International Women's Day 2024 // Brooke Heffernan, Digital Product Owner

SailGP celebrates Inspiring Women driving SailGP forward for International Women's Day 2024 - proudly recognizing and honoring the invaluable contributions of the incredible women within our organization, particularly those driving innovation and excellence in technology.

In the lead up to #IWD2024 this Friday, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable females in tech at SailGP whose passion, expertize, and leadership continue to propel us forward. From technology products to data analytics, from software development to broadcast operations, these trailblazers embody the spirit of innovation and empower our organization to reach new heights.

Brooke Heffernan is SailGP's Digital Product Owner. Born in the digital age, SailGP is always devising new cutting-edge digital product ideas & improving the existing inventory - Brooke works across this entire digital ecosystem within the global sporting league. She has successfully been selected as one of the members of SailGP's Inaugural Women's Accelerator Program in partnership with Apex Group which launched in January. The Program's main focus is to accelerate the development of SailGP’s future female leaders and increase representation of women at senior management levels.

Brooke Heffernan IWD

Can you share with us your journey into the world of tech and how you became involved with SailGP?

I first embarked on the world of tech during my placement year at IBM whilst still at University. I fell in love with innovation & the art of the possible, especially with the work we were doing with the Wimbledon Analytics. The work was so interesting and a MAJOR lightbulb moment for that I could work with both tech & sports - how cool!

... Fast forward 9 years and I joined the SailGP rollercoaster to help the business pivot towards a more product centric model. It's been a fantastic 8 months back into the world of sports.

What are the specific roles and responsibilities you undertake within SailGP?

I work across the entire digital ecosystem at SailGP, so every day can be quite different. As a tech first business, we're always coming up with new digital product ideas & improving the existing. I devote a significant chunk of my day to managing and maintaining these product backlogs, refining features and prioritizing. I work closely with the software development team in tech refinement, planning the next increment of work, and reviewing all the awesome product demos! There's often ad hoc calls I join to clarify a particular product feature and its intended use so developers can take the right steps to deliver the product as expected by stakeholders.

As a woman working in a predominantly male-dominated industry, what challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?

I have been incredibly lucky with the people I've met along my career journey. However, there has been an undeniable lack of diversity in leadership roles and in tech specifically, the gender balance is still heavily skewed towards men. I think given the lack of representation in these roles, I've always struggled to find relatable role models or support from people who are experiencing similar issues.

The best way I've overcome this is by setting-up and/or being part of Women in Tech communities, building a support network with like-minded individuals, sharing knowledge/experiences and providing a platform to amplify women's voices and ideas!

IWD insights

In your opinion, what unique perspectives or strengths do women bring to the world of sport and to SailGP in particular?

It's inevitable that every gender will ultimately face different life experiences and hold alternate viewpoints.

As the industry becomes more gender-balanced, we'll see an influx of new knowledge, new perspectives and new ideas to how we solve problems - a real super power that's missing in the industry!

How do you envision the future of women's involvement and leadership roles within SailGP and the broader sailing community, and what steps do you believe are necessary to continue promoting gender equity and diversity in the sport?

SailGP is a trailblazer in this space and has a strong representation of female leaders! The recent launch of the Women Accelerator Program is a fantastic example of how the business is promoting and investing in gender equality. I would like to see defined career development pathways for women across different skill-sets, for both athletes and operational roles.

If any industry should know about fairness, teamwork and mentorship, it is sports.

Who inspires you within your life?

Whitney Wolfe Herd - Founder of Bumble.

I'm a huge advocate for any entrepreneur that can come up with an idea to solve a societal problem - especially when it's using tech! Bumble was set up to help with gender discrimination and empowering women to feel heard and equal. Her continuous campaigns for gender equality have had a huge social impact breaking down barriers across all industries.