Six months ago Kit Taylor, Head of PSD’s Sport
Practice, helped British Cycling find their new CEO – Julie Harrington. Since
starting her role in May 2017, Julie has forged strategies and created
successes, as well as facing a number of challenges. Kit caught up with her
to find out more about her accomplishments so far, the success British
Cycling has experienced recently and the future plans for Tokyo
What attracted you to the role of CEO for British
There were many things that
attracted me this role. The opportunity to work at an organisation that has
achieved so much success, not just at an elite level, but also at grassroots,
was something that I couldn't refuse.
I'm incredibly passionate about
sport and the impact it can make on people's lives and society. We're a nation
that is gripped by problems with obesity, pollution and congestion. Cycling can
be the answer to all those problems, and that excites me hugely and was
something I wanted to be a part of.
What have been the key challenges
of the first 6 months?
There is no hiding from the fact that there
were some big issues that needed addressing when I walked through the door on
my first day. However, what I've found is that this has been largely a very
positive process. The publication of the Cycling Independent Review and our 39
point action plan allowed us to draw a line in the sand, learn from some of the
mistakes of the past, but also reflect on what we do well and how we build on
that, so we can continue to be successful at Olympics and Paralympics, while
continuing to inspire more people to get on bikes.
“British Cycling launched our strategy to get one
million more women riding bikes by 2020 and we were delighted to report in 2017
that we are ahead of target in our goal having directly influenced 723,000
women to get on a bike since 2013.”
participation and getting more women on bikes is a big focus - what programmes
are in place to achieve this?
British Cycling launched our strategy to
get one million more women riding bikes by 2020 and we were delighted to report
in 2017 that we are ahead of target in our goal, having directly influenced
723,000 women to get on a bike since 2013. This has been through initiatives
such as our HSBC UK Breeze programme, led by our network of Breeze champions,
which offers fun, free bike rides for riders of all abilities across the UK.
While we have been successful, we also recognise that there are still
challenges to overcome. For example, we know that women have more safety
concerns about riding on the road than men, and that's why we continue to
lobby and work with the government to get the appropriate infrastructure in
place so that everyone can feel safe while riding a bike.
Following the publication of the Cycling
Independent Review, what key progress has been made with the resulting 39 point
We have made excellent progress with the 39 point action
plan. A really big win for us, relatively early in the process, was ensuring
the changes required by the new Code for Sports Governance were voted through
by our regional boards, while some really positive processes have been put in
place in terms of how we work with the riders on our various programmes. This
extends to things like no longer charging riders who lodge an appeal against a
selection decision, as well as regularly reviewing a rider's performance so
they know how they are tracking against their individual objectives.
“Ultimately any organisation is only as good as its
people and we wanted to ensure that we fully engaged with our workforce, and
incorporated their thoughts and feedback into our new
We also carried out a culture survey of British
Cycling staff, which also included Great Britain Cycling Team riders, to
understand how they were feeling and what direction they wanted the
organisation to travel in over the next few years. Ultimately any
organisation is only as good as its people and we wanted to ensure that we
fully engaged with our workforce, and incorporated their thoughts and feedback
into our new strategy.
From an elite performance perspective, what are
the major targets for 2018?
The year after an Olympic and Paralympic
Games is always one of transition - some riders choose to retire, others take
some time away from the sport and generally everyone just recoups and takes a
breather after an intense four year cycle. However we've still seen
significant success in the last 12 months, with 14 British world champions
crowned across the various cycling disciplines.
Next year our
attention really shifts to Tokyo 2020 and ensuring our riders are in the best
possible shape to win medals. The qualification process also begins next
year, which is vitally important in terms of securing the qualifying spots we
need, and therefore ensuring that every potential medallist gets a seat on
And finally, what has been your most memorable moment so
far in the role?
My work with the staff at British Cycling has been
incredibly rewarding. Given the headlines that had been written about British
Cycling before I started at the organisation, I wasn't sure what I would expect
when I walked through the door on my first day - but I was very pleasantly
I'm also incredibly excited about our work with HSBC UK. I've
attended a number of our mass participation HSBC UK City Rides this year, and
to see thousands of people out riding their bikes and enjoying themselves has
been lovely to see.
“I came into an organisation
where the people had smiles on their faces and wanted to work to be part of
the solution to the challenges British Cycling was