Team England's Sport Operations Manager Frankie Kelly explains her latest experience, taking on a role as Chef de Mission for Team GBR for BUCS at the World University Games.

It’s been quite the year, this time last year I was in Australia working for Team England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and then a year later I am returning from Russia as Team GBR Chef de Mission.

The World University Games recently concluded in Russia and following a hugely successful Commonwealth Games for Team England, I was given the opportunity to be appointed by BUCS (British University and College Sport) as Chef de Mission for Great Britain.

I was responsible for overseeing the team’s preparation and leading the team whilst away at the Games, ultimately ensuring we created the best environment for the athletes to achieve their potential.  

Now I am back from Russia, back home in Team England’s Holborn office, I wanted to take the time to reflect on the experience, what I learnt and the transferrable skills I am able to bring back with me to help Team England over the coming years.

The opportunity with BUCS came about through the relationships that I’ve developed during my time with Team England. BUCS were looking for a Chef and I was recommended because of my previous experience and leadership style, including most recently with Team England delivering our preparation camp ahead of the Games on the Gold Coast. 

It was an honour to be put forward for the role, and I definitely think that my experience on the Gold Coast ensured I was a strong candidate for the task in hand.

Probably more than anything, I believe the most relevant skill I had was my approach to leading a team. I aim to be inclusive in the way that I work, I recognise the different skills set that individuals can bring to a team and I work to maximise those skills ensuring that the best environment is created for the team to perform in. 

Team England is very inclusive and diverse, and through my role at the Commonwealth Games as well as for BUCS, I have learnt the importance of adapting my approach and being aware of the culture differences that teams and sports have.  

In my day-to-day role with Team England, I’m responsible for managing our relationship with the national governing bodies appointed team leaders. One of my most important areas of work is to really understand the individual performance requirements, both for the individual sport, but also for the individual athletes and disciplines that make up that sport and the wider team. 

The work that I do with Team England set the foundations of what I needed to do within my role of Chef to create the culture BUCS required for the Great Britain team. There were a number of similarities in the role particularly around team leader engagement, recognising and understanding the importance of specific performance requirements, and bringing these together to deliver what’s required for the whole team to be successful. 

For me, the biggest takeaway from my recent experience was the exposure to a different Games environment which brought to life the importance of recognising differences and managing relationships across the team, and more importantly, the impact of getting this right. 

I am grateful to Team England for the opportunity to allow me to support BUCS as their Chef de Mission at the World University Games.