Mariël Koerhuis, general manager of Johan Cruyff Institute, shares her vision on the importance of the application of technology in sport at the Tech Talks of Barcelona Sports Hub
Mariël Koerhuis, general manager of Johan Cruyff Institute, was recently invited to participate in the Tech Talks of Barcelona Sports Hub, a platform with a mission to provide solutions to the sport tech ecosystem, aimed at improving competitiveness, digitalization, promoting innovation and channeling STEM talent to benefit the sports industry. In her role as director of this institution, a business school 100% focused on training future leaders in the sports industry, Mariël emphasized the importance of bringing innovation to all areas of sport management.
A passion for sport is, in many cases, the reason why people want to pursue a career in this sector but, in an increasingly demanding and competitive environment, that is not enough. “Sport management training is relevant to further professionalize the sports industry. You need a solid knowledge of how to manage and, to create an environment conducive to innovation, you need skilled professionals with good management training,” says Mariël.
Technology is, in itself, an indispensable tool at Johan Cruyff Institute. “We have our international headquarters in Barcelona, but as an academic institution, we offer our programs all over the world thanks to technology. More than 9,000 students have graduated with us and half of them have done so through online training. That means that technology applied to training is also key.”
The sports ecosystem has changed a lot in recent years and the Covid-19 pandemic marked a turning point in many sectors, including sport. 2We are looking for new synergies, and the different players in the sports ecosystem are collaborating more and more,” says Mariël. “More partnerships are being created, more content, new products and services, there is much more multidisciplinary collaboration in many sectors and this is something relatively new.”
This idea of multidisciplinary collaboration is part of Johan Cruyff Institute’s educational model. “Expert training is not enough. Current and future managers in the sports industry need to have multidisciplinary competencies to be able to manage properly. It is key to keep improving and bringing more wealth and value to the sport ecosystem of the future. Innovation is created from a platform that is receptive to new ideas; knowledge is almost taken for granted.”
In this sense, soft skills play a decisive role in any organization. “You can have a very technically competent professional who is very good at what he or she does, an engineer who can program an application in an exquisite way, but they also need to understand how what they are creating is going to be used. You need to have a professional who also understands and coordinates with the other areas of an organization, who can see and analyze, but also step back a bit from their reality and see the whole picture and the importance of the interrelation between the different areas.”
Disruptive technology and new generations
According to Mariël Koerhuis, “knowing how to manage projects, knowing how to manage people, knowing how to communicate in the right way, being able to defend a project successfully, are soft skills, managerial competencies that are absolutely necessary today. The future of sport will be marked by technology and, thanks to disruptive technology, new services and new products are being created. We also have to bear in mind that audiences are getting younger and younger, they consume sports content on different channels and at different times. Everything is also related to a social component and the need to find an intermediate solution, so the future lies in seeing how these new consumers of sport are going to behave. All of us in the sports ecosystem need to be prepared and be at the cutting edge of technology in order to be able to create new experiences for this new generation.”