What our colleagues say

Will Roberts

Chief Operating Officer
Will Roberts Picture
What Will says
Will has a keen interest in sport and sport development.
Will has a keen interest in sport and sport development and joined YST in 2007 as UK School Games Development Manager, before taking on the roles of Head of Competition and Talent in 2011 and Head of Sport in 2013. In 2017 Will became Director of Operations, in 2019 he was appointed as Chief Operating Officer, a member of the YST Senior Leadership Team.
What opportunities has YST given you to grow and develop?
YST is a safe environment where you can learn from your mistakes. The biggest opportunity I have had to grow and develop came from a situation where I had to learn from a mistake. I received some tough third-party feedback which I had to deal with head on, and after some hard reflection I used this to then take more personal responsibility and develop my leadership skills.

The different formal roles I have held in my 12 years at YST have given a route for the development opportunities to change over time and yes there has been formal CPD, but I think the biggest thing for me was ‘getting it’ – and that to develop and grow, I need to take ownership of it, and to start asking questions about what is possible, and have a mindset of saying say ‘yes’ when opportunities arose.
What do you enjoy about working at YST?
I love the sense of purpose we have as a charity and that I feel every day when I wake up. When people ask me what I do for a living, my formal response relates to making sure we have an effective and successful approach to fulfilling the promises we make to those who fund us to achieve our mission.  I feel like I have two main things to focus on every day – 1. Deal with things that need resolving/problems and 2. Coach my team members to fulfil their potential. Both of which of course mean we can achieve the more formal definition.

For me it is being part of a culture that is distinct and special. We have high expectations and we are devoted to our mission.  We work hard, have fun, and we have an honest leadership culture that I really enjoy being part of.
What has been your favourite moment at YST?
This is a really tough one. It probably has to be May 2012 which was the day we ran the School Games Finals on the Olympic Park.  We were asked if we could get 35,000 school children to the Olympic Park to watch the School Games Finals for a day, which was a huge challenge. The sense of relief seeing thousands upon thousands of school children streaming into the park brought a lump to my throat.  From a YST culture point of view, I will never forget calling Ali (YST CEO) and telling her I needed her help with athlete departures.  We rallied several other colleagues and we got it all sorted, meaning that flights etc were not missed. That’s the real YST, putting the young people first and ensuring that we do everything possible to get things right.