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Celebrating Female Leadership at Two Circles

Two Circles is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive sports industry. And though we are by no means the finished product, this year we are really proud of the strides we have made, in particular in reducing the gender imbalance across our business.

At a senior level – where the sports industry significantly under-indexes in female leaders – this includes making 50% female hires in 2022, and our team in New York became the first with majority female Two Circlers.

To celebrate this, we spoke to Client Services Directors Sara Hassaballa and Katie Ferguson to give an insight into how we invest in leaders across Two Circles.

What do you do at Two Circles?

Sara Hassaballa (left): I focus on strategy work, predominantly digital growth strategies and providing due diligence support for sports investors within the private equity community.

Katie Ferguson (right): I run client teams both in the UK and overseas, for major global sports properties such as FIFA, internationally-reaching sports franchises like the Mumbai Indians, and national associations like England Netball. I also deliver internal training and guidance to ensure client teams across the business continue to deliver industry-leading impact.

What do you like most about working at Two Circles?

SH: The people and the culture! Whether you’re working with a team in the UK, Switzerland, France, or the USA, across the board Two Circlers are supportive, approachable and over-the-top helpful. There’s a real sense of camaraderie, knowledge-sharing, and also plenty of time dedicated to having fun.

KF: That everyday I get to work in sports, with clients who are super interesting, having an impact that I genuinely get a buzz about. Before Two Circles I worked at a management consultancy that didn’t really work in sports, and feel the blessing of working in the industry of my main passion point every day!

What does being a female leader in the sports industry mean to you?

SH: Much attention in sports is given to growing female representation in the media, but on the business side of sports much work also needs to be done. So from that respect it’s an honour to be a part of – and having a tangible impact on – growing female representation in the sports industry. I’ve been inspired by great female role models in my career and I hope in due course I’m able to inspire others.

KF: I feel privileged to be someone in a business that is helping to unpick decades of societal bias. Being a female in a sports business almost always means you are part of a minority. So as someone in a senior position I feel it is important that my female colleagues and I are role models for the younger women in our business – but also it is important we show our male colleagues that women can also be effective leaders.

I’ve been inspired by great female role models  and I hope I’m able to inspire others.

How has the summer of women’s sport impacted you?

SH: In so many ways. For me, and I’m sure for many other women, it’s been electrifying, empowering, and inspiring – in particular in the UK, where the UEFA Women’s EURO shifted the needle for women’s sports more than any other event in my lifetime. And it’s equally gratifying that at Two Circles we are doing LOTS of work to re-design products and re-think engagement strategies of some of the longest-established sports to appeal to more of the female population.

KF: For the first time this summer I saw women’s sports be visible and a regular topic of conversation without it being forced. It was amazing. But there’s still much more work to be done; the Women’s EURO was massively significant for me as I am based in the UK, so it will be interesting to see with this month’s Women’s Rugby World Cup – which England are in the mix to win – whether the coverage and interest continues.

What excites you most about the future at Two Circles?

SH: The sports industry is currently in the middle of a serious technological disruption. This gives rise to several challenges – from how to engage Gen Z, to how sports are consumed through the Metaverse – and at Two Circles we are at the forefront of this wave. So being part of and having an influence on this once-in-a-generation disruption is super exciting.

KF: Through both internal investments and acquisitions we are able to drive a positive impact for our clients in more ways that we ever have. So being able to work with more experts and alongside new capabilities to solve more of their problems is going to make the journey just that little more special.

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