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Wan's Column - Organization Structure

Note: This case study was submitted as part of the OCM Advance Sports Management Course in 2009

In my last article dated 20th May 2009, titled Going back to schooll; published in the Footloose June 2009 edition and uploaded to, I wrote on the Vision, Mission and Strategies that guided the club during my term as president from 2000 to 2005. In this article, I shall focus on organization structure which is actually from Module 1 of my training course. It is a bit like Star Wars, you write the latter episodes and then write the earlier episodes. You may have to read the previous article to relate to this one.

A Bit of History
In early 1984, Kris Lee Siu Heng, a sales executive with Nike and Alex Moh Chean Seng, a keen distance runner mooted the idea of forming a distance running club, while preparing for the inaugural Kuala Lumpur International Marathon.

Their dream gained momentum when they roped in Raymond Teoh, then general manager of the company promoting Nike products, Marina Chin our national sprint queen, Dr. Ronnie Yeo, a medical doctor with the National Sports Council and Dato Professor Khairuddin Yusof . They had their first meeting on 23 January 1984 at Raymond's office and decided on the name of the club Pacesetters; from a word in a runner magazine. The logo was adopted from running legend, Frank Shorter's product logo with some variation. The constitution was based on one from the Lights Athletic Club.

Kris Lee then approached Datuk Shahrir Abdul, the then Minister of Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur to be patron. Datuk Shahrir suggested that the club add the words Athletic Club to the name so that it can be affiliated with the Federal Territory Amateur Athletic Association (FTAAA), hence the name Pacesetters Athletic Club. He also consented to be the patron of the club.

The club was unofficially launched during the Kuala Lumpur Marathon with about 10 runners wearing the club’s vest sponsored by Raymond’s company, Roberston, Wilson, Jamil (M) Sdn Bhd. Later the Pro-tem Committee decided to organize a charity run on the launch date to create an impact. Dr Ronnie came out with the concept paper and the date of the run was fixed on 20 May 1984. The run would start at Lake Garden and end at Petaling Jaya Hilton car-park. The run attracted about 500 runners and the club was born.

The first Committee of the club comprised the following;

Patron – Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad
President – Raymond Teoh Cheng Kooi
Vice presidents – Dr. Ronnie Yeo Ngo Tee and Dr. Professor Khairuddin Yusof
Secretary – Kris Lee Siu Heng
Treasurer – Alex Moh Chean Seng
Committee members – Marina Chin Leng Sim, Ong Hock Chuan, Joyce Leong Goot Heng, Jessie Chew, Chua Ah Tok, Edward Leong, Jonathan Leong, Patrick Tan and Susie Wong

Existing Organisation Structure (2009)

(The above org chart is not from the club, I requested for one but VP Sook Ying told me there isn’t. I drafted this and emailed to her before I started the course as it was a pre-requisite of the course)

Fast Forward to 1998
Starting from a small club of about 300 members when I got active in 1998, the management structure was very flat. We only have one group, at Bukit Aman, Lake Garden, Kuala Lumpur. Under our constitution, the Committee has to meet a minimum of once a month, we complied with that and we normally meet over dinner at various food outlets in Section 14 Petaling Jaya as we do not have an office. Usually we have about 60% attendance back in 1998/1999 as the commitment of some of the committee members was not so strong. Back in 1998 and 1999 when we were not very experience, we met over roti canai breakfast at Sri Hartamas after our Sunday long runs, talking casually and making casual decisions on how to improve the administration of the club. At that time, our secretariat and treasury functions were not very synchronized. We have very basic issues of not having a formal process, from recruitment of members to the renewal of membership. This end to end process was carried out by one individual, Francis Cheng who was the assistant treasurer, a one man mobile office; basically he receives money and issues the membership card at the same time, very efficient no doubt. I understand the process was such as no one else was willing to do work. Francis Cheng was the sole pillar of the club’s administration during those years. There weren’t check and balances at all, luckily nothing went wrong as Francis did his work honestly & diligently. Members who have not paid were still in the database and there was no process to deregister those defaulting members by the committee. As the house was not in order, club organized activities were restricted to one family day, one breakfast run and the AGM dinner each year. However, the club members were active in various public runs organized throughout the country.

