SBJ/Sept. 11-17, 2017/Game Changers

Hannah Gordon, San Francisco 49ers

Photo by: TANYA GONZALEZ
H
annah Gordon thought she would make a bad boss because of all the stereotypes she had heard about women managers. As she progressed through the legal ranks at the 49ers, she quickly got direct reports, eight in total today.
Hannah Gordon
San Francisco 49ers // General counsel

“To be honest, and especially as a woman, I was very nervous to manage other people because I knew the stereotype of female bosses and I heard so many stories of people who disliked bosses who they worked for that were female, and so honestly, I was very afraid I would be a bad boss,” she said. “I was very concerned.”

In the end, she said, she realized being a good boss meant acting as a mentor and teacher, roles she felt very qualified for. “I know how to do that,” she said laughing.

It’s not just legal that reports into her, but the 49ers Museum, the team foundation, and even the director of community relations and youth football.

Gordon always knew she wanted to work in football, and would have picked any of the 32 teams if the job came her way. But it was the hometown 49ers that came knocking after a short stint with the league office before and during the 2011 lockout.

That, she said, has made her quite happy.

“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world,” she said.

— Daniel Kaplan



  • Where born: San Francisco (raised in Oakland).
  • Education: Stanford, J.D.; UCLA, B.A.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Character.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Walk up to each person in the room, look them in the eye, and shake his or her hand.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Eliminating the martyrdom mentality of face time.
  •  If I had it to do over again, I would: You don’t get to do it over again, so learn and move on.
  •  Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: It is a small network with excellent camaraderie so I am fortunate that I know so many of the women around the NFL and sports overall.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I certainly understand that some people may feel exhausted by the same conversation and so the real question becomes, as Dr. [Harry] Edwards says, how do we move from protest to progress? From words to action? What are the solutions and how do we implement them instead of focusing on PR?
  • Causes supported: I have been looking for a nonprofit that provides trauma-informed yoga for children in neighborhoods affected by poverty and violence as a means of teaching how to self-regulate and heal when you may not have other resources … so if you are reading — I’m looking for you!

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