Former rugby great Brian O’Driscoll joins Teneo Holdings

Ex-Ireland and Lions captain signs up with sports division of New York-based company

Former Ireland and Lions rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll has joined the sports division of New York-based global advisory firm Teneo Holdings as a senior adviser.

He joins a list of advisers that includes Senator George Mitchell, and former British foreign secretary Lord William Hague, while Teneo is also a partner with tennis great Billie Jean King across her business and philanthropic activities.

Teneo has a substantial sports business, led by Charlie Denson, a former Nike brand president. Its mandates include advising soccer's world governing body Fifa on its reorganisation, and working on Los Angeles's bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics.

Mr O'Driscoll's recruitment is a coup for Teneo, which was co-founded in 2011 by Irish man Declan Kelly - brother of former Labour minister for the environment Alan Kelly - and has 550 staff. Its clients including Coca Cola, McDonald's, American Express and Samsung.


Mr O’Driscoll will work primarily with Teneo’s London-based sports team at Blue Rubicon, which it acquired last year.

Mr O’Driscoll said he was looking forward to helping Teneo’s clients redefine how they leverage sports to grow their brands.

“Given the level of clients and brands that they are associated with, there’s a huge amount of experience I can gain while adding my own experience to a sector that they are looking at building. It’s a great opportunity for me to grow and evolve,” said Mr O’Driscoll

He said it was also a “brilliant opportunity” to work with Teneo’s clients in the US, where his profile would be lower than in Europe. “I’d like to think that what I can offer will transfer across a lot of different sports, not just be specific to rugby.”

‘Good fit’

Mr O’Driscoll has turned down several other business opportunities since retiring from rugby as “they haven’t been the right fit for one reason or another”.

“I don’t want to get involved in something where I won’t add any value. I’ve had some good options and have turned down more than I’ve said ‘yes’ to. This feels like a good fit.”

Mr O'Driscoll's position of adviser is not a full-time role and he will continue to work as a pundit with BT Sport and ITV in the UK and Irish radio station Newstalk. The former rugby star also works with HSBC on its golf and rugby sevens sponsorships and he is also a co-owner of Ultimate Rugby.

“There are lots of different components to what I’m doing but they all allow me flexibility that if my wife [actress Amy Huberman] needs to move abroad that I can go with all these things. That’s why I’ve chosen a portfolio of things.”

It is understood that the company intends to use Mr O’Driscoll as an adviser for its non-sports clients, particularly in connection with chief executive succession and leadership. “I operate best on a one-to-one level rather than preaching to the masses. That’s where I feel I might excel,” said Mr O’Driscoll.

Mr Kelly said Mr O’Driscoll would be a “tremendous resource for our clients in key markets around the globe”.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times