What Gender Equality Month means to me: Valerie Camillo

April 1st, 2019

Valerie Camillo started as the president of business operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 22. Camillo has also served as chief revenue and marketing officer for the Washington Nationals of MLB, and a senior vice president for the NBA. 

Here, Camillo talks about the progress women have made in all facets of sports, and what Gender Equality Month means to her.

As the new president of business operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center, I am honored to be a part of the progress in gender equality within sports. It is a historic time to be a woman working in hockey -- young girls are driving the growth of the sport, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL are leading the charge to diversify the industry and iconic franchises like the Flyers are placing women leaders in critical roles. It is so important to me that fans and players alike see women succeeding in all areas of hockey, including on the ice, in the broadcast booth and in the front office. This representation is important to inspire young women to continue to pursue their dreams; knowing they can find meaningful careers in the sport -- without any limitations.

I work in a sport and industry I love, and I have three pieces of advice for young women that chase the same dream. First, move forward with confidence. Shake off all self-doubt and know what you are capable of achieving through hard work and dedication. Second, seek leagues and teams that have a track record of leadership diversity or a stated, serious commitment to evolving on that path. Organizations like these are worthy of your effort, your ideas and your loyalty. Apply your talents for those who will most value and reward your contributions. And finally, be yourself and enjoy the ride. There is no better industry in which to work than sports. The excitement. The competition. The energy. The connection to the community. The sheer joy of it all. Working in sports is an amazing blessing and if you want to get the most out of it, then do it authentically. Be you.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was first coming into the professional world, there was a subtle pressure to look and act like a man, whatever that means. But it came across in subtle encouragements like, "Take up golf, because that's where business gets done." Well, I don't love golf. Getting to show my authentic self at work and not having to conform to succeed -- that's gender equality.

In my office at Wells Fargo Center, I have a poster from the movie "The Cutting Edge" on the wall -- my favorite sports-themed romantic comedy from the 1990s. It's a film about hockey/figure skating and the poster doesn't hang there by accident or without irony. I want young women to see it. I am the president of the Philadelphia Flyers and this is me. These parts of me sit right alongside my ability to analyze complex data sets, drive revenue and lead people. So be yourself. If you are good at what you do, no one will care. 

Finally, don't lose sight that men are our allies in the pursuit of gender equality. Every job I was ever offered in the sports industry came from a man. Each one was objective and fair in evaluating my potential and performance. And, at every stop on my amazing journey, I built relationships with these leaders that were based on mutual respect, goals and trust. I developed as a professional, and continue to grow, by learning from executives who invested in me. We often hear so many bad stories that it is worth pausing to mention the good ones. So, thank you Chris Granger, Alan Gottlieb and Dave Scott. There are many allies within the sports industry. Together, let's raise the roof.