Cameron Schwab started his leadership journey in the elite sporting environment of the Australian Football League (AFL), the largest and most professional code in the country.

At age 24, Cameron was appointed CEO of the famous Richmond Football Club, becoming the youngest CEO in the 160 year history of the AFL. He spent 25 years in CEO roles at three AFL clubs.

He now heads up designCEO, which he founded to share his experiences and to help other leaders to grow.

In this interview we discuss a range of leadership insights and tools, such as the importance of acknowledging and owning your own emotions as a leader, and knowing when is - and isn’t - a good time to make decisions based on your emotions.

Cameron also contrasts the deliberate practice of skills across elite sport, the military, and business, and how business has a lot to learn from elite sport.


Welcome to episode six, I'm Tristan White and today we have an interview with a CEO from the elite sports world by the name of Cameron Schwab. At age 24, Cameron was appointed CEO of the famous Richmond Football Club in the AFL or Australian Football League. The AFL is Australia's largest and most professional sporting competition with more than one million members paid up to support one of the 18 clubs from around Australia.

The Richmond Football Club is one of the largest in the league with more than 100000 paid up members in 2018. And I just happen to be one of those Mighty Tigers supporters.

When he was appointed CEO, Cameron was the youngest Chief Executive in the 160 year history of the AFL. Cam went on to spend the next 25 years as a Chief Executive of three different AFL clubs. Richmond, Melbourne and Fremantle.

As a CEO in that elite sport environment, expectations of the position often moved faster than the capacity of the CEO to actually build that capability. Cam always felt stretched, forever tested and never comfortable in those 25 years. Learning was an absolute constant.

Cameron is now the CEO of his own education company, specifically created to share his experience and help others to grow. DesignCEO exists to help create courageous, confident and creative leaders.

I first met Cam when he reached out to me via LinkedIn and invited me to attend one of his DesignCEO workshops. I went, I love it and now I'm super grateful to have met and continue to learn from Cameron.

In this interview, we cover some great learnings including the importance of acknowledging and owning your own emotions as a leader. When is a good time to make decisions? And when is the time to best avoid making important decisions based upon your own emotions?

I also loved Cameron's take on deliberate practise of skills and how that differs in different environments like elite sport, like business and the military. I think you'll like this interview. Enjoy.

Find out more about Cameron Schwab

About Tristan White