Leadership / 06.01.22
Women NBA Ticketing Professionals: Slam-Dunk Success Stories
This week marks the beginning of the end of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) 2021–2022 season with a Finals matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors. It should be a classic matchup between one of the great franchises of yore and one of the hottest teams the league has seen this past decade.
Great strides have been made on the court since Boston won its first of 17 championships in 1957. Even greater strides have been made off the court, especially in the diversity of the various front offices. Ticketing has been one of the areas the NBA has shown the most progress. Just ask Katie Dempsey-Fischer, Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Milwaukee Bucks.
She says, “The push to make the league diverse and to break past the ‘old boys club’ mentality has helped the NBA become one of the most progressive leagues in not only who we hire but what we accomplish and how we push the envelope to be cutting edge. Women have played an important role in this change. The NBA has an increasing number of female executives who are helping advance the mission. Additionally, the NBA Women’s Leadership Forum has been a great tool virtually and an even better tool when it allows us to come together in person so that we can network with each other.”
Her colleague, Alysha Miller, concurs. The Bucks’ Senior Director of Ticket Operations says, “One of the things I am most proud of working for an NBA team is the emphasis the Bucks has placed on diversity and inclusion, which has included making sure women are represented in all areas of the business. I’ve been very fortunate to have had great women leaders as examples and mentors in my six years at the Bucks.”
The strides the NBA has made in hiring and promoting women in ticketing roles are indeed also being seen in other facets of the game. Even coaching is starting to become more gender diverse. Tricia Moore, Box Office Director for the Indiana Pacers, says, “Commissioner [Adam] Silver has been vocal in leading this. And with our team, we have Kelly Krauskopf as our Assistant GM and Jenny Boucher as one of our coaches … I can’t wait for the day to see a woman/women in head coaching roles in the NBA!”
The NBA has also been able to foster a real joy in the work. In many cities, professional basketball games are bona fide events, night in and night out. And ticketing professionals know the singular joy of being among those most responsible for “putting butts in seats.”
Ebony Hattix, Director of Guest Services for FedExForum, home arena of the Memphis Grizzlies, says she loves the role she plays in creating fan memories.
She especially loves to hear the stories of those guests she is fortunate to interact with. “Have you ever seen a child and it’s his or her first NBA game? It’s that eye twinkle that grabs your attention. Once you see it, trust me. You’re hooked!”
Veronica Lawlor, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, shares Hattix’s enthusiasm for the work and the end results. “Hands down, the best of this job is the bonds we have with the fans,” she says. “Their excitement and passion for our team is infectious.”
Alicia Dalrymple, Box Office Manager at Pacers Sports & Entertainment, expresses similar sentiments. She says, “I love the journey of being able to see an event from start to finish, knowing how much hard work you put in along the way. It’s especially gratifying to see thousands of people coming together for an event knowing that, without the work you put in, it wouldn’t be possible for the event to go on.”
Those interviewed for this article agree that they wouldn’t be where they are today without some really good advice along the way. Dalrymple stresses tenacity, recalling once being told that a “no” now isn’t a “no” forever. “If you put in the work, anything is possible,” she says.
Moore, her colleague with the Pacers, credits her mom (“one of my biggest cheerleaders”) with giving her some of the best counsel. “Her advice was work hard, but don’t work too hard where you become lost in your job, as you must enjoy life and what you do,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to fail, as that is how you learn to become better. Be a team player and be your authentic self, and you will achieve great success.”
Hattix, meanwhile, still takes inspiration from her father. “My dad always said, ‘You can do what you want to do. It will not always be easy, but you can do it.’ He pushed me to just go for it . . . I can always work out something to make things better. I just need time to look at all the answers in the entire multiverse.”
Simone Hogan, Senior Manager of Ticket Operations for the Dallas Mavericks, has taken inspiration from outside the sport. One of her favorite quotes is from tennis great Serena Williams. "If Plan A isn't working, I have Plan B, Plan C and even Plan D. I feel like this is ticketing!”
All seven ticketing pros we spoke to for this feature had some choice advice for any young woman reading this who is looking to achieve some of the success they’ve had in ticketing professional sports — basketball, in particular. Their words of wisdom ranged from the basic “Never pass on an opportunity for personal growth” (Lawlor) to the more challenging “Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Growing as a person and professionally requires stretching beyond one’s comfort zone” (Miller).
Miller of the Bucks says, “I also think women can suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ when working in a male-dominated space. I’d tell young women to know they belong, they are good enough, their voice matters, and to be confident in the skills they uniquely bring to the table.”
Her colleague in Milwaukee, Dempsey-Fischer, says, “Get your foot in the door and learn as much as you can, especially beyond your role. Don’t zero in too much on exactly what you think you want to be when you get started. Be open to all opportunities that come your way, and then use them to help identify the best path and position for you.”
Dalrymple urges those just getting started to “not burn any bridges” along the way. Connections are the key to success. “Connections you make along the way may be future co-workers somewhere else down the line,” she says. “You never know who might have you in mind for an open position because of the time you spent together somewhere else in your past.”
Moore of the Pacers states that when you’re young and new to the profession, that is actually the best time to take a few chances . . . even if that means working for no pay at times. “Interview or intern for different positions to find your niche in professional sports,” she says. “If volunteer opportunities arise for events that are happening in your city, sign up! Volunteering is a great opportunity to network with other professionals in your field.”
The Mavericks’ Hogan says, “Sports is an exciting world, and your voice is bigger than you think. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share new ideas.”
Perhaps Hattix summed it up best. “My advice would be to bring your authentic self and know who you are,” she says. “Be ready to have highs and lows, and you must put in the work to get the respect. Every day give it 120%!”
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Tags: Women in Ticketing , Basketball , NBA