In one sentence, describe what you do for a living.
FH: I oversee the roll out of strategies across our core business functions, overseeing all day-to-day operations, being responsible for P&L and, most importantly, championing our people and our culture on which our business success is built.
TFC: What time do you wake in the morning, and what time do you typically start the workday?
FH: I am normally up by 7 a.m. and always start the day with a good breakfast, and then walk the dog. My role within the company means that I work across three different time zones, which are the U.K., U.S. and Australia, where we have recently entered the market. It means I can be on a call early with Australia or late with colleagues in the U.S. My job requires a lot of flexibility throughout the day, but I don't mind because it can go both ways. When I need to go pick my kids up from their sports activities, I have the flexibility to do this. It works for me.
TFC: What are key elements to leadership or to being a good leader?
FH: As a leader, I am focused on the people around me and how to develop them to truly be the best that they can be. Everything else really comes from this. Setting strategy and clear direction, communicating effectively, being equitable and fair, arming them with the knowledge and skills needed, giving them ownership, empowering them to make decisions, to challenge when needed and not to be afraid of contributing or failing. It’s a cliche, but you are only as good as the people around you, and good leaders will ensure they have done everything they can to make individual team members truly be a successful as they can be. Ultimately, that will help them succeed as a leader, though it can be hard to make this leap.
TFC: What changes, if any, have you made based on the events of the past year?
FH: My view on how effective and productive we can be in this new virtual landscape that the pandemic forced on us has changed significantly, and this will shape the company moving forward. I believe we can achieve more, be smarter and more effective by stopping and thinking, “What does this customer want?” “How do they want me to interact with them?” “What do both of us need to achieve from this?”
I have asked all our customer-facing teams to stop and think. The reality is there is a new way of working that embraces both the learnings from the pandemic and the standard approaches. We’re better if we don’t assume we already know but, instead, ask customers how they want to engage with us, which is really what we should have been doing all along!
TFC: What's the secret to your success?
FH: I am a big fan of ownership and accountability. I talk about it all the time. I ask it of people all the time. And that is what people will get from me — a clear understanding of what their role owns and the corresponding accountability for delivery. To me, it doesn't matter what level of role you are in or what your pay grade is, it is in our nature to want to take something, feel like we own it, have the right tools and to do it well.
A key part of this is you need to help them understand that it won't always be right or perfect, but that as long as they own the losses, as well as the wins, and learn from it, that it’s all right with me. Without this approach, I believe we’re doing our people a disservice and setting them and ourselves up for failure. I have operated like this from the start of my professional career and it has been a constant in my leadership style and deeply ingrained in my beliefs about what makes us tick.
TFC: Who is your role model?
FH: I don't have one. I have worked with a lot of very influential leaders throughout my career and I always make sure to take as many learnings as possible from every encounter — good and bad. I ask a lot of questions. My leadership style is likely a mix from a lot of people because, ultimately, you have to carve your own way to an authentic self that works for you.
TFC: Knowing what you know today, what professional advice would you give a younger you?
FH: Be kind. Take the time to be kind to yourself and to others. I regret that I learned this so late in my working life and that I didn't invest more time and energy into something that costs us nothing, yet delivers so much.
TFC: What’s the last book you read?
FH: "Educated" by Tara Westover. A really inspiring memoir of life in rural America, the power of the mind and, ultimately, survival against all the odds.
TFC: What’s the last movie you saw?
FH: I really can't remember. It feels so long ago when I last went to the cinema. I am more of a box set kind of girl anyway, so here is my top 5 — but if you are not into your gritty, often violent drama, this list isn't likely for you: "Breaking Bad," "The Wire," "Peaky Blinders," "¸Gomorrah," and "Boardwalk Empire."
TFC: What’s on your playlist?
FH: I have a playlist that varies wildly depending on the mood. It can go from Otis Reading to Oasis. At present, though, I am feeling starved of live music events and the ability to have a good night out, so my guilty pleasures are The Chainsmokers and Gerry Cinnamon, which I put on really loud in the car and let it all out.
TFC: When I’m not at work, you can find me ...
FH: At the seaside taking a walk on the beach with my dog, husband and three children.
TFC: What is your greatest extravagance?
FH: The two ski holidays I take every year, irrelevant of cost or time, are not up for debate. I absolutely love the feeling of being high up in the French Alps, with nothing but the sound of silence all around you as you as you sit in that chair lift, and then the simple sound of skis in the snow as you carve your way down the mountain again. There is nothing quite like it to clear the mind and cleanse the soul. It is true also that champagne is even more amazing at 3,000 feet.
TFC: What was your path to the golf industry?
FH: I have worked in events and sport for over 18 years now and it is my general love of sport that brought me into the golf industry. My previous role was as director of sales and marketing for Ulster Rugby, a professional rugby team in Ireland. After nine years there I knew if I was ever to leave it would have to be to a role that I could continue to combine a passion in using the power of sport for good, alongside my skill set in driving and delivering company strategy. I feel really lucky every day to be in the role I am in.
TFC: What are the favorite golf courses you have played?
FH: I am not a good enough golfer to play my favorite golf courses. It doesn't stop me though, as I enjoy walking some of the stunning courses in Ireland, so will carry the bag, take in the scenery and enjoy the craic at the 18th. Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale has to be my favorite location, perched literally on a cliff edge. I am happy to not stress about hitting that fairway. I will leave that to the proper golfers.
TFC: Which golf courses do you belong to?
FH: Holywood Golf Club, home of Rory McIlroy. It is a very welcoming club situated on the hills overlooking Belfast Lough. My two boys are junior members, so I do enjoy playing nine holes with them or helping score them round the junior competitions.