Leadership / 02.22.23
Women Ticketing Professionals Reach Their Goals in Major League Soccer
Soccer players can have many roles on the field of play — everything from passer to scorer to pursuer to defender — often changing fast as the game changes. The same can also be said for ticketing executives in the upper halls of Major League Soccer (MLS). Gaining traction in these offices are female ticketing pros who have come a long way in recent years.
One example is Abigail “Abby” Gonzalez, Ticket Operations Coordinator for the LA Galaxy. Her duties range from collecting revenue and processing ticket sales requests for the team to working with account executives to assure adherence to proper ticketing guidelines using trackers in CRM platforms. She also assists with game day operations, including adjusting inventory and resolving client ticketing issues, and contributing to the creation of promotional offers for the Galaxy’s more than 19 home games.
For her colleague, Hillary Hodding, the work is equally varied and demanding. The Director of Ticket Operations for the LA Galaxy says, “For non-industry folks, I tell them I do everything in ticketing except actively selling tickets.” This includes leading the entire department — i.e., staffing, training, developing and so forth — as well as “a lot of configuring and coordinating tickets for sales, access control, delivery, payment plans, visiting groups … the list goes on!”
Caitlin Bolitho, Manager of Ticket Reporting and Admin for the Toronto Football Club (FC), adds, “My responsibilities are to create and bring to life the products our business unit would like to sell. It involves being innovative, creative and sometimes working to eliminate or adapt to potential barriers. I also manage a team of two awesome individuals and am a teammate to our larger department, as well.”
So, what is the favorite part of their respective jobs? Bolitho was quick to answer: “My favorite part of the job is being challenged to think differently, to be a part of delivering unique experiences to fans and to be creative to launch some of the product offerings that exist for Major League Soccer. Working in hockey previously, it’s been a fun journey experiencing all the nuances of Major League Soccer. It has kept me on my toes for sure, and all of the exciting growth from grassroots to professional is a great space to be in to be challenged and creative.”
Gonzalez adds that the best part about her job is the people she works with and the diverse and inclusive workplace she enjoys coming to each day. Hodding echoed her sentiment and went further: “I look at ticketing as a puzzle. When you find solutions to problems or areas of opportunity, you feel rewarded and accomplished. This season, our first regular season game is taking place against our intercity rivals at a venue with a capacity about four times our home stadium, while also launching the league’s new broadcast partnership — no pressure!”
She continues, “Moving our membership to a different venue and keeping their offering whole was a significant part of this event that we typically don’t have to deal with in our home venue. Needless to say, it’s been the biggest ticketing puzzle in my career to date, and the game will take place on Feb. 25.”
Hodding has been personally working on this event for seven months. It was hard for her to believe at the time of this interview that it was suddenly less than a week away. “This has been a very complicated and challenging event, and I hope it will all run as smoothly as it can.”
All three interviewees for this feature expressed appreciation and continued hope for the strides women have made in the ticketing operations of Major League Soccer. Gonzalez says, “Personally, in my department of ticket sales and member service, women play significant leadership roles. About 70% of women hold director and/or senior manager roles. This shows that at LA Galaxy, the advancement in leadership roles for women is progressing.”
Bolitho credits having a strong staff leader in Hayley Chapman with helping along the hiring and support for women at Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment (MLSE). MLSE’s assets not only included the Toronto FC, but also the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL, the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, and the Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football League team.
“Internally, I think it’s very important to have that network of women,” she says. “If there is something we are experiencing, we have someone to reach out to for support. It is nice being in an industry where our mentors are strong women because there are so few. Overall, within the MLS and the industry in general, having that intentional focus of supporting women by showcasing women sports, sponsoring women, hiring women in leadership positions on and off the field is really important. Everyday barriers to entry are becoming less and less. And it’s not only on the shoulders of the industry, but it is on our shoulders as individuals to continually empower and encourage women to reach for the stars and not let your gender stop you from getting to where you want to be. I do believe the work is never done and we must keep pushing and keep breaking down those barriers. I am proud to be part of that with the women at MLSE focusing on a better future for tomorrow.”
And all three women credit some good advice they’ve received along the way that has gotten them over any bumps or obstacles on their climb to the top — advice they like to forward on to the next generation whenever they can. Hodding’s tips range from the basic (“Life isn’t fair”) to the personal (“You have to find your own motivation to succeed”) to the practical (“If you can’t figure out a problem, sleep on it”).
Bolitho’s best nugget of wisdom? “Challenges are just opportunities in disguise. If you aren’t uncomfortable in your career, you’re not growing. Take the leap and watch yourself soar.”
Finally, Gonzalez urges young female ticketing professionals to “be more assertive. There have been many times in my career where I have doubted myself or my ability. It is important to always project confidence, even if you don’t always have it. Assertiveness is an act of leadership. People will take you more seriously if you project self-confidence.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing , Soccer