Meet Rebecca Bressler, Account Executive

To honour Women’s History Month, we took five minutes with one of our Account Executives, Rebecca, from our New York office. In her interview, she discusses her passion for women’s hockey, how her love for the game has integrated into her work and personal life, and what she has learnt since joining the Impact and Inclusion Council.

You’ve been with CSM for almost three years now, can you tell us a bit about your journey to where you are today. What were the defining moments in your career that stand out?

Pretty crazy that it’s already been three years with CSM, but at the same time it has only been three years. 

My interest in sports has been innate since childhood, but I had a bit of a unique experience growing up. At an eager age of seven, I began as the only girl on my local (all-boys apparently went without saying) hockey team, and to say the least, my “childhood hockey career” ended after about a month. I never really understood why, until I got older and heard other people articulate it for me – girls are awarded 1.3 million LESS opportunities to play sports than boys, and I was one of them. I didn’t have a place where I fit in, or quite frankly where I was welcome.

I’ve been lucky enough to watch monumental progress being made day in and day out by women, both on and off the playing field, leading to the formation of new leagues such as the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) and Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF), as well as the impact that longer-standing leagues such as the WNBA and NWSL have had, setting the precedent for women’s sport.

I’ve been able to work with and learn from so many leaders in the industry, and while I still have a ways to go to experience major “career defining moments,” these defining changes in the perception of sports as a whole have motivated me to make tangible impact in the areas that will ultimately define my career.

5MW Rebecca 2

Since college, you have done a lot of work within your local sports community – specifically looking at the impact of sport on women and girls. Can you tell us about the work you have been doing here?

Despite the 16-year gap, and despite it being for a team that my dad and his 50-year-old friends played on, as soon as the opportunity presented itself to get back out onto the ice and play hockey, I quite literally jumped at it. I knew it was my time to make a change, and the chance to do so pretty much fell in my lap shortly after.

Now, a year and a half later, I’ve seen the progression of my U10 youth girls’ team that I coach through so many firsts in the world of women’s hockey, specifically after the announcement of the PWHL. Watching the development of their skills as well as their understanding of the game evolve on the ice has been, in and of itself, an amazing experience, but what’s even more amazing is watching their development off the ice. Getting to feel their excitement when we can bring in pro-women’s players to guest coach at practices or giving them the opportunity to skate out on the ice in between periods during a PWHL game and meet their idols, the players, afterwards – there’s nothing more meaningful and powerful than that.

Coaching this team has opened the door to many opportunities on the ice, but it has also allowed me to make an impact off it! Things such as helping to set up speaker panels and thinking through a programme that could teach these girls about what a future career in hockey could look like, even if it doesn’t consist of playing (something most youth athletes don’t know about). Whilst it can be a lot of work at times, especially dealing with fifteen 10-year-old girls, I am lucky to be able to play a part in a much larger movement spearheaded by icons in the women’s sports space and bring light to the amazing things these girls can do.

Outside of your day job, you are also a part of our Inclusion & Impact council in the US. Can you tell us why you joined the council and what your highlights have been since you joined?

I’ve always had a deep passion for helping people with disabilities navigate the world and find a safe space where they can feel comfortable being themselves. Outside of work, I do this through coaching ‘special’ hockey and blind hockey, but this theme also comes through in all of the work that the Inclusion & Impact council does. I get excited at the idea that I can be the one to introduce others to new things (new people, new cultures, new backgrounds), and help them gain a new appreciation and understanding for those around them, both in the workplace and in the world.

The I&I council allows me the opportunity to learn about how various groups of people celebrate their differences, and I can contribute, albeit in a small way, but in my own way, to recognising these individuals and their accomplishments.

The theme for Women’s History Month this year is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”. Thinking a bit about your career to date, and future aspirations, how do you feel about the idea of Investing in Women within the workplace, as well as sports specifically?

I recently started listening to a podcast called “The Business Case for Women’s Sports” hosted by Caroline Fitzgerald, a pioneer in the women’s sports space and founder of GOALS, a marketing & sponsorship consultancy that was created to grow women’s sports. While the focus is about growing the women’s playing field, this podcast transcends beyond just sports and dives into the value that women bring to the table in everyday life – things we already know and experience, but hearing it said out loud really ties it all together. I see it first hand with the girls that I coach, giving them the confidence to be who they know they can be, not only when they are playing but off the ice as well. I’ve watched some of my girls perform in their school musicals, or play in their band concerts, and seeing all that they can do at such a young age is astonishing.

The data and numbers have proven the value of investing in women for a long time, but most people have only started to catch on now. While some people may think it’s too late, we can only go up from here, and the way to do that is by getting people to invest in women everywhere, whether on the field, in the workplace or just in life.

When not at work, what would we find you doing?

At this point, most people can probably assume that a lot of my time outside of work consists of playing, coaching and watching hockey, and if so – you are correct!

But, in the meantime, reading is also one of my passions, as it allows me to immerse myself into the world of others (even if it is just a fictional character in a book) and experience things from a different perspective. I will forever plug Stephen King as he is the author who got me into reading – once I started, I couldn’t stop, and I am constantly on the hunt for new releases of his.

I also spend a lot of time working with one of my closest and long-time friends Kyle, who has autism, helping to integrate him into the real-world post college graduation. The work I do with Kyle threads through my everyday experiences and the way I approach life – allowing me to appreciate the ‘easy’ things and recognise that asking for a little help can go a long way.