Brightest Minds Backing Women’s Sport
31 October 2023, 9:00 am
More than 100 guests from across government, technology, sport and business came together to celebrate the inaugural NEC Women’s Leadership and Innovation lunch. The aim is to foster a network for women to exchange ideas, insights and establish new relationships.
NEC Australia Acting Vice President – Brand & Customer Experience Kylie Smith said the event was a great opportunity to hear from some of the country’s brightest minds.
“The NEC Women’s Leadership and Innovation Lunch was a great success, and we were delighted to host the event at the NEC Hangar in celebration of our new partnership with the Essendon Football Club’s AFLW team,” Smith said.
“To hear from some of Australia's most transformative female leaders in sport, science and finance was inspiring, particularly understanding how opportunities intersect between innovation in tech and women’s sport in an Australian business context.
“We are extremely pleased to host more than 100 people at the inaugural NEC Women’s Leadership and Innovation Lunch. All came together to network and share their experience and we believe this event will only grow in strength in the years ahead.”
Headlining the lunch was highly respected Scientist and Futurist, Dr Catherine Ball and Flying Fox Ventures founder Rachael Neumann, who provided guests with insights into the incredible opportunities for companies to support the development of women’s sport across all sporting codes.
Neumann is also a part owner and key investor of the National Women’s Soccer League team, the Angel City Football Club, alongside other luminaries such as Natalie Portman and Serena Williams.
“Knowing what sport unlocks in society is super powerful but there is chronic under funding in women’s sport. As an investor, women’s sport is one of my best investments thus far,” Neumann said.
"It is essential that brands support women’s sport. From a financial perspective, there is an incredible return on investment (ROI) and any of the sponsors of the Women’s World Cup can attest to that. The ROI surpassed all expectations.”
“Companies have a moral obligation to play, as well as an incredible commercial opportunity, and there is a ripple effect from companies supporting women’s sport. Consumers increasingly care about the value set of companies, so it’s a very smart decision for companies to align themselves to women’s sport."
FOX Sports’ Sarah Jones also hosted a panel discussion featuring AFL General Manager Commercial, Peta Webster; Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning Netball Chief Marketing Officer, Tayah Bot; Essendon FC General Manager AFLW Aysha Ward and Essendon AFLW star player Maddy Prespakis.
The panelists outlined their views on what is required to continue to foster, grow and sustain women’s sports in Australia.
“It’s about engaging the next generation of fans in women’s sport, recognising that the product we are offering is different and that creates new opportunities. We want to see all women’s sport thrive,” said Bot.
“We need to find a way to bring everyone on the journey with us and continue engaging audiences. The minute people come to our games and experience it themselves, they don’t turn back,” said Ward.
“Commercial sponsorships are all underlined by creating visibility through advocacy. This is underpinned by making sure the product is as good as it can be all the time – the match experience, on field, and off field. When it comes to our partners, it is about continuing to create value for current and new partner opportunities, and it is not about doing it the same way we do it with the men’s game. We have got to think differently with some real creative overlay,” said Webster.
Prespakis, who was joined by her teammates Brooke Brown, Brooke Walker, Georgia Gee, Jacqui Vogt, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Stephanie Cain, shared her journey with the audience. Essendon’s inaugural AFLW Club Best and Fairest Winner and three time All-Australian provided some timeless advice that can apply to both sport and business, “as a player you need to write your own journey and build balance on and off the field”.
Essendon FC General Manager AFLW Aysha Ward; FOX Sports’ Sarah Jones; AFL General Manager Commercial, Peta Webster; Essendon AFLW star player Maddy Prespakis and Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning Netball Chief Marketing Officer, Tayah Bot.