Breaking the proverbial glass ceiling


Women on the move Image: AELTC, Bristol Sport & T-Mobile Center

Women are breaking the glass ceiling and rubbing shoulders with men equally in boardrooms. And this counts for the sports venue sector as well. Gone are the days when women with pinstripes were a rare phenomenon. Today they are storming the male bastion with a vengeance.

Below are three women who have climbed high up the career ladder in the venue sector:


The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which hosts The Championships, Wimbledon (UK), announced on February 23rd, 2021, the appointment of Alexandra Willis as Communications and Marketing Director, effective August 1st, 2021.

The AELTC website stated that Willis is presently in the role of Head of Communications, Content and Digital, AELTC, and has promoted the development of the AELTC’s award-winning digital, marketing and communications strategies over the past decade, thus giving a shot in the arm to AELTC’s reputation.

The AELTC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, also known as the All England Club, based at Wimbledon, London, England, which is a private members’ club. It is best known as the venue for the Wimbledon Championships, the only Grand Slam tennis event still held on grass.

Robert Deatker, Estate Director, AELTC, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known simply as Wimbledon or The Championships, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open.

The AELTC website added that as Communications & Marketing Director, Willis will be responsible for Communications, Marketing and the Brand Vision for The Championships, with the objective to grow reach, exposure and engagement of and with Wimbledon to a global audience. This will include audience development and engagement, content development and creation and enhancing and further promoting Wimbledon’s reputation.

Sally Bolton OBE, AELTC Chief Executive, commented, “Alex is a well-respected and highly regarded leader in the digital and communications field and has been instrumental in the transformation of AELTC’s digital and communications strategies over recent years. Alex is perfectly placed to lead our drive for greater reach and engagement with a global audience and I am delighted that she has decided to continue her career with us.”

Exulted Alexandra Willis, “I am absolutely delighted to be given this opportunity to continue my time at the AELTC in this new role and take on the opportunities and challenges ahead of us. It has been an immense privilege to be a part of the Wimbledon story to date and I would like to thank Mick and the team for all their support. I am tremendously excited for this next chapter as we strive to secure Wimbledon’s relevance for the future and look forward to working with Sally, the Board and our team to deliver on that ambition.”

Prior to joining the AELTC, Alexandra worked as a sports journalist for several media outlets including the Telegraph Media Group, the Associated Press, Press Association, Sporting Intelligence and ACE Tennis Magazine. She is a graduate of Oxford University and Harvard Business School and a Trustee of the charity Greenhouse Sports.

The appointment concludes the first part of an extensive external recruitment process further to the announcement that Mick Desmond, AELTC’s Commercial and Media Director, will be retiring following the conclusion of The Championships 2021. The second part of the recruitment process, for a Commercial Director, is ongoing.

Ashton Gate Stadium

Danielle Argent has joined the Ashton Gate Stadium (UK) fold as Business Development Manager.

Ashton Gate is a stadium in Ashton Gate, Bristol, England, and is the home of the professional football club Bristol City F.C. and the professional rugby union club Bristol Bears. It presently has an all-seated capacity of 27,000.

Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate Limited, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

“Danielle takes up the new role at a critical time in the industry and our appointment of her signals our intent and aspirations for the stadium and the Sporting Quarter development as a whole,” remarked Jenny Hutchinson, Head of Ashton Gate Stadium Venue and Events.

The Bristol Sport website quoted Hutchinson as stating, “Danielle has an excellent track-record with securing new and prestigious accounts during her six years with the internationally-renowned hotel chain The Doyle Collection (Ireland-based group of hotels). Her experience as their Global Account Manager for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) will be invaluable as we look to build the Sporting Quarter with its hotel and conference center, but also to the stadium itself as we recover from the pandemic.”

The Bristol Sport website added that Argent’s previous role saw her selling venues worldwide with properties in the UK, European Union (EU) and the United States. Argent commented that part of what attracted her to the Ashton Gate position was that she could focus on promoting one City and attracting big-ticket international events and business to Bristol.

Said a full of beans Argent, “I can’t wait to get stuck in. This last 12 months has been so hard on everyone and particularly the events industry – so to start the same week as the Government published its roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions, it feels especially poignant, and like the whole industry has had a kickstart. Bristol is an incredible City with so much to offer and I want to be a part of something which will help rejuvenate our City’s economic fortunes.

The scale of the Sporting Quarter development is tremendously exciting, and part of my role will be to attract new business for when that opens in 2023-24.”

She added, “In the meantime, helping the established team at Ashton Gate rebuild its meetings and events business (in the wake of the pandemic) is something that I’m delighted to be a part of. Everyone has been really welcoming and I’m struck by the infectious energy and enthusiasm within the team. There is ‘can-do’ attitude here which will really help drive the business forward and out of this unprecedented time.”

The Sporting Quarter is a two-site development, which will see an iconic 4,000-seater home for the British professional basketball team Bristol Flyers at Ashton Gate and a new urban village development, named Longmoor Village, 500m from the arena.

T-Mobile Center

Chris Whitney is in the role of Director of Finance for T-Mobile Center (US) since December 2020 where she is responsible for all financial and accounting aspects of the arena as well as event settlements with show promoters. Earlier, Whitney served as Assistant General Manager and Director of Finance at INTRUST Bank Arena in Kansas, US, and Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, US.

T-Mobile Center is a multipurpose arena in downtown Kansas City, Missouri (US). The arena’s naming rights partner is T-Mobile US, which completed a merger with Sprint Corporation in April 2020.

T-Mobile Center sources stated that a committed volunteer and industry veteran, the Kansan is a certified public accountant (CPA) and earned degrees from both Kansas State University and Wichita State University (public university in Wichita, Kansas). When she is diving into rounds of meetings, Whitney gives back to the community, cheering on her favorite team, traveling and attending concerts.

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