IoD Wales Announces recipient of Chairman’s Award for 2023 Director of the Year Awards
The Institute of Directors (IoD) Wales has named Laura McAllister as the recipient of this year’s Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice, as part of its Director of the Year Awards.
Former Wales Captain, Professor Laura McAllister, who won 24 Wales caps, is deputy chairperson of the UEFA women’s football committee and a member of its working group on gender equality. She has recently been elected to sit on the UEFA executive committee as Vice President. This will make her the first Welsh person to serve on the UEFA executive committee. With a hugely successful career spanning over sport, politics, education and leadership, it is no wonder she was selected as this year’s Chair Award.
Richard Selby, National Chair of IoD Wales said: “It is truly remarkable to see someone like Laura McAllister achieve such significant accomplishments in various fields, ranging from sports to politics and leadership. Her work in promoting gender equality and women’s football is particularly noteworthy, and her election as Vice President of the UEFA executive committee is a testament to her dedication and hard work.
As the first Welsh person to serve on the UEFA executive committee, she has opened up new doors for future generations, and her achievements serve as a source of inspiration for young women who aspire to make a difference in various fields. It is indeed a great honour for her to receive this year’s Chair Award, and she deserves to be recognized for her outstanding contributions.”
When Laura was asked about her career so far, and how she felt she had evolved as a leader, this is what she said…
I think I’ve certainly developed and evolved as a leader and I would expect to develop and evolve further because I don’t believe that there is an end point or permanent peak for a good leader. I think great leadership is always contextual, it’s always about learning and responding to challenges and risks. I don’t think for a moment that there’s a kind of teleological, linear process to ‘making it’ as a leader. Indeed, that’s when you’ll get tripped up when you think you have been there and done it as a leader. Clearly. more experience helps to enable one to process things whether that’s success or failure.
I think there’s been a good crossover in terms of my sport and my academic and political work because sport gives one a lot of really fundamental values; behavioural values; team values and of course individual principles that you’d like to follow during your career. I’ve tried to transfer those over into every field in which I’ve worked and I think for me that’s worked. I’m not sure if it would work for every athlete but for me it has because I’m instinctively goal oriented. I’m very much a team player but I can work individually as well. I think you have to be that as a footballer. I have always learnt much more from defeat than from success so I think an ability to develop resilience and move on is probably critical in that respect.
Following the success with the Uefa executive committee, what direction would you like to see the future of sports going?
I’m so excited about the new role; the President appointed me as Vice President at the Congress recently and that was very unexpected but a great honour and something I’m really looking forward to. I’m hoping that I can assist in the direction that football in Europe is going anyway. We are already seeing a massive growth for the women’s game, five times faster than the men’s game.
There is great resource going in from Uefa to develop the game at the elite level right down to grassroots level. In terms of governance there’s lots of work going on, to make sure that there’s greater diversity, greater representation and that football bosses look more like the people who play and watch the game. I’ve already been involved with that side of UEFA work and I know I will be taking on a new role around the strategic review and also around gender equality. Having a Welsh voice at the top table of the most powerful confederation in world sport is so important and a great honour for me but also for our nation as a whole. The way that Welsh people have responded to the news is really encouraging and quite touching because people get it even if they’re not football people. I feel very emotional and proud that people understand this is about Wales on the world stage and I hope I won’t let them down in that respect.
The IoD Chair Award is given to someone who has had a significant contribution and impact in Wales. How do you feel to be recognised for the chairs award at the Institute of Directors in Wales 2023?
Being asked to accept the IoD Chair Award feels like a great honour, not that I think I deserve it but I’m very happy that someone thinks I deserve it! It’s an enormous privilege to accept it but as everyone says in these circumstances, these are always team efforts; more so for me as I come from a team environment in football. Lots of people in football, in Uefa, FAW, Sport Wales particularly have supported and encouraged me and I hope I can act as a voice piece for them in that work. I hope I’ll be able to make an impact. It has always been a big feature of my academic research around the Senedd, Welsh devolution and Welsh Government. I’m also co-chairing the Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales at the moment with Dr Rowan Williams and all of that work is really predicated by wanting to make an impact.
I’m not an academic who just likes writing for sake of it or researching for the sake of it, I want things to have a journey towards influencing change and making things better for ordinary Welsh people, who may not be terribly excited by politics but nevertheless are the recipients in Welsh public services so I hope that I can continue to do that. But in the meantime, this is a such a great honour and I’m absolutely thrilled! I would dedicate it to everybody who has helped me along the way; my family obviously but my close friends as well, my football colleagues and friends, team mates and everybody I have worked with beyond that because no leader is an island and if he or she is, then they’re probably not a very good leader so I’m much happier being part of a community or team of good leaders.
We asked for some words from Laura’s colleagues at FAW on her successful career so far, this is what they had to say;
Noel Mooney, Chief Executive of Football Association of Wales.
“Laura has been a beacon of drive & determination in the huge growth of Women’s football across Wales. Pioneering the rebirth of the Women’s national team, Championing the support required for Women’s football on & off the pitch, Laura has been a trailblazer for Women’s football and this has been rewarded with her appointment to the UEFA EXCO recently following a successful chapter as Vice-Chair of the Women’s Committee at UEFA.”
Helen Antoniazzi, Head of Public Affairs, Football Association of Wales
“As Laura blazes a trail in sport and politics, she creates a path for others to follow. She is so generous with her time in supporting others to empower them to fulfil their potential and in particular to support and mentor other women in the industry. Laura’s integrity, honesty and unwavering commitment to creating a more progressive Wales and a more equal sport is the reason she is being recognised by so many. Laura role models the behaviours of a modern, kickass Cymru which inspires us all!”
Laura will be formally presented with her award at the IoD Wales Director of the Year Awards on 12 May at ICC Wales, Newport. To purchase tickets for the event please visit https://www.iod.com/events/wales_director_of_the_year_awards2267237453/