Industry Insider is back for another edition and this week sees us venture into the world of tennis as we sit down with Kelly Adams, Club Communications and Membership Manager for the All England Lawn Tennis Club!
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
Day to day we spend most of our day helping Members with their queries but as the year progresses, we move in to Championships planning and of course spend the fortnight assisting Members with their ticketing and Championships queries. We also spend time preparing papers for committee meetings, so it really is a varied role, there isn’t such thing as an average week for us.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
Sport has always been a big part of my life, particularly football and tennis. My father was a professional footballer playing for Blackpool, Everton, QPR and FC Porto, scoring goal of the season in 1975 whilst playing at Blackpool, so I’ve always grown up in a sporting environment.
I am a quadruplet and all four of us are very sporty so if we weren’t playing sport, we were watching each other or watching on the TV. Three out of the four of us all currently work in the sports industry, as well as my husband, so I feel like it’s an industry I’ll always want to be in.
As a youngster my chosen sport was tennis, which I played from an early age and earned a full scholarship to West Virginia University in America where I played in their tennis team for 4 years whilst earning a degree.
After returning from America, I knew I wanted to work in sport but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and secured a job working for Keith Prowse, an events company who specialises in Sports Hospitality. I was lucky to work on some incredible sporting events and venues including cricket matches at The Kia Oval, rugby at Twickenham Stadium and The Championships, Wimbledon.
After 5 years with Keith Prowse, I started at Arsenal Football Club as an Experience Manager looking after the matchday experience of the Platinum Members (Club Level) and Box Holders. This role gave me great exposure to the full end-to-end customer journey, starting from the marketing strategy and the Hospitality & Member’s website all the way through to the world-class matchday experience delivery. I then diversified my experience further to become a Research & Insights Analyst in the Partnerships team.
Following 8 years working in the Commercial Department at Arsenal, In September last year I landed my dream job at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon), the most prestigious tennis club in the World. The key focus of my role is ensuring we are providing world-class membership services at every opportunity, as Memberships and Communications Manager.
What do you do in your current role?
As the Memberships and Communications Manager, I am responsible for delivering a wide range of communication products and services to Members both during The Championships and year-round ensuring that Members get the most out of the Club. My team is responsible for all our communications including, newsletters and website updates, we also work closely with the IT department on the website and any digital improvements to the Members services i.e., booking systems, guest management etc.
During The Championships we’re responsible for the Members experience which includes their ticket allocation, food and drink reservations, car parking as well as the communications surrounding all of these elements. During the Championships our team grows with a number of temporary Championships colleagues who join us for the fortnight.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Members come first in everything we do. The main focus daily is how we can improve our systems and services to give Members the very best experience possible and ultimately allowing us to remain best-in-class in everything we do.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
When the global pandemic struck, like many industries, it impacted the sports hospitality industry severely. At the time I was on maternity leave, and although my role in the hospitality department was made redundant, I was given a new opportunity to work in the commercial partnership team. This was a big change for me and I had to adapt quickly and learn new skills and build up my knowledge of the industry. This taught me that however much you don’t want to believe it, you’re replaceable in any job you do. Circumstances change so quickly, but you have to believe in yourself and the skills you hold, and you’ll be fine. I’m a big believer that you develop far quicker when you move outside your comfort zone.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I’m excited about the buzz around women’s sport, particularly after the Lionesses historic win in the UEFA Women’s EURO’s this summer and what this has done for football with the recent record-breaking attendances with over 47,000 at the Arsenal v Spurs recent women’s NLD, hosted at Emirates Stadium. With two young daughters aged 2 and 4, I’m excited for their future if they choose to play sport.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
With two little ones, there isn’t much time to ‘switch off’ but I do enjoy still playing tennis when I can, especially matches and often spend my free evenings watching documentaries on sport, having recently watched programmes like Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams and Welcome to Wrexham following Wrexham AFC’s journey with new owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynold. I have a fairly long commute so enjoy audio books and podcasts and can recommend Alex Scott’s recent book How (Not) To Be Strong.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
You’ve got to believe in yourself before others will. My dad has always told me ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’, I think this is relevant to the sports industry, the key is to network and get to know people, use their experience and knowledge to learn and seek advice and just go for it…. If you don’t try things, you’ll never know.
How to connect with Kelly Adams…
You can connect with Kelly Adams on LinkedIn and keep up to date with the AELTC on Twitter @Wimbledon.
Thanks for reading our chat with Kelly Adams! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.