Interview with Pierre Genecand – candidate for FEI Presidency

10. Sep 14 | 12:38 | By | Category: INTERNATIONAL NEWS, interviews

10 Sep 2014

Pierre E. Genecand is a Swiss Businessman and keen horseman who officially announced his candidacy for the FEI Presidency earlier in the year.

 

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QTell us about your background?

AAfter a Business degree I travelled around Europe to improve my English and German and worked in London, New York and Mannheim for a while. In 1982 I started to work for Gesrep SA an insurance broker company that I later owned and chaired. In 2005, the company was sold to the biggest broker group, Aon, and I turned myself to new challenges. Besides my day to day job, I spent 15 years as President of the CHI 5* Geneva and with the Alliance of Show-Jumping Organisers, Swiss Top Sports, the FEI World Cup Committee, the FEI World Equestrian Games 1998 and the 2000 Olympic Games. I like to keep myself busy.

QHow do you propose communication can be improved between the governing body and the disciplines that make up the FEI?

AThe communication channels exist. I believe we could have an even more direct and more regular communication between the  disciplines and the governing body. The reporting should probably be improved.

QHow do you envisage equestrian athletes will be able to live from their sport? Better prize money or paid to compete?

AThere is no magical formula.  Obviously the prize money depends greatly on the sponsors and the sponsors depend largely on the media impact of the show (international and national public TV being what gets maximum returns on investment for the sponsors). It is hard for riders to earn a living through prize-money only. Besides, individual sponsoring is also hard to nail. Some riders choose to work for  important horse-dealers or for renowned stables. Everything is possible. One thing is for sure, there are only so many competitions horses can do per year. Whatever formula, the welfare of the horse must remain our priority.

QYou are well known to be visionary of jumping shows. How do you propose to improve the status of some the FEI’s other disciplines?

AThis is very kind of you. There are many ways to improve the recognition and the status of other disciplines. Of course the help from the Governing Body is an added value. I strongly recommend to travel as much as possible and to look outside one’s sport. We can learn a great deal by studying other events, other disciplines and even more by analysing other sports (Tennis, Golf, Basketball, etc.). The rules  and format of competitions must be simple and clear for the spectators and the media. The communication often starts quite late and is  only allowed a very small part of the show’s general budget, when everything other cost has been covered. A proactive communication is key in succeeding!

QRecently a leading event rider was cleared of a doping violation, do you feel it is still fair to suspend riders when a doping or medication violation occurs given that there is always the possibility that it is due to a ‘No Fault’ situation?

AThis is such a sensitive issue. False accusations can seriously harm a reputation and we should try and avoid bad press as much as possible to protect the image of the whole equestrian sports family. Whatever happens, every situation is different and the FEI needs to  carefully

QDo you consider it is still appropriate for the rider to always be the Person Responsible when in some circumstances like professional jockeys they have little or no involvement with the management of the horse?

AOnce again, a challenging matter.  A rider should know what is done to his horses at all-times. Of course,  one can never totally omit the  possible  genuine mistake. I guess we should all keep in mind that the sport needs to show a good example to people in general and to the  youth in particular. Fair-Play should not be undervalued.  This is a subject that interests me greatly and I look forward to discussing it with  arious stakeholders to try and find the best formula. I have a few ideas…

QYour business ethics and skills would bring a new flair to the FEI, how would you describe your management style?

AThose who know me best would tell you that I am quite a direct and frank person! I am also neutral, with very strong ethics. I am a man  of action. I like things to move on efficiently. We need to make important and urgent decisions. I am used to dealing with very sensitive  issues and to challenging negotiations. I trust people and like when they take initiative but I also keep an eye on everything. I have a big   network but above everything, I am and will remain a very accessible person. I will carefully examine the functioning of the FEI to see what could be improved, while respecting the  existing agreements and contracts.

QYour website proposes that main stream television is required to improve the profile of equestrian sport. The past ten years has seen an explosion of social media which has created a very modern medium of communication. How will you embrace this?

AThere are different communication ways, all fitting a different public and serving specific purposes. TV still is the ultimate media. In a  global world, international sponsors seek TV returns on Pan-International or national broadcasters. It is important that the major national  TV broadcast the biggest events taking place on its territory. Pay per view TV and/or specialised TV are of course providing good  returns. Most events have found a way to make up for the absence of TV by streaming the competitions on their official websites, for free. This is a great progress but does not mean that one can renounce trying to obtain TV returns as well. Social media is a new way of reaching out to our equestrian community, very quickly, and very efficiently. News travel fast and many blogs, websites, Facebook groups, etc.  report on competitions results before traditional media. I am the first one to go to Facebook to look for information. Social media are a  strong communication tool that we need to embrace, but in the case of any governing body, the information needs to be carefully conveyed. Once it hits social media, it is too late. We need to be very careful with what authorities release on the internet.

QWere you looking forward to the World Equestrian Games? What discipline did you enjoy the most?

AOh yes, I did. I had booked my accommodation months in advance and pencilled the date in my calendar way before I even made the decision to become a candidate for the FEI Presidency. I attended all competitions and managed to see a bit of every discipline. But I have a soft spot for Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. Closely followed by Vaulting and Driving. I enjoyed my time there, enjoyed meeting all  federations and stakeholders and held many fruitful.

QDescribe in five words why you should be the next President of the FEI?

ASports mean passion, dream and performance. I want to make people dream about what horses and riders can accomplish when they  have a perfect partnership. I will try my best to suppress conflicts of interest and to make sure our sports show a good example. I intend to maintain horse sports in the Olympics by proposing a clean sport and clear rules. I have a lot of time before me, I speak 5 languages and I have a long experience in international insurances and finance, as well as a great network. In short: passion, experience, skills, enthusiasm and proximity.

Photo: pferdonline.ch

Source: Genecand / Horse Int.

 


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