POSITION: Chief Revenue Officer
COMPANY: Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash, BBVA Compass Stadium
FAMILY: Husband Mark and three children, six-year-old fraternal twins Wells and Ellis and 17-month-old daughter Rowan
HOMETOWN: Flint, Michigan
EDUCATION: Central Michigan University
Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration
Major: Marketing Minor: Advertising
First Generation College Graduate
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
I had a steady babysitting gig at 10 years old, watching a 4-year-old. The biggest takeaway for me was that maturity had value.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get the day off to a great start?
I am not a morning person, I’m more of a night owl and usually can’t fall asleep until I feel like I accomplished all I wanted to in the day. I’ve been a night person my whole life and I have never required much sleep.
When I get home from work, I give my family 100% of my attention and focus and once the kids are in bed, I jump on my computer and finish my day strong. Most nights go late in the morning, but when I wake up, I can take the day on without being in-the-hole with unfinished business.
Prior to joining the Houston Dynamo organization in February, you held several leadership positions in the NBA. What drew you to this role and professional soccer in particular?
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, yet it has not reached its peak potential here in America. I was inspired to be a contributor to the success of the sport, the leagues we serve (MLS and NWSL), and make a difference right here in Houston – a community who has a passion for the game and the opportunity to be at the forefront of that growth.
What’s your first impression of the city of Houston?
It is a BIG city, that doesn’t play by big city rules. There is a true sense of community.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
- Watching sports (Live and on TV)
- I love to travel and create memories for our family
- Binge watch TV shows
What makes you excited about going to work?
I am in love with what I do. Every day I get to make a difference in lives of others through the power of sports.
You have excelled in a male-dominated sport industry. What is your advice to women looking to grow their careers? What’s your advice to companies about hiring and promoting women?
I’m not going to sugar coat it – there are a lot of men in this industry. But being a man isn’t the main ingredient to growth and success. When you remove the word “male” from “male-dominant”, you are simply left with “dominant”. My advice is to not let the perception of what you see blur your vision … the key to succeed in this industry is to DOMINATE.
My advice to companies is to look around the room of their decision makers and ask themselves, “Does this room of leaders provide us with a diverse set of perspectives and experiences to contribute to our success?” Be intentional in recruiting and promoting individuals who can add value through diversity and culture.
Outside of experience, what attributes do you look for in the hiring process from top applicants?
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Great leaders develop strong and meaningful relationships with their team members, peers, and clients. I believe the traditional relationships men can have professionally are not transferred to the relationships a woman can have due to natural barriers in society. Because of that, women often get left out of the upside of relationship building.
Now, this is only a barrier if you accept not being invited. I am very aware of it, so I do not wait to be invited to outings, lunches, and trips – I’ll invite myself or be the host.
You’re a mom and an executive. How do you approach a work-life balance?
To me, work-life balance is a mindset. If I consider the hours in my day and how many were spent focused on work and the hours focused on family/self needs, I would be losing in the work-life balance battle. But I took a different approach to it when I became a mother 6 years ago. It wasn’t about hours; it was about the value of time. If I spend 10 hours at work and 2 hours with my children before I have to put them to bed, I feel balance because it didn’t take long for my time with my kids to fulfill their happiness or mine.
Dionna Widder joined the Houston Dynamo and Dash organization in January 2019. As Chief Revenue Officer she oversees the club’s ticket sales and service teams along with corporate partnership sales and service efforts for the Dynamo, Dash and BBVA Compass Stadium.