Our latest guest on Industry Insider is Robyn Kennerdale, Supporter Services Manager at Huddersfield Town Football Club!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Robyn Kennerdale, I am Supporter Services Manager at Huddersfield Town Football Club. I started at the Club in 2006, it was my very first job and I’ve been here ever since! I began working in the Retail department whilst in my last year of sixth form and continued doing so throughout University.
When I graduated, a position came up in Business Development working with the Club’s affinity partners so I moved across to do that for a couple of years. Then in 2012, the Club decided to create a new department called Supporter Services to work more closely with our fanbase and I have headed up the Department since then.
What do you do in your current role?
My role is to try and improve the experience of supporters by acting as a link between them and the Club, developing relationships with individual fans and established groups, planning supporter facing initiatives and events, CSR campaigns, junior and family engagement and match day experience. It’s a very varied role which sees me working with most other departments within the Club.
I work alongside Huddersfield Town Legend Andy Booth who became our Club Ambassador following his retirement from football in 2009, as well as our colleague Rachel Taylor who has just celebrated 26 years working for Town. Between us we’ve been around for some time and we’re a good team!
What does a normal week look like for you?
Prior to the pandemic, the week was mostly geared around the upcoming match day and getting everything ready such as organising our Here to Help staff and Family Stand, working with our Communications team to promote our activities and liaising with our Operations Director and Stadium company to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.
I am in regular contact with our various fan groups so I could be working on a joint initiative with our Supporters Association, helping to promote our Proud Terriers group or discussing accessibility with our Disabled Supporters Club. I also sit on the Club’s Equality Working Group and most weeks will be helping to progress our ‘Terriers Together’ initiative which highlights the work we do across the Club and Foundation to be inclusive, accessible, and welcoming to all.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
Well I had no choice but to like football (my Dad draped a Liverpool scarf around my neck practically at birth), but I never imagined myself working in the industry! I kind of fell into my first role with the Club but after a few years of working on the shop floor, chatting with Town fans and feeling the buzz of a match day, I felt part of the family and I couldn’t see myself working anywhere else.
One of my first tasks when I became Partnerships Executive was to organise a charity bike ride for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and although I had no prior experience and was terrified, being thrown in at the deep end was the making of me. It gave me experience in Event organisation, Sponsorship, Project Management, Finance and Communications and sparked my passion for working every day to help keep the Club at the heart of our local community.
12 years later and down to the generosity of our fans, those events alongside many others have raised over £2million which has had a huge impact on various local causes; it’s something I am so proud of.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
It’s probably an obvious one but the thought of seeing the first supporter click through the turnstiles in August 2021 (fingers crossed) is the main thing keeping me going right now! Not that it was ever in doubt, but this last year has proven how true the statement ‘Football without fans is nothing’ really is.
We are lucky to have a group of supporters known as the Cowshed Loyal who work to create a brilliant atmosphere at the John Smith’s Stadium alongside fans in all the other stands and I’m really looking forward to seeing the ground back full as soon as possible.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
To work alongside all my colleagues to ensure that our fans have an outlet, feel close to the Club, and feel valued. Whether that’s by helping make an adjustment for a supporter who may require some extra assistance, giving opportunities for our junior fans to meet our players or taking on board feedback to improve an element of the match day experience, whatever it is, I try to do it with empathy and enthusiasm.
In your area of work, what is something you feel most people don’t talk about or focus on enough?
It’s not that this topic doesn’t get talked about enough, there is certainly a fair bit of talking that goes on, but we are still yet to see much action in relation to tackling the rise of discrimination in football, particularly it seems on social media.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Treat every single thing you do as a learning experience and try and learn something from every person you meet. I have worked with some incredible people over the years and each has taught me something different which I try and keep with me.
I would also say to be resilient and prepare yourself for the ups and downs of working in the industry. It is very results driven and it’s the nature of the beast that there will be hard times along the way, but it is also one of the most exciting and rewarding jobs you could do!
How to connect with Robyn Kennerdale…