It's All A Balancing Act

8:35 PM


The Age has a great feature article on the Chief Executive Officer of Gymnastics Australia, Catherine Clark. You can read the article in full here and I must say that it is exciting to see her being recognized and being able to learn more about the woman in charge.


Clark won her first chief executive job at the age of 28, when she was made boss of GymSports New Zealand. Now 34, she heads up Gymnastics Australia; young in her field but no industry blow-in.
''Through all of this I discovered gymnastics,'' she says, as this was one of three sports identified as critical in fostering an athletic talent pool for New Zealand. ''Gymnastics, athletics and swimming: we found that if children had experiences in these sports, up until about the age of eight, it set them up for life.''
On top of her day job, Clark took on a three-month contract at New Zealand gymnastics. That's how the first CEO gig and director's position came about. In two years she quadrupled the organisation's revenue.
She also sat on a New Zealand Olympic Committee group investigating women in sport and leadership.
''It wasn't choreographed at all,'' she says. ''Talk about a sharp learning curve, I think I was on a vertical learning curve.''
While sad to uproot just as GymSports New Zealand began to fly, Clark returned home to be close to her ailing grandfather. She says her career ''took the back seat for awhile'', but in this ''resting'' phase Clark was hired by the International Paralympic Committee and wrote policy and investment strategies to grow participation. She was also recruited to the board of Australian University Sport, a position she holds still.
The Gymnastics Australia CEO job came up in April 2010, a few months after her grandfather had passed away. With her grandmother's blessing Clark moved to Melbourne.
In simple terms Clark says her job is about ''stewardship'', about serving and creating a vision for the sport.
''It's a sleeping giant and it needs to be awakened because the contribution gymnastics can make to the lives of Australian kids is simply huge,'' she says. ''And not just in sport, but in terms of brain development, education and in terms of health and then later on in life.
''I see gymnastics as the nursery of Australian sport. It's where kids can learn to experience and love movement.'' Clark wishes she had the revenue of the AFL, but with what she has she is aiming to boost a national membership of 134,000 to 150,000 in two years. There are 700 gymnastics clubs in Australia and GA is about to unveil a new national participating program, LaunchPad.

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