Moira O’Connor, SMG - Soldier Field
At 29, Moira O’Connor is not only the youngest director of operations of Chicago’s Soldier Field, she’s also the first female manager of the iconic stadium.
“With being young and a woman, in a field dominated by a lot of middle-aged men, you’re always trying to prove your worth,” O’Connor said about the challenges of managing a high-profile venue like Solider Field. “But it helps that I am a lawyer, so they know I am prepared when I enter the room.”
O’Connor is in charge of the venue’s $16 million operating budget, 36 full-time staffers and hundreds of workers during events. She also ensures that the stadium’s $3 million in capital improvements, which include new video boards and club suites, are completed on time and under budget.
O’Connor joined the Soldier Field staff a little over three years ago after turning the McFetridge Sports Center, a multiuse facility owned by the Windy City’s park district, from a money-loser into a moneymaker. She helped turn the center’s finances around by starting the Chicago River Dogs, a youth hockey team that has around 300 players.
O’Connor credits her success in part to the mentorship she’s received from Soldier Field’s general manager Tim LeFevour, who has included her in various meetings that have little to do with her day-to-day job duties managing the stadium, but that offer her a better understanding of the sports business. — Karn Dhingra