Life as a Signal Caller, The Story of Tessa Robinson-Solley

By: Ghazzal Rezvan, @GhazzalRezvan

Tessa Robinson-Solley, Chief of Staff for the Club Sites Digital Organization at the National Football League.

Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Tessa Robinson-Solley. Tessa leads the ad operations team and serves as the Chief of Staff for the Club Sites Digital Organization at the National Football League. In her four-year tenure, she has had the pleasure of collaborating with clubs on digital sales optimization. An energetic leader, Tessa is passionate about employee engagement and cultivating teams who provide outstanding service. Prior to joining the NFL, Tessa managed ad operations organization for Yahoo! and Myspace, where she leveraged technology to empower her teams’ efficiency. While she is a veteran in digital advertising, the NFL is only her second foray into Sports Entertainment. In 2006, she innovated sales operations for, training international sales teams on the highlights of digital advertising surrounding the event. When not geeking out over invasive ad technologies, Tessa can be found walking the Santa Monica beaches with her husband and beloved rescue dog, Cricket.

How do you establish a work-life balance?

“That’s the one I struggle with, honestly” Tessa admits, “I’m the type of person who thinks work should be a priority over everything else and that is not the recipe for emotional wellbeing or success.” Tessa recommends an activity mentioned in Stephen Covey’s book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, “write down all the different roles you fill and then choose two at a time to focus on and set goals around.” Manager, coworker, employee, sister, mother, friend, daughter and volunteer are only a few of the roles Tessa successfully balances in her everyday schedule. “Understand that you can’t be all things to all people but understand what being a good friend, coworker etc. looks like” she says.

What are some of the biggest challenges of entering the industry?

With more than a decade-worth of experience in the Digital industry, it was easy for Tessa to identify the shortcoming of new entrants: “People aren’t specific enough about what they want, so there’s a lot of noise at the entry level.” She continues saying that just having the vague notion that you want to work in the sports industry is not good enough, “be specific about what you want to do and what you hope to accomplish.” Tessa mentioned how important it is to not approach the industry as a fan and to figure out what going to work everyday in the industry looks like to you: “Does it look like being on the sidelines? Does it look like being in the equipment room? Does it look like being on your computer?” she poses.

What advice do you wish you had received when starting your career?

Tessa’s best advice to people trying to break into the industry is, “to be cautious of whom you are dealing with today because they might be very important tomorrow.” She continues saying “it takes seconds to form a first opinion, minutes to form a friendship, but it takes a split second to have that go the other way and then takes years to repair.” She stresses that this holds true for everyone at the company, no matter the position, because there is always going to be a boss, “even Roger Goodell has to answer to the owners!”

What are the first things industry executives look for in a new hire?

Tessa mentions how higher education is not the only trait executives look for when seeking new employees. “The certificate on the wall is important, but I would prefer to see how somebody learns over that degree” she says. What Tessa looks for in an employee is their potential: “a person who can tell me what they have learned and what makes them excited.” She continues saying how she believes the excitement factor leads to a higher potential employee versus an employee that does everything perfectly.

What are key trends in the industry?

“Digital in general is driving what is happening in sports,” she stresses. Tessa says the reason for this trend is because the way fans consume sports has changed drastically throughout the years “people are used to getting immediate information now and as sports leagues we’re used to putting on a show. So now we’re going to have to put on a different show.” She also mentions the importance of transparency in the industry: “It can’t just be these well-groomed personalities in public and behind closed doors they’re horrible people!”

Parting wisdom?

Tessa’s favorite quote is from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!” Tessa states how this quote has driven her throughout her life and has always resonated with her no matter her age, “I have a lot of anxiety about wasting time but knowing sometimes downtime is valuable. Finding that value in every moment is important to me.”

We would like to thank Tessa for her time and insight and we wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors!

You can connect with her on LinkedIn here or follow her on Twitter here!