New Zealand takeover: Chatting to the Kiwi that runs Supercars
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The new CEO of Supercars was announced in November last year after James Warburton decided after four years enough was enough. New Zealander Sean Seamer threw his hat into the ring when Warburton announced he was leaving and came out on top.
His first race meeting, albeit in an unofficial capacity, was at Newcastle last year. However, he arrived at the opening round of the 2018 championship at the Adelaide 500 with his hand firmly on the tiller and in charge.
Seamer has a similar background to the outgoing CEO having worked in the media agency landscape for 15 years with MediaCom. He rose to be CEO of the global company's Australia outpost after working in offices in London, San Francisco and Singapore before being appointed to run the Australasian arm in 2015.
There has been a lot of media attention since Seamer was announced as the new CEO and with that has come a bit of a spotlight.
"Growing up in the media and the advertising world you get used to talking to people all the time and I'm pretty much a sociable guy," Seamer told The Herald.
"I'm very fortunate that all the conversations I'm having with people centre around motorsport, which is something I'm passionate about, so it's certainly not an onerous task spending time with people who also love motorsport.
"Being here at Adelaide for the opening round of this year's championship I feel really lucky to be part of it.
"I've got a lot of experience in media and growing brands and product. So being able to bring that experience, and my passion for motorsport, to my ideal job is, well, I'm just a lucky guy."
There are five New Zealanders contesting the Supercars championship in 2018 with at least three of them — Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard — all in with a chance of taking the title out. One would now have to wonder, with a fellow Kiwi in the CEO's office, if this is the beginning of a New Zealand takeover.
"[Laughing] No this is not the start of a takeover and don't ask me who my favourite [Kiwi driver] is either. New Zealand has a rich history in motorsport especially when you look all the way back at [Denny] Hulme, [Bruce] McLaren and [Chris] Amon.
"It's not surprising we've now go five drivers in the main game. The focus is on them mate, not me," he said.
Seamer was a handy amateur racer in a Porsche in his day and has always had a love for motorsport. Being able to combine his petrol-head passion for motor racing and being paid to run a globally recognised saloon car category can't be all bad.
"I've certainly had a bit of fun in Porsches, but clearly not quick enough to [still] be driving them, so I had to get involved in the sport some way or another," said Seamer.
There has been a number of senior management changes over the past few months including the departure of Supercars' managing director Matt Braid and soon to depart chairman Steve Horne. To some this looks like a bit of a clear out, but Seamer is adamant it's no such thing.
"Perhaps a little too much has been made of the changes. If you take a look at Shane [Howard, COO] who's been here a long time and has a wealth of knowledge, and we've also got a strong leadership team and there have been good succession plans internally with people stepping up.
"I'm really lucky to come into a role where the team already here [Supercars] is fantastic and I've been leaning on them a lot to get up to speed.
"In my two previous roles one was a start up and the other was a turn around, which meant I had to either build, or rebuild a leadership team. We're in a good place at the moment," said Seamer.
An extension to the New Zealand round has yet to be nailed down and it's looking more and more like ATEED are dragging their feet in making a decision. Supercars are keen to get the deal done and everything seems to be in ATEED's court at the moment.
"A broad distribution of the product as door-to-door racing across Australia and New Zealand is important to us. We will be at Puke this year and continue to focus on making sure our fans in New Zealand get a really good product and get to enjoy what is the best racing on the planet," he said.
Seamer will be the seventh CEO of the category since its inception in 1997 when Gary Craft was in charge until 1999. Next up was Wayne Cattach who was in hot seat for nine years before there was a flurry names — Cameron Levick for one year, Martin Whitaker also a one-year tenure, David Malone held sway for two years before Warburton bought some stability over the past four years.
The New Zealander is relishing his opportunity in the role, and at this point in time, appears to be in for the long haul. Good luck to him and as he's a Kiwi, he'll get things done.
"I'm lucky to be coming into the role this year. I'm here at the third biggest sporting event in Australia, we have a point's scoring round at the Australian Grand Prix, Sydney Motorsport Park race under lights, racing at the The Bend [new track in South Australia} and going back to Newcastle.
"There are five rookies in the field, five Kiwis so basically I'm a very, very lucky boy to be starting [CEO role] this year.," he said.
- NZ Herald