SGP general manager speaks on the importance of International Women’s Day

Monday 08 Mar 2021
Holly Murdoch
Partner Message SGP Homepage A 300x250

Today marks International Women’s Day - an opportunity to celebrate and pedestal inspirational and deserving women.

International Women's Day is a global moment celebrating the social, eco-nomic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate achievements or rally for equality.

To mark the day, we spoke to Holly Murdoch, our general manager at St. George’s Park on the importance of International Women’s Day and an insight into her career on managing an incredible venue like St. George’s Park.

What does international women’s day mean to you?

HM: I think it is a great opportunity to celebrate women and the progress that has been made in recent times and across history. It is great to highlight the progress and for it to be shouted about and identified. I think even in the build up to the day so many inspirational characters are celebrated through different platforms such as social media. I sup-pose it makes you feel empowered as a woman that people are talking about it and I definitely feel as though there has been a big shift from when I started my career to where we find ourselves today particularly with gender equality.

Who is your female role model and why?

HM: I’ve got lots and for lots of different reasons. I think there are certain women who I have worked with throughout my career who I really look up to. There are people at The FA and further afield who have blown me away. There are also lots of other people, for example my mother is someone who I look up to. How she managed to juggle having two small children and a career in a time when there wasn’t as much gender equality is very empowering particularly for me as a mother now. It provides me with a lot of motivation to think if my mum could do it many years ago and have a successful career and personal life then I can do it as well. I’m also passionate about sport and I have had the privilege to work in an industry that I am passionate about and with some incredible female athletes. I will always remember when I first joined my previous organisation and Sally Gunnell came to speak to us about winning her medals and I remember thinking about how I used to watch her on TV when I was a young girl and cheer her on. Listening to the drive, determination and ambition of female athletes is really impressive. I think there are so many role models out there nowadays and role models for so many different reasons which can all be celebrated on this special day.

How did you get into your current role?

HM: I’ve been at St. George’s Park for nine years this summer. I initially joined The FA in a different role to the one that I am in today. I joined when St. George’s Park was first about to be opened in a commercial role and tasked to write the commercial strategy for the venue, starting from scratch as it was the first of its kind in England. It was to put a plan in place on how we were going to commercialise the venue and really drive awareness of it. After four years in that role there was a reshuffle at the organisation and the general manager role became vacant. I think being a part of the original management team, understanding the site so well and having previous experience as a general manager it was an ideal opportunity for me to take responsibility of the overall operation of the site.

What do you like most about your job?

HM: St. George’s Park is one of the most inspiring places to work and I truly believe that. From the moment you drive through the gates and begin to see the buildings popping up as you make your way down the drive. The pitches give you that goose pimply feeling every morning. I think the most enjoyable part is that the work is so diverse, no two days are the same. We always have so much going on with being the home of England teams as one of our core purposes. We work closely with the elite education delivery team, grassroots football as well as having the Hilton hotel on-site which draws in an even broader range of customers, so I get to work with some amazing people. I’ve been really privileged to work with the England national teams and more recently with other nation-al teams from other sports such as England Rugby and GB Rowing who were here back in January. 

What are the biggest challenges at St. George’s Park?

HM: I think one of the major challenges at St. George’s Park is to constantly strive to be world leading as a venue and the best elite training centre in the world. I want people globally to think of St. George’s Park as the number one training venue across the UK and the only destination for a training camp. I think it’s a constant challenge trying to keep up with how quickly elite sport develops particularly premier league football. There are huge amounts of money invested in football and there are new training grounds popping up all the time. We are always conscious that our players are coming from incredible facilities when they meet on international duty and we want to at least match or better their experience. I think the challenge also brings a lot of excitement as it is motivating to want to continually better ourselves and everyone who works here is passionate about that.

How has this past year affected your roles and priorities?

HM: The last year has definitely been challenging in lots of different ways but putting it into perspective it has been nowhere near as challenging as it had been for other people and the impact it has had on their jobs and lives. It has been a year like no other but as a leader during this period it has taught me resilience. We have had to keep a steady hand on how we managed the centre, the team and keep things moving forward. When we first went into lockdown there was so much unknown for everyone professionally and personally and none of us had ever been through this before. It was challenging trying to keep spirits high and to keep everyone looking ahead to coming out the other side. I have never thought more about my team members than what I have over the past year because the pandemic has affected different people in different ways. I don’t think you really see how it has affected others as for the majority of the time we have been working remotely so it removes the element of human interaction where you can pick up on certain things. It has been a challenging year but one that will have made us all stronger. I think as a team we are closer than we ever have been, and people are looking out for each other which is important. We are also grateful that elite sport came back so quickly as we were able to reboot our operation as a venue only a couple of months in to the pandemic.

And finally, what advice would you give a young person consider-ing following in your footsteps?

HM: If you are really passionate about working in sport – don’t give up on it. Keep trying to find an avenue or way in and meet as many people as you possibly can on your journey. You need to try and become visible and known if possible. Getting a foot through the door and then proving how good you are is important. Making sure you shine so you get opportunities and progress within an organisation. I started my career in horse racing and I loved it but it wasn’t necessarily my passion and I always had the desire to work in football and I eventually got to where I wanted to be. Work hard, be passionate in your work, be kind, put yourself out there and be confident in your own ability.

By FA Staff