Sport for Business, in partnership with Liberty Insurance, has begun the publication of our annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport.
This is not about Women’s sport, it is about the influence that women are wielding across all sport. We will identify leaders on and off the field of play. They will include those who are role models in terms of their abilities on and off the field of play. They will come from teams and individual sports, from sponsorship partners, from the media, from the administrative corridors of power and from places where influence may be subtle but no less powerful.
As CEO of Vodafone in Ireland Anne O’Leary is one of the most powerful women in business. As the one who made the call on the sponsorship of the Irish Rugby team, she has a similar vaulted position in terms of influence within sport.
The role of a sponsor is not to score the winning try but it does set the tone on how a sport is perceived and Vodafone’s #TeamofUs campaign has put rugby front and centre stage in one of the biggest commercial operations in the country.
O’Leary is a Cork native and a triathlete of some achievement. She is an advocate that the lessons learned within sport have a place when transferred into business.
Speaking to Sport for Business last year at the launch of Vodafone’s partnership with the IRFU she told us “Rugby followers and fans are quite unique in terms of the bond they have with the team and the players.”
“We want to connect emotionally more with our customers. We can connect through devices or plans but this goes deeper.”
“We are respected and trusted as a brand but we also want to be admired. Rugby is an admired sport and brand. The people involved in the team and the sport mirror the values we have ourselves in Vodafone so we felt it made perfect sense.”
Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 means it will be to the fore in terms of the promotion of sport for women and women in sport. It does not do well in terms of leadership yet but if she had the time it would be an effective statement to bring O’Leary in as part of the management of the sport.
For 2017 we are extending the recognition given to women who are taking a lead role in sport by also identifying 50 of the next generation that are coming through, at pace, to make their mark within sport.
We want your help in making sure that this list is representative and you can make your nominations for who you think should be included right here.