Sophie Goldschmidt, UK
CEO of the World Surf League
When Goldschmidt became the first female CEO of the World Surf League (WSL) in 2017, many surfing enthusiasts were surprised with her appointment because the Englishwoman was not a surfer herself. But the 44-year-old has thrived in her first two years in the role, spearheading the global growth of surfing at a pivotal time in its history, especially with the inclusion of the sport on the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020. Coupled with the growth of online steaming and increase in wave pool technology worldwide, the Londoner is working tirelessly to elevate world surfing and announced in August that the WSL had decided to award male and female competitors equal prize money. With a track record that is incredibly impressive, she came into her position at the WSL after excelling in senior positions at the Rugby Football Union, the Women’s Tennis Association and the National Basketball Association. To underline the impact she made, when vice president of marketing and sponsorship at the WTA, she brokered the $88 million Sony Ericsson title sponsorship – the largest sponsorship deal in the history of women’s sports. And when at the RFU, she helped raise the profile of the Aviva Premiership, resulting in 10.5 million visits to rfu.com from 2013-2014. Now living and working in America, Goldschmidt continues to transform what was previously regarded as a niche sport into the realms of mainstream popularity.
– In January 2018, Goldschmidt announced the WSL had signed a two-year exclusive digital rights broadcast deal with Facebook worth $30 million.
– In April 2018, Goldschmidt was forced to cancel the The Margaret River Pro, the league’s second major competition, for safety reasons due to a spate of shark attacks.
– Forbes named her as the 15th Most Powerful Women In International Sports in 2018.
– She received a tennis scholarship to Baylor University in Texas and went on to secure a business degree.
– Goldschmidt made her professional tennis debut in 1991, playing doubles at the ITF Frinton tournament in England. However, injury forced her to quit playing shortly after.
Did you know…
Empowering women has always been an integral part of Goldshmidt’s mission, and she has done a superb job to balance prize funds between male and female surfers during her short tenure at WSL to date. In fact, in just over a year, she was able to achieve this.
“The reality is that women were held back for decades. They didn’t have the opportunity to compete and earn prize money at the same level. This was an inevitable next step.” – Sophie Goldschmidt (Source: Fortune Magazine)
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