28 October 2022

Basketball ACT CEO David Simpson keeps his options open

| Tim Gavel
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There are so many people of all ages wanting to play basketball that court space has become an issue in the ACT. Photo: File.

There are so many people of all ages wanting to play basketball that court space has become an issue in the ACT. Photo: File.

In 2020, to a global television audience, David Simpson became the public face of the cancelled Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

As a sideline to his CEO roles, for the past 10 years, David has worked for the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.

“I love working in events. For the Australian Formula One and MotoGPs I look after everything from security, ticketing and corporates in a particular zone of the track,” says David.

In 2020 he had an added responsibility.

He announced live on television on Friday 13 March 2020 that the grand prix, which was to be held on 15 March at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, had been cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

David announced the cancellation from a megaphone to fans awaiting the opening of the gates to the Australian Grand Prix on that Friday.

Basketball ACT CEO David Simpson. Photo: File.

Basketball ACT CEO David Simpson. Photo: File.

Closer to home David is better known for his role as the CEO of Basketball ACT, effectively guiding the organisation into a period of stability and growth.

“When I first came into the organisation they had three CEOs in 12 months. It was, to a degree, dysfunctional. I worked on culture and relationships. We are now financially stable. We are in a good position.”

Fifty-three-year-old David has overseen a remarkable period of growth in basketball in Canberra with a 25 per cent increase in participation and with programs on the rise across the sport.

But the sport has become, to some degree, a victim of its own success.

Basketball in Canberra has simply run out of playing courts because of the large number of people wanting to play the sport.

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One solution is the construction of further indoor courts on land purchased by Basketball ACT in 2012 adjacent to the existing stadium in Belconnen.

Belconnen Basketball Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Belconnen Basketball Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

But David will not be part of the ongoing decision-making of Basketball ACT.

After three years in the CEO role David has decided it is time to hand over to somebody with a different skill set.

But he leaves the organisation in a good position.

“I think we are close to getting the facility over the line,” he says.

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It is rare these days that a CEO is prepared to move on with so much of the groundwork already completed.

“I’m leaving on a high,” says David. “It’s a great organisation and there’s a huge opportunity here.”

And for David, the hardest part “was telling the staff I was leaving”.

He has negotiated a six-month transition period to work alongside his successor, with his final working date coinciding with the lead-up to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park.

“I love it,” he says of the grand prix. “It’s completely different from the CEO role at Basketball ACT. It’s a big release and it keeps me grounded.”

And as to the future, David says: “At this time I’m keeping my options open and we will see what happens, but my job is done at Basketball ACT.”

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