Meet the Rising 25 Class of 2018: Ann Drinkard

1. Tell Us About Yourself and Your Current Role

I graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2016. Shortly after graduation, I worked as a freelance Social Media Manager for the Southeastern Conference during the 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament. After that week-long stint with the conference, I applied for the open position and got the job a month later. My first day as a full-time employee fell on the same day as the start of SEC Media Days and it’s been full speed ahead ever since.

My role not only consists of managing all of the SEC’s social media accounts, but also serving as the main publisher to SECsports.com for any conference related content (press releases, player of the week, etc.). I am responsible for creating and executing the conference’s social media strategy and content calendar. Additionally, I handle the communications efforts for the sport of equestrian.

Outside of work, I do a lot of the same things I do at work, such as watch sports or laugh at good tweets on Twitter. But, when I’m not doing those things I’m likely either traveling, spending time with friends, catching up on my TV shows and/or watching a Fast and Furious re-run.

2. Where do you see yourself in 15 years/dream job?

Working in social media it’s hard to picture what the landscape will look like in 15 years as it is ever-changing, but I hope that by that point in my career I’ll have taken the right steps to be in a leadership position.

I’d love to lead a social team/department, while also helping those that are just starting out find their voice and their niche within the sports industry – especially other women.

Aside from that, I do have an interest in one day pursuing a role that helps athletes manage their personal brands on social. I think the importance of this is growing rather quickly as athletes are now seeing the power they have in their own voices and brands.

3. Who is your mentor at this point?

One of my mentors up to this point has been Vicki Michaelis. It didn’t take more than five minutes of sitting in her Sports, Media and Society class at Georgia (shoutout Grady Sports!) to realize she was someone I was going to look to for advice in the coming years.

She’s been with me since my sophomore year of college and while my career aspirations have changed over the years, our relationship has been crucial to my growth. She has remained the person that I go to when I’m struggling with a decision, need advice or just want to talk.

Another mentor I have to shoutout here is Claude Felton. He took a chance on me and gave me my first job in sports. Without him I would not be in the position I am now, nor would I have had the opportunities I’ve experienced thus far.

I think we all suffer from career anxiety at some point or another, feeling like we’re not making the right decision or that we’re not doing enough. Both Claude and Vicki have been there to offer words of encouragement, keeping me calm during the moments of uncertainty.

4. What’s one thing you’ve learned early in your career that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

Everyone takes a different path to get to where they are, there is no rule book and the industry is more close-knit than you think.

Before I started working in sports, I wanted to be a part of it, I just couldn’t figure out exactly how. I did my research on people with careers I aspired to, looked into their paths, etc, but the truth is we all approach the path differently.

The “everybody eats” philosophy is so true in sports. There is room for all of us be a part of it and to have success, it just takes patience and a lot of hard work. Now more than ever I understand and appreciate the importance of building and maintaining relationships. The more time you spend in sports, the more you realize that it’s definitely a “six degrees of separation” industry. You never know when you’re meeting someone with mutual connections or whom you may work with in the future. Paths change, cross, and intersect every day.

5. What does winning the Rising 25 Award mean to you?

I am honored to be a part of the FOS Rising 25 Class of 2018. I feel grateful that both Front Office Sports and the entire panel took the time to recognize achievements in the young careers of myself and my peers. It means a lot to be surrounded by such an impressive and driven group of people. I am excited to get to know the other members of the class and look forward to watching them continue to do outstanding work in their respective fields.