Raelene Castle, Australia
CEO of Rugby Australia
Raelene Castle has one of the toughest jobs in world sport. The CEO of Rugby Australia is arguably presiding over a sport at its lowest ebb for the Green and Gold. Stuttering on the field at national team level, failing to draw crowds on the club scene, and fighting off advances from Aussie rules, cricket, rugby league and even football – rugby union is not in a great place Down Under. After a year in the job, and these challenges not enough – Castle has also found herself at the centre of controversy surrounding one of their biggest assets, Israel Folau. Add to this she’s a Kiwi, and you’ll understand the pressure she finds herself under. A castle is strong of structure however, and this one is no different. Raelene Castle is a giant of Antipodean sport – having held numerous power positions. In 2007 she was appointed CEO of Netball New Zealand, in the six years in that position unprecedented growth followed. Her trademark in the role was innovation in the leadership of the organisation and its governance – and a whopping 66 per cent growth in commercial revenue through broadcast and sponsorship. This success took her to the Canterbury Bulldogs – once again in the role of CEO. The move made her one of the most influential women in the world of rugby league – in a difficult role, and a club that has always been synonymous for its family ties. Her tenure wasn’t without its tensions and controversies, but she left in 2017 with acknowledgement in the club that she had strengthened it in all parts and had laid a solid platform for her successor. And that leads us to Rugby Australia. A poisoned chalice, or huge opportunity? Some suggest she is fighting an uphill battle, while others say even the smallest of improvements can help cement a real legacy in the role.
– Castle was the first women to hold the position of CEO in the National Rugby League.
– She is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to sport and business.
– Her parents are both renowned sports stars – father, Bruce, captained the NZ Rugby League team, and mum Marlene, represented the country four times at the Commonwealth Games in lawn bowls.
Did you know…
Castle suffers from alopecia and has used a variety of extensions wigs, and bandanas to alter her appearance over the years.
“I have used that word ‘daunting,’ but I would prefer to use ‘exciting,’ because I genuinely believe it is an exciting sport that has an international landscape that no other sport in this country has.” – Raelene Castle
Kelly Krauskopf, USA
Assistant general manager of Indiana Pacers
The NBA is one sporting arena which has been hailed for its progressive nature and within that, the Indiana Pacers are one of the most forward-thinking teams. That sentiment was fortified toward the back end of last year when they hired Kelly Krauskopf as their assistant general manager. This was a role fulfilled entirely on merit as well because Krauskopf had been effectively live interviewing for the position during the course of a 19-year stay within the organisation. She arrived at the Pacers after 17 years as general manager of their sister outfit the Indiana Fever, and during her tenure oversaw 13 play-off runs which included three WNBA Finals appearances and one championship back in 2012. The highly-respected Krauskopf then took charge of the Pacers’ NBA 2K League team before writing her name into history as the first woman to her current title in the role’s modern-day format.
– One story which best details Krauskopf’s rise is one regaled in a profile piece from the IndyStar.com. According to the tale, Krauskopf was told in college she wasn’t right for a sports television job because ‘women don’t know how to cover sports’.
– Krauskopf previously served as president and general manager of WNBA’s Indiana Fever for 17 years.
– One of her previous significant roles was with the USA Basketball’s women’s national team, helping out with the selection process on three gold-medal-winning Olympic teams.
Did you know…
Before taking her role with the Indiana Pacers, Krauskopf was at the forefront of the growing esports industry having led the Pacers Gaming company and their NBA 2K League team.
“I am just one of the guys. We are talking about the next team, the next player, what are we going to do and I really feel that. It’s not something where it’s false. I wouldn’t do it if it was.” – Kelly Krauskopf (Source: IndyStar.com)
Kim Pegula, USA
CEO and president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment
It’s not hyperbole to suggest Pegula is the most powerful woman in sport. As owner, alongside husband Terry, and president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the 49-year-old is in rarefied air. Indeed, the holding company manages Buffalo’s NFL and NHL franchises, the Bills and Sabres, with other American sport properties under their umbrella. She became president of both teams last year after the resignation of Russ Brandon, becoming the first to do so in the history of both leagues. And her position within the American sports empire is very much on merit. As the driving force behind the ‘OneBuffalo’ campaign and accompanying mobile app for enhancing the fan experience for both the Bills and Sabres, the South Korean-born businesswoman has been at the forefront of a phenomenal transformation for not just the franchises, but the city as well. Her fingerprints are clear across both teams and having assumed her new role last year, Pegula is becoming an increasingly important and vocal voice in American sport.
– In May of last year, Pegula made history by becoming the first female president in both the NFL and the NHL.
– Pegula’s influence within the NFL continues to grow and last year she expanded her roles after being named to the board of the NFL Foundation in conjunction with serving on the Super Bowl and Special Events committee.
– Women’s issues in the NFL is at the forefront of Pegula’s impact as she has appeared on NFL Network and in press releases regarding the subject.
Did you know…
Pegula’s story is a remarkable one. As a toddler she was found on a street corner in Seoul in front of a police station and was later adopted by a Canadian-born family who moved to New York.
“This isn’t a hobby. We put a lot of time, effort and resources into this. It’s our passion. I’m competitive. And winning is not easy. I wish it was. But figuring out how to do that, that’s our sole focus.” – Kim Pegula (Source: NFL.com)