When the first ball of the eleventh International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup is bowled at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 14 February next year, there will be smiles across the faces of the tournament organisers and thousands of volunteers who have had a hand in ensuring the event is a success.
Among them will be Nick Hansen, 30, senior legal counsel for the local organising committee, Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd, who will have spent more than two years of planning and negotiating as part of the local organising committee.
“It’s a dream job for a cricket fan like myself. It’s also so varied, way more than I thought it would be,” he says.
“All the different procurement we have to deal with is far more interesting and challenging than you would expect. It makes procurement fun. We’re dealing with airlines, freight companies, hotels as part of the huge logistical challenge of moving teams, officials and others between the 14 tournament venues.
Graduating from Otago University in 2009 with an LLB (Hons) and B Comm (International Business), Mr Hansen landed a summer clerkship at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in Wellington and was then offered a graduate job. He worked in the corporate/commercial team for three and a half years.
“I wasn’t looking to leave but it was kind of getting to the point where I could have considered going overseas or trying something new, but I was happy in Wellington and my wife has a great job here.”
“Someone showed me the Cricket World Cup legal counsel advert on Seek and I thought it would be pretty foolish not to apply.”
One of his first tasks was to help establish Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd – as sole legal advisor of the New Zealand office – while providing leadership on legal and procurement aspects of tournament delivery.
Mr Hansen supports managers at the New Zealand office and reports to the Head of Legal and Procurement, Christine Harman, based in Cricket World Cup 2015’s Melbourne office as part of a team of three lawyers within the organisation.
He says communication with his Australian colleagues works well despite the distance.
“There are some challenges, but it’s actually worked really well. Christine comes out quite a bit and I get over there every now and then and we talk often. My focus is on the New Zealand legal and procurement issues, but I still get to be involved in some of the more general work and vice versa.”
Mr Hansen’s position has allowed him to view how other parts of the company operate.
“The thing I’ve found most interesting is the magnitude and variety of operational requirements there are in putting on a major sporting event. It’s not like a normal summer of cricket, it’s far more intense. It’s hard for people to appreciate that until you actually look closely at issues like delivering a ticketing offering and system across two countries or the technology, broadcasting and temporary construction requirements at venues to cater for a much greater number of media, officials and hospitality guests.”
Mr Hansen was initially kept busy negotiating all of the New Zealand venue use agreements and all the hosting agreements with the cities.
“That was pretty intense – agreeing the exclusive use rights and periods for all of the venues, working through the deals around the costs for running matches, and documenting how the host cities would support the Cricket World Cup.”
Mr Hansen says the pace at which things happen has been an eye opener for him.
“That’s probably the biggest challenge. We have a vast array of operational, commercial and promotional areas, and with a small team, you just have to get things done. Sometimes you have to do things you wouldn’t normally do or do them differently.
“It’s amazing how hard people work here. People think of commercial law firms as places where people do long hours but people work unbelievably hard here and travel a huge amount as well – but there is always a lot of fun to be had.”
Mr Hansen says he can’t wait until the event comes to fruition.
“At the end, I think that’ll be the most satisfying part, seeing things through from the beginning to the end.”
His work won’t end when the wining team lifts the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy as he will be helping to close out the hundreds of agreements with suppliers, settling payments and winding up Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd with a skeleton crew.
Once his fixed term contract ends he’ll be trying to find something as satisfying as his current job.
“I become unemployed in June next year, so I’ll be looking for a job. Working here has made me more interested in working in-house and maybe even more interested in non-legal roles, but I’d also look at going back to a law firm to up skill.”
Nick Hansen was highly commended by judges in the CLANZ-MAS Young In-House Lawyer of the Year category 2014.