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“It's been a lightning fast journey for Fliteboard, from a single idea to a globally renowned organization, creating the world's most highly awarded electric hydrofoils,” says Phil Bourke, Chief Operating Officer of Fliteboard. “We got here by relentlessly refining and testing our design, with our eyes firmly on the ultimate ride, and by building a team who shares our vision. Excellence is, after all, an approach not a destination.”
Phil Bourke is a COO who leads with a people-first approach. With a background in business planning that spans Logistics through to People & Culture, and wholesaling through to online retail, Phil believes that a positive, passionate team is the very best way to build innovative processes and measurable success. Communication is key, according to Phil, as is understanding your employees' aspirations and motivations and ensuring that the team work towards a common goal.
“With a creative entrepreneur like Fliteboard founder David Trewern at the helm, my role is to deeply understand his vision and empower the business to deliver this”, Phil explains. Working closely with David to help realise his plans for Fliteboard’s future, Phil ensures that milestones are tracked and deadlines are met to ensure a clear roadmap for success. Priorities and goals are communicated down through each level of the team and Phil is a strong proponent of tools like dashboarding of information to provide feedback and for visibility of performance.
One of the unique aspects of the Fliteboard company, and one of the keys to its success is, according to Phil, its integration of fun into the work culture. The business was built on an idea that is at its heart about having fun, and it is a value embedded in the company’s ways of working. Positivity, passion, collaboration, honesty, authenticity and fun are valued within the Fliteboard employee community, as is what Phil describes as ‘active listening’. Phil and his management team cultivate an environment where people feel that they can offer an endless stream of ideas and potential solutions to problems to improve the business.
It is this communication, clear corporate goals and strong culture, Phil points out, that have enabled the business to fast-track from a startup to a high- functioning, scalable and sustainable business.
Another way that Fliteboard creates success is to ensure that there are sound business systems and structures in place to support the team. A focus, says Phil, has been building a suite of accurate, regular reporting tools to help guide the business and make sound decisions about the future.
These have had a major impact on performance outputs, Phil explains, and the business is now working on other integration initiatives to bring the entire system stack together. “We’re setting ourselves up with the right solution for the future of the business five years down the track. Making smart decisions as we develop assures a scalable and sustainable future for our staff and customers, and we have a lot of fun along the way”, says Phil.
Phil and the team have also streamlined Fliteboard’s procurement and production processes, allowing the business to scale up production without compromising quality. Opening distribution centers in both USA and Europe, for example, has increased efficiency of the supply chain for international markets, whilst investment in the Fliteboard team through purpose-built training programs has built capability and resilience in an increasingly challenging and competitive landscape.
Phil hastens to point out, however, that as a leader in a new category, Fliteboard doesn’t regard competition as negative; indeed it helps raise awareness of e-foiling as a sport and of the product itself. The company and its founder are focused on inspiring people to connect with nature and experience the sensation of taking Flite. Leaning into a continuous improvement mindset and attitude is what allows the company to propel forward, leading the future of eFoiling.
Whilst the focus is on the future, Phil explains that Fliteboard does make time to celebrate the wins, marking the key milestones and industry firsts. In a few short years, Fliteboard has released multiple iterations of the product - Series 1, Series 2 and Series 2.2 – and remains the most awarded eFoil brand in the world. It has gathered numerous design, luxury product and innovation awards, from the best of the best Red Dot award, to the best in class Good Design award and prestigious global Green Product Award, as well as recently being recognised in position 15 of Deloitte’s Tech Fast 50 list.
Asked about the future, Phil doesn’t hesitate to paint a picture of a fast-paced organization, with its roots planted in home soil and its focus firmly on its people.
“Ours is a fast-paced, high-growth entrepreneurial business taking on the world, but the spiritual home of Fliteboard will always be here in Byron Bay. This is not just about our commitment to the sport, but also about being part of our local community and being one of the biggest employers in the Northern Rivers. We are continuing to expand our team, scale our operations and continuing to develop new, innovative products that bring people closer to nature, as we write the next chapter in our story. Remembering, of course, to have fun along the way. IE
COO of Fliteboard
Fliteboard is an electric powered hydrofoil that gives the sensation of flying over water. Carving effortlessly, Fliteboard gives you the freedom to ride anywhere, without wind or waves. Emission free, wake free and virtually silent, ushering in a new category of environmentally friendly powered watercraft. Over 7000 Fliteboards have been sold around the world.