Toni Campbell Brings the A-Game to Acrisure Arena
As Acrisure Arena, Southern California’s most anticipated live entertainment and sports venue, makes the final preparations for its big debut in December 2022, putting in place the best, gender-equal team is an important priority. While women are generally under-represented in leadership and governance positions, Acrisure Arena recognizes the significance of using its platform to promote positive change.
Meet Toni Campbell, director, sponsorship fulfillment & activation for Acrisure Arena and the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL’s 32nd Franchise and the affiliate of the Seattle Kraken, where she is responsible for maintaining and cultivating relationships with all respective corporate partners.
Q: How did you get to where you are today?
TC: I didn’t take the traditional path to get into sports. I studied Business Administration because it was broad enough for me to still figure out what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to live in New York City. So, with the support of my family, I packed up my things in Florida and made the move with the idea of I’ll figure it out when I get there. I worked a lot of temp jobs and one of them was a six-week job working in the box office for the New York Jets football team. After four weeks in, I was offered a full-time job as their receptionist. It was the best decision I ever made. I gained so much knowledge of the business side of a professional sports team and after a couple of years, I was given the opportunity to work in sponsorships. Since then, I’ve worked in sponsorship activation for three NFL teams, iHeart Radio, and most recently event management for the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers.
Q: What’s one way you’ve broken the rules and challenged the norm in your career?
TC: I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve broken the rules, but I’ve challenged the norm in the sense that most people in professional sports went to school for sports management and have gone on to get master’s degrees in this field. That isn’t the case for me, however, I take pride that my perseverance and experience have been able to get me to where I am today.
Q: Can you share a situation in which you’ve been unfairly characterized in the workplace, due to conscious or unconscious bias? How should women address these micro-aggressions and slights when they occur?
TC: Often, I have been either the only woman in a room or the only black woman in the room. In those settings, there have been times when I’ve been spoken over or not given the opportunity to voice my opinion on the topics at hand. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for women, especially women of color to deal with conscious and/or unconscious bias. I am confident that my work speaks for itself. I did not get to where I am today because a quota needed to be met. I was offered these positions because I’m the best person for the job.
Q: What’s one thing we can start doing today to help close the wage gap between men and women?
TC: Many women wait, thinking someone’s going to recognize their good work and reward them. Sometimes that is the case but other times it may not. I recently read a Glassdoor survey that said 73% of employed women did not ask for a pay increase during the pandemic, compared to 58% percent of men. If it’s been a while since your last salary increase/ promotion, or maybe you’ve taken on new job responsibilities within your role, don’t hesitate to have those conversations with your direct report.
Q: The past two years have proven to be challenging for our mental health. How have you prioritized your own mental health?
TC: Prioritizing mental health has always been very important to me, even prior to COVID. If I’m not making myself a priority, I’m not able to give the best version of myself to my family and colleagues. The American way is “If I take a day off or use my vacation time, everything will crumble” when in all actuality the game will still go on.
Q: What’s one effective way you’ve seen companies address the existing need for diversity-related initiatives?
TC: I think the makeup of a company’s executive team is a huge indicator of their outlook on diversity-related initiatives. I’ve seen some companies have success with using independent focus groups to collect data and gain deeper insights into their employees.
Q: Tell us about one major setback you’ve had in your career—how did you handle it?
TC: I’ve worked for several NFL teams and my dream job was to work in the NFL league office. I was working at the Miami Dolphins in 2013 and I was offered a position to move back to NY and work for the league office. Unfortunately, during that exact time, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I made the decision to step away from work and be with her during her treatment. I’ve worked for some great teams and have created an incredible network. So, thankfully when it was time for me to come back to work, I had many people around me offering to help with my next opportunity.
Q: What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
TC: Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity- personally or professionally. Make sure to build good bridges because you never know when that relationship will frame into the next opportunity for you.