How do you build a winning team on and off the field?

During the 2002 Collision Conference in Toronto,  I had the opportunity to listen on a panel discussion with the president of Chicago Fire FC Ishwara Glassman Cherin. She is one if not the only female at this position within the Major League Sports industry. She has over 20yrs of experience within the sports world and as the president oversees all the business operations of the team.

Some of the questions that were asked and discussed are

  • How does a seasoned and experience female executive lead and handle all operations and business related matters for soccer team?
  • How does one ensure everyone in the organization from those washing player clothes, ticketing, athletes, coaches and overall fan experience feel appreciated and part of the team?

As a female in the sports industry myself, I was happy to see and hear her speak candidly and authentically about the behind the scenes of managing sports team and why it’s important to make any work place fun and enjoyable.

Here’s some insights she shared.

She started of with this great quote Don’t say this is the way we’ve always done it especially if that way hasn’t work”.

With this mind, she continues to embrace the beautiful and diverse cultures in Chicago and surrounding areas.

One of the first thing she did was the implementation of multi language in their communications to fans primarily Spanish which she noted is one of the their biggest language spoken from their fans in the league.

Another way she’s building her team (front end and back end) is utilizing social media to showcase her teams personalities through fun and empowering stories shared with their fans.  This is one way of giving their fans a closer look to the club and making them feel like they are part of the club.

Her advice to all in attendance is “People want to read about people and teams. Keep sharing their stories and also keep sharing your stories.”

On the business side, the discussion of sponsorship and branding was raised. This is what was shared.

With the upcoming introduction of Hockey (NHL) entering the jersey sponsorship market; the Chicago FC  see this as both a welcome and challenging opportunity.  One key point she insisted on is the openness to ensure her team and brand continue to grow while maintaining their authentic self with organizations that have similar goals as them.

Chicago Fire FC brands itself as affordable family entertainment for sporting. And with the projection of soccer to be top sports in US within the next 5-10yrs this team is on the right path.

Congratulations to Ishawara for paving the way to all the next female sports executives and sharing her experiences with us.

To learn more or see what’s new with Chicago FC, follow them on all social media platforms @chicagofc

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