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Sport and Business Combine for Success

Originally published 17 July 2003

Two students from Warwick Business School (WBS), part of the University of Warwick, have recently been using the skills and knowledge gained from their studies to promote their companies and careers along sporting lines, and with spectacular results...

Lisa Forbes, aged 22, graduated last week with a BSc in International Business. In March this year, she and her business partner set up a company, Blue Box Sailing, to provide access to high performance racing yachts to everyone regardless of age, gender, or experience. She and Jonathan Bradfield, also 22, bought Intrum Justitia, a 60-foot race yacht used in the Whitbread round the world yacht race, and capable of 25 knots – a real thoroughbred in sailing. They have re-named the boat Blueprint, and currently operate from Southampton.

Jonathan and Lisa met four years ago at their local sailing club near Reading. Jonathan now provides the sailing expertise, having completed his Yachtmaster and sailed 40,000 nautical miles over the past 4 years, while Lisa is rapidly putting into practice the business skills and knowledge she acquired at WBS.

Lisa said “So far this has been an immense learning curve, and it was difficult to juggle with being both a student and a sailor. I was even studying in minus 5 degrees on board in Sweden while waiting for the ice to melt so that we could sail back to the UK! Since then, we have enjoyed a successful launch. Our sailing trips range from a weekend in France to off-shore deep water adventure sailing voyages, and we have now nearly filled all our weekend day sails this summer.”

Mark McKenna is Head of UK Marketing for the car firm SEAT. Mark graduated with a Warwick MBA last week, and used his MBA project to set up a new communications strategy to position the SEAT brand within the sporty image sector, through involving SEAT in UK motorsport. The huge success of Mark’s project is proven by these results:

- A championship race for up to 20 competitors each driving the same model of SEAT, a front-wheel drive turbo-charged 250bhp Leon Cupra R race car, built by SEAT in Barcelona especially for this event. Entitled the Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Championship, the event is taking place in the UK over this summer, having started in May. The winner will receive the biggest prize in British Motorsport, a salary-paid works SEAT drive in the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship, and the use of an apartment in Monte Carlo. The prize in total is worth over £500,000.

- A series of programmes for ITV1 and 2 capturing the competitive world of young up-and-coming racing drivers as they strive to become professional. Entitled Racing Rivals the series is hosted by supermodel Nell McAndrew and ex-Touring Car Champion Jason Plato. The first programme is on Saturday July 26.

-SEAT is also aiming to play a crucial part in the development of young racing talent for the future. Drivers are subjected to a complete personal development programme including sports psychology, media training, sponsorship and professional sports fitness and nutrition. The overall aim of the programme is to provide drivers with the necessary skills to become a professional, which these days is as much about off-track performance as it is on.

Mark McKenna said: “The Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Championship has been a phenomenal success for SEAT. We have sold twice as many Leon Cupra Rs as planned, our enquiry levels are at an all-time high and our sales are 24% higher in the first 6 months of the year, when the overall market is stable. And it is rewarding to watch the young racing drivers develop as they take part in the programme, becoming much more accomplished in front of the camera, and giving better value to their sponsors. I am convinced the knowledge and skills I gained during the Warwick MBA has allowed me to enter a new business arena of motorsport with confidence and a winning strategy. ”

For further information contact:

Lisa Forbes,
Blue Box Sailing
Mobile: 07971 624 450

Mark McKenna, SEAT
Tel: 01908 548074

ITV’s programme Racing Rivals will focus on the drivers taking part in the Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Championship. Following the drivers at every round, the ITV crews are given unlimited access and will for the first time bring viewers unprecedented behind-the-scenes coverage of what really happens at a major motor racing series. One of the programmes will be broadcast live on August 3rd from the Rockingham circuit in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Website for SEAT

Website for Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Championship