Women can succeed in top rugby administration

Kym Aust-Howlett, the (Auckland) Blues,  General Manager Commercial

Can women be successful in a leadership role in rugby, gaining respect and be followed as a genuine leader in sports administration? Even if she has not played the game or because it is such a male dominate sport and industry?

Kym Aust-Howlett, the (Auckland) Blues general manager commercial, says the answer is yes. She will be giving a presentation to the Money in Sport conference on the Gold Coast on November 14.

“If I have learnt anything as being the first female and youngest general manager in Australian rugby and now in New Zealand rugby, is that the code does show women respect and allows women to shine and be successful. But it does take a lot of hard work, dedication and a desire to succeed,” Aust-Howlett says.

“As we all know in business and sport, it is only possible with inspiring mentors, strong leadership and a great team around you. I have been fortunate enough to have these. I believe women must work harder to gain respect, but that is not a negative, rather an opportunity to become more resilient.

“I decided at such an early age to study for my Master of Business Administration while in a leadership position in sport. The job faces challenges on a regular basis, so strong belief in systems and values ae needed.

“If I had to define one requirement that gained the respect I needed to be in my role, it was to deliver. Delivering targets and delivering of messages with players, management and the supporters.

“What some people lose sight of is failing to remain true to yourself. The different or unique lens that women bring is their strength as we see most things completely different to male colleagues and that’s a positive that women can bring to the table. For me this translates through my creativity, vision and tenacity.

“Running parallel to my leadership role in rugby, I am also a model. This was a major hurdle in my professional career within sport, but for those who work close to me understand the balance this brings to my style, creative vision and execution.

“My message at the conference to all women is that it is possible to play a leadership role in world sports administration. It is a career that should be explored and pursued if people are interested.

“I am enjoying being at the Blues. It’s a progressive Super rugby team that not only embraces having a woman in a leadership role, but also supports me to be able to excel. I work with a great board and an exceptional team. I feel privileged to work alongside coach Tana Umaga and chief executive Michael Redman to create a very special era for the Blues.”

Aust-Howlett is responsible for the commercial strategy and generating all revenues for the Blues. Before moving to Auckland, she was the general manager of marketing and commercial at the Waratahs in Sydney.

Redman says Aust-Howlett has had an immediate impact, helping the commercial team to reframe the value proposition for the Blues and Super Rugby.

“She has a strong personal brand and professional networks which has been positive for our business.”

- Press Release: Make Lemonade