SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Game Changers

Game Changers: Laura Gentile

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Gentile holds balls from three U.S. Open
Championships held on Long Island that she and
her father attended together.
Laura Gentile
ESPNW
Vice President

Laura Gentile’s top piece of advice to women entering the industry is to exude confidence. “If you have confidence in yourself,” she says, “people tend to have confidence in you, and if you carry yourself in a strong, positive way, people tend to follow your lead.”

After three years at ESPN as a vice president in the office of the president, ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer charged Gentile with a challenging task: Create an attractive platform for a female sports audience that can shine a light on women’s sports. Gentile spent the better part of the two years that followed trying to understand the differences in women as consumers and how to craft a platform that highlights women and issues close to them.

The resulting espnW debuted as a blog in December 2010 before becoming an enhanced website in April. Since that launch, espnW saw particularly notable gains in July, with the Women’s World Cup tripling traffic to the site. And Gentile thinks the best is yet to come. “We’ve always thought that there is a global opportunity when it comes to this platform,” she said. “We definitely think there’s opportunities internationally for the business we are creating.”

— Theresa Manahan
  • First job: The ultimate service job: waitressing.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: When I didn’t get my first job out of college at Grey Advertising. I was devastated at the time.
  • What is the best advice you've ever received?: “No one is indispensable.” — from my mom.
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: Lead by example, with enthusiasm.
  • Woman in sports business you'd most like to meet: Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Nancy is not in the traditional sports business, but she has used sports as a platform to raise the profile of an important cause and get millions of people to care and take part.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“ESPN can move the needle like few organizations can, and if Laura can successfully harness the company’s formidable capabilities in support of espnW’s mission, women’s sports have much to gain.”

  • Val Ackerman, WNBA founding president
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