How to create success from within

Michael Downey, President and CEO of Tennis Canada, shares his thoughts on managing the company’s transformation from event host to a leading model for developing top talent.

In this episode, Michael Downey discusses:

  • The culture change he felt was needed at Tennis Canada (02:00)
  • What he did to create change (02:54)
  • The importance of having people at the top who support your vision (04:03)
  • How he managed push back from those in the industry who weren’t on board with this plan to bring in external talent (05:12)
  • Key lessons learned (07:52)
  • How his vision for the organization developed over time (09:09)
  • His approach to creating the right strategy and culture (14:34)
  •  The importance of continuing to push for growth (17:36)
  • Advice for other companies looking to shift their strategy (20:55)
  • His favourite emoji (25:10)

Michael’s advice for leaders:

  • Look at the problem from every angle  (02:54)
  • Know where your resources are and make the most of them (07:52)
  • Be nimble (09:46)
  • Get outside help if needed and keep your board on board (21:18)
  • Let your passion show (22:21)

More about Michael Downey:

Michael Downey has been the President and CEO of Tennis Canada since 2004, with a brief break between 2013 and 2017, when the left to head up the British Lawn Tennis Association.  During his tenure at Tennis Canada he set out to transform the organization from one known for hosting tournaments to a leader in talent development and high performance. He’s credited with changing the company’s culture and prompting its board of directors to invest in new talent. His work helped develop tennis stars such as Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard, whose performances on the world stage raised the profile of Tennis Canada to unprecedented levels. In 2013, he was recruited to oversee British Tennis, where he led the development of a new strategic plan focussed on reversing a decade long decline in grassroots participation.

He was previously the president of the Ontario-Western Canada region at Molson Breweries and held senior executive positions with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors. He also served as President of Skydome and Molson Sports and Entertainment. Downey lives in Toronto with his wife Jinder and has three children, Schara, Mackenzie and Sam.