Lightning appoint CEO
  • Friday 16 September 2016

Melbourne Storm’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Danielle Smith, has been appointed as the inaugural CEO of Sunshine Coast Lightning.

The Sunshine Coast Lightning, the region’s first national elite sports team in the new Australian-only eight-team national netball competition, is a joint venture between Melbourne Storm and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Highly regarded and experienced in the sporting industry, Smith has over 20 years’ experience, including 14 years in sport and major events. 

After commencing her career with big four advisory firm, KPMG, Smith’s career has included senior roles with Geelong Football Club, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation, and global whitegoods giant, Whirlpool. She joined Melbourne Storm five years ago and had a key involvement in Storm’s transition to private ownership in 2013.

Smith will maintain her current role as Storm COO and as a Director on the Club’s board, with her title to be Group COO and Netball CEO.

Her initial priorities as Netball CEO will be working closely with Lightning Head Coach Noeline Taurua on finalising the playing list after Netball Australia announced its Collective Player Agreement earlier this week, appointing other key staff, securing major commercial partners and overseeing the establishment of the team’s high performance base at the University of the Sunshine Coast. 

Smith’s attention will also be focussed on engaging the team with the Sunshine Coast community and ensuring readiness for the season’s commencement in mid-February 2017.

Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said; “Danielle’s appointment is recognition for the role she has played as COO where she has led the team that has delivered the Club’s new commercial ventures and growth.

“She has overseen the formation of the Lightning and has worked closely with Netball Australia in the acquisition of our joint venture licence.

“I am sure that she will bring energy and innovation to her new position and her values, experience and vision for the Lightning will see her be successful in the role.”

On her appointment Smith said; “I’m extremely excited and humbled to be appointed CEO of Sunshine Coast Lightning.

“My family and I are looking forward to living here on the Sunshine Coast, where we have holidayed for several years - it’s such a great part of Australia.

“With the backing of Melbourne Storm and USC we are committed to making Sunshine Coast Lightning successful.

“Young netballers in the region now have a team they can follow and aspire to play for. Everyone will feel the excitement as we build towards the start of the season in February.

“Noeline and I are working on establishing a competitive and talented playing roster, which we hope to be in a position to announce shortly.”

USC Vice Chancellor Greg Hill said; “The University is delighted with the appointment of Danielle Smith as CEO of Sunshine Coast Lightning.

“Danielle is an experienced and visionary business leader and already working collaboratively with USC in the establishment phase of the Lightning. She will be an asset to the new club, a role model for University staff and students working in high performance sport initiatives, and will play an active role in the Sunshine Coast community.”

Kate Palmer Chief Executive, Netball Australia also endorsed Smith’s appointment; “Congratulations to the Sunshine Coast Lightning on an outstanding CEO appointment.  Danielle has been an absolute delight to work with since we first met with the Melbourne Storm / University of Sunshine Coast Consortium at the beginning of the year.

“Her professionalism and expertise throughout the process of establishing the new club have been second to none, and we’re thrilled that she will be leading the Sunshine Coast Lightning as we enter this new era for netball in Australia”.

Smith’s role will commence at the conclusion of Storm’s season. She will spend time between Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast before relocating with her family at the end of the year.