School photo

Jamie Clifford
Newlands-Deacon 1994

Following the announcement that Old Lawrentian, Jamie Clifford, is to leave his role as CEO at Kent County Cricket Club, Anthony Medhurst spoke to Jamie about his new challenges at the Marylebone Cricket Club – better known as the MCC - and how St Lawrence College has prepared him for cricket, management and life:

“My values  - those of community, of people having respect for one another, being judged on what they actually do and behave rather than an association with a label - is core to everything that I believe and try to practise in my working life.  Being strong and loyal within that community are values to which I subconsciously refer.  Even though I didn’t realise at the time, my experience at St Lawrence College means that I know what ‘good’ looks and feels like and that undoubtedly sets you up for life.”

“I am really looking forward to working at the MCC, a truly unique organisation and iconic venue without equal in the cricket world.  I will be responsible for all the match days played at Lords, including the big international Test matches with India and Pakistan, the Ashes series against Australia and the cricket World Cup  There is probably nothing like Lords and the MCC in terms of scale of the operation and the capacity of the crowds.  I will also be responsible for the membership of whom there are currently 18,000 members, 5000 Associate members and a 23 year waiting list to join! As a members’ club, they own the ground and have a say on how things are done at Lords and even the rules of cricket which can add significantly to the challenge. I can’t wait to start.

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was young.  I did a Short Service limited commission straight from School with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.  I really enjoyed CCF at School and played for the First XI in cricket and rugby but cricket was always my obsession. I was never really good enough to become professional but never even considered working in management.  I found it more by accident than design.  I went to University to study Agriculture because I have always loved rural life but rather than returning to the Army, joined ‘World Challenge’ managing expeditions for young people in countries like Vietnam, Kenya and Tanzania.  It was rather like the army without the nasty bits! Without realising it, I was starting to practise all aspects of Management such as planning trips, supporting individuals and teams of people, preparing budgets and then being a proper Team Leader of other Expedition Leaders. I really enjoyed it.

While at ‘World Challenge’ I saw an advert in ‘The Cricketer’ magazine for a Project Manager to start Wisden.com, essentially taking ‘Wisden’, the cricketers almanac, on-line.  It was a great success. We provided a successful subscription service and the first live screening of cricket games on a pay-per view basis which, back in 2000, was incredibly innovative. This role also gave me access to all aspects of cricket which, as a cricket fan, was incredible.  The website went on to be a big success. It was acquired by ‘CrickInfo’, then ESPN and finally Disney – an example of a real dot.com success. The Wisden brand was brilliant because it opened so many doors.  I got to work with people like England cricket captain, Nasser Hussein, as well as develop future talent from schools. 

My role as Director of Cricket Development at Kent County Cricket Club focussed on identifying and developing local talent, but I also got involved in projects with the Chief Executive around developing the ground. When the CEO retired in 2010, I took over the reins. Despite a fantastic brand and decent numbers of supporters, the club was in a precarious position financially. We had a squad of international players with little or no connection to Kent, the facilities at Canterbury and Beckenham grounds were tired and there was a debt issue to address. There was a lot to turn around but we worked through each issue and got all aspects to be the best they could possibly be.

When I look back over my life to date, I can see that St Lawrence College has always played a part in some way.  When I started at the Junior School, my father and grandfather were already teaching there. My uncle and sister have been there too.  The activities at the School had the biggest impact on me as I got to try so many different things.  CCF had a particularly big influence on me.  I loved adventurous activities, sport, being outdoors and problem solving.

In my experience St Lawrence College was always an incredibly supportive, friendly and caring environment that was interested in developing all aspects of the individual.  Unlike some other Schools, there was a strong ethos that went beyond delivering in the classroom.  Exams were important but not the sole focus and the School’s culture supported that entirely. It was more about what you could achieve in the broadest sense and was massively encouraging of pupils to get involved in everything. Having broad interests, being curious and alive to opportunities outside of the curriculum was incredibly important.

Unsurprisingly I have now very broad interests and want to raise my own children as well-rounded people.  This is definitely an influence from St Lawrence and how I look at the world.  All the OLs that I come across seem to have similar values and outlook on life too. They are invariably grounded, enthusiastic, supportive and unpretentious, as were the staff that taught them. St Lawrence was not a School that you would wear as a label. Indeed Old Lawrentians would not be the sort to people to do this anyway. My values  - those of community, of people having respect for one another, being judged on what they actually do and behave rather than an association with a label - is core to everything that I believe and try to practise in my working life.  Being strong and loyal within that community are values to which I subconsciously refer.  Even though I didn’t realise at the time, my experience at St Lawrence College means that I know what ‘good’ looks and feels like and that undoubtedly sets you up for life.”

Copyright St Lawrence College 2018