Iris Córdoba Mondéjar is the General Manager of the Global Sports Innovation Center powered by Microsoft. She was recognised as one of the 10 most influential women leaders in Spain in 2017 by Mujeres y Cia and in 2018 made the list of Top 100 Female Leaders of Spain in the category Revelation and Entrepreneurs. We talked to her about being a woman leader and what leadership actually mean, what was her journey to where she is now and what are her expectations about the Mastercard 255 to the Moon conference.
What was your journey like building innovation and Entrepreneurship in Public – Private sectors to sports and entertainment across the globe?
I always had a vocation to help the business sector and to understand how the world of entrepreneurship works. I worked in Public Administration and specialized in Public Policies, going through the SME Secretariat in 1995 until I was winning a series of scholarships and in 2003, I arrived in Madrid, Spain.
In Spain, I began to work and focus on reducing the gap between large and small companies. First, in the clusters at a European level, and then in how to generate a meeting space between the public administration, the university, the innovation centers, and the companies to produce synergies and promote a specific economic sector. Several years ago, I turned towards sports, before doing another postgraduate degree in Digital Economy. There I changed the focus: not so much Public Policies but Digital Economy and Digital Business.
I started the GSIC powered by Microsoft 8 years ago and I did it to break the rules of the conventional innovation center. It was Microsoft who had that vision and gave me the opportunity in the area of sports. The company was creating its sports business area worldwide and one of the first clients it had in Europe was Real Madrid. At that time, together with the partnership between Microsoft and Real Madrid, the first worldwide Microsoft sports innovation center was created: the Global Sports Innovation Center (GSIC) powered by Microsoft, which I am fortunate to lead from its creation, which occurred in 2015.
We seek to create a meeting point with this philosophy of helping small companies to become suppliers of the largest sports organizations. It is a business cluster, a non-profit association where we promote and facilitate access to Microsoft technology for entrepreneurs, support digital transformation challenges of big sports entities -such as Real Madrid, FIBA 3X3, or the Spanish LaLiga, which are our members- and a large number of companies -currently more than 280 in 49 countries- whom we help to achieve the digital transformation of the sector.
What are the trends GSIC observes in sports tech which are exciting for the investors as well as the sports ecosystem?
Many trends have defined and will continue to define sports technology in 2023, these include sustainability, fan engagement, and content creation. In recent years sustainability has been taken more seriously by more venues and manufacturers. Companies are creating sustainable technology that benefits society as well as the environment. The GSIC works with organizations such as WHO, UNESCO, European Commission, SailGP, UEFA, and others to promote different initiatives that will help to reduce the impact that sport produces on the environment.
Another defining trend is fan engagement: companies are creating virtual and augmented reality immersive experiences for sports fans. This relates to content creation and the numerous benefits it creates for fans. Content creation is 5G technology that gives fans the ability to live stream sporting events.
In 2023 we are expected to see growth in many sectors of the sports tech industry. Wearable technology continues to grow, and its popularity is expected to continue rising, as it allows users to track their health and fitness statistics. Also, the use of artificial intelligence, data, and analytics for player performance analysis and decision-making is increasing. This allows coaches and players to receive analytics in performance optimization, team strategy, and player health management. The use of virtual and augmented reality is expected to grow as well. VR/AR in sports training, fan experiences, and broadcast is likely to drive growth in this sector. Like wearable sports technology, smart venues which is the Internet of Things (IoT) for sports venue management and optimization, 5G technology for better connectivity is expected to become a popular sector within sports tech.
How can sports tech companies approach or partner with GSIC?
They can approach us easily by contacting my team at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will reply very swiftly to any request.
You were recognized as one of the 10 most influential women leaders in Spain by Mujeres y Cia and listed among the Top 100 Female Leaders of Spain in the category of Revelation and Entrepreneurs. You are one of the most influential women in the sports industry. What is your definition of leadership and what X-factor do you think a woman leader brings to sports?
Leadership is the ability to inspire, influence, and guide a group toward a common goal or objective. It involves possessing certain skills and qualities that enable a person to effectively communicate, motivate, and make decisions that benefit the group or organization.
When it comes to women leaders in sports, there are a few X-factors that they often bring to the table. One of these is resilience – women leaders in sports often have to overcome significant barriers and obstacles to reach the top of their field, and their ability to persist in the face of adversity can be an important asset.
Another X-factor that women leaders in sports can bring is a focus on collaboration and teamwork. Women often have strong interpersonal skills and can build relationships with their teammates and colleagues that help to foster a sense of unity and purpose.
Finally, women leaders in sports can also bring a unique perspective to the table. As athletes and coaches, they have often experienced the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in a male-dominated field, and they can bring this perspective to bear in their leadership roles. This can help to create more inclusive and equitable teams and organizations and can ultimately benefit everyone involved.
What are your expectations about the Mastercard 255 to the Moon conference? What do you think our guests should expect?
I think Mastercard 255 to the Moon will be a great opportunity to dive into the world of blockchain and crypto, learn about the trends, and especially talk about our future in web 3.0. I think this will be a place to picture a future landscape for all industries as they are transitioning from web 2.0 to web 3.0 and we can all learn from each other to understand better the art of possible with technologies such as blockchain.
How do you think the world of sports and high technology go together? Especially from the point of view of the organization of the Mastercard 255 to the Moon conference, which takes place at the same time as the FIS Nordic World Championships. Why do you think events like this one are important?
The world of sports and high technology have become increasingly intertwined in recent years. High technology has made significant contributions to the sports industry and has revolutionized the way that athletes, coaches, and teams operate.
In performance tracking and analysis, we have high-tech sensors, cameras, and other devices that can be used to track athletes’ performance in real time, gathering data on everything from speed and acceleration to heart rate and sleep patterns. This data can then be analyzed to identify improvement areas and to create personalized training plans.
For equipment design and testing, there are high-tech materials and manufacturing techniques have enabled the creation of more advanced sports equipment, such as lightweight and aerodynamic bikes, skis, and tennis rackets. Additionally, high-tech testing equipment can be used to analyze equipment’s performance and make improvements.
If we are talking about broadcasting and fan engagement, there’s high-tech broadcasting equipment and software that can be used to capture and stream sports events in high definition, allowing fans around the world to watch their favorite teams and athletes compete. Social media and other online platforms can also be used to engage with fans and build a community around sports teams and events.
One of the thriving technologies is virtual reality and simulation. High-tech virtual reality and simulation tools can be used to create realistic training environments for athletes, allowing them to practice in a safe and controlled environment before competing in the real world. Additionally, virtual reality can be used to enhance the fan experience, allowing them to “step into” the game and experience it from the athlete’s perspective.
Overall, the world of sports and high technology go together in a variety of ways and will likely continue to evolve and innovate in the years to come. So no doubt, industry events where we can mutually exchange knowledge and best practices are extremely necessary to help us move the industry forward.
Is there anything you would like to add, that we didn’t ask?
We would be happy to invite everyone to our GSIC Summit 2023 which will take place in Madrid on May 25 and 26. This is an annual conference of GSIC members where we discuss how technology is impacting the sports industry from different angles.
On the first day, the agenda will cover topics such as sustainability in the sports industry, sports metaverse, blockchain and NFTs, fan engagement, fitness & wellness, AR and VR experiences, Esports, sponsorship, and more.
On the second day, we will invite you to the special workshop and networking activities.
For more information, you can visit: https://madrid.gsic-summit.com/