“MINUS 10 days” is how Brian Cook described the beginning of his tenure at IKON Park last Thursday.

Being involved in the final stages of the coaching selection process was Cook’s first involvement as Carlton’s Chief Executive Officer - even though he officially commences on 18 October.

Having appointed three coaches across three decades in his time at West Coast and Geelong, Cook joined President Luke Sayers to complete reference checks and final interviews with the sub-committee before the unanimous decision to appoint Michael Voss.

Speaking to Carlton Media about his new surrounds, Cook said the appointment of Voss and his dealings with the process left a good first impression at IKON Park.

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Developing a shared culture: Cook on Voss, CEO role

New Carlton Chief Executive Officer Brian Cook sat down with Carlton Media to discuss the appointment of AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss.

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“If every CEO’s first duty was to appoint a Senior Coach, it’d be pretty interesting! I just came in for the end, for the last 72 hours,” Cook said.

“The process they followed was very good… as good as any I’ve been involved in.

“[Voss] has got great leadership ability, and it’s something that he’s had all of his life as a player and as a coach. He’s got his personal qualities around resilience, determination, energy and communication.

“Those things are really relevant.”

There’s been a significant changing of the guard on Royal Parade in recent weeks, with Cook quick to establish his intention to cultivate, develop and appoint leaders through the ranks at IKON Park.

For the long-serving executive, there isn’t one particular formula.

However, he’s of the firm belief that it comes down to the calibre of person.

“I haven’t got all of the answers, I wish I had them! First of all, you’ve got to be good people,” he said.

“Talent will get you so far — you do need some! But what makes you a leader is evolving that great set of values around you and being a good person.

“What has worked for me in the past has been developing good culture and having enough talent. That’s it, in a nutshell, while also having a lot of accountability.

“My initial perceptions are that’s where we possibly need to add to the model at the moment — that accountability piece, in terms of high performance.”

Cook’s appointment comes as the Club announced four new Directors a month ago, as well as the selection of Voss as AFL Senior Coach and new assistant coaches in the coming weeks.

He said a “shared culture” was something he was looking to instil inside the four walls of IKON Park, implementing what he has learned and experience after a long time in the game.

“I’m really seeing this as an opportunity, and taking advantage of that. There’s a lot of change that has already occurred in such a short period of time,” he said.

“Once you appoint them, you develop a plan around them, and I’ll have some major input in that I hope. Then you let them do their jobs, and evaluate and make sure that they’re accountable.”

While he’s still getting up to speed with the intricacies of Carlton after a highly successful 22 years down the highway (and, before that, out west), there’s one constant that Cook has always been well aware of. 

He said he was “very aware” of the size and passion of the Carlton membership and supporter base, and there’s one thing in particular that he wants to continue to drive.

“I’ve been in footy for 30 years, and you can’t help but come across Carlton supporters at the games who are very, very passionate,” he said.

“That would would be the thing that I took away from Carlton games over the years, whether I was with the West Coast Eagles or Geelong… I’m very aware of the depth of feeling among Carlton supporters.

“One of my other perceptions, particularly during Covid, is you have to connect better and find different ways of doing it… creating connection is as many ways as we possibly can effectively.”