Christine Holgate speaks glowingly of her first interaction with the Collingwood Football Club.
Just a few short months after first arriving in Australia, the Englishwomen and international business leader was invited to a game in 2003 by President Eddie McGuire.
“I met Eddie in a meeting and he said to me ‘I heard you don’t know anyone and I happen to be the President of a football club. Why don’t you come to a game?’,” Ms Holgate recalled to Collingwood Media.
Holgate took up the offer and on a cold Friday night watched the Magpies comprehensively beat Richmond at the MCG.
Ironically, the person she next to that night would be the man she would replace on the Collingwood board thirteen years later.
“I met this fantastic couple, Jack and Anna Kennedy, and I sat with them that night,” Holgate said.
“They turned around and said to me ‘are you a supporter?’
“I replied ‘one date doesn’t make an engagement’.
“They said ‘come back next week’ and then they (Collingwood) smashed it again. They kept winning and winning.”
Despite growing fond of that feeling of victory, there were other significant off-field traits that attracted Holgate to the Magpies.
“Collingwood just gave me this huge sense of community and family as well as an awesome club and team,” she said.
“I am so pleased and so proud that Collingwood is a club who has really supported the development of women.
“I’d love for them to have a women’s AFL team.”
She also has a passion for helping the less-fortunate in the community that is currently expressed through Collingwood’s efforts in the Magpie Nest program.
“One of the aspects that is really close to my heart is the work the club does with homeless people.
“I love that about the club. I love that the club sees everybody as equal and sees past a postcode and looks to the person on the inside.”
Holgate joins the Collingwood board not only with a long-standing friendship with Eddie McGuire, but also the support of the President.
McGuire believes a passion for the club, coupled with world-class leadership skills will add tremendous value to the club’s eight-member board.
“Not only is Christine one of the highest credentialed CEOs in the country, she is a dye-in-the-wool Collingwood supporter,” McGuire said.
“Christine’s outstanding business and marketing acumen further enhances the skillset of the Collingwood Board of Directors.”
The credentials referenced by McGuire are currently allowing Holgate to be one of the most successful business leaders in Australia.
In 2015 she was awarded the CEO of the Year by The CEO Magazine for her role as the head of Australian vitamin company Blackmores.
Leading a company that is currently thriving in Asia, Holgate hopes she can use her vast business experience to bring a fresh mindset to the Collingwood board.
“I hope that one of the things I can bring to the board is a different perspective,” she said.
However when it comes to where she sits at the MCG on Collingwood match-days in the future, Holgate hopes nothing will change.
“If I ever go to a Collingwood game, I always say… ‘Can I sit next to Jack Kennedy?’
“I have to say how special it is… If I was to replace any director, it would be Jack and Anna Kennedy."
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