Cardiff Blues have appointed Hayley Parsons OBE as a non-executive director, the first time a woman will take a seat on the board of Cardiff Blues Limited.
The 45-year-old hails from Cwmbran and started her career making tea for an insurance company, before joining Admiral and helping to create the Confused.com area of the business, eventually leaving to found GoCompare.com.
In 2015 Parsons sold her stake in the company for a reported £44m, subsequently promoting entrepreneurship in Wales via panels advising the Welsh Assembly Government and UK Government, as well as part of the BeTheSpark movement and the Inspire Growth Wales investment consortium.
She has won numerous awards including the Western Mail’s ‘Welsh Woman in Innovation Award’, and the ‘Business Leader’ category in the Inspire Wales Awards, and was awarded an OBE for services to the economy in January 2012.
Parsons has previously attempted to gain a similar role with the Welsh Rugby Union shortly after Roger Lewis departed, commenting after being unsuccessful that she “gets the impression that a 41-year-old entrepreneur is a step too far for them at the moment.”
Cardiff Blues chairman Alun Jones was clearly pleased to welcome the first new addition to the board since he joined at the start of the year, saying “we are absolutely delighted to welcome someone of Hayley’s calibre to the board of Cardiff Blues and have no doubt that she will prove an invaluable addition.
“Hayley has a diverse and hugely successful business background and will bring strong commercial, marketing and social media experience, which will be beneficial to the region’s business plan.
“This is just the latest step in the modernisation of our board and our corporate governance and demonstrates our desire to become more diverse and representative of all of our stakeholders.”
Parsons, a long-time Welsh rugby fan, also spoke to the Cardiff Blues official website. “I am very proud to be the first female board member of the Cardiff Blues. I am a huge supporter of Wales in terms of its economy, its people and the its potential, as well as Welsh rugby and the regions.
“In this role as a non-exec director, I will be looking at things from a fresh perspective and with a new approach. There’s a huge amount of potential here and there’s a lot more we could, and should, be doing to achieve that and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and helping in any way I can.
“With the changes being made at Cardiff Blues at the moment, I am confident that we can develop a sustainable business model for the region, make sensible business decisions, while growing and developing as a business to deliver success. I’m very excited about joining the Cardiff Blues board and making a contribution to Welsh rugby.”