4 Jul 2018

Cultural Diversity Week 2018 - Walter Lee AFL General Manager Strategy


As part of Cultural Diversity Week 2018, the Australian Football League in partnership with the Victorian Multicultural Commission is showing how football can make people 'proud to belong'. 

Walter Lee is the General Manager of Strategy at the AFL. Walter sets the strategies to grow the game for fans, clubs, players and community football. He has been extensively involved in the strategic development of media broadcast rights, in-house AFL Media business, stadium development, international expansion and start-ups of two new expansion clubs.  Walter previously worked in strategic consulting at Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture and has worked in a broad range of industries and markets across Australia, Middle East, South East Asia and North America.

Tell us about your role at the AFL as General Manager of Strategy?

My role is to help our teams understand and progress the future direction of the game by making the best decisions for the longer-term.  To do this, I have a very smart and dedicated team that work with different experts in our industry to collect and analyse data, develop strategies and make recommendations.  We are lucky to work in many diverse areas in the AFL – from media rights, players collective bargaining agreements, game development plans, competition structures or new start-ups such as AFLW, Expansion Clubs (Suns/Giants), AFLX and AFL Media.  We also have expert researchers that are highly skilled in developing deep insights into the needs and behaviours of our fans, participants and audiences.

Your family are from a Malaysian- Chinese background, when did they migrate to Victoria?

A really long time ago.  My family migrated from Malaysia in late 80s.  I was just a little kid then and I remember flying into Melbourne Airport from a very warm and humid Malaysia to a very cold Melbourne winter next to my two brothers.  We started school here and apart from the odd stints studying and working 

in other countries, Australia will always be home for us.  I am from a Chinese background and while my cultural heritage still forms a very important part of me, it is now very much mixed in with Australian values.

What is the most exciting thing about working at the AFL?

I am really lucky to have travelled around Australia to see and hear how football makes a positive impact on people’s lives.  There are many, many memories in my time here that stay with me – watching kids play football on the Tiwi Islands, listening to first-timers in Western Sydney talk about the Giants or more recently, the huge excitement and buzz over that first AFLW game.  I get a real kick from seeing what the game brings to people but also working with such a dedicated and passionate team who bring it to life.

How does football play a role in making people ‘proud to belong’?

Football is quite special in that you could be talking to a complete stranger – who may look different, speak a different language or work in a different job – but if you find out you both support the same team, suddenly they can be like your family.  Not many things in the world can do that.