Our latest Industry Insider works for England Netball, the national governing body for England’s biggest female team sport! We sat down with Rachel Gregg to talk about her career so far…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hi, I’m Rachel Gregg and I’m an Insight Analyst for England Netball, the governing body for netball in England, which I’ve been part of since 2018 when England made sporting history in the Commonwealth Games victory.
Before this my career was focused more broadly in health and wellbeing. I used to lead community initiatives, co-creating opportunities for people in Sheffield’s most deprived areas to experience different ways to be active – helping to improve wellbeing and create happier, more fulfilled communities. I’ve worked in various delivery roles, everything from lifeguarding to sport coaching with Sheffield City Trust and University of Nottingham.
What do you do in your current role?
My role at England Netball is centered around people, data and stories. To generate insight that helps create a deeper holistic understanding of people and their behaviours or beliefs to influence and inspire learning-based decisions – ensuring netball continues to evolve and remains meaningful and relevant to everyone who wants to watch, play or be involved.
In 2021 EN launched an ambitious purpose-led strategy which will see us lead a movement on and beyond the court. Upholding an unapologetic focus on women and girls, whilst opening the game for new audiences to belong, flourish and soar. The next 10-years will see our insight and intelligence fuel innovation and create an even deeper knowledge of our sport, our audiences and the wider landscape.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
Every week starts with a team meeting where we highlight our priorities, discuss any challenges and review metrics or key industry insights. We are a very small team, so it’s important to communicate regularly and stay connected.
It’s an incredibly exciting time being just a few months into our new strategy, which has created some really varied workstreams and projects. One morning I might be working with the Development team reviewing insight across grassroots participation programmes or preparing a presentation on understanding women’s lives to help inform the development of a new Game for Life initiative. The following day I could be working with the People team, developing an insight and learning plan for volunteering, or meeting the Digital team to solve some data challenges.
In January the Vitality Roses were back in front of a home crowd as part of the Netball Quad Series, which has given us the opportunity to re-fresh some of our fan data and insights after such a long break during the pandemic.
But more than anything I love to help amplify our voice, sharing the impact netball has on women and girls, on and beyond the court.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I did my BSc in Sport Studies, before completing an MSc in Psychology – sport was my passion, I grew up playing football and netball, but I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the mind and human behaviour.
I stayed curious at university and completed two short-term internships which allowed me to continue exploring the fields of Sport Development and Research. In the final year of my MSc, I landed a role with a local health and wellbeing charity. Over the next few years, I did everything from lifeguarding to coaching, before moving into a funding role where I was lucky enough to lead some incredible community social impact initiatives.
I moved to England Netball in 2018 as a Development Officer on the back of the Roses historic Commonwealth Gold in Australia. Netball was riding a wave and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to help the biggest team sport for women and girls continue to thrive. Netball is an incredibly special sport – and this role was pivotal in helping to shape my personal values.
In 2021 I moved into an Insight Analyst position, which allowed me to bring together my passion for women’s sport and research. The dream!
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
To create engaging insights that people understand and tell good stories that showcase impact, inspire action and help build of a movement towards positive change.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
I value learning, creativity, and ideation so I fail all the time. This week, despite making huge improvements to processes, we experienced a decrease in survey response rates. Slowing down and taking time to learn from failure is golden!
But I think it’s also incredibly important to have clarity on what success looks like to you, beyond hitting targets or landing your dream job. I try and challenge myself to focus on learning and personal growth, steered by my purpose. I love the concept of ‘winning deep’ and can recommend two brilliant books – Fear Less, by Dr Pippa Grange and The Long Win by Cath Bishop, both offer great advice around the importance of culture and mindset.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Women’s Sport is building momentum again after the challenges of the pandemic, the record crowd of 91,533 in the UEFA Women’s Champions League at Nou Camp is just incredible. The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will host the largest ever female sport programme in history and is set to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to inspire participation and grow audiences through increased visibility for many sports, including netball.
In the world of research and insight, I’m pleased to see a drive towards more innovation when it comes to how we evaluate impact and measure success in a more purposeful way. This includes ensuring methodologies are creative and inclusive to capture diversity of thought.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
Accelerate the investment and visibility of women’s sports and women in sport. The value of women’s sport is set to treble to £1bn by 2030 and the potential for growth is huge but the ecosystem surrounding it isn’t allowing it to thrive. For anyone who would like to learn more Closing the Visibility Gap by the Women’s Sport Trust gives an excellent overview of challenges and opportunities in the industry.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I am grateful every day to have a career in an industry I feel so passionately about – learning to stay balanced is a challenge you must work hard to maintain. I like to book my leave for the year ahead, so I know when I have periods of rest and recovery coming up to recharge. On a day-to-day basis being active is important to me and I know helps ensure I can show up at my best. I love team sport and play football and netball regularly, as well as being an occasional (and fair weather) runner. There’s nothing better than starting the weekend at your local Parkrun, of course followed by a delicious breakfast treat!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
My advice would be to remain open minded about possibilities throughout your career and prioritise learning, connection, and developing a network of meaningful relationships.
How to connect with England Netball and Rachel Gregg…
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Rachel Gregg! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.