Women In Sports: Ashley Dabb, CMO of the National Lacrosse League
As part of Double G Sports’ Women In Sports series, I had the honor of being able to interview one of the savviest executives in sports, Ashley Dabb. Dabb is the Chief Marketing Officer of the NLL and is responsible for growing the league through branding, PR, and all social media. She is an incredibly intelligent individual and I was happy to be able to speak with her.
Getting started with the sport of lacrosse
Rising to become one of the most powerful women in lacrosse, Dabb admits that she never participated in lacrosse growing up. “I was with the Philadelphia Union for a while. The CEO had left to become commissioner of the NLL and I followed.” She had been involved with the business aspect of sports for a long time and was very grateful to have been given the opportunity to become the CMO of the NLL.
Other hobbies, passions growing up
Dabb was born and grew up in North Jersey, but moved down to Texas when she was young. “I grew up during the Cowboys’ heyday with Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman. It’s hard being a Cowboys fan especially in Philadelphia”. She was always passionate about sports, played every sport except for lacrosse, and was always busy.
Dabb is also a very studious and well-versed person. “I was definitely a bookworm as well. I still try to read at least one book a month. I also enjoy to draw and paint. It helps me unwind.”
Getting into the sports business
“I had no idea about sports business in high school” Dabb stated. She was always a very creative person, so she wanted to be able to use the other side of her brain for work. Dabb went to undergraduate at St. Joseph’s University in Philly and decided to declare as a marketing major.
In addition to marketing, Dabb work on many ad campaigns while in college. She knew she found her calling when she took a Baseball in Business class. It was everything she wanted in a class, and with the help of her professor she was able to dig deep into the inner workings of business in sports.
On professional accomplishments (18 Women To Watch in Sports – Forbes 2018, Named to 40 Leaders Under 40)
“It’s always nice anytime you get recognition” Dabb says, “but it’s always about the next task, next project.” While she appreciates being named to these lists, she always stated that she wouldn’t be where she is without the help of her mentors and the incredible teamwork at both the Philadelphia Union and the NLL.
“I think what attracted me to both roles, and why I’ve been able to accomplish so much, is the diversity”. Dabb said her title at the Philadelphia Union was Administrative Coordinator, but she had her hand in almost every department of the club. The same goes for the NLL, where her duties aren’t only “marketing”. “It’s nice because I feel if I was somewhere else like the NFL I’d be stuck in a silo.”
“My grandmother was definitely my biggest role model. She essentially raised four kids on her own. She always had grace and was cool under pressure.”
Advice for women trying to pave their way in sports business
“Find a good mentor. Whether it be personal or professional, it’s always smart to find advocates and people to learn from.” Dabb also made sure to clarify that there’s a perception of sports business being a “boy’s club” and that it’s not true as long as you work hard and are not afraid to speak up. She commends all women before her who have paved the path to being a successful female executive in sports.
Challenges that come with being a female executive
“I’m a female in a mostly male-dominated industry. I’ve just always needed to make my voice heard”. Dabb urges women to always make their voice heard, never back down from a challenge and to not take a backseat in terms of ideas or initiatives.
Words of encouragement for younger self
“Just keep going. One bad day or one bad week doesn’t last.” Dabb ensured that sports business is not an easy industry to get into, nor is it for the faint of heart. “You’ll miss lots of obligations. You work weird hours, lots of nights and weekends”. She also encourages all people, not just her younger self, to not get down on yourself and just keep working hard. Good things come when you just keep going.