Goal! Breakfast with Rio Ferdinand
Accelerate kicked-off with a sprinkling of star power as Rio Ferdinand appeared live from Paris to speak to us over breakfast.
Now retired from professional football, Rio spends his time on a diverse range of interests: his eponymous foundation, which helps kids from deprived areas learn new skills and find jobs; Rosso, his upmarket restaurant in Manchester; his YouTube channel; a digital magazine called #5; and a football agency.
When making the transition from the pitch to the boardroom, he had the helping hand of his management team who acted as mentors. “Sometimes it’s nice to get someone else’s perspective who is outside your little bubble. There’s always some little gem or nugget that will help you out”, he said.
He went on to explain how he thinks it is important to create a culture where everyone in the business can be creative - and are not afraid to take calculated risks. “Understand that mistakes will be made, but if you’ve got the right ethos in the right place, it's all about allowing people to go out and make decisions.”
And finally, what can you learn about business by looking at football? Rio was speaking from Paris, just days after England crashed out of the second round of Euro 2016 after suffering a humiliating defeat at the feet of Iceland. He thinks the lesson is clear. “First, have a goal and target where you’re going. Then have a strategy to get there. That was England’s problem: they never had a strategy and never had an ethos. Iceland had a game-plan - they were well organised.”