To be absolutely clear, I am still an AFC Wimbledon fan.
They are the team – from South London – I have supported since I was a boy and who I have followed passionately over the years and for whom I flew in from Los Angles just for the weekend for their last trip to Wembley.
But I am, for the first time in my life, being forced to contemplate a kind of second team. Not in a glory-hunting way because Liverpool are doing amazingly well this season – but because of my company’s obsession with the team.
Laduma as a company supports Liverpool. The executive chairman supports them. The office is adorned with Liverpool memorabilia – signed shirts, footballs etc. We even have a box at Anfield.
But the support of the club isn’t just our owner’s love for them. It is a fundament of our corporate culture and identity. Our UK office is in Liverpool because of our love of the city. And there is a depth to our relationship there that goes beyond just the Reds. We are part of the city – as the football club is. We sponsor the non-league side AFC Liverpool, support local charities in the community – such as An Hour for Others – and are even working with Liverpool John Moores University on their immersive tech offerings.
Recently voted best immersive tech company in the city, Laduma is tied to Liverpool through both its major football club and our links there.
And during the season, Liverpool matches define our work week. In the Salt Lake City office, time differences mean Liverpool games are on around lunchtime. So for every game, without exception, we bring in food and the team sit down and watch together. Even for those among us who support other teams – we have Manchester United and even Everton fans (who somehow sneaked through our recruitment process) – it is a moment when the company comes together to talk, to laugh and to be away from our desks.
We have the table tennis tables and retro arcade machines that are standard in the tech industry. But, these regular comings together to follow a football team, (that not all of us support) is a pillar of corporate culture and an important part of binding our workforce to the company and to each other.
And there is something about the values of Liverpool Football Club that particularly speak to us as a company. The way they have conducted themselves in relation to Hillsborough, the importance of community, of family, the enthusiasm and honesty of Jurgen Klopp, the love between the supporters and their team, the embracing of Muslim players in the face of racism elsewhere and, as demonstrated this week, the idea of never giving up, of no challenge that can’t be surmounted.
Like I said, I am still an AFC Wimbledon fan. But I have increasing admiration for Liverpool and for what they are doing this season. It shapes our company’s culture and attitude to our clients and the projects they give us to deliver.