“Friends are more important than money.”
It’s the quote that player agent Alex Saundry lives by.
After leaving Connors Sports to pursue her own management company, More Than Management, Saundry set herself a vision of being exactly that — more than a manager.
“It’s something that is really important to me, acknowledging that if you chase money you are never going to be successful,” she told AFLPlayers.com.au.
Instead, Saundry is focussing her energy on enjoying the challenges and rewards associated with starting a new business.
Her driving force behind creating More Than Management was to be an agency that wasn’t signing female clients because it was the “right thing to do” but rather because it was the “thing to do.”
“The competition is still raw and needs a lot more attention than it has got at the moment. The girls and the players need a lot more care in that regard.”
Having been through the league herself, playing four games for the GWS Giants across two seasons, Saundry understands the demands of the AFLW and the support the players need from their management team.
Approaching season three, the competition is still in its infancy but for Saundry, nurturing its growth both on and off the field has become her point of difference.
Her involvement with the under-18 competition and part-time coaching of Vic Metro and Vic Country has allowed Saundry to form relationships with the players before they enter the AFLW system.
“I was really lucky to have a raw relationship with them. They were already coming to me before that management relationship started. It’s more or less finding that connection with the person before you get caught up in what type of player they are.
“It’s so heart-warming to see, especially those girls who I have known for a few years, to be up on that stage with AFLW jumpers and thinking, ‘wow this is actually happening.’”
Saundry has added three of this year’s top 12 AFLW draftees to her growing talent which already boasts a number of high-profile players including Katie Brennan, Darcy Vescio, Nicola Stevens, Alicia Eva and Isabel Huntington.
Although her current focus is on building profiles for the AFLW players, Saundry has begun moving into managing players in the growing Suncorp Super Netball league with her end goal to provide management to women across all sports in Australia.
Developing a partnership and focusing on a collaborative approach with her clients allows Saundry to nurture them on and off field.
“It’s important for us to say, ‘how can we get better’ not ‘how can you get better,’” she explained.
“That’s been the big thing for me and a big focus, thinking about what are we doing to get better and working out those areas of deficiency to create a sustainable league.”
Aligning the people and processes around More Than Management with the organisation’s key values is paramount to their success.
It was aligning More Than Management with these people and processes that developed Saundry’s relationship with Melbourne University VAFA player, and lululemon Events Specialist Liv Garlepp.
After attending a mindfulness and goal-setting session with her AFLW clients and the team from lululemon, Saundry knew they were an organisation whose foundations aligned closely with her own.
“They’re not trying to be something they’re not, that’s how my approach is with everything,” she said.
“(More Than Management) isn’t driven by being one of the top four companies, making all this money and being recognised throughout the world but rather by doing what you do really well and sticking to those values.
“lululemon have never gone off their path and that’s my manifesto, too.”
It was this manifesto that awarded Saundry a six-month mini head-quarter contract from lululemon to help her focus on growing her business without the financial stresses associated.
Saundry said she would be “forever indebted” for the belief shown and the assistance she has received in helping her succeed in a tough industry.
“It’s a constant support. This isn’t just a prize, it’s a nurturing and close relationship.”
Photo credit: Mushroom Creative House