After creating and leading on one of Hampshire FA’s Christmas initiatives to aid vulnerable families in local areas, we caught up with the person behind it, Isabella Pearson (Business Development Lead) for a Q&A discussing her role at Hampshire FA and what she’s been working on...
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Issy, I’m 30 years old, married to Sam and with two lovely daughters. I’m of Greek-Cypriot heritage and fluently speak the language as well. Prior to having kids, I was a Trustee at Pompey in the Community and a Parish Councillor at Horndean Parish Council. I hold a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo and a 1st degree black belt in Kickboxing. I also hold a Boxing Tutor qualification and 9 gold medals to my name including a silver in ground fighting. I have always enjoyed leadership roles– in School I was a Team Leader for the Prefects and in College I was Southdowns College’s Sport Representative. Aged 17, I was offered my very own Martial Arts club (which I declined as I wanted to focus on my studies).
How did you get into your role with Hampshire FA?
To cut a long story short, I originally applied for a job as College & Community Football Coordinator. I didn't get this particular job, but I impressed the Chairman at the time on the panel so they ended up opening up another position for me after securing funding for a second role. Shortly into the role, I came up with a marketing idea and pitched it to the CEO, he liked it and told me to go away and put a strategy together. I did and sent it across. When I met with him in person to discuss it in detail, he told me that he didn’t see me in a football development role long term and in actual fact, thought I was best placed in a business role within the organisation. The rest as they say, is history. He was right and all because of a cheerleading idea that I came up with! I’ve never looked back, I’m working on my strengths right now and couldn’t be happier.
What is your role with Hampshire FA and what does it entail?
I’m the Business Development Lead at Hampshire FA and oversee all commercial and media partners of the association, commercial strategy and onboarding.
What do you enjoy most about working for Hampshire FA and your job in particular?
It’s varied and diverse, it gives you total freedom to spread your wings which I absolutely love. You’re not micromanaged here and that’s a big thing for me. I am able to flex, come up with my own initiatives and ideas to build the business strategy in place. Having your ideas supported and being given the go ahead to add your own mark on the role is really, truly rewarding. I look at ideas and things that I personally have implemented such as the media partner programme, prior to that the media projects programme, commercial networking meetings, the bespoke tier of sponsorships/official rights programme of packages, the perks for partners and perks for staff introduced, Business Blind Date, mental health charity partnership and initiatives and so much more in my time here and seeing it all tick over successfully. Sure, I’ve had ideas with a short term shelf life. It doesn’t matter, because whilst I’m still trying, I’m simultaneously still learning and that is actively encouraged here by senior managers and the CEO. Freedom, trust, support, being part of a supportive and cohesive team and retaining a lead role whilst being a part time worker (looking after two little ones both under the age of 3!) are important factors.
More recently, I am working voluntarily on an initiative to support a few charities, entirely in my own time and because I wish to help the causes I hold dear. My colleagues came together to help me raise funds for the cause and additionally the CEO and Finance Director wish to further this support by donating to local food banks on the back of this initiative. I am so truly grateful to them all as individuals for their support in this I cannot tell you just how much this means to me. Whilst I would love to eradicate poverty, homelessness and all the things in our world that are absolutely unjust, I know on a small scale that we as beings can make small, key differences. The difference is, I had the whole association giving me full backing for something I personally wanted to do and that speaks absolute volumes of the team I’m in and the company I work for.
What are you hoping to achieve next in your role?
I would love a business award for the association! Not simply shortlisted, but I want to see something to place up in the office – be it a trophy, a certificate, whatever it is for the commercial side of the business, serving as an eternal reminder that I played a part in getting past nomination stage to winning stage. I’ve achieved milestones in sponsorships and retaining them as well, our commercial side has been picked up by The FA and UEFA, we are a point of call to many County FAs as the County FA to go to for all things commercial. Now, we need some of the shiny stuff to put up! If I achieve that, then I’ve achieved all that I set out in my role. Football Business Awards, the nominations are coming!
Another thing would be to partner up with some of the brands that I personally love! I’d love to see the likes of Innocent Smoothies, Tony’s Chocolonely, Biona etc as partners of Hampshire FA one day (just need to avoid any conflicts with The FA’s sponsorship deals). Brands which emphasise strong morals, values and ethics. Companies which serve the planet through sustainable and ethical methods, which positively transform the lives of people and communities on global scales, fight for equal rights and pay structures, unitedly embracing positives for people and planet and pledge both a continued, vocal and active commitment to ensuring this.
Most importantly, what football team do you support?
Pompey FC and Chelsea FC as well, I’m from London and it was either that or Arsenal in the family. I followed my dad’s lead!