With the likes of Arsenal and Charlton already on his CV, Ben Kensell boasts a wealth of experience as he now tackles his new role at Norwich City.
The newly appointed Chief Operating Officer will be one-third of the newly formed executive committee following Steve Stone’s departure from the club. Kensell is energetic but also one switched on character, one who emphasises the importance of transparency that is becoming synonymous with Norwich’s culture under the current regime.
Kensell is a businessman, that is clear in the strategic and logical way in which he speaks, but he’s personable and direct. Personality in abundance, an ability to retain the attention of the audience when speaking and operating with clear methodology.
‘I enjoy being open and transparent with the fans, more importantly, I think it helps being top of the league obviously. But we’ve had quite an open dialogue especially since I’ve been appointed, I’ve been quite keen to speak to as many fans as I can but also ensure our staff are well communicated as well.
‘For me, of course, it was a successful AGM, but what was interesting was getting some of the fans’ views through the Q&A. We had quite a range of questions but it was an interesting insight from my perspective’.
From speaking to the Canaries top brass individually, one reoccurring theme seems increasingly apparent, and that is the formation of an open line of dialogue with supporters. Within that newly-formed executive committee, there are figureheads who want to engage with supporters and hear their opinions.
This change of approach is subtle but helps gets supporters on board.
Extending invitations to this event for fansites is merely the tip of the iceberg, opting to publish and explain a detailed view of the accounts was integral to helping people understand them. Of course, there is an obligation to publish, but nothing in terms of legislation to explain these accounts in their full, stark context.
Communication is something Norwich supporters can get accustomed to from their new Chief Operating Officer.
‘It’s massively important (to communicate) whether we’re winning or losing. If we’re 15th in the table then we should still be open and transparent with communication, we should still engage with supporters’, said Kensell.
‘Let’s not hide behind the fact we’re doing this because things are going well. No, we’re doing that because its part of our DNA, our values and how we want to be as a football club and as an executive team.
‘That’s the way we want to run our football club, and Delia and Michael are absolutely backing that, they’ve said that tonight’.
Kensell paying homage to the long-standing owners is admirable, and this AGM saw Delia and Michael be as emotional publically as supporters have seen for a long time. They described themselves as ‘guardians’ of the football club, stating that it was the supporters who truly owned the club.
Opinions on those characters are divided, and the pros and cons of the self-sustaining model can be disputed under the cows come home, but Delia and Michael have a presence that few owners have in English football.
They deserve respect regardless of individual opinions.
Kensell unveiled six values at this AGM through an excellently produced video including highlights of matches embedded with the glorious tones of Chris Goreham. The film made Daniel Farke brim with pride, that was etched all over his face.
The film culminated with the new tagline ‘Together, we are stronger’.
‘For me, we’re all talking about belonging and then you talk about integrity but actually, for me, it’s about the DNA in which the club actually exists. People always talk about, what are the values? Well actually, it’s about how you show up. So, we used two or three examples of players that actually go above and beyond.
‘What I would say is some of our players and some of the staff do things that would never get in the media. Our staff and our players do things that you’d never hear about, simply because it’s the right thing to do and it’s how you show up as an individual.
‘Values are obviously important, it underpins how we want to be as a football club and how we want to be represented. You recruit those values, you can’t just turn round to someone and say we want you to have pride, we want you to work with integrity, we want you to have a sense of belonging, you either feel it or you don’t feel it.’
Culture has been a buzzword surrounding Norwich City in the last 18 months, but it’s deeper than simply constructing a new method of working and developing young talent.
Everyone who is working at the club is provided with a voice. There appears to be a real equality at the club that doesn’t allow for egos, there is no patriarchy with the top possessing the most power, instead, there is a desire to communicate and to work hard.
Norwich may lack finance, but they do have good individuals who are experts in their fields.
Stuart Webber, one of the country’s highest-rated Sporting Directors, Zoe Ward, with an experienced background in football, working at Liverpool and Fulham and Ben Kensell, a man who forged his path at Arsenal and Charlton.
Human beings are now running the ship, with a collective sense that everyone is mooring the masks to ensure it continues to float even despite holes attempting to sink it. Norwich is a unique entity, they do break the mould and are overachieving from a financial point of view.
Those dissenters have been silenced, the nay-sayers proved wrong because confidence isn’t in short supply at Carrow Road.
For now, at least.
Thanks again to our friends at Along Come Norwich, the full Ben Kensell interview can be heard here: