Fabien Grobon took up his post as managing director of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy Organising Committee just two years ago. In fact this tennis enthusiast and former deputy director of marketing and licensing for the Fédération Française de Tennis (French Tennis Federation), was literally thrown into the equine world.
Fabien, what surprised and attracted you the most to the horse world when you first came into contact with it 2 years ago?
I was particularly struck by the passion that motivates everyone involved in the horse world. I meet all sorts of different types of people but they all share a common denominator, the profound relationship that they have with the horse.
Another significant feature is the diversity of the sector and the way that it is split up into a multitude of different worlds that don’t necessarily work with each other instinctively. The 2014 event will undoubtedly play a role in bringing together all those who wish to participate in structuring the sector in the broadest sense of the term.
How exactly do you see the World Equestrian Games, or in other words the project that you are in charge of?
The World Equestrian Games are going to be one great big celebration for horse lovers in the heart of France’s horse country – Normandy. In addition, they couldn’t be taking place at a better time of year. A wonderful story will unfold, “from top-level equestrian sport to equine culture in all its many facets.”
How would you describe a typical day as managing director of the Organising Committee?
Every day is different. I spend a lot of my time with the Organising Committee and with the local elected representatives for each of the different parts of the project; looking for ways to link all of the “smaller parts” of the project, to get a better view of the overall picture. A significant amount of my time is dedicated to talking about the project and about what the directorate, under the presidency of Laurent Beauvais, wish to achieve for the sector, the region and France. All of this is done to make sure we get everyone’s backing for the project. Each day is long but ever so varied; time really flies!
What are the major projects you and your team have had to deal with over the last two years?
We have been involved in creating a collective movement. Everyone is mobilised so that the overall organisation and public services are up to the standard necessary for sporting competitions: local territorial authorities, federations and the Organising Committee staff are all working hand in hand.
Looking back at some of the highlights of the last two years; there are the partnerships signed with Alltech and followed by Rolex which automatically come to mind. Then there is the dialogue we have had with the Ministry for Sport and the confirmation of the State’s major investment. With only two years to go before the beginning of the competition, the vision we have for the project is clear and we are in line with our objectives: 80% of the budget has been secured; a first in the history of the World Equestrian Games.
In addition, there were the numerous meetings with the tourism industry professionals, in both private and public sectors, to ensure high-quality reception facilities. And not forgetting all those concerning infrastructures, logistics, side events and all importantly getting the sports team together; the arrival of its director, Laurent Cellier, along with the recent addition of eight discipline managers… The World Equestrian Games are being put together at a good pace and with the involvement of all the key players.
And when you look towards the future?
As you can imagine with a project of this size and duration, the toughest part is still to come! We will need to remain both vigilant and creative to the very end! The pace is going to accelerate, the organisational workload will increase, our staffing level (at present, a team of thirty) is going to double in the coming year. We therefore need to focus on the priority areas of work for the next eighteen months. On 8 September 2014 it will be possible to look back at this magnificent human adventure and, we hope, at the unforgettable moments that lay in store.
Text by WEG2014