Jennifer Williams, Deputy Athletic Director, Alabama
Women Leaders in College Sports: Think back to five years ago, did you envision this is where you would be in your career?
JLW: Yes, I have always loved working on the external side of athletic administration and I knew that my love and passion for what I did everyday would help me navigate through our industry. I always try to set short and long-term goals; and being a senior level administrator has always been one of those goals. Actually, one of my long term goals is to be an Athletic Director by 40; so I guess we’ll see what happens in four years…you all (Women Leaders in College Sports) might have to do a ‘Where Are They Now’ feature.
Women Leaders: What do you wish you would’ve known back when you first started your career in athletics?
JLW: I wish I would’ve known the importance of understanding the role of every unit in an Athletics department. In the beginning of my career I was so focused on external relations (fundraising specifically), and hitting my benchmarks that I didn’t take the time to know how all units came together to make a department great. I wish I would’ve spent some time with our compliance unit and facilities/operations staff as a young professional. Knowing how other units operate make you a well-rounded administrator.
Women Leaders: What has been your most rewarding career accomplishment to date?
JLW: I actually have two: being recognized as a 40-under-40 recipient by North Carolina Central University last September; and while working at North Carolina A&T State University, having our fundraising arm, the Aggie Athletic Foundation, Inc., recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as a model booster organization have been two pretty amazing professional accomplishments.
Women Leaders: If you could do your career over again, what would you do differently?
JLW: I probably would have been a little more strategic in how I used my networks/resources once I graduated from college. I was a student-athlete at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I wish I would’ve reached out to some of the senior athletic administrators, upon graduating to articulate my desire of working in athletic administration. I guess I was trying to make a way on my own, but in hindsight, the administrators who were at UNC when I was a student-athlete would have been great resources and mentors.
Women Leaders: What advice can you offer someone who wants to progress in their career?
JLW: Always do your best; be transparent and authentic; network with a purpose; have a game plan; and stay ready! My coach at UNC would always say, “Proper, prior, planning, prevents, poor performance.” This saying has been with me for almost 15 years, and has always been true.
Women Leaders: What books and/or podcast are you currently listening to or reading?
JLW: Currently, I am reading the book SOAR (Building Strengths-Based Strategy) by Jacqueline Stavros and Gina Hinrichs.
Women Leaders: Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?
JLW: My favorite quote is, “Blossom where you are planted.” This quote has helped me through some trying times; and has also inspired me to always strive to be the light (the bright spot) wherever I am employed or in any situation.
Women Leaders: What is the most significant goal you have yet to achieve?
JLW: Becoming an Athletic Director at the Division I FCS or non-football level by 2021…that’s the plan!