From the board: On the money
25th January 2018
Most people’s idea of retirement is to have less pressure and more time to do all the things that the years of having a working week had got in the way of them doing. For Lauri Chandler, that didn’t mean putting her feet up.
“I had always had the plan to take early retirement,” says Lauri. “At that point, I knew I would not have paid employment but I wanted to volunteer to help at schools or colleges, ideally in sport.”
Just months into retirement after a distinguished career as a chartered accountant, Lauri became the Independent Finance Director on the Volleyball England board in late 2017 and has dived straight into the role to help develop its financial practices.
The funding cuts and financial difficulties the organisation has faced have been well documented. To quote PR and Communications Director, Simon Griffiths from last month’s ‘From the Board’ piece: “Everybody knows that, financially, we’ve had a tough time. We’re just emerging from that now and need to be super prudent with the funds we do have.”
Lauri is playing a key role in that and developing a way of working which will help Volleyball England to be as resourceful as possible with the funds it has.
“We’re clearing up the history and putting in place controls which allow us to always understand our current financial position,” says Lauri. “This process means we can work on financial planning, forecasting and budgeting so we can make decisions about where we want volleyball to go, based on the funds available. We’ve got great support from Sport England; everybody wants Volleyball England to succeed.”
“Compared to the type of accounting I was used to working with in industry, the Volleyball England accounts are not difficult to manage. A key part of my role is to support the Senior Management Team in helping them to get Volleyball England to operate like a business. Volleyball England has a product. Just as my previous employers sold electronic resistors to customers, David is an example of someone who is buying the product of the sport of volleyball.”
David is one of Lauri’s two sons and the reason Lauri has found her way into the volleyball community and her role on the board. Lauri is a self-confessed sports fanatic. She played hockey, and she and her husband are Manchester United season ticket holders and have run sports teams where they live in the North East. Naturally, sport plays a big part in their family life and they support both their sons in taking part in any sport they wish to pursue. Seventeen-year-old David just happened to fall in love with volleyball.
“I have zero background in volleyball,” explains Lauri, “I didn’t even get to try it at school or anything. David got into volleyball and joined Newburn Volleyball Club. He then progressed to play for Sunderland Predators who play in the National Volleyball League, Men’s Division 2 North. If our boys do sport that involves us watching, if they want us to, of course. Nigel and I go along to watch and although we’re not experts on all the rules, we sit in the stands and support.
“The club knew about Nigel and my experience of running football teams and asked us to get involved helping organise transport and accommodation for the Inter Regionals, and we’ve been doing that three years now.
David is a talented player and part of the England Futures Programme. As David became part of the junior programme, his mother was encouraged to sign up to the Pool of Experts, an initiative which sees people sign up to volunteer their skills to help Volleyball England with a range of projects.
“I signed up to the Pool of Experts and ticked all the boxes about my skills including finance, governance, and strategic planning,” says Lauri. “I didn’t hear anything for a while. At a similar time, I applied for a volunteer role as a Financial Director for the Northumberland Football Association. I had just accepted the role, when Chief Executive Officer of Volleyball England, Janet Inman, called me to ask if I would be interested in putting myself forward for Finance Director role on the board.
“I had to speak to the Northumberland FA to check they were happy with me taking on a second role. That role takes no more than a day a week, and they thought it was a great idea; that it was good to cross-pollinate across sports.”
The Pool of Experts initiative has proved successful in finding people with the desire and a whole range of different skills to help with volleyball projects. The campaign is ongoing and people can sign up at any time. It is not just Lauri’s expertise she listed on her Pool of Experts survey that Lauri will bring to the board though. She cares about volleyball and developing opportunities for everyone involved in the sport.
“Whatever volunteer roles I took on, I had to be passionate about them - that meant sport,” says Lauri. “I won’t be afraid to give my opinion on volleyball in board meetings. In particular, I can bring the parents’ view to the table.”
Lauri is following in the footsteps of the many volunteers who are retired and give their time to help volleyball, in a huge range of roles from helping at their local club and volunteering at events, to being part of Volleyball England working groups and regional associations.
Retirement is about having more time to do the things you love to do. Fortunately, that is often great news for volleyball.