I’ve written before about the ‘partnership’ between Sanlam Private Wealth (SPW), one of the UK’s leading wealth and investment management firms, and Saracens. Yes, we know they sponsor the team but the relationship is so much more than that.
The 2 organisations have joined forces to involve their employees in a new training programme designed to accelerate the development of leadership capabilities in sportsmen and businessmen.
As far as Sanlam are concerned this is one of a number of initiatives they’re running as part of a longer term strategy to be an “Employer of Choice” in the UK.

The programme, which is run by the Foundation for Leadership through Sport (FLS) www.flsport.net will follow a unique ‘action learning’ strategy run over four months. Its point of difference is that it brings business and sportsmen together to learn from one another as well as drawing on experts from other areas such as the military.
Vic Luck of FLS, explains:
“This is a superb opportunity for sports and business figures to learn side by side, in a peer-to-peer way and so accelerate the development of leadership skills that are crucial to success in both sport and business. By bringing together individuals from different organisations, much cross sector learning is enabled to help build and accelerate leadership skills.

“Make no mistake, this is a serious, structured ‘learning through action’ programme, underpinned by practice in the workplace. This goes far deeper than events where you hear sportsmen share anecdotes on the secrets of how to win or get to the top. It focuses on immediate application in the workplace to improve team performance as well as develop leadership capabilities for the future”
Nine individuals from Sanlam Private Wealth have been selected to attend and they will work alongside household names from Saracens, including England fly half Charlie Hodgson, as well as the club’s emerging talent.
The programme itself consists of several workshops run over 4 months, at venues ranging from Saracens’ training ground at St Albans to a military establishment.
Between sessions, crucial learning and practice will continue in the workplace, with specific tasks designed to deepen and extend the training.

Modules at the workshops will include:
– An overview of the leadership process
– Developing awareness of personal style and its impact on others
– Communicating for effect
– Decision-making under pressure
– The dynamics of teams
– The production for all of a Personal Leader Development Plan, which will be the basis for further personal development after the programme

This is another example of the relationship between the 2 organisations being about so much more than an annual cheque. Two very different worlds learning together and from each other.

Alison Barwell, HR Director at Sanlam Private Wealth explained:
“We firmly believe that for effective leadership development, organisations must stretch themselves by looking outside their own business and team. However, to have the opportunity for our leaders and the players at Saracens to learn and develop side-by-side, takes this to a whole new and exciting, level. It will be really interesting to see what lessons are brought from the playing field into our business workplace.
“Saracens is a strong brand and one which, as a sponsor, we know well. Its focus on talent, work ethic, discipline and values resonates strongly with our culture at Sanlam Private Wealth. This Premiership club takes the development of its players as seriously as we do our own in-house talent and this is evident in its commitment to its players, both on and off the field. So when the opportunity was presented to us by Vic to develop our people in this collaborative way, we were excited instantly by the concept.”
Craig Massey, CEO of Sanlam Private Wealth added:
“Our recruitment process is driven by the desire to attract and retain high calibre personnel to ensure the best professional service to our clients. When we find people with the right values, mix of skills and experience we believe it is part of our responsibility to support and develop them with leading edge initiatives such as this.”
Don Barrell, Academy Manager at Saracens feels the programme will be as important for his players:
“Within elite sport, everyone is incredibly fit and skilled, and all players essentially train to the same degree. So the critical point of difference is often the mental ability and leadership within the squad. That’s why we’re taking this training programme so seriously. We need our next generation of players to be able to make good, consistent decisions in difficult match situations. The teams that do that time after time are the winners.
“This unique course offers our up and coming talent the chance to learn alongside leading business figures from Sanlam, people with a different set of challenges and backgrounds. As such it really broadens the learning experience and gives our team access to insights that it would have been impossible to develop in any other way. We are immensely grateful to Vic Luck of the FLS for organising this.”
Vic Luck, of FLS, added:
“We can’t stress enough that the point of this programme is to accelerate leadership development through experience. This is not the theory of leadership but hands on ‘action learning’, ensuring that each participant has practical experiences to draw on and strategies and tactics they can apply as part of their work.”
I’ve been lucky to get an inside track to how the machine behind the team works at Saracens, this initiative clearly is helping the business people in the group, but it’s also adding more feathers to the caps of the Saracens players and staff. Preparing them for Life After Rugby as well as enhancing their career in helping them understand the logistics and workings of leadership. Yet again I come away highly impressed, rugby is by its nature a short lived career its key that players prepare for their future. A very happy partnership I’d say!

The photos are of the Sanlam Private Wealth sponsored match at Allianz Park in January between Saracens and The Blue Bulls