WISE Up: What we're taking with us from WISE/R and WWOY

MARCH 25, 2024

Special Edition: Lessons, inspiration and anecdotes from our signature annual events

Two WWOY share a moment.

This right here. This is the WISE spirit.

Dear WISE Community,


Wow — what an amazing two days in New York City! I'm full of gratitude for everyone who showed up to make the ninth WISE/R Symposium and 28th annual WISE Women of the Year Awards luncheon such absolute successes: our operations team and volunteers who were critical to its seamlessness, the attendees, the speakers and panelists and, of course, our WISE Women of the Year honorees themselves, who were so generous in sharing not just their professional insights, but their whole selves. That was no surprise, really, as we strive to honor people not just for their success in the industry but — as you'll read below — for their impact on others, particularly other women. This year's luncheon will have done its job if it inspires others, especially the next generation, to pay it forward, too.


One moment that still has attendees buzzing was our WISE/R session with Dr. Sharon Malone — or as some have affectionately taken to calling her, the WISE guru. It was the first time we've truly focused on women's health and given the number of questions the willing OB/GYN fielded, I can promise it won't be the last. Dr. Sharon, if you can hear us, we're calling.


The topic of wellness recurred throughout our two days together, with honorees and panelists talking about how health challenges can change one's perspective. I think WWOY Michele Kajiwara summed it up perfectly in the Master Class, sharing some advice she had recently received: "If you don't make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness."


If you weren't able to join us, or even if you were and just want to relive the magic, we've compiled memorable moments and a cheat sheet of key takeaways below. Learning no. 1: Be sure to clear your calendar for the 10th WISE/R Symposium and 29th WISE Women of the Year Awards luncheon, coming to you in March 2025!



Kathleen Francis

Chair & President

2024 WWOY Honorees

Our wonderful 2024 WWOY (L-R: Washington, Deutsch, Kajiwara and Johnson)

The WISE Women of the Year luncheon

Standing at the podium at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, emcee and CBS Sports broadcaster Tina Cervasio kicked off the WWOY event with a story about how WISE had elevated her own career: "Early on, when I was finding my path, I googled 'women's sports group' and found WISE," Cervasio said. "I went to the luncheon — alone — and before long I had met the mentors and heroes that would shape my journey."


The four 2024 honorees told similar tales. Women supporting women was a recurring theme.


"My niece passed away recently, leaving us with the mindset: Love more, judge less. My sister, her mother, is my hero for getting out of bed every day. So is my mom, a Holocaust survivor, twice widowed. Both of them are real-life female role models."

Ayala Deutsch, executive vice president and deputy general counsel, NBA


"My commitment at Google is to spur young women to stay in sports. Girls are dropping out at rates faster than before Title IX; our work here is not done. I challenge anyone in the room with marketing dollars to put them toward women's sports."
Kate Johnson, director and head of global sports and entertainment marketing, Google


"I've been thinking a lot about how in the world this happened: I don't have a sports management degree. I never interned for a team. I moved to New York City because I loved Broadway and bars. Eventually, I worked in sales for Chelsea Piers. During that time I attended my first WISE event. That was what helped me imagine a career in sports."

Michele Kajiwara, senior vice president of premium and events business, Crypto.com Arena and Peacock Theater


"Go find a young woman — a neighbor, a student — and ask her if she is interested in a career in sports. Sports is a business; skills are transferable. One at a time, you will make a difference."

Renee Chube Washington, chief operating officer, USA Track & Field


Explore .

WISE Women of the Year, past and present.

An amazing group of WISE Women of the Year, past and present.


"What you give, you get! You will be inspired, you will learn, you will meet new people — but you have to fully participate," said WISE president Kathleen Francis, kicking off the WISE/R Symposium before challenging attendees to exchange information with at least three new people throughout the day.


What followed were six sessions crammed with actionable takeaways, honest insights and proof that, yes, one day can change the course of your career.

On speaking to be heard

Michael Chad Hoeppner explains how to master communication delivery.

Michael Chad Hoeppner

Research has found that people respond less to what you say — the content — than how you say it — your delivery. So how does one master delivery? Michael Chad Hoeppner, founder and CEO of the public speaking and executive coaching firm GK Training, clued us in.


