For those that don’t know me or the company well, then I could see how this could raise some questions. From experience, people look for credibility or a trusted advisor before investing in a new product. Some customers could feel that Mark Christie – the Managing Director of an IT start-up doesn’t bring much experience or credibility to the sports industry.
So that begs the question…who is Mark Christie?
To get the full picture, let us start in my prime: my late teens/early twenties.
The first job in my career pathway was as a Footballer. I was signed on a contract and the position as a striker, to begin with, and then eventually moved into defence. I loved football however due to an unfortunate injury, my dream of being a professional footballer was short-lived. After my injury, I pursued coaching, earnt my badges, and became a coach at my club for the final few months of my contract. Whilst being a player had been exhilarating, there was something about coaching that made me feel much more at home. I had the pleasure of being taught how to coach by the likes of John Collins, Stephen Wright, Gordon Durie, and Jim Fleeting – sporting legends. This opened doors and generated opportunities within the football industry such as starting up a local community team in my village which now has over 200 boys and girls playing football every week with the chance to join a pathway from under 9’s through to professional level playing. This local football club still means a lot to me today because it has provided a place for children and teenagers to explore sports and benefit from the freedom of being able to run around with a football.
After starting the local community team, I went on to coach professional youth footballers and elite academy-level footballers before eventually coaching the first team and reserves for a couple of clubs in Scotland. Shortly after that, I became and was awarded as the youngest semi-professional football manager in Scotland at 25. This is an achievement that I am extremely proud of as this was a huge moment for my coaching career. I had the ability to unlock people’s potential and build their on-pitch skills whilst encouraging key life skills too. Additionally, I learned a valuable lesson that would aid me in future life – everyone requires a different level of support. As I mentioned in a recent interview (available on the Proximo 3 YouTube channel), when facing a tough game, some players required a hug whilst others needed a pep talk. When facing a difficult or uncomfortable environment, this difference between people’s needs is transferrable to any industry you work in as someone with authority over a team or individuals.
Continuing in the sporting industry, I took up a position at EA sports working with player data and doing the scoring for the FIFA series of games, then onto sports interactive and the football manager franchise as an Assistant Researcher for Scotland. During this time, I was also employed by UEFA as a player liaison officer during the UEFA Futsal Champions League and earned my Youth B Diploma with UEFA in coaching.
After working with FIFA and UEFA, I went back to professional coaching for a few months before I made my move into IT as a Customer Support at an IT company. At this company, one of my first customers ended up being Arsenal FC – it seemed I hadn’t completely left the sporting world behind. Through my work with the premiership team, I gained insight into the backend of sports clubs whereas my prior knowledge was majorly in the front end of clubs. I learned about the software and admin used, or I should say lack of. Immediately, this showed me what was missing from sports clubs and the gap in the market for something that could revolutionise the use of physical filing cabinets. After my Customer Support role, I moved to a different partner where I worked with a large US sports-based company – again gaining more knowledge into the sporting industry but this time in America.
As most of you know, I then started Proximo 3, an IT company with Iain Connolly, Andrew Bibby, and Alison Mulligan – all big names within our community. Despite starting and running my own business, I have continued to work with many sports-related companies such as The R&A Golf Course in St Andrews, William’s Formula One, Glasgow Clan, and the Caledonia Gladiators. Additionally, we have also invested money each year into sponsoring teams such as St Johnstone FC, Jeanfield Swifts FC, Edinburgh Capitals, and 2 of our aforementioned customers – Glasgow Clan and the Caledonia Gladiators. Supporting sports teams is part of our DNA at Proximo 3, with the community being the reason Proximo 3 was started in the first place.
Earlier I spoke about transferrable skills. My move from coaching to working in IT to managing my own company has opened my eyes to the reality of transferrable skills and how true it is. Before my days consisted of coaching, managing a team, planning how to achieve results, and now my days consist of the same, with only the environment being different. Whether I’m delivering training or managing a project I can use the skills I learned in coaching to help me.
Now that I have a good knowledge of IT and 15 years of experience, I wanted to build a system to fix the lack of software and ineffective storage and organisation options that I saw when I started working in the backend of sports clubs in my first IT role. The key challenge that stood out to me was spreadsheets. Hundreds upon hundreds of spreadsheets for all purposes imaginable – storing player info, contract info, sponsorship info, etc.
Our applications take away the need for spreadsheets and bring the structure, process, security, and governance that clubs need. Our applications allow for everything to be managed in a central location with a range of tasks at the ready from creating sponsorship invoices, storing visa applications for players, and offering a player portal where players can manage their own details on their account.
So, now you know a bit more about me, my background, and why I feel these new applications are well needed and deserved by sports clubs. I hope this brings some credibility to my name and our company name as to why we are choosing to get further involved in the sporting industry.