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Interview With Steve Lacelle, CCA Chief Operating Officer

August 20, 2006 – On February 14, 2005 Steve Lacelle was appointed as COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the CCA, a new position which was part of structural and organizational changes taking place at the association. After 18 months Lacelle has decided to move on to a position in banking operations. Pedal Magazine caught up with him this weekend to find out more about his decision and his thoughts on his tenure at the CCA.

How did this decision come about?

I was approached after the 2006 Road Nationals with an opportunity in banking operations. The more I considered it, the better it looked because, as an operations specialist with strong interests in finance, economics and banking, the fit was right for me personally and professionally.

What made you want to leave?

It was not an easy decision to make because I love the sport and the people within it, but after giving this matter considerable thought, I knew the timing was right for me to go. With a strong operational team in place and momentum building within the organization, I think the sport would benefit greatly from a more recognizable figure who could represent the CCA and its views/interests to stakeholders, the media and the business community much better than I can.

What has had the biggest impact on the association since you came on board?

In my opinion, the thing that had the biggest impact on the association in the last 18 months was the Canadian Sport Review Panel’s decision to rank cycling as a top-5 summer sport. Through the interviews we held with leading figures in the amateur sport movement, we proved that we had the right plan to deliver the measurable results they required. And with roughly $2.8 million in supplemental funding during this Olympic quadrennial awarded to us, changes are already happening.

Where does the CCA need the most improvement ?

We need to invest more in our national championships and we need to improve our outreach programs across Canada. I firmly believe we have not done enough in the last decade to develop the next generation of athletes, coaches and officials that our sport requires to ensure its long-term viability. We know that now and steps are being taken to address these weaknesses.

Are there particular accomplishments during your tenure that stand out for you?

Yes, there are three or four that come to mind: (1) we strengthened our financial position, (2) we built a strong team of discipline-specific coaches at the National Team level, (3) we restored our credibility with our key stakeholders i.e., the PSOs (Provincial Sport Organizations), Sport Canada, and our corporate partners, and (4) we re-signed two key corporate partners – Tim Hortons and Louis Garneau Sports – and we signed a new cash sponsor in H&R Block. All of these accomplishments will help form a solid foundation for the future growth of the sport in Canada.

What athlete feedback have you had regarding the recent changes at the CCA?

I have had several conversations with athletes regarding the recent changes at the CCA and, for the most part, the comments have been largely positive. True, there is still a lot of room where improvements can and should be made, but I think most realize that we have taken many good steps in the right direction.

What else needs to be done at the CCA?

In addition to what I mentioned previously, I think we still need to do more on the infrastructure side as well as on the national calendar. There are a couple of solid indoor velodrome projects on the go that I believe will happen in the next three years (provided we keep the momentum going) and I’d like to see more done to improve the visibility of cycling within a Canada. We’ve had recent discussions with a potential umbrella sponsor for a national criterium series that would go a long way towards helping fill the void that was left after the Canadian Tire series of the 80s/90s ended.

What’s the process to find a new COO and what are your thoughts?

Our board has set up a selection committee that will be tasked with hiring the next leader. I should note that since we now have a formal organizational structure in place, the board will be looking to hire a CEO as opposed to a COO. It may come as a surprise to some, but I think it’s a sound decision. I am of the opinion that a magnetic force (e.g., big-picture CEO) would be a good complement to the operational team already in place.

What would you say is your legacy?

I feel that I showed our stakeholders that the new CCA would be an organization that would listen to its stakeholders and take the necessary steps to make things better from the ground up. It’s still too early to tell what the legacy is, but I feel quite certain that in four to six years time, people in the know will point to these past 18 months and say, “the turnaround started then.”

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