Last month, Patricia Rodríguez became the first ever woman to be appointed as Vice President of LaLiga, Spain’s organizing body for the country’s two top divisions.
One month into her new role, we interviewed the current CEO of our Partner Elche CF to find out more about her journey, distill her philosophy, and share her best tips for aspiring football business leaders.
You are the first woman to become a Vice President at LaLiga – congratulations! How much does this mean to you?
I am very proud of being the Vice President of LaLiga. Two years ago, I was member of LaLiga´s Board of Directors and now I am back.
I consider that I can share my experience in the previous stage as a member of LaLiga Board of Directors, my background in the soccer industry and also hard work.
It is a great step in my career. I always try to improve myself and when I decided to start a new stage in Elche CF, it was because I considered that step completed my experience at 360 degrees. I mean, I completed by background in Eibar, first division club, with a good economic situation, fan-owned club, smallest stadium of LaLiga first division and tiny city, with this new experience in a second division club, with economic issues to be solved, majority shareholder, a big stadium owned by the Club in a big mid-sized city.
What was the process you had to go through in order to obtain this role?
The electoral process started before Covid-19 and at that moment, I applied to the role because I considered it to be an extraordinary moment to be part of. The process stopped during quarantine and was resumed in June when I was finally elected Vice President.
It is not an easy time because there are important issues pending, such as the collective agreement between the Spanish Football Players’ Association and LaLiga, the elections to the presidency of the Spanish Football Federation and, in addition, all the issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
What will be your main objectives during your mandate?
I will try to be close to my colleagues from other clubs, sharing information with them, hearing their worries and helping them to solve those.
I want to be a connection between clubs and LaLiga. And help new joiners to LaLiga to adapt themselves to LaLiga.
Contribute with my work to negotiate the new agreements and to leave reinforced from the pandemic situation, with many lessons learned and stronger than before.
You will be mainly responsible for the 2nd division clubs (LaLiga SmartBank), what is their state right now and where do you think they can improve the most?
We are the best league around the world.
Miguel Ángel Gil from Atletico Madrid is your counterpart for the 1st division clubs (LaLiga Santander), how similar or different are your leadership styles?
I think each person has their own style. In my case, I can tell you the keys:
– Be true to myself, to my principles and way of thinking, acting with honesty and coherence. If I don’t feel identified with a project, I prefer to step aside and start a new adventure. I need that feeling of belonging to give the maximum of myself. I try to be aligned with the company’s strategy.
– Active listening and teamwork. In the clubs we are surrounded by great professionals who are experts in their field. As the CEO, I will always know less than the specialists, therefore, I think it is important to listen to their contributions and points of view, involve them in the decisions and have the humility to learn from them so that together we can develop ambitious projects and enriching for all parties.
– Work and effort. Management requires mastering many different aspects at the business level and managing the relationships between the people who make up the company and its environment. For this you need to have different sources of knowledge ranging from training to use, going through continuous growth with new, more disruptive training, reading, learning from the best and knowing how to learn from mistakes. Although at the moment the world seems to be falling, it is the best thing that can happen to you because you will never forget it. Mistakes are the best learning because they are a turning point to gain momentum and grow.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about club management in all your years in charge of Eibar and Elche?
The greatest learnings have come from the most difficult moments I have experienced and they gave me important lessons:
– Give relative importance to the problems. If it is not a health issue, everything has a solution and is reversible.
– Learn to take care instead of worry.
– The main person who has to be calm and satisfied with my work is myself. There will always be criticism and people disagreeing, but if the decision I made was based on a series of objective parameters and arguments, I could have been wrong, but it makes sense and is consistent with what I think.
– “No pain, no gain”: to achieve great achievements, you have to risk and spend complicated moments that, in my case, have been a great help to lose innocence and mature professionally.
Which leaders do you use as role models and which clubs (anywhere in the world) do you use as benchmarks for trying to improve yourself personally and the club you are managing?
I do not have any model that inspires me. I always try to be myself; I have my own personality.
I always try to know about other clubs, what are they doing, reading different reports and news, being up to date because that inspires me and helps me to think about different projects to adapt to my club.
And, I think that industry meetings are very helpful to know more about the new trends and about the projects that different clubs or companies are carrying out. At this moment, we have webinars like those organized by The FBA in which I had the opportunity to be part in a panel with other personalities of the industry and I learned different matters.
Whether you realize it yet or not, you have been a tremendous role model for other women who aspire to work in the football industry. What recommendations can you share with them if they are to follow in your footsteps?
My recommendation is to be honest with themselves, not trying to be like other people, adopting other roles, or trying to act as people expect due to their gender.
Be ambitious and think that it’s always possible to achieve a goal if you study and work hard. It is essential having a positive attitude.
I think education is basic in the way in which we act during our lives. In my case, my parents have always educated me letting me take my decisions and giving me freedom to decide in my life. And for me that is the key.
About The Football Business Academy Master Degree in Football Business
The Football Business Academy is a Swiss-based high level international educational institution whose goal is to professionalize the management of the football industry and facilitate the insertion of qualified professionals and future leaders in the game. Its flagship program, a Professional Master in Football Business, was codeveloped with international football industry experts from around the world around one foremost objective: to provide Candidates with all the necessary tools and an optimal learning environment in order to succeed in this passionate and dynamic industry.