Women in Business Q&A: Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive VP Chief Brand Officer, Dallas Cowboys Football Club

Women in Business Q&A: Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive VP Chief Brand Officer, Dallas Cowboys Football Club
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Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dallas Cowboys Chief Brand Officer, oversees all strategies and applications surrounding the team's brand as it is presented to fans world-wide. Working in the executive office since 1989, Anderson's experience has enabled her to become one of the most innovative and versatile executives among women in professional sports.

Her vision and direction guides the Cowboys in stadium design, fan engagement, entertainment, licensed apparel, cause marketing, and community service. Anderson also serves as President of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation and the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Arlington Youth Foundation.

Anderson plays a prominent role in shaping the design, décor, sponsor integration and overall presentation of AT&T Stadium, the state-of-the-art venue that opened in Arlington, Texas in 2009. The stadium's signature element is one of the most prominent public art collections, the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection at AT&T Stadium. Consisting of over 50 pieces of contemporary art from an international array of curated artists, the collection is displayed on the walls and in the grand public spaces of the stadium. And in 2013 Anderson and her mother, Gene Jones, were the recipients of the Texas Medal of Arts - Arts Patrons Award, presented by the Texas Cultural Trust.

Under her guidance, the venue has played host to some of the highest profile sports and entertainment events in the world - among those are Super Bowl XLV, the 2010 NBA All Star Game, the 2014 NCAA Men's Final Four, the annual Cotton Bowl Classic and the first-ever College Football Championship game in 2015. Most recently the Stadium hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards, breaking ratings and attendance records.

Anderson's spirit of involvement in the local community extends far beyond the realm of professional football. Since coming to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in 1989 she has been actively involved with leadership roles in a wide range of organizations that include: The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Southwestern Medical Foundation, the President's Advisory Council for The Dallas Center for Performing Arts Foundation, TACA board of governors, The Salvation Army, The Rise School, Shelton School, Make-A-Wish North Texas Presidents Council, Dallas Symphony and the Super Bowl XLV Host Committee. Most recently Anderson served as chair of the 2014 North Texas Final Four Host Committee, responsible for putting on the men's basketball championship at AT&T Stadium. She is also on the Board of Directors of Hilltop Corporation.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
When I was a child, my family was in the oil and gas industry. Then, in 1989, when my father purchased the Dallas Cowboys, our lives changed forever. We certainly knew about football as a sport [my father played on the 1964 National Championship football team], but running it as a business was an entirely new venture. We weren't handed a playbook, but instead had to learn as we went along, trying and sometimes failing, but constantly searching for creative solutions- innovative solutions to the challenges that arose daily. It was this high tolerance for ambiguity, for diving into the unknown and taking risks that made me the leader I am today. Entering an entirely new industry forced my family, and me, to be adaptable, and led to us being extremely forward thinking, balancing innovation and evolution all while carefully valuing the traditions of those who came before us.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at the Dallas Cowboys?
Upon graduating from Stanford University, I knew I wanted to make a difference with my career, and I thought the best place to do that would be in Washington DC, working in politics as an AA for the congressman for Arkansas. But I quickly learned that, being in DC and working in politics, was not necessarily the place to make an individual impact, nor was it likely that the significant changes I was lobbying for, would take place within my timeframe.

When my father bought the Dallas Cowboys, he told me he needed someone he could trust to "stop the bleeding," someone that would lay awake at night trying to figure out how to make the Cowboys a successful business without ever tarnishing the famous star logo.

With never having considered a career in football, when I finally did agree, I had no idea that there would be so many unique opportunities to grow the famous brand of the Dallas Cowboys - and simultaneously give me the opportunity to pursue my original goal of making that individual impact.

By partnering with The Salvation Army to launch the National Red Kettle Kickoff, we have helped raise over $2 billion for those in need. Our vision while designing and building AT&T Stadium was not only to build a home for the Dallas Cowboys, but to create an economic engine for North Texas that would attract events and drive people to our region for decades to come. Mega events like the NBA All-Star Game, the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the 50th Anniversary of the Academy of Country Music Awards and the first ever National College Football Championship have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars of economic impact to this region that otherwise would have never come.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at the Dallas Cowboys?
Being a part of winning three Super Bowls and building AT&T Stadium will always be among my biggest accomplishments.