"Our brains are wired to look for surprises," Hoeppner explained. "If something never changes, your brain knows it doesn't have to attend to it." The nuts and bolts of "vocal variety," he explained, are "the five Ps":


• Pace (changing the speed of speech)

• Pitch (switching from high to low)

• Pause (incorporating silence)

• Power (modulating volume)

• Positioning (utilizing body language and gesture)


According to Hoeppner, human beings naturally use the five Ps to keep the attention of others, but anxiety and insecurity can undermine such instinctual flair. "We are all musical instruments," he explained. If that instrument is tense, it's less likely to play it effectively.


Want to make your own beautiful music — e.g., practice your 5 Ps and become a stronger speaker? WISE has partnered with GK Training to customize their practice app, Question Roulette. All WISE/R attendees have received a link to download the app, which will record your answers to its prompts then offer feedback about your use of filler language, pace and more.

WISE/R panel on putting analytics to work in the real world

Sharing stories from the exciting field of analytics and data.

On leveraging data

The road to a successful application of analytics is littered with false starts and detours, so navigating it requires the fortitude to press forward. "It's almost 100% guaranteed you're going to fail in your first few attempts," said Christopher Benyarko, executive vice president, DTC products, technology & operations at the NBA. "Evolving technologies can present challenges, so having that drive is crucial. Different macro-factors contribute, too; currently, we're thinking about the death of cookies and the importance of first-party data."


At Fanatics, a company that has made eight acquisitions in the past two years, each with their different tech stack and business maturity, "the goal is to have a unified view of the fan," said the global head of strategy Diane Gotua. So the are thinking about ways to gamify the fan experience across the enterprise. "We're trying to get folks on the platform more often to interact with the brand to show that it pays to be a fan."


Kirstin Corio, chief commercial officer, US Open for the USTA, shared a case study of America's biggest tennis tournament to explain how even the smartest data collection is powered by constant questioning and refinement. The USTA, Corio said, used to offer spectators WiFi access at the Open, but it was gated so data could be collected on attendees. Eventually, the organization realized that serving their fans outweighed the minimal data yielded by the gate, and began to give fans access "without getting in their way." That's one example of how the USTA's analytics collection is an ongoing process. "We've built and taken a step back, and built and taken a step back," Corio said. "We're in constant reevaluation mode: Is this delivering what we need it to? Is it working as hard as it needs to?"


Re-evaluation helped the organization branch out into other mutually beneficial opportunities such as Fan Week, a free pre-tournament event. "It was about unlocking experiences — give us your information, and you'll have access to these exclusive experiences," Corio explained. "That allowed us to gather robust data about our audience that we could share with our partners. We needed to offer incentives to get people to give their data, which also helped us build relationships with them."

On thriving in stressful work environments

Dr. Sharon Malone

Dr. Sharon Malone

High-pressure jobs can take a physical toll. Exhibit A: Female professionals in the business of sports. In a frank, wide-ranging session, Dr. Sharon Malone, a veteran OB/GYN and author of the soon-to-be-released book Grown Woman Talk, offered powerful tips on managing your health in such situations, with a particular emphasis on the perimenopausal and menopausal years. So many women are not familiar enough with these stages and thus suffer through them needlessly, Malone said, gaining the attention of the younger women in the room by explaining that perimenopause often comes before women are prepared for it. All of which led to her broader message: You are your own primary care provider.


Why is that? The dire lack of women's health research means that even physicians might not know how to help. As the only doctor in her family and friend groups, Malone found that "as I was helping those I care about navigate questions about their health, I kept thinking, Did your doctor not tell you about this? Why don't you know this?"


The answer is because many of us change doctors frequently or bounce between specialists who don't communicate with one another. Better continuity of care might correct that state of affairs.


Barring that, Malone's advice is to be empowered about resolving any issues around your health. "Women suffer through a lot of things: childbirth, migraines, bad relationships, toxic work environments, so much so that suffering becomes our baseline," she said. "We normalize a lot of things, especially in high-stress work environments. But it is not normal to not feel normal. You deserve to feel better."


For more insight from Dr. Malone, All WISE/R attendees will be receiving a copy of Grown Woman Talk in their mailboxes when it's released on April 9! And you can preorder copies for all the other awesome women in your life too.

