Clive Ormerod grew up in South Africa and moved to New Zealand as a teenager. Before he was 30 he had built a sports and fashion retail business with stores nationwide. He sold up and moved to London before starting a new career at Nike, before ultimately becoming Senior Marketing Director for the UK & Ireland. Returning home to New Zealand, he took a senior role at telecoms and digital giant Spark, helping to transform the company for the future. He moved back to the sports and leisure sector, and industry he is passionate about, to take an international role at New Zealand-based global fitness company Les Mills. Within 18 months he had risen to his current position of CEO.
Telecommunications → Sport
As the head of Les Mills, one of the world’s best- known fitness companies, Clive Ormerod is very clear about his goals – in work and in life.
“I call it my ‘personal purpose’,” he says. “I am very clear about when I’m at my best, what my dream is, what my goals are, and ultimately what my purpose is. For me, what I am very clear on – the thing that gives me the most energy and makes me feel like I’m really making a difference – is working in an environment where I can help inspire people to achieve their dreams.”
Ormerod defined his purpose after deliberately working on this during his time as a senior executive at Nike: “Part of it was spending time getting clear on what you really wanted to be doing in the future: ‘What’s your purpose? What’s your passion? What is the thing that gets you out of bed?’”
He now applies those to the decisions and steps that he has made in a career path that has taken him around the world and across sectors. He has never been afraid to step outside of his comfort zone and embrace change.
After an upbringing in South Africa, he moved to New Zealand and qualified as a commercial pilot before deciding that he wanted to do more than that, specifically in business. Over nine years he grew his own business, Platinum Retail Group, selling sports and fashion brands, including Nike and Carhartt, from a network of stores throughout New Zealand.
“That’s our purpose. It’s one of the reasons I joined. You know, I talked about getting back into something that was closer to my passion”
When he sold up and moved to London with his girlfriend he was 29, “I just made the decision that I’m still young enough to get stuck into something else, let’s go for it and learn,” he recalls. Soon, he was working for Nike where he held a succession of roles in the UK and the Netherlands, and was ultimately promoted to Senior Marketing Director for the UK & Ireland. “It’s one of those businesses where, if you can make an impact and deliver the plan, there’s always opportunities.”
But then his ‘personal purpose’ called him home to New Zealand. He had, he says, a desire to lead a developing team in reaching their goals. “I wanted to be doing something that gave me the opportunity to work with a team that was still forming and needed somebody with a little directional leadership.” And he wanted to head up a New Zealand-based business. He joined telecoms company Spark, one of the nation’s largest enterprises.
After two and a half years of leading Spark’s commercial marketing operation as GM of Customer and Marketing through a period of great transition, Ormerod’s ‘personal purpose’ drew him back to the fitness sector and another international role. He found that at the global fitness company, Les Mills, where he was made Chief Marketing Officer. Soon afterwards, he became CEO.
At Les Mills, Ormerod says he has the capacity to impact positively on millions of people around the world. “Les Mills is about creating a fitter planet,” he says. “That’s our purpose. It’s one of the reasons I joined. You know, I talked about getting back into something that was closer to my passion. Creating a fitter planet goes beyond just getting people to workout. It’s a healthy planet, it’s healthy people.”
But to do that, and to get the best from himself, he aims to inspire his colleagues and team mates around him to help the company evolve and to stay relevant. “As a leader, or as a manager of people, if you can help your people be ready for that (change), I think you’re helping your business to be future-proofed and you’re helping your team be as successful as they can be.”