Power Play' Advances Dialogue on Female Leadership

By Van Adams | Principal, VanAdams Sports Group LLC

Panel at WISE NYC Metro 2016 Power Play: Up Close With the Women of Converse.

WISE NYC Metro 2016 Power Play: Up Close With the Women of Converse.
Photo credit: Stephan Hudson/2nd Chance Photo

In 2010, the NYC Metro chapter of WISE posed a question: Where are the women in sports business, and what do they do? Our response was the “Power Play: Up Close With …  initiative.

An all-female panel discussion hosted in celebration of Women’s History Month, Power Play features senior- to executive-level women from the same organization, or section of sports business, representing different disciplines. We believed by presenting this group of accomplished professionals who could speak confidently about their organization’s business, their work and their career journeys, we would be contributing to a larger conversation surrounding women in leadership roles.

The inaugural panel, featuring ESPN, sold out. Since then, we’ve highlighted Major League Baseball, the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, the Big East and Converse, among others.

A Mid-Management Bottleneck

At times, there have been challenges in rounding out panels, not because of a lack of organizational interest, but because of a lack of senior-level women in different verticals. While disappointing, this absence offers a practical view of where more women are needed, which presents a significant opportunity for an entire generation of women. In some ways, our vetting process is an unofficial research assignment. It’s an eye-opener in terms of seeing where women work and in what capacity.  

Early on, we found a bottleneck of women in middle management and a scarcity in senior roles and the C-suite. We also noticed no women at all in some areas. This has since improved, yet women continue to be underrepresented in some areas. These observations are supported by studies and industry reports and, unfortunately, are nothing new.

We’ve also encountered a challenge of a different kind — too many women in leadership roles within an organization for our programming needs and the not-so-easy task of winnowing the group down to three or four. In these situations, we’ve been pleasantly surprised, not because they occupy the roles, but because they’ve been quietly rising through the ranks and somehow managed to remain off the radar.

Representation Matters

For women who want to reach the C-suite or who simply want a shot at a promotion, seeing the women who participate on the Power Play panels is vitally important. This showcase can be aspirational and motivational, igniting and reigniting career passions. It can reinforce and encourage someone to stay the course and keep pressing forward.

Representation matters. Power Play and initiatives like it support the movement for the career advancement of women by bringing to the table those who inspire us to see the possibilities of progress. Progress is what Women’s History Month is all about and why we’ve chosen to host the Power Play panel in March.

After nearly a decade run, it’s exciting to see “Power Play: Up Close With ... ” replicated in chapters across the national WISE network. Its place on the programming calendar presents an opportunity for a larger conversation about women in leadership and provides a platform for women who may not be on the radar to be seen and heard.


Check out our event calendar and your chapter’s site for more information.

Headshot of Van Adams

About Van Adams

Van Adams is an award-winning entrepreneur and small-business owner with expertise in sports business and business development. Over the last decade, she has represented a number of iconic sports celebrities and executed marketing campaigns for their personal celebrity and/or business ventures. An advocate for women in business, Adams is the creator and producer of Gathering on the Greens, a women’s golf initiative, and is president of the NYC Metro chapter of WISE.

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