On speaking up

Harvard lecturer and negotiation expert Anh Tran

Anh Tran

"Let's say it as it is: Speaking up is really hard, especially based on our conditioning as women, and especially for women of color." So said Anh Tran, a Harvard lecturer and negotiation expert with Triad Consulting Group, who emphasized that women must learn to be heard, in the workplace and beyond. Three big takeaways from Tran's talk:

  1. Assertiveness fuels progress. Why is it so important to speak up? "First, to get what you need," Tran said. "You matter, and the things that matter to you are important. Second, to advocate for others. There will be times when you will be someone else's agent, and you'll need to speak up for them. Third, to build the culture that you want to surround you." Plus, when you assert yourself, it's not only you who benefits. "Learning to speak up now paves the way for future generations to do the same."
  2. Speaking up need not be a full-time job. "We should be intentional about when we speak up; sometimes it's too messy," said Tran. Still, when weighing the potential costs (retaliation, judgment, rejection) against the costs of staying silent (continued problems, sub-optimal status quo, lost opportunities), the imbalance may not be immediately obvious. "It might seem safer to stay silent in the short-term," she continued, "but the costs will all be long-term, as problems fester and dissatisfaction continues."
  3. Influence equals persuasion over resistance. Getting what you want means diminishing negative responses. "There are three common sources of another's resistance: [a concept or suggestion] doesn't meet their interest; they don't feel heard; or they don't trust you," said Tran.

The antidote to all three? Empathy. One of the most effective ways to influence people is by focusing on their wants, in addition to yours. Or, as Tran put it, "switching from advocacy to curiosity." A case study from Triad's files was informative: a hospital increased organ donations by 66% by asking potential donors questions about their concerns, instead of making arguments about the hospital's needs.

WISE/R panel on the mainstreaming of women's sports.

(L-R) Shelley Pisarra, Stephanie Marciano, Laura Jordan, Jasmine Robinson

On the mainstreaming of women's sports

We spend a lot of time talking about the rise of women's sports. Of course we do; it's exciting! But as women in the business of sports, we're equally excited about the opportunities it presents. In short, said Laura Jordan, managing director of sports and media at Deloitte, though supporting women's sports might once have been seen as "a do-gooder thing," it is now just good business.


Jordan pointed to the jaw-dropping 416% increase in revenue of Real Madrid's women's soccer club last season. Stephanie Marciano, Ally's head of sports and entertainment marketing, had a proof point that was closer to home. "Ally's brand value is up 30% YOY; brand awareness, sentiment and customer loyalty are the strongest they've been in our entire history; and data shows that that growth has been driven by our work in women's sports." And it's no fad: "Women's sports is not just having a moment, it is just getting the coverage it deserves," said Shelley Pisarra, executive vice president of global insights and strategy at Wasserman. "There will be 205 live events covered for the WNBA next year. That's appointment viewing and will continue to drive the commercial story."


What does it all mean for you? Only good things. "When we think about more capital coming into the women's sports ecosystem, 80-90% of that money should go to talent," said Jasmine Robinson, co-founder of The Monarch Collective, an investment fund focused on women's sports. "You're already taking a pay cut to work in sports, and maybe another pay cut to work in women's sports. It's so important that we pay competitive wages and pull top talent into women's sports. You have to have great talent to build big businesses."

Words of Wisdom: The 2024 WISE Women of the Year Master Class

In keeping with our annual crowd-pleasing tradition, the 2024 WISE Women of the Year read aloud letters to their younger selves. A smattering of their hard-earned counsel:


Ayala Deutsch: "Invest in learning who you truly are. Grab onto that with two hands, and let it be your own true north. And show yourself a fraction of the grace you show other people."


Renee Chube Washington: "It will all work out, whatever 'it' is. You will be fine. Your intuition is valuable; don't be afraid to rely on it."


Kate Johnson: "You stopped waiting and found the voice to ask the questions that were not asked. You realized you could be the change. I wish you had not worried. Your life is constantly unfolding; your choice is how you respond to it."


Michele Kajiwara: "I want to tell you how to avoid tough times, but I don't want you to deviate from your path because it is how you will succeed. Don't get bitter, get better. Don't run on fumes for too long or you will destroy your operating system. Don't lose your faith; lose your ego. But remember, there's only one of you on this planet."

Engaged audience members at the WISE/R symposium.

Learning, laughing and taking notes at WISE/R 2024.

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