Employee Tuesday – What does a Head of Operations do?

by Marie Terhechte

You joined Urban Sports Club 3 years ago as Head of Operations – what are your main responsibilities?

My main responsibility and highest priority is to ensure Urban Sports Club is considered a weighty and trusted interlocutor throughout the industry. In our position as intermediary, it’s extremely important we publicize our value proposition so companies in the sector trust and want to do business with us. Therefore, my role is to lead representation and negotiations with key players in companies and institutions. From an operational perspective, my daily tasks are to support the team as they define, develop and promote our strategy. I also lead expansion plans and monitor and correct possible strategic, financial or legal setbacks.

What milestone in your work-life meant a lot to you?

I’m proud of the way my colleagues and I managed the 2008 financial crisis. I’ve been in the sports industry for 20+ years, and we’re still facing a lot of uncertainty today. However in 2008 we were dealing with a perfect storm. Global financial and banking system collapse, skyrocketing unemployment, company closures, loss of equity, 13% VAT increase, and the emergence of budget solutions within the fitness industry (which had already happened in the hospitality and aviation industries). The fitness industry was facing its biggest reckoning yet. It’s difficult to pin-point one specific moment, but I remember my entire team of around 600 people struggling to keep our heads above water. That made a massive impact on me. The truth is that tough times make us who we are and help us connect. Complex situations make us vulnerable, which helps us get to know each other, bond and make ourselves proud. 

What are your favorite Urban Sports Club activities? What do you love about it?

My answer is not an activity but one of Urban Sports Club ‘s main concepts: variety. I’m in love with outdoor sports, running, cycling, skiing and the sea. Urban Sports Club fulfills my complete athlete profile, which means I can always try something different and maintain a varied and balanced routine just like my diet. To generate change within sports, we need to get hooked on something fun! 

What gets you up in the morning? 

My children and music. My children demand total, unconditional and inexplicable surrender and I believe children are a loan and do not belong to us. They are here to make us grow and face our limitations and shortcomings. If we make an effort, they will make us better people and it’s our mission to care for them and love them unconditionally, until they become their own defenders and we’re no longer the ones who tell them what to do. Regarding music, the piano makes me lose track of time in a unique way. It’s hard for me to imagine getting up one day and not playing – but it’s just a passion so far. 

What’s your interpretation of our value “surf on the wave of change” and how do you apply it to your personal life?

As I said before, I’m an outdoor sports enthusiast. I love the sea, and think a connection with waves is one of the most mystical experiences you can have during sports. I love that inexplicable feeling of coupling, synergy and trust – and I sometimes experience this after hours riding my road bike. It takes time and effort to reach this state – it’s about tempo,  frequency, and trusting where the experience will take you. Unlike other sports, two days of surfing on the same beach with the same board will be totally different experiences … so patience, will and adaptability are essential. Waves are also a great metaphor for life. They teach us things are cyclical, the concept of rebirth, and although each wave is unique they’re part of a greater whole. Surfing takes years of practice, and it also takes will and confidence to let go. However once we’re in that state of Flow, the magic happens.

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