Last week, Betfair co-founder and Chair of British Rowing Mark Davies OE gave an insightful talk to the pupils of Eton’s Viking Society, which looks to educate current and future rowers of the school. Mark delighted the audience with anecdotes of his rowing experiences, work in the City and setting up the global betting business Betfair, and past schooldays. The fact that he had been a cricketer for his five years at Eton was greeted with much laughter!
Mark became the Chair of British Rowing in April 2018 and has spearheaded the reform of British rowing since then, although this was made more challenging by the pandemic. Mark talked about the differences that British Rowing made in preparation for Tokyo Olympics 2020 and encouraged prospective rowers to get involved with the organisation.
He also offered an insight into the world of business, having worked for the investment bank JP Morgan in the City of London, before moving over to BBC Radio 5 Live. His business journey then took another sharp turn, when approached by a colleague who wanted a partner with experience in both finance and the media. Betfair was launched in 2000 and Mark left the company in 2010, when it was valued at £1.4bn.
The Chair of British Rowing also reminisced about his schooldays and the effect he believes they have had on his life and career. When asked about his time at Eton, Mark commented that “my greatest friendships are from school”. Mark was in Wayneflete House along with fellow rower and Olympian Matthew Pinsent OE, and the two of them caught up before his talk over dinner in Warre House – a long-awaited reunion!