Last year, SportsPro launched NEW ERA, a year-long program and community designed to recognize, support and advocate for a new era of gender equality and representation in the international sports industry.
Over the past 12 months, 24 of the 26 members of the Class of 2022/23 and Management Group have contributed to SportsPro’s editorial content, while 18 have spoken at in-person SportsPro events around the world.
With applications for the NEW ERA 2023/24 program now open, SportsPro asked some of the inaugural class to reflect on their involvement in the initiative, how it has helped their personal development and what opportunities it has created.
Oyonoka Aguda, Head, Legal & Women’s Sports, Integral
Ali Dinsmore, Vice President, Strategy and New Business Development, League of Professional Fighters
Michelle Goulty, Head of Fan Journey, Integrated Fan Experience, City Football Group
Laura McDonnell, EU Sponsorship Manager, Amazon
Lorraine Moalosi, Head of PR and Communications, Data Talks
Helen Praz Director, Content Operations and Media Rights, Football Marketing Asia
Sahaj Shah, Product and UX/UI Designer, Areto Labs
Charlie Sizer, Global Partnerships Manager, DAZN
Hana Taji, Director of Goals, SixFive Sports & Entertainment
Shikha Tandon, Director, Partnerships, Svexa
How do you feel about being a part of the NEW ERA Inductee Class of 2022?
Prohibition: This program nurtured and strengthened my belief in the power of sport. It was encouraging to learn from so many impressive and kind women who are positive forces in their networks. This opportunity is such a privilege and I believe this class will take what they learn and give it to other women and non-binary professionals making their way in the industry who are looking for connection and support just like we did.
Laura McDonnell: I feel really lucky to have been a part of the first class of NEW ERA. This has come at such a great time for me as I start a new role and it has been a real privilege to be supported by the SportsPro community, mentored by the leadership group, participate in the events and probably most of all get to know my classmates .
Michelle Goulty: I felt it came at the perfect time in my career path when I was looking to take my next career step. It was a privilege to connect with such inspiring women in the industry and around the world, both in the cohort and on the steering committee.
SportsPro Live in London, where I had the chance to meet many of the band face-to-face, was a particular highlight. I also enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and leading – along with Shikha Tandon and Yin Khoo – the NEW ERA Connect session on Imposter Syndrome.
Sahaj Shah: Every single person in the cohort and leadership team is doing an amazing job and there is so much to learn from each of them. It was an honor just to be selected in the same group!
What is your personal highlight from your involvement in NEW ERA?
Ali Dinsmore: The connections the program has facilitated. The relationships with the Leadership Group have been amazing and I feel truly fortunate to count my fellow cohorts as friends. I know I will continue to look to all of them in the future for professional and personal support.
Charlie Sizer: To be part of a positive, supportive and experienced community of women who have provided guidance, advice and encouragement during so many important moments over the past year.
Helen Praz: Meeting and talking to the incredibly inspiring and talented women on the programme, from one-to-one sessions with the mentors to catching up with the mentees, and then even the chance to meet some of them face-to-face in London. It was a great opportunity to build meaningful connections and learn from some of the best in the business. I really appreciate being part of a network of women who are all here to lift each other up – in such a small and competitive industry it’s refreshing!
Ojonoka Aguda: Definitely got to moderate the first in-person NEW ERA bonding session at SportsPro Live in London! Looking out into the crowd and seeing my fellow cohorts cheering me on, along with the Steering Group members sitting in the front row and at the end of the session telling me how proud they were, was a big highlight for me.
NEW ERA class member Ashley Block (center) speaks with SportsPro’s Millie Miller-Adams and Katie Preston
How did you benefit from the program and what skills did it help you develop?
Ali Dinsmore: I learned so much because of the approach SportsPro took to the program, encouraging open conversations and sharing real information. It was invaluable to connect personally with members of the Management Group who have successfully navigated their career paths to the top of our industry.
NEW ERA also gave me the opportunity to attend multiple SportsPro conferences this year, including participating as a panelist and moderator. Women at my level are too often overlooked for these opportunities, but SportsPro has gone above and beyond to deliver on its promise to elevate the voices of participants in the NEW ERA.
Charlie Sizer: I never thought I’d be on a SportsPro Live panel, but the team has been supportive and encouraging of us to take up speaking opportunities throughout the year on panels, podcasts and interviews. There has been such a positive ripple effect through building the confidence and courage to get involved, from developing coping mechanisms to building a more visible external profile and a stronger network of amazing people in the industry.
