“Always strive to do more and continuously innovate and you will be on your way!”
‘Woman In Sports’ highlights the amazing work that women are doing in this is male dominated field. I had the pleasure of speaking with Brianna Weaver. Brianna is a Inside Sales Representative for the Atlanta Falcons and also a self-taught journalist. You can find her at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during Atlanta Falcons games, and interviewing Atlanta’s brightest starts on her YouTube channel!
Where did you grow up and how were you introduced to sports?
I am originally from Orlando, Florida, so by default, I grew up an Orlando Magic fan. My dad is also a die-hard Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, so we traveled and went to games often which introduced me to the game at a young age. My love for football led me to playing flag football and cheering for my high school’s football team all four years.
What college/university did you attend and did it have an impact on your fan experience?
I attended the BEST HBCU, Florida A&M University. I wasn’t involved with sports in college, but I supported our sports teams heavily. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a good HBCU showdown!
How did you get your start in the sports industry?
When I moved to Atlanta, I was in search of a job. I ended up getting a part-time job with the Atlanta Hawks as a Guest Services Attendant, which is just a fancy way to say “Usher”. That was my introduction to the Sports industry, but I knew I had the ability to so much more. From there, I messaged someone who worked for the Atlanta Falcons on LinkedIn and they invited me out to a group interview session and that is how I landed my current position with the Falcons as an Inside Sales Representative.
How was your professional transition from entertainment to sports?
The transition across industries was not too crazy, and I say that because sports is a form of entertainment, so they’re not too far off from each other. The main difference that instead of working on television campaigns and album releases, I am now working with athletes. Luckily, I still get to work events and work on campaigns, it’s just in a different light. Although I love and appreciate both, my heart lies with entertainment because that’s my first love, you know? Of course, I can’t completely separate myself from the entertainment industry. Along with working for the Falcons, I am also an Entertainment Correspondent where interview artists, actors, actresses and cover different events throughout the Atlanta area. I definitely get to have my cake and eat it too!
What did you like about working for the Atlanta Hawks?
Although my role with the Hawks was small, my favorite thing about this position was that I had access to meeting so many people. I made sure anytime I worked a game or an event, I made sure to make as many connections as possible. Because there are so many functions and departments that go into making a game come together, I was meeting people in Production, Marketing, Sales, Public Relations, the list goes on. That was one of the beauties of that position was being able to cross paths with so many different people. From that I was able to connect with the Communications Coordinator from the Atlanta Hawks and I will be covering a lot of their events this summer. I’m definitely looking forward to that!
While volunteering for career fairs for the Atlanta Falcons, how can the sporting industry support more diversity and inclusion not only with race but also with gender?
The sports industry can certainly improve on diversity and inclusion, and I think it starts with going to where the diverse talent is. We can start by going to more HBCU’s and recruiting on behalf of our organizations to ensure that the best and brightest talent is recruited. That’s why I felt it was so important to work the career fair because we need that representation at these events to show that there are people in the organization who look like us and because I wanted to make sure that female candidates and candidates of color were not being overlooked. The people who have the greatest influence are the people who are already in the door. It is up to us to create and enhance initiatives for diversity and inclusion, and work 10x harder than everyone else in the building to get into these positions where we have decision making power to create more opportunities for diverse talent. It’s a process, but it just takes a few people who are confident and committed to making a difference.
How can the sports world close the gap with the working with black women and other women of color?
I think it’s up to us, as women to start collaborating more and leaning on each other to close that gap. With the power and connections that we all have, we can start putting together more panel discussions and conferences geared specifically towards women of color. We can also do our part to create more outreach programs for women aspiring to work in sports. For example, we can create a mentoring program for college females to build that pipeline between women who are leaders in the industry and young women who aspire to be in our shoes. I would love to see us lean on each other more to create opportunities for women who look like us and keep that pipeline going, but it’s totally up to us. Of course, nothing will be given to us in this industry.
How do you see the sports world changing for women and for women of color? Do you think it will change?
I do think that I am starting to see more women at the executive level. Am I starting to see more women of color at the executive level? Not so much. I think it has the potential to change if we start collaborating more and working together to uplift the next woman. Nothing in this industry is given, and if you want an opportunity you have to be vocal, work hard and take the bull by the horns. I’ve seen people go so far as creating opportunities for themselves in the organization. I also believe that if women started working together more instead of competing, we could get so much further.
What advice would you give young ladies that want to want to have a career in sports?
For any ladies looking to have a career in the sports industry, the best place to start is to research, research, research. Research different sporting events that are happening near you and find out how you can volunteer and get involved. Research different sports networking events that are happening in your market and show up and show out. Research who the major players are and message them on LinkedIn. Get to know them and ask them to lunch or for a short 15 minute phone call to get career advice. Once you’re in the door the real work begins. You have to be super confident in who you are, your abilities and where you’re headed in this industry. Seeing that this is a male-dominated industry, you have to be willing to give 10x more effort to get the same recognition as the person sitting next to you. Always strive to do more and continuously innovate and you will be on your way!