Meet the MD: Gerard Crowley of Team Challenge Company

Meet the MD: Gerard Crowley of Team Challenge Company

After launching his own part-time DIY business to earn pocket money whilst he was at school, Gerard Crowley has never been able to shake off the entrepreneurial bug. As managing director of Team Challenge Company, BQ caught up with him to see how he made it happen and what advice he has for aspiring entrepreneurs.

What does your company do?

Team Challenge Company prides itself on being one of the most experienced and innovative corporate team building specialists in the UK and Ireland.

We offer traditional team building or team development away-days, corporate family fun days, indoor and evening entertainment and we have the knowledge, expertise and experience to develop and deliver a huge variety of bespoke team building events.


What does your role involve?

To inspire everyone at Team Challenge Company to consistently deliver outstanding results for our clients by developing creative events, given by highly trained teams using the latest equipment to achieve our clients’ objectives.

I aim to anticipate the needs of our clients by continually learning about improvements in the world of teams and their development as well as the latest trends in events in order to bring this knowledge to my clients.

Team Challenge Company is proud to offer a unique and distinct range of team building event services and will create, design and deliver a bespoke team building package tailored to meet clients’ specific needs, objectives and budget.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

My first foray into the business world was during my school years, where in order to make some pocket money I set up a part-time DIY business called Crowley’s Enterprise.

After 18 months and with my school finals arriving it was put to sleep by my Dad for fear I wouldn’t get good grades. (Maybe he was right…)

After graduating from the University of Ulster I started my career in hospitality where I found I had the entrepreneurial flair, and with a successful restaurant at the age of 22 I knew I needed more experience from bigger organisations before I went out on my own.

In 1999 I joined a team building company, Royal Bridge Leisure as a sales manager where I really cut my business teeth, gaining experience in logistics, team management and development as well as client relationship building.

My final job before setting up Team Challenge Company was with a sports company called Sport for Life and that experience took me around different countries and cultures all adding to the experience I took to Team Challenge Company.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

To me a great leader is an inspiration to those around them, people want to excel for them, work towards a common goal and share in success with a sense of achievement.

In my role I spend a lot of time assisting in leadership workshops and no matter how many theories you hear or read, a leader to me has to have the backing of the best team they can develop and involve and trust them to deliver.

They need to have the courage to follow their vision, and to share this and inspire others to strive towards that vision.  


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

My biggest challenge recently was completing a 10-day charity trek across the Arctic on behalf of Cancer Research UK.

My co-director Stephen Hazley and I trekked 120km and had to endure temperatures of minus 30, a 24 hour gale-force seven snowstorm as well as ice quakes.

The training regime ahead of the trek was rigorous involving 5am wake-up calls to practice walking with a 35Kg sled for up to four hours; training in shorts and t-shirts outside in the Scottish winter to get used to sub-zero temperatures, as well as four gym sessions a week to build up strength.

The trek pushed us to our physical limits but reinforced our belief that the essential qualities for facing challenges are thorough preparation and planning, team work as well as a sense of humour.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

In 2010 I took up running and fitness training; to this day I still punish myself with hard training sessions. I find that it is one of the few places where my brain gets some rest.

If I only have a little time and I need to switch off I play Tetris, there is something about the game that calms me and allows me to have free thought.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an airline pilot, I still think that it may be possible, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever pilot an international flight.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

My pet hates in the workplace are untidiness and tardiness. I enjoy a clear work space and everything in its right spot. I tidy constantly and am forever encouraging others to have clean work spaces. I am also a stickler for punctuality, if I say I am going to be somewhere at 7am then I will be.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

In five years we plan to have doubled turnover and then be in a position to make a major acquisition to bring us into the top three Team Building companies in the UK.

I see us purchasing our own distribution depot so we can further centralise the operation and also having increased our market leading Team Building challenges.

We want to substantially increase our client base in the Central Belt of Scotland and the English Midlands


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Keep your body fit and healthy, be strong willed and above all trust yourself first.  Build a strong team of fully engaged personnel and allow them to make a difference. 

Business is difficult and staying in business is even harder, so remember if it was meant to be easy everyone would be starting a business.

The number one aim is to stay in game because once you get put out it is twice as tough to come back in.