#AllAboutSports

Women of Infront Share Their Thoughts on the Industry

Merav Savir
by Merav Savir

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08 March 2022 13:09:48 CET

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Women are starting to take a more central role in sports, from the courts to the boardroom. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked some of our female colleagues to share their advice, challenges and thoughts on the industry, as we continue moving toward a more balanced representation in sports.


Svenja Kölle, Manager Business Development

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Find a mentor or several mentors that inspire you. They can help you build a network (which is essential in the world of sports) and will also push you, make you grow and can function as a sponsor (if necessary). If you find a mentor in your company, that’s great, but otherwise look for programmes offered by sports and women-led organizations or societies.

What challenge have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Svenja Kölle

One of my main challenges has been to find female role models to look up to. There are very few women in leading positions in sports, which makes it difficult for anyone new in the industry to see themselves in such positions. At the same time, I believe there is not one role model, but several personality traits, qualities and beliefs that inspire me, so I am constantly looking for people to learn from. Working in sports, my main inspiration comes from the core of sports: the athletes. There are many female athletes that inspire, are incredibly strong and need to be heard, seen and looked up to.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

I am very excited about the abundance of opportunities related to Web3.0. I hope it will open new doors for sports in terms of content ownership, fan engagement and new disciplines embracing technology and movement to create a new way of doing sports, which has a true chance to be more inclusive and equal.

Anja Lüthi, Associate, Public Relations & Internal Communications

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports Business?

There are three action points I hold myself accountable to every day:

  • Be open-minded: Be open to new opportunities, tasks, topics, and people. Every challenge has the potential to lift you to new heights and might lead you to places you wouldn’t have imagined.

  • Be present: Make people notice you by speaking up, asking questions, introducing ideas, and offering support.

  • Be proactive: Think outside the box and tackle projects & issues where you see potential and the need to act.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Anja_Lüthi

I’ve overcome many challenges during my time as a professional athlete both physically and mentally. This time gave me a lot of strength, perseverance, motivation, belief and confidence in what I’m doing and in who I am as a person. These gained characteristics fully translate to my career as well as my personal life, as they aid me in finding a strong position for myself in the world of sports.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

The future of sports has so much potential and is undergoing so many rapid changes that I truly feel that we are at the forefront of being able to shape it. I am leading the project #BraveNewSport at Infront and our goal is to discuss the desirable future of sport with all stakeholders in the industry in order to shape a new vision and define action points accordingly. Very curious to see where it’s going and eager to make a difference!

Katie Reynolds, Associate Director, Media Sales

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Be confident in what you know, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Early in my career, when I was mostly working in American football, I often felt like I needed to prove that I had the required knowledge of the sport even though I hadn’t played it. This made me more hesitant to ask questions, because I didn’t want to ask a “stupid question” and have someone think I didn’t deserve to be there. In the end, hesitancy like that will only hold you back. Everyone needs help sometimes, especially in a new position or when joining a new project, so ask the necessary questions to be the best you can be in your role. As women, we shouldn’t need to be perfect or know everything to prove we deserve a seat at the table.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Katie Reynolds

I’ve often been told I’m “too nice.” I think there is a certain pressure on women in sports to take on more stereotypically “masculine” traits and avoid more stereotypically “feminine” traits, like empathy. But my experiences have taught me that in any negotiation or discussion, there is always room for someone whose natural inclination is to work towards compromise rather than “win.” Of course, you need to stand your ground and can’t cave to every demand, but empathy and putting yourself in another person’s shoes doesn’t need to be completely discarded in order to get the result you’re aiming for. I believe that working in sport has taught me how to be able to stand my ground when I need to, both in my work and private life, but to also value the ability to show empathy and take into account another perspective.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

I’m excited to see the growth of women’s sports in terms of both participation and interest from spectators and viewers. As someone with a background in the broadcaster and media side, my thoughts tend to go toward that side of the industry. While there seems to be a constant discussion around if the “bubble” of growing media rights fees for sports is reaching its peak and is going to burst, it is mostly in men’s sports where the huge rights fees are being paid. On the flip side, there are quality women’s sports that are perhaps undervalued at the moment because they haven’t historically been where the money lies in sports. But as more women participate in sports across the globe, and parity and quality of play in leagues and competitions increases from there, I think there are huge gains to be found in the value of media rights for women’s sports as a relatively “untapped” market at the moment.

