As James Cole marks his 12 month anniversary with Alliance and TA6, we put the questions to him that really matter! James joined the team last May, moving from his previous role as commercial director at 1Life. Over the past year James has developed his role in the team as Head of Partnerships and continues to make an impact with his clients.
What’s been your most memorable moment over the last 12 months?
It’s been an enjoyable 12-months and working with Woody, you are never too far away from a ‘memorable moment’! In terms of highlight, It was a real honour and privilege to join the team on stage at the ukactive awards when Alliance scooped the Supplier of the Year Award. It was recognition of the great team we have and Alliances commitment to the sector’s ‘Decade of Change’ ambitions, sustainability, decarbonisation and innovation within the sector.
Have you had any achievements that are worthy of mention?
Our success is dependent on our partners success. We pride ourselves on making an impact, leaving a legacy and being results-driven. Like many organisations within the sector, we have partners that faced unprecedented challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic with membership and revenue declining significantly. Many organisations have demonstrated resilience and optimism with their post covid recovery, but with rising expenditure and the cost-of-living crisis, the challenge to operate a sustainable service delivery model remains a strategic priority and continued challenge. I am proud of the collective impact and success the team has had through a true collaborative working approach with our partners. We estimate that we have generated 60,000 membership sales (worth around £15m of revenue) in the last 12-months, with many partners reporting 20%+ growth in revenue.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have 3 beautiful children under the age of 5. As you can imagine, my day always start off with me feeling incredibly reenergised after a good nights sleep, relaxed after a nice calm breakfast and blissfully content after a leisurely, on-time, stress-fee nursery run! … My day starts off hectic and with plenty of coffee consumption!
My working day varies a lot. We support our partners in many ways, some of which are done face-to-face or working remotely. I really the value the opportunity to collaborate with partners and the Alliance team – that is when we achieve our best results. My day typically involves working on projects that relate to creative design, branding, people development, facility and product development, digital advertising or customer excellence. I always try and get some form of physical activity in each day and that is super important to me! Line managing the marketing team gives me a lot of satisfaction as they’re great to work with and so productive on behalf of our clients. Normally managing teams can be frustrating , but I really enjoy it.
Describe working for Alliance in 3 words.
Alliance Leisure thrives on a work hard, play hard philosophy! But for me it’s been more about a work-life balance that compliments the busy homelife that comes with a young family. As for just 3 words, I’ll pick three of our eight core values that really align with this balance;
Innovative – Professional – Fun
What are the current trends in the sector that are affecting your role the most?
We have a mantra in TA6 which is Meet People Where They Are. This is one of many mantras that TA6 adopt when working with our partners. It guides us to make sure we are expertise that is totally relevant to the communities that our partners serve, their target audience and current consumer trends. We are also obsessed about innovation. We are constantly looking at what is next and how we can bring new and innovative products, ideas and ways-of-working to our partners. I think one of the biggest – and most welcome – trends in the sector is the ongoing pivot to a more holistic approach to community health and wellbeing. Many organisations are strategising a repositioning of the traditional offer of public leisure into an active wellbeing service, doing more to create healthier and more active communities. The Sport Industry Research Centre study into the Social and economic value of community sport and physical activity in England show that for every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity in England, an economic and social return on investment of £3.91 is generated. Considering physical health benefits, mental wellbeing uplifts and economic development – the contribution was found to benefit some £85.5 billion to the English economy and society. We are working with many forward-thinking organisations that have social, health and economic value sitting at the heart of everything they do. Leisure must be sustainable, but this can be achieved through much more than just gym memberships and swimming lessons.
You’ve got a free weekend, what are you doing?
Live sport! I love attending and watching live sport. Football is my main passion, but I love my boxing, cricket, tennis etc.
Have you got a bucket list, and can you share something from it?
My bucket list features a lot of live sport! I would really like to travel and attend many games at a football World Cup, attend a Super Bowl, watch the ashes in Australia etc. I’m an Aston Villa fan – I may be waiting a little while until I can attend a European Cup final!
What does the rest of 2023 hold for you both professionally and personally?
The team are working on some exciting projects this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing the impact. Alliance Leisure are working with North Yorkshire Council delivered using the UK Leisure Framework (UKLF) to provide new modern and energy-efficient leisure facilities at the Hydro in Harrogate and in Knaresborough. The centres are both due to open in 2023 and we are excited to be supporting them with the launch. We are also working in partnership with North Easy Derbyshire Council on the development of a new leisure centre in Clay Cross and Mansfield Council who will be opening Warsop Health Hub later in the year. We have enjoyed supporting Southwark Council with their leisure insourcing project and we will be commencing a similar project with neighbouring authority Tower Hamlets Council. Personally, I’m trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eating right, getting plenty of exercise in and trying to limit my nights out! I’m also very excited to be able to watch Aston Villa play European football for the first time since 2010!
We asked some of the team for their thoughts on working with James over the past 12 months. Here’s what they had to say…