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

Kimberly Fields, NFL

Photo by: ERIC ESPINO / NFL

W
hen Kimberly Fields presented as part of football operations to NFL owners meetings, the room had what she described as a handful of women and about 150 men.

Kimberly Fields
NFL // Special assistant to the commissioner
As one of the few women to rise into the ranks of a major sport’s game operations, one might have thought it was a passion she had from an early age. But she got a degree in systems engineering, and was down the path of many of her colleagues when she had an epiphany after tutoring some college football players: She wanted to work in sports.

“As you can imagine, when I went to tell my parents and I was like, ‘I don’t think I am going to be an engineer, I think I am going to go and work in sports,’ you can imagine what that was like.”

She landed a low-paying internship with the Women’s Sports Foundation, so low she took a part-time job at Barnes & Noble.

“In the beginning, it can be hard,” she said of the advice she would give to women trying to break into sports. “You have to press forward.”

Fields would land a job at the NFL in player engagement, which ultimately became part of football operations. She rose in the ranks, until recently leaving that area to fill a new role as special assistant to the commissioner.

Asked what it was like as one of the few women in a room full of all the men in football operations, she replied, “I would just say we have a very focused effort to ensure we are building up the pipeline to have more women, whether it is in scouting, coaching, game operations, officiating. We have done a better job of that, we could always do better.”

— Daniel Kaplan



  • Where born: Richmond, Va.
  • Education: University of Virginia, B.S. and M.S., systems engineering; William Mitchell College of Law, J.D.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Character and critical thinking.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be intentional about engagement; always be responsive with a follow-up note with those with whom you share information.
  •  Best advice I’ve received for career development: Be fearless.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Listening to employees and being flexible.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Serena Williams. Her purpose is clear and her passion is undeniable.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Necessary. Inclusion is good business.

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