Glenn Skerry loves kicking goals with Sherrin®
Finance Director Russell Corp. Australia Pty Ltd
Finance Director Russell Corp. Australia Pty Ltd
How do you relax?
It’s not surprising, but there’s no better way for me to relax than by playing or watching sport. It could be down here at the ‘G’ on a Friday night barracking for the Magpies, or watching my kids do athletics on a Saturday morning. My own days of playing footy are over, but I like to get away at least once a year to play golf with my mates on the fantastic courses around the Mornington Peninsula.
Can you tell us a little bit about Russell Corp. Australia Pty Ltd?
Russell Corp is an Australian company with three iconic sports-related brands. We own SHERRIN, whose 135+ year history goes hand in hand with the game of Aussie Rules. We also hold the exclusive rights for SPALDING and RUSSELL ATHLETIC in Australia, which are both American sports brands that also have their own histories and traditions going back more than a century. Just as Sherrin is the official football of the AFL, SPALDING is the official basketball of the NBA in the United States and Basketball Australia.
Everyone at Russell Corp feels like we’re custodians of these amazing brands. With SHERRIN, although it’s becoming increasingly challenging, we’re committed to keeping the production of our flagship Kangaroo BrandTM and Official Game BallsTM onshore. These balls are still hand stitched from the best Australian leather by our production team in Scorseby, Victoria in much the same way as T. W Sherrin made them in 1880.
How did you come to be Finance Director of Russell Corp. Australia Pty Ltd, and what does your role involve?
After qualifying as an accountant, I worked at Cargill Australia for almost three years before landing a job as Finance Manager at Cricket Victoria. I found that I loved being able to use my professional skills in the sports industry and then when a position became available at Russell Corp a few years later I jumped at it.
My primary role is to oversee the financial health of the company, but as a member of the senior executive team I’m heavily involved in operations, including overseeing our IP protection.
What’s the role of innovation at Russell Corp?
Even though we look after brands with an incredible history behind them, we’re constantly innovating to meet the challenges posed by the market today. Under the RUSSELL ATHLETIC brand we’ve developed a range of athletic clothing with special high performance fabrics, we’ve also introduced hoodies with integrated speakers that can plug directly into music players such as iPods. With SHERRIN, innovations have included balls that glow in the dark for night-time training and balls designed to help players kick further and more accurately. I suppose those are the kinds of things that people traditionally associate with innovation, but for me innovation is a really broad concept, and includes simpler things such as creatively using artwork on clothing to revitalise brands with each new seasonal range.
Where does IP protection and management fit in at Russell Corp?
Even though it doesn’t entirely show up in the balance sheet, we understand that the majority of the real value in our business is in intangibles. Over the years we’ve become increasingly proactive in how we identify, protect, enforce and exploit our IP and the lawyers at EPIPHANY LAW have been central to that process
This evolution has been driven in part by an understanding that – at least in a business sense – money spent on IP protection is an investment rather than an expense. For example, we used to see anti-counterfeit measures as being nothing more than an unavoidable evil, but we’ve learned that identifying counterfeit products and taking them out of the market place quickly (or even better, preventing them from seeing the light of day), actually drives sales of genuine items.
Would you say that effective IP management is about more than having good IP lawyers?
Definitely. EPIPHANY LAW can’t be with us all the time, but new IP is being created all across our business every day. For this reason, we’ve been working with EPIPHANY LAW to develop the knowledge and skills of our senior management team and staff, so that they can understand our IP strategy and their role in the identification, creation and protection of intellectual property. In this way we can avoid problems that are easily avoidable, and EPIPHANY LAW can focus on the higher value work where we really need expertise of IP lawyers.
What have you found to be the most surprising part about working with us?
One pleasantly surprising aspect of working with EPIPHANY LAW is that they’ll periodically reach out to me to find out how things are going, but it never feels like it’s just an attempt to get more work. They’re genuinely interested in how I’m going and this has helped us build a relationship over the years.
Would you recommend us to a close colleague?
I would, and I have! I’ve worked with many law firms over the years, but I think that the thorough, thoughtful and committed service that I’ve received from the lawyers at EPIPHANY LAW has been outstanding, and I’d recommend them for this reason.