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Interview: Leshia Hawkins, Business Development Manager, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB)

By Alexandra Gold  //  Tue 25th February 2014

Leshia Hawkins, Business Development Manager, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) tells us how the sports sponsorship industry is changing, the role of women in sport following London 2012 and why Clare Balding is her media hero. 

What was your first job?

Other than being a part-time steward at Chester-le-Street in my Summers at Durham University, I joined when I came to London after University, as a Researcher.

Favourite sponsorship campaign?
Going back a bit, but I loved O2’s ‘Get Up for England’ with the team cooking the fan breakfast. I’m also looking forward to seeing Waitrose’s ideas come to fruition, when they take over the team/shirt sponsorship of England Cricket this Spring.

Best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
‘You have to follow your dreams’ (offered to me by my old boss when I resigned to join ECB).

How is the sports sponsorship industry changing?
Digital, data and ‘interrupting’ the audience seem to be the recurring themes when I sit in front of Marketing Directors. There’s a challenge there, albeit a very exciting one, for most Rights Holders to keep up with our Partners’ and prospects’ expectations on these fronts.

How did you get into partner development?
By a bit of luck(!). I was a recruiter in the sports industry, but this role came up, in the sport that I love, with a focus on grassroots and Women’s cricket, which is incredibly close to my heart, having played (averagely!) in my youth. I wasn’t looking, but I just couldn’t not apply. I can’t imagine I’d have left my old job for anything other than doing this, though.

Who is your media hero?

Clare Balding. The woman is just brilliant. She transcends the sports she covers, comes across as very ‘normal’ and down to earth, is so passionate and is an absolute champion of Women’s sport and its media worth. Love her.

How is the role of women in sport being challenged?
There is a huge shift at the moment, following London 2012 in particular, to get women’s sport more on the agenda and up coverage in the media. If we can ‘normalise’ the notion of women and girls playing sport, I hope this will inspire more females to start being, stay, or get back to being active - there’s massive health and social benefits in sport and exercise, you don’t necessarily need to want to be the next Jess Ennis.

Best industry resource?
I am reading (ex CMO of NFL’s New England Patriots) Lou Imbriano’s How to Win the Customer at the moment, which is very interesting. I’d also recommend Seb Coe’s Running My Life, which I finished recently.

What inspired you recently?
The England Women’s Cricket team retaining the Ashes in Australia against a tough side, at times in absolutely sweltering heat.  

Biggest mistake you’ve made and what did you learn about it?
I can’t think of any big mistakes in my professional life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there haven’t been any.

Tell us something we didn’t know about you?
I’m running the London Marathon 2014 for SportsAid.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A sports journalist. (Well, first of all, an air hostess, but then I realised I had a fear of flying).

What superpower would you have and why?
The ability to read people’s minds.

Leshia has worked at the England & Wales Cricket Board as Business Development Manager for c18months. She is responsible for finding sponsors and partners for all levels of cricket, internationally and domestic, with a particular focus on Women’s cricket and the grassroots/recreational game. Prior to this, she worked in recruitment in sport and entertainment for 8 years. She is a graduate of Durham University, where she studied Modern Languages and captained the Women’s Cricket team, for whom she returned career-best bowling figures of 6-18.

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