Lydia Stirling has been appointed to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) Executive Board as its new People Director and permanent positions have also been confirmed for Tim Moss, as Group Finance Director, and Rhodri Lewis, as Commercial and Legal Director– with each having previously been in these respective roles after internal appointments were made on an interim basis.
The news follows the recent announcement of the highly respected Nigel Walker as the WRU’s new Performance Director and puts new Chief Executive Steve Phillips’ stamp on a new look executive team, after he was himself appointed permanently to his role in March.
Stirling, whose family hail from Dinas Powys, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and joins from multi-national engineering and consulting business Arup, where she was Head of HR for the Consulting UK, India, Middle-East & Africa region. She was also previously HR Business Partner at Mclaren Racing.
Arup is a complex matrix organisation with over 7,000 staff which achieved a top 10 ranking in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in 2020 and Stirling brings this experience and almost 20 years as an industry professional, plus a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management, to the WRU.
Phillips now has a full-strength executive in place, although he doesn’t rule out further movement as both his team and the wants, needs and demands of Welsh rugby evolve.
“We are delighted to welcome Lydia to the Welsh Rugby Union where I know she will become an integral member of our new look executive team,” said CEO Phillips.
“After a number of departures during the pandemic, and since my own appointment on a permanent basis in March, I have taken time to take stock and find the right balance to create a full-strength executive team to help safeguard the future of Welsh rugby. This will involve bringing some new voices and skills to the table, but also protecting the institutional knowledge held within existing team members.
“Appointing someone with Lydia’s direct and senior HR experience has been a vitally important step. This appointment also allows Rhodri Lewis to relinquish the Executive responsibility he held for HR and concentrate fully on his other WRU Executive responsibilities, including as our new Commercial Director.
“Tim Moss was promoted internally and has been working diligently as our Group Finance Director, in unprecedented circumstances, since last September and we are also delighted to have made this move permanent.
“With the appointment of Nigel Walker, announced recently, if you now look at our executive team in the round, I think we are nearly there.
“We have to ensure we have the right blend of leadership, experience and expertise in all areas of the business.
“We are entering challenging times and must emerge from the pandemic cautiously, but also with a great amount of optimism about what can be achieved in Welsh rugby.
“The professional and considered management of personnel at the WRU will be a vital ingredient to creating an environment for Welsh rugby to thrive and for this reason I’m particularly excited about working with Lydia on maintaining and improving the culture of our organisation in the months and years ahead.”
Stirling will join the WRU Executive Board in September with her appointment alongside Walker and Moss – and the re-shuffle involving Lewis – occurring after the recent departures of Ryan Jones, Craig Maxwell and Julie Paterson from the organisation.
“Even watching from outside of the organisation, I can see that these are exciting times for the Welsh Rugby Union and for the sport in general as a new era dawns beyond the confines and restrictions of the pandemic,” said Stirling, who lives in Cardiff where she is a parent governor at the school her children attend.
“I am very much looking forward to being a part of the continued journey to success at all levels of the game and I will bring my skills and expertise to support and drive the people ambitions of the group alongside the existing strengths within the HR Team.
“Steve is building a strong executive team and the appointment of a People Director shows commitment from the Board to invest in its people. I am delighted to have been asked to be a part of the team and look forward to working with talented colleagues.”
Rhodri Lewis’ new job title is Commercial and Legal Director, he continues with his position as WRU Group General Counsel, but with added responsibilities for the Group’s commercial activity. He also continues as WRU Company Secretary, a role he has fulfilled since August 2018.
“These are still unprecedented times,” said Lewis. “We are grateful to our commercial partners for their ongoing support and I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with them.
“Welsh rugby is a global force, an important ambassador for the nation, a universally recognised brand and a community champion. It is for us to harness this power and ensure that the WRU achieves its full potential in its many ambitions and responsibilities.”
Tim Moss added: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has placed a huge amount of financial pressure on Welsh rugby at all levels, including the Union itself.
“We have survived together and the years ahead will be about rebuilding and looking to maximise our revenues in order to allow us to continue re-investing as much as we can in the game.
“I’m delighted to be joining the WRU Executive Board at this challenging, but exciting, time for Welsh rugby.”