Cycling Union director Margo de Vries is working to build ‘a federation for the next century’

Margo de Vries, alumnus of Johan Cruyff Institute, has been the director of the Dutch Cycling Union since July 2018, forming a new management team with Thorwald Veneberg. Her specific area of focus is innovation and organizational development

Margo de Vries is not new at the Royal Dutch Cycling Union (KNWU). In 2012, the enthusiastic director already worked for the union in the field of strategy & organizational development, subjects that match her new function. She is therefore well suited to take the lead in this area. “We are in the middle of the process of turning the KNWU into a union for the next century. This is a thrilling process, both internally and for our supporters and stakeholders, but the steps ahead are becoming increasingly visible. One of the most important challenges is finding suitable new revenue models. Our current license model is thinning out and is certainly finite within a considerable time.”

“In addition, sponsorship has been transformed into partnerships with labeled projects and the aims are often focused on the larger sports industry. This creates an increasingly cramped financial space not only for the funding of our regular core tasks, but also for making future investments. But I believe we can make this switch. We have our vision for a reason: opportunities, from here to Tokyo. We see a lot of possibilities and it is our challenge to take them on, to be pioneering and to actually capitalize on them.”

Cycling Union director Margo de Vries is working to build a federation for the next century - organizational development

Margo de Vries

When asked whether there are still opportunities for major developments in the cycling industry or whether there is only room for developments at a detailed level, the enthusiastic director answers: “There is certainly room for major developments in cycling! These are already underway and will continue to grow with the right stimulation. There are currently many new (competition) concepts, but other forms of clubs are also making their way up. Actually, there is already a lot of experimenting, but this does not always get the right attention. It is up to us as a union to organize ourselves flexibly enough so that we can respond to new developments in time and act as a modern, valuable cooperation partner and keep moving forward in the market.”

“There are currently many new (competition) concepts, but other forms of clubs are also making their way up”

“We really have a great, increasingly modern organization, in which space and opportunities arise to innovate,” continues Margo. “And when you innovate, you might immediately think of big innovations, such as the clap skate, but in a union such as ours, it is about product, service and process innovations.”

Before De Vries started working at the Royal Dutch Cycling Union, she gained experience as an association manager and project leader at various sports organizations. The knowledge she built up now comes in handy in her current position. “At the beginning of my career, I worked in many different positions and organizations. You might think that I was restless or that I am a jobhopper, but it’s just the way it worked out. And of course it also came from my curious nature and personal qualities which mean I always need a new challenge to stay enthusiastic and motivated. In this position I notice that my broad experience in different sports and functions is very useful. In addition, I have worked in pretty much all layers of an organization, so I also know how it is and I can relate to my colleagues well.”

“I learned how to manage my own energy and personal values and, with that, my own added value to the organization”

In 2010, the former equestrian obtained her Master in Sport Management diploma at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam, which taught her a lot in both personal and professional areas. “It was a year in which I not only got to know a lot more about myself, but I also met some very inspiring people. People with whom you build a connection for a long time. In terms of content, the Master gave me a lot, because as a student you have to deal with all the facets that you also have to address when running an organization. Especially the modules Skills and Personal Leadership are very valuable for me now. I learned how to manage my own energy and personal values and, with that, my own added value to the organization. You can only spend your time once, so what choices do you make in this? Of course I still get confronted with my pitfalls once in a while, but it is definitely something that I am very aware of.”

Photo text: Tim Buitenhuis – Pridex Media


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