Sport Industry NextGen Alumni: Our Experiences

10 Sep 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

With the deadline for Sport Industry NextGen applications fast approaching, Sport Industry Group gathered together some of the illustrious Sport Industry NextGen alumni to talk thoughts, reflections, and the important role the programme has had on their lives.

As the 2020 cohort finish their applications and aim to take the next step on their journey, read more from Yath Gangakumaran, Director, Strategy and Business, F1 (2016), Heather Smith, Associate Head of Innovation, Women in Sport (2017), Jamie King, Senior Social Media and Digital Content Strategist, NFL UK (2018), Anna Chanduvi, Sports Media Partnerships EMEA, Facebook and Emma Vetriano, Partnerships Manager, Celebrities and Influencers, EA SPORTS & EA GAMES (both 2019).

What were your aspirations when you started the application process?

HS: When I first saw the opportunity it just looked like something I couldn’t miss out on! I have always had an ambition to hold a leadership position within the sport sector, but with a predominantly sport development background I was, and still am, aware of the need to make sure I can connect and understand all areas of the industry. 

At the time I had just started a small business delivering early years rugby for children aged 2-6 alongside my full time position so had two environments to consider and test out new leadership styles and approaches that I hoped to develop through the programme.

Can you remember why you wanted to apply? And what would you say to this year’s applicants?

EV: To further develop my leadership skills and my peer network. It’s given me an understanding of good followership and helped me to create friendships that I know will be long lasting. To those applying this year I’d say: tell your journey through your passions – don’t just list your accolades!

JK: When you end up crossing paths with someone who’s been in the programme and gone through the same process, it suddenly puts you both on an equal playing field. It certainly breaks down any barriers. Think about why you really want to be part of this programme and most importantly how you can bring something different.


How has the programme shaped your career in sport?

YG: The best thing about the programme has been the fact that I now have a relatively small but tight group of people who I consider friends who are members of the sport industry who I didn’t know before but who I now meet relatively frequently and we’ve looked at even doing business together, so that for me has been the best part: building more intimate relationships with people in the industry. I now consider them friends and one even came to my wedding recently.

HS: The connections and network of peers that I gained through the experience have been invaluable. I am still in touch with many of them and actually work on one of Women in Sport’s flagship programmes with one of the contacts I made.

I also think that being named as a Sport Industry NextGen Leader really helped me set out my stall in the sector. For many, and women in particular, it can be hard to be bold in stating your intentions and ambitions. The Sport Industry NextGen programme really gives a safe platform to do that and is why I would encourage any aspiring women to apply. 


What did you want to get out of the programme and how do you feel it’s helped you?

JK: I wanted to learn. What made this programme different was there was an element of learning and a course that I’d learn how to become a better leader. It’s given me a platform and a recognition amongst the industry. I’m now being asked about experience and to talk at conferences. It’s also given me a new sense of confidence to take into my career. 

AC: Learning about both theoretical and practical leadership has been extremely enlightening. There are a number of elements I learned through group activities that I now apply in my day to day – deconstructing a complex task into simple steps and subsequently forming actionable strategy.


How influential has the Sport Industry NextGen alumni network been in your professional success?

HS: The network, I would say, is the number one benefit of the programme. There have been a number of times since the end of the formal part of the programme that I have asked for support, offered out opportunities, made further connections and even worked on projects with members of the Sport Industry NextGen alumni. The range of organisations that the programme attracts is brilliant because it helps you reach into all corners of the industry, small start-ups to major brands. Building that network on your own would take such a long time. 


What advice would you give to those applying to be a part of the 2020 Sport Industry NextGen cohort?

YG: I would say go for it, you’d have nothing to lose, if you do get onto it, you’ll have the opportunity to really expand your network, really expand the different roles that are there in the industry, the fantastic diversity of people who are plying their trade in sport, and hopefully make some good friends as well!

AC: Main advice – go for it!! I can’t recommend it enough. When you’re writing your application, take the time to think carefully about what you’re hoping to get out of this programme and what you can contribute to the cohort. 


Summarise the journey from Sport Industry NextGen application to now in five words.

AC: Sorry, I can’t get it to 5, but here’s 7: Met awesome people I now call friends. 

YG: Inspirational. Educational. Influential. Fun. Social. 

HS: Exciting. Inspiring. Springboard for success!

JK: Exciting. Surprising. Rewarding. Challenging. Fun.

EV: Challenging. Eye-opening. Friendship. Rewarding. Opportunities.