NFL Senior Vice President Shares Her Story
On March 20, Renie Anderson, once an aspiring writer, detailed how she became the senior vice president of sponsorship and partner management at the National Football League (NFL) and her experiences working in a male-dominated industry. Jimmy Lynn, adjunct professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, moderated the event as part of his class, “Sports Marketing Strategy.”
As a journalism student at the University of Mississippi, Anderson was first exposed to the world of sports while interning at her university’s sports department. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she moved to California as an aspiring novelist. She first worked as a receptionist at Cabletron before becoming a secretary for David Baker, commissioner of the Arena Football League. At 22 years old, Anderson began to learn the business of sports.
“[On my first day, David Baker] looks at me and goes, ‘fake it till you make it, kid,’” she said. “And then he walked out of the room.”
Anderson learned the business quickly, and soon she was designing t-shirts and invitations and working on contracts. Two years after Baker told her to ‘fake it,’ she was given an opportunity to launch the Arena Football League’s New York office. She was beginning to make it.
After working in the Arena Football League’s New York office for six years, Anderson joined the NFL in 2006 as a manager of the business development group. Quickly rising through the ranks, Anderson now oversees the league’s new business and sponsorship division. Since her arrival, she has quadrupled the league’s sponsorship revenue.
Although Anderson works in a male-dominated industry, she does not give it much thought because she works tirelessly to earn her position. She never wants a job simply because of her gender, she said, but rather because she has worked hard for it.
“I’ve been somewhat naive in my career where I don’t think about [working in a male-dominated industry]. And I don’t think about it because I know I am the best at what I do,” she said. “I run the sponsorship business of the National Football League. There is not a single person there that knows more about what I run than me, but I’ve worked really hard to get there and earn that respect.”
According to Anderson, there are many jobs available in the sports industry for business students. She advised those who are interested to apply for internships, network with people in the field, and build their teamwork skills.
“Don’t stress out, but make sure you’re definitely doing stuff to make sure you stand out because you’re one resume,” she said. “And if there is one job open at any league, you’re one of thousands that apply. The ones that get in are the ones where we know you [or] we know someone that knew you or who you interned with.”
Anderson told the students not to be discouraged if they do not have a background in the sports industry, as business students bring diversity of thought to the workplace.
“Don’t be nervous about going to a new place. Dig in and learn that company and figure out why they hired you,” she said. “Because they clearly hired you because you’re great at something.”