My Life’s Work | Chris Woodgate, Chief Operating Officer, Goodwood
In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week we meet Chris Woodgate, Chief Operating Officer, Goodwood, on maintaining a good balance between work and family, attention to detail and leaving a positive legacy.
“My early career was in the world of corporate finance, beginning with KPMG before moving to ABN AMRO in London. I went back to KPMG briefly before setting up a new corporate finance team at PWC. Back in 2009 I left PWC to set up a small corporate finance practice in Fareham. It was here that I first got introduced to Goodwood, initially through a banking relationship having built the financial model for one of their events. About six months later, in 2010, I got approached by the then CFO of Goodwood, Alex Williamson, and offered the role as Group Head of Finance. That was what I would call my first proper job in a company after years of being a consultant! My progression at Goodwood saw me made up to Group FD in 2012, CFO in 2016 before becoming COO earlier this year.”
WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
Attention to detail. It runs through everything we do at Goodwood and is the hallmark of British luxury.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR GOODWOOD?
The longstanding vision of the Duke of Richmond is for Goodwood to be the world’s leading luxury experience brand. It’s my job to bring this vision to life across the diverse portfolio of business we have on the Estate by embodying our ‘daring do’ attitude. We champion an entrepreneurial spirit combined with a challenging of the status quo to create the best possible experiences for our customers.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Being able to look back in ten years’ time and say I’ve maintained a good balance between work and family.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
To continually improve the quality of the Goodwood Estate and for everyone who works here to be committed to leaving a positive legacy for generations to come.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
Holidays and travel.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The variety in the business. One day I’m talking chickens on our farm, the next I’m meeting the chairman of one of the world’s leading multinational banks! I find it very hard to think of where else that would happen.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
Generally I’m not the type of person who looks back and wishes they’d done things differently. I think you make decisions to the best of your ability based on circumstances at the time. But if there’s a theme I reflect on that’s taught me a valuable lesson it’s being clear on when to call in expert help rather than ploughing on alone.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I come from a background of numbers where everything is black and white and transactional. But in my role now I’m surrounded by creative people and I get the biggest inspiration from watching them at work.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?
Joining Goodwood. The speed the business moves, the dynamic way we’ve developed and the fact that the senior team is relatively young have all combined to present me with opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to grab.
WHAT IS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
To be true to myself.
WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Sir Alex Ferguson. Love him or loathe him, his longevity, commitment to youth and belief in himself commands admiration. The way he reinvented himself and his team to dominate English football for over two decades was a remarkable achievement.
WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?
“Sorry I’m late…”
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
Catching up on emails and two kids under five!
WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Marine biologist. I’ve got a Masters in Marine Science and I’ve always liked the idea of going back to that one day.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?
People are at the core of any business but particularly so in the luxury sector. So make sure you get close to the key stakeholders and decision makers who are driving the business forward to truly understand what makes them tick.