Helen Praz: The program helped me build confidence when talking about myself and my work – the highs and especially the lows. Although it sounds simple enough, celebrating my successes and achievements, as well as reflecting on my struggles and failures, has not been easy for me. The NEW ERA program helps create such a safe and comfortable space to foster open dialogue, which led me to open up about some of my biggest career challenges during one of NEW ERA’s online networking sessions.
Lorraine Moalosi: I think having access to mentors is the biggest benefit. But also the editorial I had to do was retweeted by the commissioner of the Women’s National Soccer League so i have a platform to share some of my thoughts. I’ve also benefited by gaining a community of peers who are very knowledgeable about what they’re doing and super supportive of each other. The program helped me improve my confidence, in short. And that was a huge blessing.
Shikha Tandon: As my career has evolved, conversations with these inspiring women in leadership positions have allowed me to start thinking about my own journey forward. Many of the mentors have worked in different roles and industries than mine, and this has also allowed me to gain different perspectives on leadership styles.
Class member Charlie Sizer (center) speaks on stage at the first-ever NEW ERA Open House at SportsPro Live
What have you learned from your engagement with the NEW ERA Steering Group and the wider community?
Prohibition: The future of the sport is promising if communities like this continue to grow and women like those involved continue to rise as leaders and influencers. What struck me the most was the prevalence of abundance thinking. There appears to be a shared belief that the sports industry still has much more to offer its existing stakeholders, as well as the societies and environments it impacts through its operations.
Laura McDonnell: That there is so much in common in the experience of women in the sports industry and the more connected we are, the more we can support each other.
Sahaj Shah: Having entered sports from a diverse professional background, it was valuable to connect with leadership group mentors who entered the sports industry later in their careers and get their advice on navigating it—especially as a woman of color. The support and encouragement I received from them helped me understand the value I bring from a different perspective and that I really belong here, even though I didn’t start my career in sports.
Michelle Goulty: None of us are alone in the challenges we face. There are so many commonalities between women working in sports and entertainment around the world, so much transferable knowledge and experience. My engagement with the NEW ERA leadership group has given me the confidence to be bolder, bolder and more direct, while retaining my natural very collaborative leadership and working style.
What aspects of the program were most valuable to you?
Prohibition: The opportunity to connect with industry leaders from various sectors and sports in both a group and individual setting was invaluable. The leadership group shared their insights and lived experiences with such candor and generosity that it facilitated rapid bonding and learning. I gained a lot from their career reflections on leadership, industry trends, and how they navigated personal challenges and business opportunities.
Sahaj Shah: No matter where you are in your career, the reach, support and trust of SportsPro can really accelerate your growth. In my case, every speaking and media opportunity has given me a chance to improve different things while expanding my presence in an industry I truly love.
Laura McDonnell: Mentoring. There is such a breadth of knowledge and experience among the leadership group and the opportunity to access and learn from so many of them would not be possible without a program like NEW ERA.
Michelle Goulty: The mentorship from the Steering Group who have been very generous with their time, guidance and insight, something I have found invaluable as I move into a new role within the City Football Group this year.
The NEW ERA Connect sessions were also a valuable way to meet members of the wider NEW ERA community and delve into key topics.
What would you say to someone considering applying to the NEW ERA program next year?
Ali Dinsmore: Apply! It has been a privilege to be a part of NEW ERA and there is no doubt that it has expanded my network, career opportunities and overall presence in the industry. I value the relationships I have built as a result of this program and the long-term benefits it will bring to my career.
Charlie Sizer: Go for it, throw yourself into it and do the things that make you uncomfortable! You have a whole support network around you to support you.
Shikha Tandon: I would definitely recommend the program as it is an opportunity to network and speak with very accomplished and motivated women in the industry and a unique opportunity to customize your training and talks based on your individual goals and journey.
Helen Praz: Do it – apply and make sure you’re being true to yourself when you apply. NEW ERA aims to help empower women in business and lift each other up, so be sure to express what you want to get out of the program. And if you’re not selected, know that there are still NEW ERA networking sessions you can join to build your network, listen and discuss hot topics.
Ojonoka Aguda: I would say go for it! It’s really refreshing to be surrounded by people who understand and have had or have similar challenges in their careers. Being part of a group of women from all over the world, all genuinely rooting for each other’s success, is something you have to experience!
Lorraine Moalosi: I like to work on projects, so I would say to identify a specific project that you would like to work on for the duration of the program. For example, one of my mentors and I called 2023 my “year of courage,” so I had to do practical things to demonstrate that courage.
The program works so fast that sometimes it can be difficult to capture everything. But if someone commits to a specific project that they can work on with the mentors, then they will have something lasting to come back to after the program is over.
Interested in being part of the NEW ERA class of 2023/24? Click here to learn more about the program and click here to apply.