Caro Tonn, Managing Director, XLETIX GmbH

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

For me it helped a lot to keep on believing in my strengths and to be open to learning new things and to taking over responsibility - sometimes without having the slightest idea of what will happen. I love the “poem”: What if I fall? Oh but my darling what if you fly? Do what you love and love what you do – sounds a bit cheesy, but it's true.

Caro Tonn

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sports which helped shape who you are today?

One of the biggest challenges was to understand the saying “learn from mistakes,” which is so true. I would add the fact that you not only learn but grow while making mistakes. Also the fact that people, especially women, take their knowledge and experience for granted and is something I needed to learn. Most of us have much more potential than we trust ourselves. On the other hand, I am super grateful for a great social environment – business-wise but also personal – who support and trust me in each and every stage of my life and career.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

I am so much looking forward to being back in full sport stadiums – thinking about my last stadium visit in January 2020 at Signal Iduna Park gives me goosebumps. On a different scale I am super excited to see how crazy participant numbers are growing for our newest event series XLETIX Kids. So happy to see how excited the kids and the parents are to be back at events, in the mud, outdoors, being active – that’s the future!

Clara Bolivar, Manager Corporate Communications

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting in the sports business?

Clara BolivarAlways stay true to yourself and stand up for what you believe is right. Be fierce and never doubt your strength even though someone else might doubt it.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

This is hard for me to answer as I am still new to the industry myself. But before joining the industry I was confronted with the typical “what does a woman know about sports?” etc. The passion I have for sports has helped me to shake off these comments and learn to really stand up for what I believe is right for me. This is my way and not anybody else’s.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

I hope the diversity we are starting to see is intensifying. I am excited to see many more fierce and cool women in the industry. And I hope that I can contribute to that change.

Lou Oppenheim, Production Manager, HBS

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Believe in yourself, being a woman is a strength. Never consider your worth less than men. Just take every opportunity, force things to happen, consider men and women equals and impose yourself when needed.Lou Oppenheim

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

I really think what I replied to the first question, I never considered being a woman in sport was a problem. It could be the opposite as relationships and contacts with people are easier when you are a woman, from my point of view. However, I clearly think that in everyday life, it is harder to be a woman indeed.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

That we will have to adapt ourselves and find new ways of showing sports differently.

Andrea Kälin, Associate, Summer Sports & Media

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Be excited, be open-minded, be persistent, accept challenges and strive for excellence. But most importantly, be yourself.

AndreaKalin-1What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

My parents have always been great and just wanted the very best for me. However, as a kid, I desperately wanted to play football, but I was told that this is a boy’s sport. So it was decided that I join an Athletics club instead, which was obviously fun too. But having had this decision made for me, I want to try and teach my potential children that there are no gender rules when it comes to sports. Everyone should be able to play the sports they love, no matter who they are or where they come from.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

Sport is such an important part of so many people’s lives. New technologies and developments within television, gaming, apps, etc., give spectators and fans an even bigger chance to be part of a specific sport, a favorite team, or a player, by having live streams, data on training, heart rates during races etc. I am excited about what new discoveries and developments come up in the future that might (and most certainly will) bring sports even closer to the people.

Ottavia Perra, Director, Media Sales & Operations

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?Ottavia Perra-1

If you’re passionate about the sports business industry don’t let anyone convince you that it’s a world open only to men. You might often find yourself in a room where you are the only lady but your passion and insight is 100% as strong as anyone else’s.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Being treated differently because I am a woman happened several times, this is an issue in today’s world, not only in sports. Keeping my head up and pushing for what I believe I deserve, working hard even when others believed I couldn’t achieve something, has helped me become the professional I am and given me the opportunity to be promoted in the same year I became a mother for the second time. Who says women can’t do it all?

