10 Questions: Ian Simon

September 1, 2018

As executive director of Tyne & Wear Sport, Ian Simon is responsible for the overall management and strategic development for the charitable organisation that supports those who run sport in the region. Ian started his career in 1985 with Middlesbrough Council before moving north in 1998 to become head of leisure services at Chester-le-Street District Council. He joined Tyne & Wear Sport in 2006

What was your first break in business?

Immediately after graduating I worked at a family-run tree nursery near York. It was physically hard but very fulfilling. One day I received a telephone call from a university friend about a job opportunity in Middlesbrough to co-ordinate the summer playscheme programme that he thought would be perfect for me. I applied, was appointed and worked for Middlesbrough Council for the next 13 years.

What did you want to be growing up?

Not necessarily in chronological order: engine driver, firefighter, astronaut, professional footballer (goalkeeper), PE teacher and geomorphologist.

What attracted you to your current role?

Having worked for local authorities for 20 years I was looking for something different, but I wanted to remain within the sport/physical activity sector. In 2006, changes were being introduced to the network of county-based sport partnerships that had been created and continue to be supported by Sport England. These changes resulted in the creation of a new post to lead the Tyne & Wear partnership. I thought that this would provide an ideal opportunity to focus my energy on improving opportunities for everyone to play sport and become more physically active. Sport has provided me with many opportunities throughout my life and I’ve always been eager to help others to benefit in a similar way.

What is your organisation’s mission?

To increase the quantity, improve the quality and widen access to sport and physical activity to improve lives in Tyne & Wear.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Tyne & Wear Sport is a small charity; we have ten people in the team. I think it would be arrogant of me to assume that I get the best out of my colleagues although, as I have throughout my career, I’m very fortunate to work with a group of highly talented, dedicated and hardworking professionals. I’ve an unerring belief in the need to be open and honest with people, I think that people develop and grow when they are given a challenge and they have the resources and authority to meet that challenge, but they also need to be confident that you will be there for them should they need your support.

What has been your career highlight?

In the past 30 years I’ve had many rewarding and satisfying experiences that include contributing to the staging of the first Test Match held at the Riverside Cricket Ground in 2003 and establishing Tyne & Wear Sport as a charity that has become widely respected for the services we provide. My greatest satisfaction is derived from helping others to grow and develop to reach their potential.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Meeting my own expectations and not disappointing people – colleagues, friends and family.

Who or what inspires you?

My father.

What are Tyne & Wear Sport’s short and long-term goals?

Our short and long-term goals are to reduce levels of inactivity. Approximately 270,000 adults in Tyne & Wear – almost 28 per cent of the adult population – do not meet Government recommendations of 30 moderate intensity equivalent minutes of physical activity per week. That’s not good for them, society or the economy.

How do you achieve a good work/life balance?

I swim most mornings before work, kayak once a week and have a couple of sea kayaking trips each year with my paddling pals (mainly to the West Coast of Scotland), and spend as much time as possible with my family.

Tyne & Wear Sport

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