Interview: Amina Lanaya, Director General, International Cycling Union (UCI)
Ms Amina Lanaya became Director General of the International Cycling Union (UCI) in February 2018, replacing the outgoing Martin Gibbs and marking the first Management Committee appointment following the election of David Lappartient as President.
In the following interview, Amina talks with GlobalSportsJobs to share insights on her career path that lead to running world cycling, as well as discussing her ambitions for the UCI and the talent that is required to deliver this future.
Can you share your professional background and how you came to your current position at the UCI?
Qualified as a lawyer, I started my career with an international law firm, in Paris then in Switzerland. I joined the UCI’s Legal Services about 12 years ago, before being nominated to the position of Deputy Director General in 2013, and that of acting Director General in 2017. I was confirmed in this position at the beginning of 2018.
Did you always want to work for the UCI and become Director General?
No. I didn’t have much knowledge of the world of cycling before working for the UCI and at that time never imagined that one day I would take over the general direction of the Federation.
What aspiration did you start your career with and now, what career aspirations do you have for the future?
I was interested in the legal field even before beginning my university studies, but more for what I saw as its ability to further causes than for a love of the laws themselves. What I aspire to for the future? Helping increase equal opportunities in cycling, for all categories of cyclists and bike users, and seeing cycling occupy an even greater place in the resolution of problems linked to themes such as public health or the reduction of motorised traffic.
The UCI, like most International Federations, has had their fair share of challenges, what has been the most challenging and how has the UCI overcome it?
The restoration of its credibility has been cycling’s major challenge over the last decade. Enormous progress has been made, notably by introducing recognised, ground-breaking programmes in the fight against doping and technological fraud and establishing a method of governance that meets the strictest standards.
With the iconic Tour de France just finished for another year, how does this event impact the perception and image of the UCI?
The Tour de France is above all a magnificent race and a superb showcase for road cycling. The UCI is pleased to have such an event on its International Calendar. The general public does not usually associate the UCI with this event, but our Federation is cycling’s regulatory body. The rules that we set therefore apply to the Tour.
What are the four key areas the UCI focuses on today for success?
If I am only to cite four, I would mention: Developing cycling in regions of the world where there is still a large potential for progression – we do this with the UCI World Cycling Centre, our coaching and training centre; Strengthening the place of women in our sport, be it women cyclists, women in the entourage or women in management positions; Developing cycling’s attractiveness for riders, fans, partners and all other stakeholders – which can be achieved by innovating but also by respecting our rich heritage; and Working to guarantee the credibility of our sport – we never slacken our efforts in this field, be it in terms of governance, management or ethics.
How important is talent to your organisation?
Talent and motivation are two qualities that we look for when we hire someone. The two go hand in hand.
What are the key selling points of the organisation that helps attract this talent?
Our international reach, the fact that cycling is a multi-facetted sport (competition, leisure and means of transport), the bike’s central position in society, the dynamism of those involved in cycling… and on a smaller scale, the positive atmosphere at our headquarters, employee benefits, the fantastic geographic setting at the foot of the mountains and near Lake Geneva, and the possibility for staff members to practice sport alongside their work. Many are keen cyclists!
What focus do you put on talent today?
We look to hire talented people, as I already said, but also to develop our staff members’ qualities. To do this, we propose different training courses: language, management, leadership…
What are the opportunities for people coming into the UCI?
The opportunity to make the most of their skills in an environment that encourages talent and commitment, that is convivial and where you can feel the passion every day.
Where do you see the UCI in 5 years? How will it have changed as an organisation?
I see myself at the head of a modern and efficient administration that will have implemented the Agenda 2022, adopted by the UCI in 2018. In other words, working for a UCI that governs an increasingly popular and widely-practiced sport of cycling.
This article has been kindly reproduced thanks to the GlobalSportsJobs insight team.
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