If you were to ask a little girl what she wants to be when she grows up common answers may be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. Well, teacher is the answer Emily Hamel, the Executive Director for Non-Baseball Events for the New York Yankees, would have given you up until her college years. She majored in elementary education in college and although she still loves many aspects of teaching, she realized that she loved planning and creating events much more. As Emily continued her college education, she found that she became more and more involved in planning campus events and decided that she “c make a career out of this!” She found that she loved setting goals for events, along with the outreach process and creating game plans for how her and her team were going to meet the goals they had established. These are the types of things that Emily has been doing with the Yankee organization for a fantastic eight years.
When the new Yankee Stadium was completed in 2009, so was the division that Emily created and currently works in now. The vision for the new stadium was a diverse venue that could host a multitude of events all year round. As she reflected on her early days with the Yankees, she explains, “Very rarely do you have the opportunity to create something from scratch with such a well-established brand backing you.” Since 2009 the non-baseball events division for the New York Yankees has grown from Emily and one other person into a full-blown team of 16 talented individuals. Yankee Stadium, thanks to Emily and her team, now hosts over 300 private events and serves as the home field for the MLB team the New York Yankees and the MLS team the New York City Football Club—who are now in their second season—every year. The stadium has been home to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which is one of the major collegiate football bowl games, since its inception in 2010. Emily, as the Director of the Bowl, is in charge of overseeing the year-round operation, brand development, marketing, and execution of the game. In the past, the stadium has also served as the venue for the NHL Winter Classic, speakers, college graduations, weddings, concerts for well-known artists like Justin Timberlake, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney, and even casting calls for the Victoria Secret fashion show in 2009.
During the interview, I asked Emily which event has been her favorite she has planned thus far, and she insightfully responded, “Each event brings about its own personality and there are certain aspects to every event that I’m proud of, but my absolute favorite event has to be the first one that my team and I planned. It was an event for PepsiCo in which we transformed every inch of the stadium. When it came time to show an executive who helped design the stadium our finished product, he looked at me at one point and admitted that he had no idea where he was. To be able to have him see the impact of our efforts it took to use the stadium as an event space solidified for the owners, as well as for him and me, that we had hit the mark and that the space was going to be valuable to fans and visitors in the future.”
Emily also made it a point to give credit to a mentor she had early on in her career. She described this particular woman as “very tough,” but she admired and understood that, “she never set an expectation I couldn’t meet as long as I applied myself.” Emily gave her credit for pushing her to be the best version of herself possible and explained, “She gave me both the tools and freedom to be successful and always advised me to look at things through multiple lenses.” Emily finished by saying how she tries to incorporate the lessons she learned from her mentor while working with her current team.
It is clear that Ms. Hamel truly loves what she does and she believes that this is something everyone should strive for. She loves that along with every new day comes a new adventure, a new task, and a new plan of action. Emily feels honored to work alongside her team in order to create the spectacular events that bring such joy to millions. Emily leaves us with this great quote: “Dare to dream beyond your dreams.” She encourages young women to push themselves to reach for things that they perceive to be beyond their grasp. She admits that if you were to ask her where she saw herself working 10 years ago that she definitely would not have said “working for the New York Yankees.” She encourages us all to push ourselves a little harder and to open our minds a little wider in order to realize the innumerable opportunities that are out there simply waiting for us.
Contributor: Ally Massimi