This Sunday is International Women’s Day – a global occasion celebrating the achievements of women – and to mark this, we have shone a spotlight on some of the key female members of staff behind the scenes who keep Wasps Rugby and Wasps Netball flying high.
Sam Bruce, Rugby Administrator
I initially joined Ricoh Arena as a steward to work around looking after my young son. Fast forward five-and-a-half years and never did I think I would be in a position where I am working with elite rugby players on a daily basis.
My job title can be a bit deceiving. Alongside administrative tasks for the 45 players and 29 backroom staff – such as wages, invoicing and logistical tasks – I also act as a personal assistant for players should they ever need support.
For new signings, this can range from hiring cars and arranging house viewings, through to driving them to medical appointments if they have a serious injury, and on the odd occasion, even dog sitting!
You have to remember that for some of the overseas players, they have moved to England and are away from some of their family, so I try my best to ensure they are as settled as can be – which ultimately helps them to perform to the best of their ability on the pitch.
The job has provided me with some fun memories in the three-and-a-half years that I have been in the role – the most bizarre one was when I had a call off a player to say he had locked himself in his bedroom, and asked if I could help!
Never one to shirk a challenge, I drove to Leamington armed with a toolbox – several screwdrivers and hammers later, and he was freed!
I absolutely love my job at Wasps – no two days are the same – and when I look back now at my journey since joining Ricoh Arena I still have to pinch myself.
My advice for anyone looking to get ahead in their careers is to just be vocal and let your colleagues know what you are interested in and passionate about, but most importantly, show you are willing to go the extra mile.
The longer I worked at Ricoh Arena I began to find out about other roles that were available, and soon moved from becoming a steward to working on the venue’s Guest Services desk, before I was recommended for the role that I am in now. All from just demonstrating my willingness to work hard and talking to people.
Verity Brown, Marketing Manager – Wasps Rugby and Wasps Netball
Wasps isn’t a job for me, it’s a passion and a lifestyle.
I became a rugby fan over 20 years ago. I’d moved to Bath with my job and started going to games at The Rec. There was something truly magical about game days there. Fast forward 20 years and I was on the committee at my son’s rugby club, Silhillians. When Wasps announced that they were moving to Coventry I got invited to a forum for all of the Warwickshire Rugby Clubs. I loved what Wasps wanted to do and the Club’s plans for the wider West Midlands community, so introduced myself to Nick Eastwood and expressed my desire to become involved.
That led to me volunteering for the Club for eight months before talking myself into a job. The rest is history!
I’ve been lucky enough to work within many different industries - retail, recruitment, sales, training. I’ve even done plus-size modelling after winning a plus-size beauty pageant in 2013. But nothing compares to working for a Premiership Rugby Club.
If you asked me to describe a typical day in my role, I simply can’t. It is such a diverse role. One day I can be on local radio talking about the next fixtures and the work we do in the community, organising open training sessions for fans, arranging hundreds of kids to take part in matchday activities on the pitch or matchday announcing.
I live life by the rule that absolutely anything is possible. That mindset has helped me to juggle a career alongside being a single parent. Don’t let anyone tell you any different, and never give up.
Sarah Taylor, Wasps Netball Franchise Manager
My role at Wasps requires me to spin countless plates at any one time, but I would not have it any other way. Apart from coaching the team, I’m involved in most other aspects of our club!
There are two parts to my role – the overall management of the franchise and the Superleague squad Team Manager role.
The franchise aspect requires me to lead on anything from negotiating player contracts and budgeting, through to ensuring the Club is complying with various regulations and supporting the growth of the league.
The Team Manager role sees me doing everything from washing netball dresses at home, through to driving the team bus, booking hotels, supporting the players with their logistics and working with our matchday operations teams. This frees up Head Coach Mel Mansfield and the squad to fully focus on coaching the team and performance.
I also work alongside Tamsin Moala and Lesley Blair to develop our expanding community programmes, which reached out to 4,000 girls last year, as well as our Academy programme which now has 25 coaches delivering sessions to more than 200 young performance athletes across the Midlands and wider area.
I have been here from the very early days and I just love the Club – the two Superleague titles we have won and the thousands of young people and fans we have engaged with, makes the hard work all worthwhile.
I juggle the full-time job at Wasps alongside being a mum to three children – all of whom have very busy sporting schedules of their own – so it requires huge support from my husband to enable me to do the job that I do.
The success of Wasps Netball over the past few years has proven just what a shrewd decision it was by Wasps to bring netball under its umbrella, and judging by the rising engagement we are seeing in the community, we will inspire other girls and women to pursue their own sporting goals.
Hannah Faulds, Community Development Officer
I have been with Wasps for more than four years, starting as a community coach working as and when required in both the rugby and netball departments. I moved into a full-time role as one of the very busy community team in 2018, and I now work in primary and secondary schools delivering educational programmes centre around numeracy, literacy, health and wellbeing. But that isn’t it!
I also coach at holiday Coachclass camps, school and community tag rugby festivals, school assemblies, teacher training, and work on stadium tours of Ricoh Arena and matchdays!
The weeks can be varied and there can be quite a bit of travel involved, but I am quite happy with that, as I get to meet so many different people and in respect of the school programme, meet lots of little ones who I hope to inspire but who also very much inspire me!
I’ve had quite a varied career, starting out in the agricultural industry after gaining a HND in Agriculture at Harper Adams University, to logistics and warehousing and then running my own admin and marketing business.
Not one to pass up opportunities, especially when it involves sport, I qualified first as a Level 2 rugby coach and then as an athletics coach, so whilst my sons trained, I coached. After a few years and a complete career change, I am now with Wasps and loving it. All the way through I have juggled home life and being mum to three boys, and of course playing and coaching sport voluntarily.
There have been lots of achievements in my life, and whilst my current career brings forward lots of them, for both my husband and I, our three sons are by far the best one. Whilst they are ‘typical teenagers’, they still continue to surprise us and leave us feeling very proud!
All my sons have competed in athletics competitions locally and nationally, with my eldest son reaching his goal by representing England at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games in Bahamas. All have career and sporting ambitions, which include rugby. My middle son is currently an Under 20 400-metre indoor champion, and now it’s onward from there.
Déirdre Fitzhugh, Director of Wasps Community Foundation
I moved to Wasps two years ago after spending many years working in the public sector in an inward investment role where I have built up my contacts, which are serving me incredibly well in my new role.
Every day is different, I might attend a networking event to meet local business who can help support the work of the Wasps Community Foundation and the Club, or accompany a player to an event to meet Club partners, sponsors or members of the public. I’m always looking for new contacts and clients to help support and enhance the Club and Foundation.
Matchdays are a lot of fun too, seeing everything come together. I love rugby and netball but never imagined I’d be working for the Club, it's a great job.
My ability to build and maintain business relationships that are mutually beneficial, is my key strength. I’m particularly proud of the relationships I have maintained and continue to develop since my move from the public to private sector. Being able to negotiate requires not only the usual business acumen but sensitivity and empathy, qualities that most women use all the time, especially mums!
One of the biggest achievements is being able to balance the needs of my family and career. As a mother of two sons, at times it’s been a challenge to manage their needs whilst developing my career. Now they are grown up, my caring responsibilities have moved on to my mother who is in her 80s, but is just a different type of care.
My advice to any young woman carving out her career would be to never stop believing in themselves, and to own and be proud of any caring responsibilities they may have – as they are transferable skills that you can take into the workplace. See everyone in the workplace as equals, and finally, in today’s world when you can be anything, be kind!