Other proud moments come when someone outside your direct organization validates your success. I am proud to have been named Chairman of the NFL Foundation and a member of the NFL's Personal Conduct Committee by Commissioner Goodell, to have been Chairman of the Final Four Organizing Committee after securing the bid for North Texas, and was humbled to be the first woman ever to Chair The Salvation Army National Advisory Board which is filled with business leaders I admire and respect.

Challenges in this industry, are inevitable. Our sixteen week sport is the greatest reality show on television, and not being able to control team performance on the field, has me yielding control more often than not. We can only manage the surrounding variables to the best of our ability and let the game speak for itself. I constantly remind and empower those around me, of the need to always be creative and innovative--we must keep our fans, the ones who are local and those around the world, passionate and engaged 365 days a year.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Now more than ever, sports are seeing more female fans- nearly 45% of our fan base is female. They are patrons of our game, consumers of our content, and stakeholders in their own right. They have a seat at the table and though their perspectives are unique, they are relevant to all fans.

If you want to work within sports - they should know the game and more importantly, know the business. Start anywhere you can get an opportunity, but one of the most valuable assets a potential employee can bring to a sports organization is sales experience. If you can sell yourself in an interview- doors will open. Much of the sports entertainment industry is centered on sales- corporate sponsorship, season and suite tickets, stadium events, etc. If you can sell your passion, chances are you will be given an opportunity and then it's up to you to outwork the person next to you. Michael Irvin [former Dallas Cowboys player] used to walk into practice every day and ask "who is gonna out work me today?" That is the attitude needed in all areas of the business- on and off the field.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
There's no such thing as Superman/Superwoman. We all have holes in our cape. So many people truly believe you can have it all. I do believe you can have it all, just not all at once. Sacrifices have to be made throughout your life. The give and take that comes with having a family and a successful career may often times frustrate you, leaving you feeling like you're never giving 100%. Understanding and accepting that reality is important for both men and women to manage their expectations. And being able to justify it to the person staring back at you in the mirror, is the key to success.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have been blessed that my work/life balance intersects between many of my passions. Football and family have allowed me to share so many of my work hours with my father as my boss, my brothers as my co-workers, my mother on art, architecture and design projects, my husband who coached my sons, and my daughter who shares a passion for my work. Although our business is 365 days a year and our family vacations most often resemble board room meetings, we are fortunate to all be together, and I am truly lucky that my career has allowed me to experience so much alongside the people I care the most about.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I was fortunate to have been raised by parents that never saw gender as a factor. Believing you are at a disadvantage, or that you have to make a point to be heard in a meeting, is not productive for anyone. So many times, I have sat back, actively listening to the meeting and narrowing in on the problem, only to go back the next day with a solution. Taking in the team's thoughts and feedback provides a greater opportunity to form a targeted response, and not just speaking for the sake of contributing. Being the smartest voice in the room is always more valuable than being the loudest.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
My mentors are my parents. They have made me into the parent, business woman, and philanthropist that I am today. I am grateful that family values and hard work were at the core of their parenting. And I believe in setting an example for others to follow, as they did for me.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.: I admire her incredible work ethic, intelligence, intuition and ability to communicate and relate to both those within her industry and outside of her realm. She has an incredibly effective leadership style that I have always admired when working alongside her as a partner of the Cowboys.

The late Cathy Coughlin, CMO of AT&T: It is obvious to admire her accomplishments as a businesswoman throughout her successful rise within AT&T from afar, but having had the opportunity to work directly with her only magnified her many talents. She had a true desire to do things the right way- an exceptional way- combined with a special talent to inspire an entire team to drive success.

She was a super star with style, grace and grit. To quote my father, "Cathy just had natural business instinct so all questions about who was the smartest person in the room were answered when Cathy walked through the door."

First Lady Laura Bush: Her true passion for our nation and her impact on women around the world are prime examples of her compassionate spirit that is only rivaled by her level of class, poise, and sophistication. She is an incredible mother and leader, setting an example for her own children as well as every woman in our country.

What do you want the Dallas Cowboys to accomplish in the next year?
While it may be cliché, I'd love to win the Super Bowl this year. We just had a very exciting launch with our first luxury brand, Hublot, and designed a Cowboys branded watch with a diamond star on the "5,"symbolizing our five super bowl wins.

If we had to go back and design a new model in February 2016 to move that diamond to the "6," I would say we had a successful year!

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