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How teamwork can overcome the hardest challenges

Croydon President Andrew McKenzie-Smart reflects on a summer of fantastic teamwork, on the football pitch, the racing circuit or in charitable organisations.

Andrew McKenzie-Smart

August 2018

Over the past couple of months I have seen numerous examples of positive teamwork and management in action.

The first was the Thames Valley District Society Annual Dinner at the Williams F1 Conference Centre in Grove Oxfordshire. This was a wonderful event and I enjoyed being able to sit in a Formula One car, possibly the first to do so wearing a kilt!

Scott Garrett, the former commercial manager at Williams F1 explained that teamwork is so vital to a Formula One team that they employ a ‘teamwork manager’, whose role is to ensure there is a strong bond between the five hundred staff. Their role is to ensure that the entire focus of the personnel is to make the six cars that they build each year go as fast as possible, as frequently as possible.

He gave an example where one of the Williams cars had a failure to complete a Grand Prix due to a problem with a £10 component of the braking system. The failure meant that none of the five hundred staff earned their win bonus for the race. A considerable sum for each member of the staff to forego. However, due to the excellent team work and management at Williams F1, rather than being disgruntled at the staff who had failed to ensure the component was able to withstand heat to a level achieved in the race, the team rallied round to ensure that the component did not fail again.

Scott’s annual challenge was that each year he would need to raise £120m for the expected racing budget. If there was a single pound left at the end of the year, then they could have used that money to make the car go faster.

My second example of teamwork is drawn from the recent World Cup - England went further into the tournament than anyone expected. Their achievements have gone beyond merely the football they have played, but also provided a unifying banner under which the country has rallied.

In football terms, they have also succeeded where many England teams have failed and brought together 23 well remunerated individuals into a unified squad. During the World Cup, many former England players described how their club affiliations and rivalries have not been overcome when playing for their country. This year Gareth Southgate and his management team have been able to overcome these traditional rivalries with outstanding success.

In social terms, the country has benefited from £30m in additional GDP from the positive World Cup campaign. It has also benefited from the ‘feel good’ factor.

Finally, the last example I have of excellent teamwork was drawn from the charities who were raising funds from the ICAEW District Society dinners in Newmarket and at the Grove.

At the East Anglian Annual Dinner, the Injured Jockeys Fund was the chosen charity by Laragh Jeanroy, President of the East Anglian Society of Chartered Accountants. The chief executive of the charity explained how the fund was a benevolent association for those in the horse racing community who are sadly injured or disabled.

Frequently, the only skills or abilities that such an individual may have is the ability to ride a thoroughbred. When injured there is a considerable need for rehabilitation, counselling and physiotherapy.

The Thames Valley Dinner hosted local charity Helen and Douglas House, which provides end of term hospice care for babies, children and young adults in the Oxfordshire and surrounding areas. We listened intently as the charity set out their need to raise £3m annually to meet the needs of the families suffering with the challenges of looking after a terminally ill baby or child.

If you would like to know more about the charities mentioned in this article please contact them via the following webpages:

Andrew McKenzie-Smart is President of ICAEW Chartered Accountants Croydon

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