“Results, results, results.” — 60 Seconds With: Niall Woods, MD, Navy Blue Sports

60 Seconds With | Tue 4 Dec | Author – Business & Finance
Niall Woods, MD, Navy Blue Sports

Niall Woods, MD, Navy Blue Sports takes on the Business & Finance 60-second interview challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

Lounge boy in the Stillorgan House pub when I was 14 for £4 an hour… learned some valuable lessons on customer service there!!

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Leaving a well paid job to start Navy Blue Sports in a depressed economy with a young family and a big mortgage has been one of my bravest decisions. So to make it a successful business would be my greatest achievement to date without wanting to rest on my laurels. Having been involved in the business of sport around the world over the last 28 years – from being a player, then an administrator and a media pundit to an agent – creating this agency was a natural progression for me. I knew my experience of representing players collectively in player unions perfectly positioned me to represent sports talent individually. I take great pride in the fact that we have attracted such a broad wealth of incredible sporting talent to the business (we currently look after 50 clients).

Q. In three words or fewer, how do you define success?

Results, results, results.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“There is no such thing as can’t”. My Dad drilled that into me at a very young age so I always remember it when people say they can’t do things. People told me I would never play for Ireland. I was capped at 22 years of age. Laterally people told me I would never make a business out of Navy Blue Sports. I’m still here 8 years later, almost 50 clients and continuing to grow the business successfully.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your team?

I have always used the saying “Winners Try Things” throughout my life so I use it the most when I am deflated or need inspiration. I use it to push myself sometimes on a daily basis and try to lead by example to my staff. That doesn’t have to be through words all the time, it can just be through action, getting things done or getting deals closed so they see it can be done and how it can be done. Also, we have only lost one client in eight years so there is plenty of motivation not to add to that!!

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?

I have always admired Brian O’Driscoll firstly as a pro sportsperson and how he managed the fame and everything that went with it especially as he was the first real “celeb” in Irish terms. How he conducted himself for someone so young initially and how he never let it affect him (the bleached hair aside!!) or how he performed in his job as a rugby player. Having watched him transition post rugby into a full on “personality” and businessman has been fascinating for me to see how he has done it as it is so important in my role. To see him bring the skills that made him so respected on a rugby pitch into a business environment so seamlessly is a rare talent. Why I would want to step into his shoes is easy… just to see how he does it.

Q. How do you relax?

A big part of my job is always being ‘on’. My clients needs must be met 24/7 so it can be hard to switch off. I’m lucky that I have such an understanding wife! When I can I get out cycling in the mountains to clear my head or on holidays will gladly sit drinking good coffee in the sunshine.

Q. What’s your motto?

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. My father again said this to us as kids growing up and it’s something I’ve always tried to live my life by.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future of your business?

Since we started we have enjoyed significant market penetration. We are the largest rugby agency in the country and manage the careers of some of the highest profile, as well as the most promising, sports men, women and media talent in the country including Ireland rugby internationals Garry Ringrose & Jordi Murphy, RTE’s leading sports presenter Darragh Maloney, soccer pundit Richie Sadlier, World Rugby’s Referee of the Year Joy Neville and one of Ireland’s best medal hopes in the next Olympics, Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe who is currently World No 3 in Modern Pentathlon. I have my sights firmly set on Navy Blue Sports becoming Ireland’s leading cross sports talent management agency in Ireland by 2020 and feel we are well on our way to making this goal a reality. It is my hope that we will continue to attract top sports athletes and personalities to add to our strong stable of clients.

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.