Chief Marketing Officer for Western Bulldogs shares the challenges of establishing the women’s team


Kelly Ryan is the Chief Marketing Officer for Western Bulldogs overseeing the Club’s brand, communications, digital, events and fan engagement areas. She is also playing a lead role in the establishment of the Club’s new Women’s team. In an interview with Connect Intelligence, Kelly shares how she leverages technology and innovation in her role, as well as the challenges in developing a women’s team.

What key attributes and skills do you think people in your role should possess?
Three things.
1. Collaborator: First and foremost, you need to be a strong collaborator. You need to bring people in from all departments internally in order to create a true shared vision for what you are trying to achieve. People don’t realise the amount of work a marketing department does and are usually only focused on their own area. Unless you allow a seat at the table for all departments.
2. Align talents and passion to get the best out of your staff. Too often we think about a person’s function as their reason to be involved in a project. That is correct when it comes to implementation but there will be other people in the business that will have an enormous amount to offer
3. Have a diverse team. You don’t need to be nor should you be an expert in everything. Bring in people from a mix of backgrounds and experience and give people the opportunity to take on new challenges even if it’s a stretch for them.

How would you describe your leadership strategy?
My leadership strategy is continuously evolving. This will be an ongoing journey for the length of my career. Ultimately though it is about communicating a vision and ensuring others understand that vision and providing the best environment possible to ensure everyone can achieve the vision and be the best version of themselves.

How do you utilise innovation and technology in your role? Why is it important?
I use both of these things all the time. It is about constantly challenging everything you have done before. Our industry is very cyclical despite the numerous ebbs and flows, however largely we deliver a consistent schedule of activities. Every year we need to challenge what was done before not only to ensure it is relevant in the current market conditions but to ensure we are continually improving. Innovation can often be over thought when it is sometimes finding a new way to do something you have always done. In terms of technology, there are some amazing products that add new dimensions to what you have always done. However it is critical to be selective, it is easy to take on too much. Like any new initiative, it must align with your business priorities otherwise it won’t reach its potential.

What have the challenges been in creating a women’s team?
Numerous, but none that have been insurmountable. The Club had a women’s presence long before AFLW came along so it wasn’t a stretch for the Club to permanently adopt a semi-professional version of what had already been in place. From a business perspective, we really had to break up the Club. By that I mean we were creating a new product, not a me too product so we had to get everyone comfortable this was going to be different and embrace that. It needed to be “sold” differently and to new partners not automatically assume the current Club partners should roll over into this space. We had to market it differently in every sense of the word. Its essence still needed to align to the overall Club brand but it needed its own meaning. The number one reason from a consumer perspective for supporting AFLW was to support women playing sport, this is distinctly different to why people support the men’s game. We have had to embrace that in order to attract a new audience.

Kelly Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer for the Western Bulldogs will be speaking about Bringing Brands and Customers Closer Together at Brand Forum, 2018.

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