Victoria has had an outstanding and successful career to date including being the Chief Executive Officer for Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando and the Military Project Lead for the first Invictus Games (London 2014), inspiring 14 nations and over 400 athletes to compete. She has completed 21 years’ service within the Royal Air Force culminating with the prestigious rank of Group Captain.
Currently she is the Chief Executive Officer of GB Snowsport and Chair of British Surfing; Board member for the British Olympic Association; Custodian for the Rugby Centurions, responsible for creating Social Impact on a global platform through the rollout of the Centurions Future Leaders Course for children aged between 11 and 18; Invictus Games Strategic Advisor for the UK Delegation Board; and she is a Board Director and Chief Strategy Officer for Auden a flourishing FinTech Business with a mission to provide solutions at scale, for those who are under served, over charged or excluded by main stream financial services. A mother of 3 young children she enjoys cross fit, triathlon, playing tennis and spending time with her family.
What was the first Live Event official VIP Hospitality programme that you attended and what particular impressions did it make on you?
It was on Wimbledon's Centre Court. I was hosted in the members enclosure and I just remember how it brought to life everything I had imagined Wimbledon to be. The buzz, the atmosphere around the grounds and the hospitality area was incredible. The prestige of the event also added to the hospitality experience.
Other than your own, what is your favourite Live Event that you would encourage everyone to book when it goes on sale and what makes it so special?
I love going to live rugby matches, especially to watch England at Twickenham. I always feel totally at home at a rugby match because there is a real common sense of connection between the team and the fan base. I think I have a real affinity to the sport because I can easily draw parallels with rugby players and military personnel. There's a genuine synergy between the values that both of those individuals seem to have along with the true sense of ‘team’, which is one of the reasons I became involved with the Rugby Centurions.
Who do you consider to be your business mentor or mentors, and what particular example[s] did they imprint on your business values?
I would say that I don't have one specific business mentor or mentors, I have a variety of individuals whose practice I value and respect, and I will look at their different successes to feature within my own model. I work across different sectors, such as sport, FinTech and not for profit, so I look for a broad variety of people who have proven themselves within their area. I find role models operate at every level of the business.
A good example being the head coach of GB Snowsport who mentors me through the complexity of the performance and what it takes to win. In the FinTech, I very much look to the CTO to help guide and shape what we can build to really smash it out of the park in using technology to create better financial health.
What was the most significant ‘Sliding Doors’ moment in your career and how did this impact on you?
I was due to deploy to Afghanistan as the Detention Centre Advisor to the Secretary of State when the opportunity to become the Military Exec Lead and to help setup the Invictus Games came along. This then enabled me to become the Chief Executive for the 2016 Games in Orlando, Florida which took me out of the military and down a completely different career pathway in sport, leading to my current roles with GB Snowsport and British Surfing.
What was your favourite televised live sport event or moment that you remember from childhood and why did it make such a lasting impression on you?
Watching Liverpool v Manchester United with my Dad. I remember hearing him swear for the first time. He never swore! He was a huge football fan and I loved going to games with him when I was old enough. The first one was Liverpool v Everton which was an incredible experience.
Who was playing at the first concert you attended, where and when, and what do you remember of the experience?
I can't actually recall my first concert but the one that is the most standout to me and the most memorable would be watching a private edition of the Foo Fighters during the Invictus Games with Prince Harry and the British team in the US ambassador's garden in London. I had my youngest, Elliott, aged 3 months, strapped to me and we had to give him ear muffs. It was brilliant!
What was your first paying job and what impact, if any, did it have on you?
I was a waitress in a pizza parlour. The main impact was understanding how to navigate everything from delightful to pushy customers and learning how to manage as a 16 year old in a high octane environment.
How has your upbringing and family experiences shaped who you are today?
I am from a very hardworking and values driven family. My mum was one of five and was brought up in the middle of Liverpool. It was also extremely catholic. I went to a convent school from the age of three and a half all the way through to 18, which was quite strict in many ways. I think the structure, the values and the drive of my family probably really helped me appreciate what it means to work hard and create opportunity.
What tough experience or time did you have to endure that taught you the value of money?
When I was at university I did my year abroad in a little village in Spain. My Dad had died the week before I flew out and I couldn't rely on my Mum for any money at that point. We didn't have much and we hadn't got our finances in order before he passed, so I had to figure it out while I was there which led to me becoming entrepreneurial.
There were no English speakers in the village so I taught everybody from the bank manager, to the teachers to some of the kids. I realised that I had a monopoly because I was the only English speaker there. So I approached all the business people providing them with private lessons in the café, where all they wanted to do was converse in English. I basically got lots of free coffee, beers too and got paid well. Just for chatting with them. I came back the richest student in that year group by far and was able to put a deposit down for my first car.
If your 17 year-old self could see you now, what would she think and what advice would you pass back to your younger self?
She would think that it was absolutely right to take every opportunity that comes your way even though it may feel out of reach or you may feel out of your depth, because as intimidating as it is at times, it will lead to another opportunity.
What should every person running for elected office be compelled to answer truthfully?
What motivates you. So much can be understood from a person by understanding what motivates them and what drives them. Are they doing things for the right reason and what are they hoping to achieve.
What do you remember – across all genres - as the most emotional moment in television, film or a sporting event that still brings tears to your eyes?
The moment Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill won heptathlon gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I thought it was amazing and incredibly inspirational.
What’s the best, most useful word from another language that you aren’t fluent in?
Invictus. It's the Latin word for unconquered, unsubdued, invincible. The Invictus Games are such an inspiration and its an honour to be involved in them. The athletes are some of the most incredible people I have met and the word Invictus describes their attitude and drive perfectly.
If you had the option to experience/live in one music video which would it be and why?
Probably something with Ed Sheeran as I can totally relate to his music.
What is the best book that you’ve read in the past year?
Legacy by James Kerr. The All Blacks are one of the most successful and recognisable brands in sport, and Legacy looks into how they maintain their success and continue to achieve world-class standards. It covers areas that I think everyone can take something from and incorporate into their own lives.
What non-curriculum subject should be required for anyone leaving school or university to understand fully before they enter the workforce?
Financial literacy. I think that in order to really ensure genuine financial health and well being, it's really important before you enter into the world of work, that you understand how to manage your own finances, and budget for the unknown and the unexpected. By ensuring that you can manage income and expenditure in a smart way, it will enable you to effectively create financial capability and resilience.
Tell us something even your colleagues might not know about you.
I was in a London West End musical called ‘Girlfriends’ created by Howard Goodall. I was the narrator for the weekend, taking over from an A lister who was flying over from the United States but pulled out at the last minute. I flabbergasted everyone by getting a 4-star rating in the reviews.