Mel Berry is focusing on making a real impact in the triathlon industry and people’s lives.
Berry, owner of Very Berry Sports Marketing, has recently taken the lead at the Triathlon Industry Association (TIA - www. triathlonindustryassociation.org) and is the first female chair.
She is very passionate about addressing the gender balance and female representation at board level.
Triathlon enjoyed a year of significant growth in 2015, with 140,000 people accounting for a record total of 220,000 race starts, and a 15 per cent rise in total spend to £417.5 million.
The association is comprised of event organisers, equipment manufacturers, tour operators, retailers, distributors and media and Berry has a strong vision for its future.
She said: “I want the association to be very clear on its purpose and for me it’s about monetising the sport.
“So how do we make sure we do that when British Triathlon and Triathlon England etc have got more people doing, how do we make sure that the experience is better.
“The TIA produce annual research to show why people are put off.
“So there is open water swimming, people have a fear of that for obvious reasons, people struggle to understand where and how they get to a club and then again kit.
“So it’s then looking at all the brands in that space that then can share their knowledge.
“So if you look at the TIA’s purpose it’s around how do we make it more prosperous for brands.
“My difference is I bring my knowledge and expertise from a brand point of view and understand the power of brands.
“Then we work in partnership and collaboration with key partners, which obviously British Triathlon is.
“I want to engage more people, to re-engage with brands and that everyone who sits on the board has a clear purpose and ownership of what they are doing.
“It’s great that the feedback I am getting from other board members is really positive.
“I want to see double digit growth of the industry rather than organic growth. I believe there is no reason why we can’t achieve that.”
And Mel is extremely passionate about the sport being a keen triathlete. After being a national age group swimmer, she took up the sport after being introduced to it by a friend when she was living in Dubai in the mid 1990s, when she was working for Reebok, Speedo and the Hilton.
Mel has vast experience in sport marketing with over 20 years in the industry and has been involved in some of the biggest events in the world.
She was working for Speedo at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and adidas for the London 2012 Games.
After leaving Speedo, Mel set up Perfect Motion Sports Marketing in 2001, where she had two business partners.
After taking it as far as she felt she could Mel left to set up Very Berry Sports Marketing in 2009.
At the moment she is working with outdoor fitness equipment company Proludic on another issue close to her heart.
Mel said: “Proludic aims to get over one million people more active by 2020 using its range of outdoor fitness equipment. With growing obesity issues and with a marked increase in the proportion of adults that are obese from 13.2 per cent in 1993 to 26.0 per cent in 2013 for men, and from 16.4 per cent to 23.8 per cent for women, the use of the outdoors for fitness is critical.”
Over the last six months 146,000 Knowsley residents have been using over 107 pieces of Proludic Urbanix outdoor fitness stations over 15 sites.
All of these sites are within ten minutes walking distance from every resident’s house, and 14 were installed in some of the most deprived areas of Knowsley.
According to research, populations in England that have high proportions of green space have better physical health and mental well-being.
The availability of green spaces in an urban environment is also associated with increased physical activity and the associated health benefits.
Key to success was the strong partnership with Public Health, NHS and Park Rangers.
Mel said: “Knowsley is a great example, £300,000 was invested in 15 sites for free gym use.
“For disadvantaged communities and high depravation areas it’s hard to get to a gym because there are so many obstacles. “So getting the knowledge out there is important.
“The partnership with public health was key because it was then looking at the way to give people the knowledge to come and that it was safe and comfortable in that environment.”
Mel concluded: “I love the two decades I have been involved in sport and what gives me a kick more nowadays is working on campaigns I can see a direct impact and change from.
“With campaigns like Proludic where you are changing the environment you can make real change.”