A Transformative Leader

Last updated 17 Jan 2024

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Richard McCooey has been part of the fabric of our sport since he made his first jump at the old Labertouche drop zone (as part of Monash University Skydivers) on 25 May 1980. Over the decades he has served APF in a range of voluntary and paid positions. He is, and will remain, an indelible part of the growth and development of skydiving in Australia.

A Transformative Leader

 Richard McCooey

As CEO, Richard honoured what came before, but was destined to do more than simply manage what was already there. He never stopped looking for ways to improve and develop the APF. Many of the robust processes and systems we now have in place are due to his tireless efforts. He was not afraid of change, and when faced with a choice between taking the soft option or doing the right thing, he tended to choose the latter.

A Leader For The Times

Even the most visionary of Chief Executive Officers would not have contingency plans in place for a global pandemic. And yet, structures put in place before and during the pandemic ensured that, unlike some sporting bodies, the APF survived without needing to be bailed out. Richard has always placed a high priority on keeping the APF financially strong and resilient. Circumstances required him to make some hard decisions, and he certainly proved to be up to the unexpected challenges he faced.

Behind The Scenes

Of course, the CEO has a public face, but some of Richard’s major achievements were done behind closed doors. Although he holds no formal legal training, he has overseen and managed some high-profile court cases, which, if mishandled, could threaten the very existence of the APF as we know it. He has spent countless days in court on our behalf. His work was instrumental in the APF “winning” the last two cases in which we were a defendant. He brought together a wealth of information and expertise to make this happen.

Richard was on a first name basis with some of CASA’s top managers. These personal connections come in handy when it comes to things like negotiating airspace issues for some of our operators whose viability has been threatened by such matters.

Of course, without public liability insurance, our sport as we know it could not operate. The annual negotiations with providers were very time consuming and stressful for Richard. In one of his final acts as CEO he successfully negotiated another year of insurance for us at a fair price. Insurance cover can never be taken for granted.

As we all know, not all skydives have a happy ending and Richard took great care in meeting with bereaved family and community members. The compassion he showed was genuine and he was very conscious he was representing all of us in doing this.

A Class Act

We can measure the class of a leader sometimes by the way they leave the position. When Richard felt it was time to move on, he immediately informed the Board, months in advance of the notice requirements of his contract. This enabled an exhaustive and lengthy search for our next CEO to take place. It also enabled our new CEO, Stephen Porter, to receive a proper handover and to ensure that structures were in place to serve APF in the coming years. Richard was key in making this happen. As always, even in departure, he gave the best interests of APF the highest priority.

Thank You

Richard was publicly thanked at the 2023 Conference in November, and many members were able to thank him personally at that time. Of course, Richard remains a loyal APF supporter and there will likely be times where his expertise and considerable intellectual property may be called upon by the Board or the incoming CEO. We are very lucky to have this valuable resource on our side.

Richard McCooey

Members who wish to get a message to Richard can email it to contactofficer@apf.com.au and it will be passed on to him.

[Photo Sources: Steve Fitchett, Australian Parachute Federation]

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