Q & A with Alix Craig, Project Manager, Everton Football Club
Alix originally joined Everton as a Finance Business Partner, after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and working for KPMG in Financial Audit in both the Liverpool and London offices. Her role at Everton developed quickly, and she soon found that her project management skills were the right fit for a role in the stadium development team, one that now sees her playing a key role in the Club’s Bramley-Moore Dock stadium development and Goodison Park Legacy Project.
Alix previously project-managed the refurbishment of the Goodison Park lounges and the Club’s move to their Royal Liver Building HQ. Alix also leads the Club’s ‘Everton for Change’ environmental project group.
Alix will be presenting a live session called “From Spreadsheets to Building Sites: My Story So Far” as part of APM’s Think Differently: redefining diversity in projects virtual five-day event on Thursday 24 September, 12 – 12.45pm.
Further information on how to register and full programme/speaker details available here
Why did you decide to change your career to project management after joining Everton FC?
It was not something I ever set out to do because I never knew it was a possibility for me. My background is in financial audit, so I joined Everton in a finance role. I worked closely with the operations departments and following a restructure, became involved in my first project, initially to help with the workload. The more project manager tasks I undertook, the more I learnt about and believed in my own capabilities and realised how much I loved being involved in the overall project plan. I have been very lucky to be part of a great team at Everton with an unbelievable level of experience (and patience for all of my daft questions!) who have and continue to mentor and coach me as a project manager. Although it was not an intentional career change, it is certainly a decision I would make again.
Has working in sport changed your perceptions of what a project can be?
Certainly, there are so many aspects to a professional sports club as an entity that you do not fully appreciate until you are in the mix of it. Previously when I thought of a project it would stereotypically be construction related, where there is a tangible asset to evidence the outcome. Working in sport has shown me how much wider the term ‘project’ can be applied as you become accountable to such a diverse range of stakeholders; examples include the work we do in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with our All Together Now campaign and the fantastic work carried out every day by our charity, Everton in the Community.
What projects are you currently working on?
The People’s Project is my main focus at the minute which encompasses the proposed new stadium development at Bramley-Moore Dock and the redevelopment of Goodison Park into a legacy site for the Club that will benefit the surrounding community. The Everton For Change environmental campaign is ongoing which links in well with our sustainability proposals on the People’s Project. I have also recently been involved with the People’s Place development, a new mental health facility to be operated by Everton in the Community as part of their existing campus in L4.
What does your role as lead for the ‘Everton For Change’ campaign involve, and why do you think it’s important that other premier league football clubs become more sustainable in their approach?
As a Club we fully understand our responsibilities when it comes ensuring we are carrying out our activities in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner, as far as we possibly can. My role is to ensure this is embedded into the way we think and operate as an organisation. We have a working group with representatives from across the Everton Family, including Marketing, Operations, Partnerships, and the Academy who all have a passion for the subject and are driven to make a difference by sharing knowledge and ideas and supporting initiatives - for example, the reusable cups recently launched at Goodison Park. Football clubs have a unique ability to reach a diverse range of stakeholders, therefore setting the right example and getting people talking about the subject is a great way to communicate how important it is to play our part and protect our planet.
What skills do you think are necessary to be a successful project manager?
I would say the essentials skills are organisation, communication and being able to adapt and prioritise as required. Sometimes things go to plan (which is always a good day!) but there are often so many facets to a project that things are bound to crop up, therefore being flexible and able to modify plans and your approach on an ongoing basis without dwelling on ‘how it was supposed to go’ is important to maintain momentum.
Do you think the project profession is doing enough to encourage young women into the profession?
I can only answer that from my own experiences and I have found there to be equal and fair opportunities for any person to enter and be successful within this profession. I appreciate others may have had different experiences to me, certainly in times gone by, but I would hope this only continues to become a thing of the past and women feel empowered to enter into any profession they want to and that they would be supported to do so.
Visit here for further information about Think Differently – how to register and full programme/speaker information.