Legendary former football referee Graham Poll entertained a packed Business Breakfast audience at The University of Northampton’s Sunley Management Centre.
Speaking before around 80 delegates, Graham talked on the highs and lows of his 26-year career as one of the leading referees in the Premiership. As well as offering anecdotes on his work with stars such as David Beckham and Vinnie Jones, Graham focused on how to transform negative incidents into positive learning experiences and outcomes.
He said: “One of the things you must do to be successful is review situations in terms of ‘I did that well; that’s a good thing that happened; I need to repeat that’.
“The highest profile situation I’m known for is giving three yellow cards to one player at the World Cup. Afterwards I had to say ‘what did you gain from that situation’? Yes, I’d lost the opportunity to referee at the World Cup final, something I’d driven myself to get over 26 years, but I also learned there are things in life that are far more important.
“Working as a referee you have an assessment every day and constantly review games, but unfortunately the thing most people focus on are the negative aspects. There’s a message here that you should really be looking to accentuate the positive in every situation.
“Another thing you have to do, in business or anything else in life, is enjoy yourself. If you don’t, people will get through the day, but they won’t do their best job. The World Cup situation meant I stopped enjoying refereeing, but I’m glad it stimulated me to challenge myself and move on to my current media and speaking work.”
Following the breakfast, a business card prize draw resulted in two lucky delegates stepping up for a high stakes table football match. With Graham casting a close eye over proceedings and with no warnings issued for bad language or conduct during play, a good natured game between Matthew Crosse of EMW Law and Alan Price of Marshman Price was won by the latter (2–0).
John Jones of The University of Northampton’s Knowledge Exchange, which organised the breakfast, commented: We're delighted Graham was able to join us as guest speaker at this latest event to showcase the opportunities available to businesses wanting to engage with the University in joint project, training and research schemes.”
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