Since finishing her studies in Football Business & Finance, UCFB alumnus Natalie Gradwell has successfully been appointed by League One football club Fleetwood Town FC to the dynamic, pivotal role of Data Analyst. We spoke to Natalie about her experience and the excitement of working within the sport industry.

Q: Tell us about how you were offered this fantastic role?

In my final year at UCFB I approached my local football club, Fleetwood Town, who offered me two days a week of experience on a non-paid basis for the 2014/2015 season. The club threw me into the deep end and I was supporting on all different areas within the club – it was a brilliant learning curve. Everything seemed really complicated, but I stuck at it and as the season came to an end I was able to tie my work placement experiences together with the theory that I had learnt at UCFB and things became clear.

At the end of the season, on my birthday, the Chief Executive, Steve Curwood called me into his office and offered me a full-time contract. I was appointed as Data Analyst and embraced the extra responsibilities that they now trust me with. I love that I have to perform to meet targets and that I’m tracked more through budgets.

Q: How have your responsibilities changed since being appointed on a full time contract?

I now manage all attendance reports, and programme sale reports. I also work closely with the Chief Executive and Commercial Manager on maintaining and expanding our fan base through new membership schemes. I bring ideas from the research that I undertook at UCFB as part of the strategic and finance modules, and they bring in their experience and practical knowledge. And of course, it’s all about match day where I take on an operational role covering the vast areas including shadowing the Safety Officer to make sure we’re complying with the Football League rules and regulations; I enjoy seeing everything link together. My next task will be back in the ticket office reporting on my ticket holders to see who is not attending and why they aren’t attending and then present my findings to the Chief Executive.

Q: What are your highlights so far?

My highlight so far was when Sir Alex Ferguson came to the stadium for the Peterborough game. The Buzz around the ground was like nothing I’ve seen. He probably wasn’t even aware of the impact, but everybody knew he was there and wanted to catch a glimpse of him. Aside from that, I’ve gained so much from working at Fleetwood Town. It’s the perfect place – with the experience I’m gaining here and the degree behind me I have a lot of routes to go down.

Q: What do you think about the Etihad Campus and Real Madrid Graduate School launch?

Being a past student and seeing what the new students will be experiencing makes me a bit jealous to be honest! It looks amazing and the new students will benefit significantly, I wish them the best of luck. I’m just happy to say that I am associated to UCFB as it expands!

Q: What are your thoughts on being a woman in the football and sport industries?

Being a woman in what is still a male dominated industry works to my benefit because being in the minority makes us memorable. I don’t see it as a negative or being on the back foot. It’s a pivotal time for women to take opportunities and excel within the football and sport industries.

Q: Do you have any advice for UCFB students?

Maintain focus and definitely get some work experience – if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be here now. Put yourself out there, make use of the networking opportunities, go the extra mile and something will definitely come back to you.