Friendly welcome: Richard Hughes.
Friendly welcome: Richard Hughes. Rob Williams

Up-lifting insights into what makes CEO tick

RICHARD Hughes likes cooking, admires Parramatta Eels great Nathan Hindmarsh and enjoys regular gym sessions to keep fit.

But he's the first to admit he can't lift anywhere near what the powerful Ipswich Jets footballers can.

Nor should he. Hughes' main focus as Jets CEO is looking after the players.

"It's giving the team on the field everything they need from a support perspective,'' he said. "And back that up with as many tangible things as possible.

"Making sure that the administration side of the business runs effectively, good governance.''

Seeking new sponsors and looking after those supporting the club are also essential roles.

Although an Ipswich newcomer, Hughes appreciates the wonderful family and fans bond formed at the Jets.

"One of the things that's driven home to me during the (recruitment) process was the sense of community and the ownership of the club,'' Hughes said.

That includes the Jets' ongoing support for the annual Defence Day, held at the start of this season.

Upcoming community events include a Ladies Day (June) and the Indigenous Multicultural Day later in the season.

"While those days have always been extremely well run, we've made an investment now to look into 2020 and see that those days are given the right exposure,'' he said.

With Ipswich travelling to play PNG over Easter, the next day to promote that country's culture will be scheduled for next year.

One of the new benefits for Jets sponsors is hearing co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker offer their insights before a game.

Although born and growing up in England, Hughes quickly developed a strong affection for Australia, gaining his national citizenship in 2007 "in the first opportunity I had''.

The well-travelled corporate manager rapidly warmed to Australia when he arrived from the UK.

It was preparing for his job working as a beverage manager in Tasmania that he quickly discovered how different it was to his homeland.

"I used to travel on the Tube (London underground train station) with 100,000 other people and nobody would look up,'' he said. "And everybody was as miserable as hell. It was cold, dark and wet.

"And I remember in Tasmania . . . there were all these random people I didn't know who were saying g'day to me . . . and I had no idea what people were doing.''

That friendly welcome has left a lasting impression.

Married to Fiona with children Ethan and Amelia, Hughes appreciates how being in Australia has helped him in business and his family.

"The opportunities Australia has offered me as a person far surpasses what I would have ever got in the UK,'' he said.

During his time working in Sydney, he became a Parramatta Eels fan. He rates Nathan Hindmarsh and Corey Norman among his favourite footballers.

As he settles into Ipswich work life, Hughes said he likes cooking, with curry among his preferred dishes.

He enjoys cycling and going to the gym three or four times a week.

Just don't ask him to challenge the Jets' power lifters.

"When I hang around with the boys in the sheds, I realise what I can lift with two arms, they can lift with one hand,'' he said.