Stags CEO in media spotlight

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THE national media spotlight does not very often shine on Mansfield Town and the goings on at Field Mill.

But the unveiling last week of 29-year-old Carolyn Still as the Stags’ new chief executive certainly captured the attention of the country’s press.

And though this attention is more to do with Still’s youth and appearance than anything else, the Durham University graduate is keen to prove that it is for her business acumen that she has landed the role.

Having worked as a business consultant for chairman John Radford and also with him on a project to set up a fashion boutique in Doncaster, she was seen as the right choice for the job when former chief executive Steve Barker moved to a new position within Radford’s One Call Group.

“It’s happened very quickly. There was quite a quick turnaround between the previous CEO leaving and myself,” she said.

“John, knowing my capacity, knowing my strengths, thought that I would be a good candidate for the position.

“Steve Barker has done a fantastic job in pushing the club forward and everyone is really thankful for all his hard work and support.

“He will be equally successful in his new role, I am sure.

“I am taking on the work that’s been started but want to push ahead very quickly with things.”

Change, and quick change, is one of the things that Still is keen to implement to get the Blue Square Bet Premier outfit moving forward as quickly as possible.

She already has several strategies in mind that will immediately improve the way things are run, such as upgrading the club’s IT and phone facilities.

But she is aware of the size of the task she faces in improving the business performance of the club.

“The division we are in at the moment means it’s difficult to get exposure,” she said.

“The players are working so hard, Paul Cox is a fantastic manager, but off the pitch commercially it’s very difficult to balance because you need the funding to get the players you need and if you’re not drawing the crowds, not filling the seats - everything joins together.”

Still is brimming full of ideas of how to improve the Stags’ commercial performance and will be able to draw on her experience of working with some top business brains at luxury fashion brands Bulgari and Gucci.

She plans to strengthen ties with local businesses and grow the Stags’ brand, wanting to make sure that Field Mill is the hub of the community that it should be.

And she is confident that she has the necessary skills to ensure that she is a success, describing herself as a ‘doer’ who doesn’t take no for an answer and is very good at negotiating.

“I am a very good at talking to different people at different levels” she added.

“Communication is one of my best assets, explaining myself and my position.”

Though not a huge football fan and not a native to Mansfield, Still says that she has already started to immerse herself in the world of Mansfield Town FC.

She has spent some time getting to know fans, who she describes as the most passionate she has ever seen about their club, and is getting fully acquainted with the issues that have plagued the Stags in recent years.

For one, she is hoping that she can help bring the ground ownership dispute to ‘a swift conclusion’.

“I know there’s a lot of people and politics involved with the club and that has to change,” she said.

“Everyone needs to be on side. I want the fans’ support as well. Negativity achieves nothing - I don’t want contention. It’s a simple thing - get behind your football club. I will do the best I can but they have to do their bit as well.”

The furore caused by Still’s appointment shows that there is still some way to go before women being involved in professional football is seen as normal.

But she hopes that by being in her role, it will encourage more women to become involved in the male-dominated world.

“Whether male or female you can’t be a wilting flower in this day and age but I really hope it brings confidence.

“I want to get more women fans in - behind the scenes about 60 per cent here are women. Women have got an input and they need to be heard.

“It’s going to change and I want to get more women in football.”

Still’s main aim though is to push Mansfield Town onwards and upwards, but she is under no illusions that this is something she can achieve single-handedly, relying on the co-operation of the whole club.

She said: “I want to really enthuse everybody and get people behind the club and put Mansfield back on the map and in the position it needs to be in and can be in.

“With Paul as manager, the players we have, the directors, the team behind the scenes, it makes my job a whole lot easier.”

The supporters will also play a key part and she is keen to encourage as many as possible through the gates.

She added: “I just need their enthusiasm to come and support the club, to watch the games, get behind Paul and the team, and I am going to be communicating as quickly as possible with them to find out what they want, what they need and how I can facilitate that as quickly as possible.”