Toby Wong just smashed a 108-year-old glass ceiling.
Wong is the USOC’s highest-ranking female staff executive in its 108-year history, but it is not a fact she is letting go to her head.
She has pitched products for some of the best-known brands in the world, including Nike and Coca-Cola, and is now poised to hawk the United States Olympic Committee.
As the USOC’s senior marketing executive, she oversees the areas of brand development, consumer products, business development and revenue generation.
“If I can be a leader and a role model, I graciously accept the offer,” Wong told the Business Journal about her ceiling smashing. She is able to enjoy her position partly because of women who came before her, she said.
Wong is the second high-level official named by the USOC in the past few months. Earlier, Lloyd Ward was named the USOC’s chief executive officer.
She has only been in Colorado Springs a couple of weeks, but feels at home. “It (Colorado Springs) reminds me of Calgary; it makes me feel like I’m home.”
She does not take her responsibilities lightly, and being able to work with the USOC is like “a dream come true.”
Filling her position was not something Ward took lightly, either, and after a national search, he is confident he has the right person.
“Toby Wong’s passion for excellence in the area of marketing, combined with her abilities to galvanize a team of talented professionals will make the USOC a stronger entity,” Ward said.
“Heading into the future, we have marketing opportunities that need to be addressed both strategically and creatively,” Ward said. “With Toby Wong, I am confident we have the right person to lead this important effort.”
Marketing the Olympics during an Olympic year is probably much easier than the three years leading up to it, but Wong sees the situation as a “great opportunity” rather than a daunting challenge.
“This is not a negative, it is a positive,” she said of the gap before the next games – the next games to be held in the United States, which are at least 10 years away.
Having the luxury of time between games opens areas of opportunity, Wong said. She hopes to generate an “Olympic mania” during that time with corporate sponsors, the latest technology, and community sporting events.
Wong envisions using technology in a stadium environment to create Olympic experiences. For example, using giant screen televisions to broadcast sporting events to people.
The Olympic experience should last all year long, whether it is an Olympic year or not, and Wong said that is one of her primary objectives.
Of course, her other objectives include bringing the Olympic experience to new national sponsors. That is not something that has her quaking in her chair. She has the experience to make it happen.
She gained considerable managerial and marketing skills in nearly a decade of work with Coca-Cola. There she held management positions in consumer marketing, sports marketing, brand development and new product development. At Coca-Cola, she also developed relationships with the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and its Olympic effort.
It was her time at Nike that cemented her future to the Olympic movement. People around the world remember the women’s soccer match between the United States and China where Brandy Chastain ripped her jersey off after the U.S. won. The sports bra she so daringly revealed was part of Wong’s marketing efforts at Nike.
“That was a great moment in women’s sports,” said Wong from her office at the Olympic Training Center.
“The greatest moments in my life have come from working with the best teams,” Wong said. “I am inspired by this honor to lead such an accomplished marketing organization and to partner with our athletes, teams and sponsors.”
Wong believes it is her destiny to be in her current position. She said she was offered the job the same day the Immigration and Naturalization Services notified her she was nearing completion of the process to become a U.S. citizen. She has lived in the United States for 11 years.
“The United States has been very good to me and my family,” she said. “I’m ready to give back that level of service.” Wong’s parents fled Communist China in the 1940’s and settled in Canada.
Wong received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1984. In 1996, she completed the Strategic Marketing Management Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration.