Foster plans to bring business approach to JOA
Newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Ryan Foster, says elevating sports as a business in this country and making his mark on the Olympic movement were key among reasons impacting his move from the corporate world.
Foster held the position of CEO at another Brand Jamaica company, Tastee Limited, which he led in the last six years to unprecedented profitability and market dominance, as evidenced by corporate awards such as the JCC award for Best Medium- sized Company 2016, Jamaica Observer Food Award 2017, and HACCP Certification 2013.
"The decision to move from Tastee Limited was not an easy one. Tastee is an iconic household name, and I have been blessed to have been a part of that family," he said.
"However, this opportunity is an exciting one, one in which I am now part of a new family, with the ability to make my contribution to the Jamaican sporting landscape and not only to continue the esteemed tradition, but to also create my own mark on the Olympic movement."
Foster added: "The board of the JOA made it clear in our discussions that they wanted a business approach to sports governance, an individual who can transcend borders and create wealth for the JOA brand, while leveraging our assets to expand our corporate reach and support."
His experience in both areas are strengthened by key roles at Grace, Kennedy, another Brand Jamaica company, where his last role was as head business Development for Hardware and Lumber Ltd, plus the Jamaica Paralympic Association and his alma mater, Wolmer's Boys' School, as head of its sports fundraising committee, among other things.
He has listed a number of strategic issues that will take priority in his role at the JOA.
They are increased participation in all Olympic sports across all demographics, both in competitive and recreational activities, especially among young people; a sustainable and inclusive training framework that promotes strong relationships with all stakeholders; a sustainable high-performance system that ensures consistent, best performance at the international level; introduction of a national competition structure that engages athletes, coaches, officials, the media and the public and which raises the profile of Olympic sports; the reduction of reliance on government funding for associations through the identification and exploitation of a range of commercial opportunities; implementation of a finance and treasury policy that supports the financial reporting needs and welfare of the JOA; establishment of a commercial arm of the JOA; engagement of new and expansion of existing sponsorships/partners for the JOA, member associations and athletes; develop and establish an organisational structure that supports the vision of the JOA and improves the reporting, governance and accountability of the JOA; the introduction of an exchange programme for our athletes with external stakeholders such as universities and other no-objection certificates to gain expertise where they currently don't exist, and improving the physical infrastructure to support the vision of expanding the revenue model of the JOA to earn from fees, selling of artifacts, rental income, training facility, and a location for members to house seminars.
"Gone are the days when our sporting associations are more interested in trying to pay a bill," he pointed out. "The budget of these sporting associations collectively may amount to over $500 million, and that's a business."
In terms of monetising sporting Jamaica's assets, Foster said: "We need to expand the sponsorships and the partnerships of our sporting associations and the JOA. Our member associations tend to become over-reliant on Government funding and a few corporate sponsors.