HE'S been the CEO of one of Australia's most iconic sports brands for seven years and under Paul White's tenure, the Brisbane Broncos (ASX: BBL) have broken records for revenue, membership, sponsorship and attendances.
His standing in the game is unquestioned and rugby league legend and Penrith boss Phil Gould calls White "the number one sporting administrator in the country" and has tried to lure him to the western Sydney club.
Thankfully for the Broncos, White has stayed in Brisbane and under his leadership the club/business has developed a branding and marketing strategy which is the envy of sports clubs from all codes around Australia.
The 51-year-old father of four recently finished chemotherapy treatment for brain cancer, and his two-year medical battle is one of the most uplifting NRL stories in many years.
While many professional sporting clubs struggle to get out of the red, the Broncos amassed $42 million in revenue and posted a record $4 million in profit, announced in February.
White says this is the result of a focussed performance strategy both on and off the field.
"The key KPI is around our membership our commercial operations such as sponsorship and merchandising but also on the field we need to be a top four team," White says.
"The reason we want to be a top four team is that it gives us the best chance to win grand finals because it gives us home semi-finals and that's where you get the true benefits of membership and the toils of your season.
"It supercharges every part of your business, once you make a semi-finals series at home."
Underpinning the Broncos' strong financial position is its membership base in excess of 36,000, the largest in the NRL, but the revenue stream is also derived from its corporate connections.
"There's a number of tiers (to our revenue model) and of course membership is a big part of that, also our sponsorship, our corporate sales which is our suites, boxes and functions rooms at our game day," White says.
"We run a real annual series of events so we're a business that doesn't just run on a rugby league calendar.
"We run events throughout the calendar year and our merchandising operations are becoming more and more important to us because that connects every part of our business."
During his two-year cancer battle, White remained hands-on with management and mentoring and often worked from home and admits 'jokingly-not-jokingly' that he sometimes used his predicament to his own advantage.
"There were a few occasions where someone would come over to my place looking for a pay rise or to negotiate something and I did win most of those discussions," he says.
It's something of a throwback to his origins, before joining the corporate world, where he was a no-nonsense country cop in outback Queensland, and these days he applies similar principles at the Broncos.
"People need to understand when they come into our organisation that they're going to be challenged on a daily basis as that's the nature of our industry.
"Change is almost constant now and I like to use the analogy that 'I want my people to be comfortable being uncomfortable' and all that means is we have to keep re-challenging ourselves and I do myself."
And as for his key to business success, White remains direct and on-point about what it takes.
"You've got to survive. You've got to be resilient and you've got to be able to survive those ups and downs and the times when publicly there is pressure on.
"You've just got to know your strategy and stick to it but survive. But if you survive long enough you'll actually do some good things."
Business News Australia
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support