Cameron Schwab was appointed CEO of the famous Richmond Football Club at age 24, the youngest in the history of the game. He then spent the next 25 years as the CEO of three AFL clubs, the second longest serving CEO in the modern game.
The CEO roles Cameron took on all had something in common. The clubs were at their lowest ebb, uncompetitive on the field, and facing massive financial, structural and strategic challenges off it, which, in combination, threatened their survival.
The AFL is an unforgiving, unrelenting and often ruthless environment. Progress is hard-won, but in all cases, the fortunes of the clubs Cameron led were restored, both on and off the field.
A measure of his legacy is the fact that Richmond, Melbourne and Fremantle are now, by any measure, vibrant, financial and highly competitive clubs. Their supporters can look to the future with great hope and optimism.
Key career achievements:
- Appointed General Manager (CEO) of Richmond Football Club at 24 and was the youngest person to hold this position. Cameron developed and executed a project called ‘Save Our Skin’ (SOS). It was this campaign that saved the club from bankruptcy and was nominated as Richmond’s ‘Defining Moment of the Century’ at the 2008 Centennial Celebrations.
- As CEO of Melbourne Football Club his key objective was unification, the club having almost merged with the Hawthorn Football Club the previous year. Melbourne went from last to top 4 in one year and Grand Finalists two years later whilst operating profitably and growing attendances by 65%.
- As CEO of www.afl.com.au (AFL’s official website), he developed strategies for the inaugural sale of the online rights to Telstra and is now one of the AFL’s most important assets.
- As CEO, Fremantle Football Club was transformed from a loss making, debt laden club (that never placed higher than 12th) to a regular finalist and ranked in the top 3 AFL clubs in terms of profitability and resources. Revenue increased by 320% and the balance sheet improved by $13m.
- 12 months after assuming the role as CEO, Melbourne Football Club posted a profit after effectively losing $3m in the previous trading year. Ongoing profitably enabled the club to extinguish $5m of debt and build an asset base of $6m. Revenue grew by 60% despite embedded strategic constraints.