The Marketing Institute: What does a Commercial Manager do?
Evan Arkwright: I am in the office early and during our racing season, which this year includes 18 race days between now and September, days are particular long. With the development project now full steam ahead, there doesn’t seem to be any down time. My role is wide and varied but predominantly a mixture of sales, marketing, public relations and communications. But as part of a small team, you get to learn how to multi-task.
An important objective is to make The Curragh a venue that people want to do business with, as well as an entertainment venue to attract people to come for a fun day out. There is plenty going on as we finalise our plans for the very busy summer ahead but I always have one eye on the new development, which will be completed by the end of 2018. This will open up a huge number of opportunities for the racecourse.
MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?
E.A: Horse racing is a global sport and Ireland is recognised as a world leader. This opens up great opportunities for Irish people to pursue a career in the horse racing industry and travel the world to gain valuable experience.
I have worked in various roles in the horse racing industry in Ireland and abroad but working in the UAE with the Emirates Racing Association and Dubai Racing Club gave me my first real exposure working as part of a racecourse team. I joined the Curragh in 2003 and the responsibilities that were part of my initial role have expanded as the commercial business of the racecourse has developed.
MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
E.A: The racecourse has commenced a very exciting journey and the new development is a huge challenge and one that I am really looking forward to. Our business will be transformed and diversify from just a racing venue to one that will be multi purpose, giving us opportunities to attract the interest of major brands and corporate names as well as enhancing our partnerships with existing sponsors. There is always going to be pressure to ensure we deliver on people’s expectations when it is completed but the whole racecourse team is very focused on delivering a world-class facility and one that will strengthen the very historic Curragh brand.
MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?
E.A: The horse racing world has a diverse number of stake holders so communication skills are crucial.
The ability to be innovative and creative when pitching proposals to potential sponsors and partners is also essential, as well as the ability to multitask, as you never know what each day might throw at you. Loyalty and commitment are also important attributes.
MII: Describe a typical working day.
E.A: No day is the same at the Curragh – I am usually in work by 8.30am and depending on the time of year, I could still be in the office well into the evening. Race days are all at weekends so once the season starts, a seven-day week is not unusual. The week is packed full of meetings with regards to planning, event management, sponsors and partners, liaising with our agencies and lots more! Race days are all about ensuring the customer experience is at its best and our sponsors maximise their association with us.
MII: What do you love most about your role?
E.A: I enjoy the variety of tasks and dealing with a great mix of interesting people.
I have a huge interest in horse racing so working at The Curragh sometimes doesn’t feel like work!
MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?
E.A: The exciting opportunities that the new development will create commercially for the racecourse are unlimited and there will be a whole lot more challenges as the venue evolves into a multi-purpose facility, which I am certainly looking forward to.
MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
E.A: From our horse racing point of view, John Magnier is unsurpassed with regards to what he has achieved for Irish racing and enhancing the reputation of Ireland on the global stage.
I also admire people like Padraig Duffy and Phillip Browne for what they have accomplished for their sports and Irish business people such as Michael O’Leary, Michael Smurfit, Margaret Heffernan, Denis OBrien, Luke and Brian Comer and JP McManus who have achieved so much for Ireland’s international reputation.
You can read all the A Day in the Life features here.