Graduate profile: Rupert Trevelyian
Subject of study: MBA
Year of graduation: 1994
Name of company/employer: Epsom Racecourse
Your current position/job title: Managing Director
WHAT DOES YOUR CURRENT ROLE INVOLVE?
Basically I run the racecourse; we have three main business areas: Racing 15 days including the Investec Derby, the world’s greatest horse race which was first run in 1780! We have Britain’s biggest prize - £1.5m - and Britain’s largest sporting crowd - over 130,000 - in 2010. Revenue comes from ticketing, sponsorship and hospitality.
We also have a 365-day-a-year four-star conferencing and events facility which can accommodate over 1000 day delegates, and an onsite hotel, which is run by a general manager on a day-to-day basis.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU?
There isn’t one! The great thing about this business is variation. Most days I arrive before eight and leave after seven, but the preparation for the Derby is full on for a month before, 18-hour days, seven days a week. I am responsible for all aspects of the business and I have a Finance Director and a Director of Racing that I share with Sandown Park and Kempton Park. The rest of the team are sales, operations, marketing and grounds staff.
HOW HAS YOUR CAREER DEVELOPED SINCE LEAVING WBS?
I have had a varied career since completing my MBA – four years in international brand development with Compass, four years in senior marketing roles for Centrica, three years running the marketing and passenger operations of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company followed by 13 months as interim Marketing Director and consultant for the Royal Horticultural Society.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY AND IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Yes I am not one for an easy life, moving into Centrica was moving into the utility sector and a real culture shock. After four years I wanted to get back into the cut and thrust of a leisure company, an environment I love. Going to the Isle of Man didn’t quite work out as I planned and I commuted every week which really put stress on my family life – the reason I left in the end. Working on an interim basis for the RHS opened my eyes to the possibility of working for an organisation like Jockey Club Racecourse, owners of 14 racecourses including Epsom Downs, Newmarket, Aintree and Cheltenham.
HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT WBS - THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL LIFE - SHAPED OR HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
To be honest I didn’t get the salary acceleration I hoped for straight away but it gave me the confidence to take on varied new challenges and I love what I am doing at the moment.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR STUDENTS AND FELLOW GRADUATES, EG TRENDS OR SKILLS REQUIRED IN YOUR FIELD?
Follow your heart, enjoy what you do, be ambitious and never stop believing in yourself. The most successful people succeed for a combination of reasons, but you have got to want it, and put in the work.
HOW FRIENDLY AND SUPPORTIVE AN ENVIRONMENT DID YOU FIND WBS?
I graduated in 1994, a long time ago now, but it was the support of my fellow students and my tutor Neil Botten that really made it a very worthwhile and challenging experience.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER OR PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE?
My current job is the job I love most; I could have done it ten years ago but Epsom Downs is a very special place, so it was worth the wait. The Investec Derby is a fantastic race. There is nothing in sport (in my experience) that rivals the roar of 130,000 people when the Derby starts at 4pm on the first Saturday of June. My ambition is simple: to once again stop the nation for the Derby. It is streamed in over 200 countries but it is a very English race and institution. I have got a lot to do. I also have ambitious plans to build the conferencing and events side of the business.
WHERE HAVE YOU TAKEN YOUR ADVICE AND INSPIRATION FROM?
My idols have been mainly sporting ones: Filbert Bayi (Tanzanian world mile record holder in the 70’s), John Walker, Steve Ovett and Daley Thompson; but there is one man who stands above the rest who is not a sportsman - Nelson Mandela. After all he went through, his magnanimity, statesmanship and charisma are unsurpassable. If I could be a fraction of the leader that Mandela is then I would be very proud.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I want to stick around at Epsom for a while, it is a great job and I have a lot to do. Then I want to buy a Land Rover and to drive down Africa at a leisurely pace using the great rift valley as my core route, stopping to climb Kilimanjaro, and visiting Africa’s great game reserves, (Serengeti, Luangwa, Kruger), visiting the large lakes and passing through the land of my birth, Zimbabwe, through to Botswana and the Okovango swamps into Namibia and down the Skeleton coast then, on down to Cape Town. After that I will need to find a new challenge - hopefully then I will be in a position to lead an MBI for an innovative Small or Medium Enterprise.