Jim Doyle

Jim Doyle is the CEO of the New Zealand Warriors Rugby League team


Born in Scotland Jim Doyle has reinvented himself as a successful sports administrator, and now finds himself working those long hours again, this time in a concrete office beneath the main stand at Mt Smart Stadium. It's a long, cheerful way from Scotland. It fits entirely with one of two sayings, handed down by his grandfather, by which he lives his life: "If it's to be, it's up to me: you get nothing for nothing."

At 34, Jim, his wife and two daughters moved to New Zealand. He quickly got a job as the general manager of a car-stereo business, then met the technology entrepreneur Sir Peter Maire, who offered him a job at his fledgling but fast-growing Auckland company, Navman.

It was a pay cut, but a shareholding was on offer. The business grew from $3 million to $500m, he says. They were selling fish-finders and sailing instruments, but they developed a sat-nav system for boats knowing it could transfer to cars - they were the first into the car market and grew rapidly worldwide.

In 2004, Maire, Doyle and chief operating officer Steven Newman sold up to American company Brunswick for a reported $108m.

Just as he began thinking about getting another job, the head-hunters called. He was intrigued to be asked if he was interested in becoming chief executive of the deeply troubled New Zealand Rugby League. He got the job!

The second saying from his grandfather - "choose your attitude" - came into play. He was positive enough to believe he could make a change. He did. Sponsors returned, credibility grew, they made profits, grew numbers. He quit with a year left on his plan, he says to allow his successor time to write the next one. Again, he dabbled in semi-retirement, joining boards and consulting to Sport New Zealand, who had made Doyle their Sports Leader of the Year.

At first, he rejected a job with the rich, powerful Australian National Rugby League, governing body of the game there and of the 16-team competition in which the Warriors play.

After two years, Warriors owner Eric Watson came to Doyle, and offered him the chief executive's job. A former season-pass holder, it was an easy offer to accept. Focusing on one club instead of 16, Doyle hopes he can "pick the eyes" out of what the others do best. He's measured - no, he won't make any outlandish declarations about winning premierships.

He says the brand is strong, but the club perceived as a rollercoaster, so he wants more stability: more regular crowds, bigger membership base (they have 10,000, South Sydney has over 30,000).

If he were starting out in business now, he thinks, he wouldn't have got as far as he did. The Lucky Jims these days need at least a good first degree. "I'd be lucky to have got my first job now, let alone the ones I have had along the way," he says. "I think that's a bad thing. You've got to get the right mix . . . I've moved four times, that gives you a different life experience that you don't get from a book or qualifications."

When he sizes potential employees up, the CV can be a secondary consideration. "You can get a sense as to people's values and their attributes: are they going to be working hard . . . or are they hard work."