It was in 2000 when we got more organized, the process of recruitment and renewal was formalized with a simple documented process (with a flow chart drafted by Lynn Toh and Lok Chan Chuen) having the secretarial and treasury functions clearly separated, thus providing the check and balance between collection of fees, updating the database and the issuance of cards by separate individuals. The house is now in order and we focus on creating and managing activities, in the process grew our membership base. The strategies applied to expand the club are outlined in Module 2.

Observing from outside the committee now; the present size of the club and the activities organized each year has taken a toll on the elected Committee members. The very flat organizational structure that was a pleasure to work with during our smallish days is not serving us very well now. We need to refine our organizational structure with certain clear reporting lines and also need a strategic decision on the event management piece.

Proposed Organization Structure

The present set up of the Secretariat and Treasury office is working very well and needs no changes. Good job done there as we have been having capable treasurers and secretaries for the last few years.

Changes required are;

  1. All the communication functions while they can have separate individuals taking charge will have to report to one single person, in this case it should be to one of the two Vice Presidents. This would allow the communication functions to be better synchronised under one individual to ensure the communication objective is properly met.  The Communication functions will include dissemination of information via club magazine (Quarterly Footloose), website (, media relationship and e-bulletin.
  2. All the Area Groups, Racing Team and Youth Group are to report to one of the two Vice Presidents. Currently, no single individual in the Committee is directly responsible for managing this group of leaders and as a result some leaders have lost focus and interest in the club’s affairs. One of the two vice-presidents will have to be responsible for managing this group of leaders to ensure that they understand their role and carry out their functions accordingly.
  3. The Event Management piece will have to be managed semi-professionally by a small group of individuals that are going to spend considerable time on it on a day to day basis. This group of individuals will have a profit motive, earning a pre-agreed fee plus certain incentives based on profitability of each event managed. The president is the authorized person from the club to work with this group. Key decisions will be made jointly between this semi-professional group and the president to achieve a win-win situation for the club. The objective of this arrangement is to cut down drastically the time contribution by the Committee on events management but at the same time the club still get a profit on each event managed by the club through this semi-professional group.

In order to achieve the organization transformation successfully, it is necessary to draft out the role and responsibilities of all key positions from the group leader to the youth group captain. Such documentation would be helpful whenever a member is appointed to a certain position and they can be guided by the document. This document should be attached to the appointment letter. A manual should be drafted on the event management function to guide the club.

As for the event management piece, the details have to be worked out between the club and the semi-professional group on a win-win situation. As a guide, all direct cost will be part of the event costing. The revenue will come in the form of entry fees and sponsorship in cash. Key decisions will be made jointly. The semi-professional group will be motivated to solicit sponsors to either increase the revenue or bring down the cost by way of in kinds sponsorship such as mineral water, isotonic drinks or event apparel. This proposition will be dealt with in greater details module 3, 4, 5 and 6 where the role of human resource management, event budget, sponsorship and organizing a major sport event. It is my intention to carry though this course with event management in the club as the key focus.

Pause, Reflect, Strategize and Move Forward
Having gone through module 1 & 2 and having the benefit of watching the club from outside as a retired president, I realize that it is important to pause and reflect as a Committee. When we get elected or re-elected each year, we tend to rush to execute things or just carry on what we left off the previous year. The SWOT analysis, review and refine the Vision, Mission and Strategies by the newly elected Committee on an annual or bi-annual basis will throw out new ideas how the club should move forward. I am sure the world most successful running club, the New York Runners ( have gone through this journey of reflection and rebuilding before they reach what they are today.  

I would recommend that the club’s Committee take a weekend off and reflect on the Organization Structure, Vision, Mission and Strategies of the club, make refinement, amendment or even overhaul certain part of it. The event management piece cannot carry on in its present form and it become far too taxing for the elected members and one way to move forward is to introduce a self employed semi-professional set up by a few individuals to move it to the next level. It would be pre-matured to talk about incorporating a company to undertake the event management but the form and substance of profit sharing with the semi-professional group should be tried out to allow refinement of the plan such that it could achieve a win-win situation for both parties; the club and the semi-professional group.

Live life and run on…………my friends!

Wan Yew Leong
10 Aug 2009


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