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

I think sports will be evolving immensely in the next ten years and I am just excited to be able to witness it all and help my company evolve and change to maintain its position as one of the top stakeholders in this exciting industry.

Yuval Gonen-Levy, Account Manager, Infront Lab

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

YuvalExpand your knowledge beyond the sports world. In the end, everything is connected, and the more you know about other industries such as tech, politics, the environment and so forth, you’ll have a bigger advantage when connecting the sports world to other worlds. Make connections with others, regardless of their jobs and industries, ask questions and continue learning. The connection to sports will come naturally.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Unfortunately, as women we need to prove that we belong in this world. Personally this meant I was always prepared for anything, I knew that in order to stand out I needed to dig deep and gain more knowledge. That’s what gives me confidence - knowledge is power, as they say.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

It will be really interesting to see how sports will adjust itself to the virtual world and Metaverse. It definitely won’t replace the live sports experience, but it will be interesting to see how sports culture and viewing preferences change as the whole world adapts to these technologies.

Andreína Montefusco, Digital Account Lead, Football

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Being a woman is not a roadblock.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?Andreína Montefusco

My biggest challenge has been finding that balance of being a wife, mother and professional. I have made amends with the fact that I am not a superhero and that I need to be OK with asking others for help.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

I want to take part in shaping how the Metaverse and NFTs will become another way to engage with fans.

Alessandra Gorlero, Associate Director Digital Solutions

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Sport is passion and emotions; my advice is to bring passion to the work we are doing and emotions for what we are able to achieve, as an individual and as a team. It’s a complex and varied business, therefore it is crucial to stay curious about innovations, flexible to change and open to new challenges.

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Alessandra Gorlero-1I think we are shaped by a variety of experiences and challenges coming from both our professional and personal lives. I can’t think of any specific challenge I had to overcome as a woman in sport, but I would say one of the biggest challenges I experienced as a woman has been balancing motherhood and work. That increased my organizational skills, especially regarding time management, setting priorities and working for goals.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

Advanced technologies are getting more and more important in sports: from technologies that generate, elaborate and analyse sports data, to technologies supporting and scaling content production, but also technologies for engaging, knowing and activating the fanbase, just to mention a few areas where cutting edge technologies allow or boost new business opportunities. I believe the future of sports is intertwined with continuous innovation and digital, and I am absolutely thrilled with it!

Barbara Lustenberger, Director, Compliance

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Don't be intimidated by male dominance and rely on your strengths. Set clear goals and pursue them, always remaining true to your principles.Barbara

What challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

Don't give up immediately if something is rejected at the first attempt. Sometimes you have to reformulate the proposal and/or adapt it a bit and present it a second, third or even fourth time until you get the OK to implement it.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

Witnessing how new technologies are changing the experience of sport for spectators. And I hope that sport will become cleaner, that integrity will become more important on the field and especially in the business world of sport. That it will become more human and that money will not always be the driver of decisions, but ethical principles.

Merav Savir, Marketing Manager, Infront Lab

What piece of advice would you give young women who are starting out in the sports business?

Make connections with as many people as possible. Connections are invaluable in today’s world, not just in sports. Spark conversations with industry leaders, request informational interviews, and become a colleague that others want to connect with and consult along the way.

MeravWhat challenges have you overcome as a woman in sport which helped shape who you are today?

At the beginning of my career, as a sports broadcaster, I felt I needed to constantly prove myself and my knowledge of sports, not necessarily because of my colleagues, but to prove myself to the coaches and players I reported on. I spent more time reading, preparing and ingesting information. Eventually not only did I gain my peers’ respect, but I gave myself the confidence I needed in other aspects of my life and career.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of sports?

What I love most about sports is how unpredictable and exciting they are. At the moment, I feel the same way about sports tech and the ways in which we experience sports. Today we may be talking about NFTs and the Metaverse, but who knows what we’ll be talking about a year from now. The opportunities are endless, and that’s as exciting as it gets.