EXCLUSIVE: Dell Corporate Challenge Shows Sport is Good for Business

- Leadership - Oct 08, 2014

Last week Dell hosted and competed in its annual Corporate Challenge in the Brecon Beacons, Wales, alongside clients and partners including PwC, Ordinance Survey and Action for Children.

Designed to exploit the ever-growing recognition that sport can fuel working and managerial success, the event has proven highly fruitful for Dell in three key areas including employee enthusiasm and drive, brand awareness and boosting charitable initiatives.

The weekend comprised a series of sporting challenges and inspirational discussions led by Dell UK Vice President and General Manager Tim Griffin alongside cycling icon Nicole Cooke, leading academic Professor Rob Morgan and high performance coach and mentor Andy McCann.

Among the challenges were a mountain biking, running, canoeing, orienteering and hiking, with the 20 competing parties entering teams of six. Dell found itself well oversubscribed for competitors and had to hold internal trials because of this popularity.

Speaking to Business Review Europe, Griffin outlined what the Corporate Challenge means to Dell. “This is about igniting personal and team performance and the feedback we have had has been absolutely awe-inspiring,” he said. “It was a hugely challenging event but one that gave a massive sense of satisfaction.

“This has been a great follow on from our work at the Commonwealth Games and very much helps our brand aspirations of being perceived as able to solve IT aspirations end-to-end as opposed to our historical legacy of being a PC provider.

“Involving our partners and suppliers worked really well from a business point of view, and some of the competing parties have been involved for years.”

Griffin also spoke of the impact the challenge has had in the aftermath of the weekend on workers across the entire UK operation.

“The participants come back freshly energised and pass this onto our 2,500 UK employees through internal chatter and social media, which is in itself a terrific benefit,” he added. “Sport galvanises team spirit and a desire to win and optimise performance. People see themselves as corporate athletes.

“We find interesting dynamics come into play – it is not always the best player that is best for the team. In our organisation the best person at the job is not always the best person for the job and there are many parallels here with sport. I expect this to snowball through the organisation.”

Feedback from previous attendees highlights the value of the challenge:

  1. 85 percent felt their leadership and coaching skills had improved
  2. 95 percent felt their teamwork had improved as a result of this event
  3. 84 percent  felt more confident as a result of the event as well as being more self-aware
  4. 90 percent believed they were  fitter and gained endurance
  5. 82 percent felt their  communication was far more effective

On the CSR side, Dell is a keen supporter of the charity Action for Children. The Corporate Challenge alone has raised £5,000 which will fund vital work to break the cycle of deprivation and empower children to achieve their full potential. 

The charity works with around 250,000 children and young people each year who cannot live with their birth families, who are disabled, who experience severe difficulties in their lives or whose families need support.

Dell is especially eager to back the charity’s ‘Inspire IT’ programme, which provides young people with computer equipment and training to improve their skills. The company’s help has resulted in the training of 346 educators and 766,000 hours spent learning with 308,000 students affected from February 2013 to January 2014.

Griffin added: “Action for Children is a phenomenal charity that deals with the shocking number of children sleeping rough. Only one in 10 children sleeping rough here in the UK are reported missing, which is a terrible statistic.

“However, Action for Children has the capability to turn those lives around and we are delighted to support them. They took part in the Corporate Challenge which was a great chance for them to spread the message about what they are doing to a number of high-profile businesspeople.”

The event has been running for nine years, and Griffin vows to keep making the events bigger and better in years to come under the stewardship of Gary Evans, Dell Corporate Challenge Race Director.

“In an ideal world I would like to expand the number of teams through a bring a friend sort of initiative. If we could get to 60 teams then that would be fantastic.” 

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