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044: Neil Chugani on leading as a coxswain, in sport governance and at Google

Neil Chugani was a coxswain and a good one too. He coxed the Oxford crew to success in the boat race in 1991, he was World Champion in the coxed pairs in 2001, where I met Neil for the first time as Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell went for the double, double, both the coxed pairs followed by coxless pairs world championship finals in the space of two hours – a story I feature in my book How to Support a Champion. Neil shares the insight behind successfully leading, coaching, supporting a crew from within a boat and offers some perceptive advice about the dynamics that he had to manage in a unique role where he is in it, he is involved but not pulling on an oar.

Neil has also held a number of prominent leadership positions, at BBC, Sky Broadcasting, a board member of UK Sport, interim CEO of British Rowing, Steward at Henley Royal Regatta and currently Chief Financial officer for Google in Europe Middle East and Africa. So what Neil hasn’t experienced about leadership in sports and business is probably not worth knowing about. What you will hear and what particularly stood out from this interview though is the level of thought, intentionality and consideration that Neil demonstrated in his views and actions, I wonder if this has developed through the roles he has held and the experiences he has had, or whether the wisdom he carries is the reason he has led at the very top.

Show notes
The physical requirements of a coxswain, personal characteristics and waterman ship

How do you learn to be a cox?

Cox heart rates, decision making and keeping a cool calm head

The Double-Double 2001 -managing Matthew Pinsent & James Cracknell and balancing the events

Neil’s two careers, one in rowing and the second in finance ….. and technology

Sporting applications into business for Neil are clarity of thought and, clarity of purpose and review of performance relative to intent

The myriad of individual objectives in business makes it difficult to create alignment between people in business which differs from a sporting world

Leadership roles in business and decision making

Decision making at the board level, understanding the perspectives of others, diversity

Management of decision making, balancing opportunities versus risk: focussing on the climate rather than the weather

Henley Royal Regatta – changes reflecting the nature of the sport today, live streaming etc

Self-belief: belief in your own potential

If you want to follow Neil you can do so on Twitter and Instagram at

https://www.instagram.com/neilchugani

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