Building on a 15-year winning partnership

Partner spotlight | Rob Oates, Commercial Director, Leeds Rhinos


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Rob landed his dream job when he joined Leeds Rhinos as Head of Commercial Sales, before being invited to join the board of directors as Commercial Director in 2006, a role he remains in to this day. Rob is a lifelong Leeds Rugby League fan having been a season ticket holder since the age of four.

Tell us a bit about your organisation and what led you to working with the Carnegie School of Sport?

We work for Leeds Rhinos and are based on the doorstep of the university. We established a working relationship with the university back in 2004 and the partnership has grown and evolved ever since. The university have worked with our men and women’s teams, along with our academy on everything from player recovery, to physical performance measures. Whether you’re a first-year student or working on your PhD, there’s opportunities to work with us.

Why were you passionate about this partnership and why is it important to the work you already do?

We are passionate about the partnership as we have a shared goal. we are both Leeds-based institutions that are driven to provide a pathway to greater things in sport, business and in life. We understand that the student experience is so important and are determined to have a positive influence. Four hundred students work here on the catering and events business and assist in looking after our match day operation. Having that relationship is beneficial to ourselves, Leeds Beckett and the students involved.

What have you enjoyed most about this collaboration?

The enjoyable part is that we have partnered with experts, in business and in sport. Our operation can only benefit from the facilities and the expertise that the university has. Our players and staff are actively studying at the university and developing as individuals – again a huge benefit of the partnership. Last year, we had one of our players, Tom Briscoe, complete his degree at the university before helping us to win the Challenge Cup a few months later. We also assist in lectures and this is an enjoyable part of the partnership. Recently, I’ve given guest lectures to students on Sport Management courses via Zoom – even Covid-19 couldn’t stop the partnership!

What have you learnt through this partnership and what's next for Leeds Rhinos?

The learning points from this have been that it’s people that make the partnership works and we both have a can-do approach to everything that we face. The expertise and knowledge we’ve picked up from the university are fundamentally benefitting our club, both on and off the pitch. This leads to a fantastic partnership that will only grow and flourish over the coming months and years. We see the partnership as the best it can be.

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