Charlene Nyantekyi is the General Manager of Club Wembley.
Charlene heads up the hospitality team and oversees all of the operations within Club Wembley, she’s there on match days to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Charlene joined the team in May 2017 and has since worked with the team to successfully launch the brand new members only gastropub The Lioness in September. As well as preparing for some of the stadiums biggest event including the Spice Girls.
Club Wembley offers members the opportunity to enjoy premium service at everything from FA Cup finals to sell-out concerts and a range of exclusive events in between this.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
My career started thanks to my love for Arsenal. A friend told me that if I worked for the club on match days, I’d be able to learn about the industry as well as watch my favourite team at Highbury.
It was only once I got a job on the Arsenal reception desk during events that I realised a career in hospitality was an option. And jumped at the chance to eventually assist in developing the Emirates Stadium premium products when the opportunity arose.
Wembley Stadium is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic venues, so when I was approached about the General Manager role, it was a no brainer for me. Now I have my dream job at the Home of English Football.
My role involves being accountable for all aspects of a Club Wembley member’s journey with us. I feel incredibly fortunate to work across such a fantastic variety of event genres, from some of the nation’s biggest football matches, such as The Emirates FA Cup Final, to other sporting events, like the NFL. On top of that we’ve played a part in once-in-a-lifetime music concerts including the Spice Girls reunion and K-Pop band BTS– both of which sold out in minutes!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not as such.
Prior to joining Arsenal, my plan was to take a gap year from university where I would study performing arts. It wasn’t until I discovered more about hospitality, and how I could contribute to the transition of premium products (Highbury Stadium into the new Emirates facility) that I truly started to think about applying my skills to entertainment. I would sit and write lists of some of the most iconic events or venues and try to make contacts there so I can see how they do things.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
The most challenging thing is that it can sometimes feel like we’ve got a lot of spinning plates, but the key is working together and of course organisation.
On a day to day basis, I will have a number of internal and external conversations to keep up to speed on the multiple projects as well as understanding how we are performing.
Our account management team are my eyes and ears on the ground and are always a good indication of how we are performing. Then our Operations Team are the front liners and are a great source of information when ascertaining our event day performance. I regularly catch up with them, to make sure I absorb all of the information, to ensure that every event at Club Wembley is the very best it can be.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
One of my biggest achievements to date is the launch of the brand new Number Nine last September, where we created a ‘club within a club’.
We wanted to deliver a space that is very distinct within Club Wembley and unlike any other football hospitality.
We’ve made it feel like a luxury retreat for members, with greenery on the walls, striking Herringbone floor tiling and bold uses of colour. The feedback from members has been overwhelming, and we have some exciting entertainment lined up for our Number Nine members during the Carabao Cup Final on 1 March.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I am extremely fortunate as I truly love what I do, and I feel that this has been a major contributor to my success.
Being passionate about my career means that I always give 100 per cent and thrive of the energy of those working around me. From working across such a great variety of events to meeting incredible people I take each part is a journey and a learning.
I always read our event feedback, the good, the bad and the ugly, as every detail matters to us. We know that it’s not just big statements that have an impact on how someone enjoys their experience at Club Wembley – it’s the small things too. I spend time with my team talking to our members, both at matches, through our Connections events and in between too. This not only ensures we maintain a close relationship with them but get their thoughts and feedback too, and this is vital for our progression.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without mentors and contrary to popular belief, I think it’s a great thing to have multiple mentors as everyone has different strengths and weakness that you can learn from. I have a few reciprocal mentoring relationships as I believe that you can learn from people who have been in the industry for 30 years as well as someone just coming up. The big difference for me these days is having a great coach, this is a very different type of support from a mentor and it’s great to have a balance of the two in my career.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
There are many talented women working in a variety of levels across the sports industry – you just don’t always get to hear about them. But breaking down barriers and overcoming common issues such as representation and discrepancies in income, isn’t a quick or easy process, especially in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.
I am confident that steps are being made within the industry to make it more equitable, diverse and reflective of modern society. For example, in 2018 The FA announced a new three-year equality, diversity and inclusion plan called ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ to ensure the diversity of those leading and governing football better reflects what we see on the pitch in the modern game.
While change won’t happen overnight, this is a significant step in the right direction to make football more equal and inclusive. In fact, since 2016 The FA has more than doubled the number of senior women – including now having three women on The FA Board. As an industry, we do need to check ourselves on a regular basis and ask ourselves, ‘can we do more?’ If the answer is yes, we’re not there yet.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Looking back at my career, I’m extremely proud of everything I’ve achieved to date. If there was a piece of advice I would give my younger self it would be to have more confidence in my capabilities. At times I’d find myself muttering under my breath about a role I’d wish I’d applied for as I felt that I was more capable than the candidate that took the job, but the reality is that the only thing holding me back was me. Think it, believe it, DO IT!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
We’ve got a really exciting summer ahead for Club Wembley which we’re in full preparation with, it’ll be massive news for us and we’re really excited to be sharing it with our members.