Alan Whiter - Leadership qualities and forging a career in the sports industry

(Part 2) Alan Whiter of Action Images addresses the qualities of great leadership and offers his advice for those wanting to develop a career in the industry.



GlobalSportsJobs: You've been with Action Images for 11 years - What's your highlight memory?

Alan Whiter: I know it's a cliché but every day is a highlight. I love working in sport and I love what I do. I came into the industry just wanting to work in sport. I did a sports science degree although I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with that but managed to find a job almost straight out of university which revolved around sport.
Coming across to Action Images, we were a very small, independent agency 11 years ago. We were very successful in the sporting industry but also very small before we were bought by Reuters seven years ago. We've still kept the Action Images identity but we now have the power of Reuters behind us now to give us the global scale of our business.
So I think the highlight for me is seeing that transition from independence into a global powerhouse of sport almost overnight. It’s trying to adapt to the changes and overcome the challenges. But it's still very enjoyable.
GlobalSportsJobs: What do you think the qualities of a great leader are?
AW: Personally, I think lead by example. You need to know when to roll your sleeves up and get involved. Reading situations both on the field and off the field and man-management comes into that definitely. The main trait is to lead by the front but also to be part of the team when needed.
GlobalSportsJobs: What advice would you give to young people who want to develop a career in the sports industry?
AW: Be tenacious. Whatever industry you want to work in, go after it and keep knocking on those doors. Show that you're motivated, you're willing, you have a can-do attitude and just be interested in what you've got to do. You've got to do it for a long time and so the paramount factor is that you need to show an interest and be motivated every day to go out and do your job. I think that will come across, especially in the sports industry. You get many people who are passionate about sport but not always the business of sport, which is what we're in. 
Being a sports photographer is not the most glamorous of lives although it may look like it. The guys who take our imagery - they're out there every weekend, working most week nights. They're away from home for long periods of time at World Cups or Olympic Games which may sound glamorous, but when it actually comes down to it, they need to love what they're doing and they need to love what they're producing.
So be interested and have a passion for what you're doing, but also understand that it's not about the actual sport, it's about the business of sport.

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