It’s no secret that, historically, the sports world has been a male-dominated industry. While many strides have been made and women are more vocal than ever — like the US Women’s Soccer team’s recent lawsuit for wage discrimination – gender equality still has a long way to go. In 2015 for example, only 26% of vice presidents in the WNBA and only 26.7% of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board were women, stark reminders of the barriers that women in sports still encounter.

Beginning her career at a time that was particularly unwelcoming to women, sports-marketing pioneer Janey Marks never allowed such obstacles to deter her from following her passion. Her drive and fierce work ethic not only helped her break into the sports marketing industry, but also allowed her to earn some of the most coveted roles in the field, as well as the honor of being named a Game Changer by Sports Business Daily in 2015.

As Getty Images’ Senior Director of Olympics and Strategic Alliances, Marks has the responsibility of managing corporate sponsorship partnership/content agreements with companies such as Yahoo!, Fox Sports, Visa, Oakley, P&G and McDonald’s as well as strategic partnerships with the US Olympic Committee, United States Tennis Association, Women’s Tennis Association and the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tours. In this role, she not only gets to flex her sports marketing muscle in providing content and photo assignment solutions for her clients, but also is able to indulge her love of sports.

JM-USAHouse2-13-14
Marks at the USA House at the 2014 Sochi Olympics

 

Like an Olympian proudly displaying gold medals, Marks’s office serves as her own version of a trophy case. The room is bursting with her vast Olympic pin collection, while handfuls of Olympic ID badges and credentials drape her bulletin board. A photo of Marks with Olympic swimming champ Michael Phelps sits front and center. But these souvenirs collected from the 10 Olympic Games she has attended with Getty Images serve as more than simply mementos — they’re subtle reminders of her own road to the Olympics.

Marks began her career in the 1970s when a friend introduced her to Billie Jean King and the tennis great hired her to help market World Team Tennis. From there, Marks went on to major brands like Budweiser and Speedo, where she worked on their sports marketing campaigns. She also served as the first female general manager and director of marketing for the Association of Volleyball Professionals, the U.S. pro beach volleyball league.

Wilson 100 Year Anniversary Cocktail Party
Marks with Billie Jean King (L) and Ilana Kloss (R) at a pre-US Open party

Her extensive career taught her how important it is as a marketing professional to build emotional connections between customers and brands.

“In marketing, your role is to create a presence for a brand, whether through signage, through identification on T-shirts and race bibs, or for products at the finish line and award ceremonies,” Marks said. “It’s important to leverage your brand in a synergistic way.”

Right now, Marks is focused on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where more than 100 Getty Images staffers will be in attendance to cover the events.

“Getty Images will capture over 1.5 million images during that 16-plus day period,” she said. “The stories are amazing. They’re wonderful moments in time that cannot be duplicated. My team’s role is to reach out to the Olympic family of sponsors and ascertain what photographic support they need.”

 Some of the corporate sponsorships Marks’ team supported at the 2012 London Olympic Games

For Marks, working for Getty Images isn’t just about supporting these sponsorships, it’s also about being part of something larger—capturing history and paying homage to this celebration of sport.

“I’m lucky that I have the ability to share my passion for sports via the tools of my trade,” she said. “I’m incredibly fortunate.”

Catch all of this year’s Olympic action at Getty Images and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat  for live Olympic updates