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Playing To Win With Delaware’s Chrissi Rawak

Guest Chrissi Rawak, University of Delaware
29:14 min watch


University of Delaware Director of Athletics Chrissi Rawak sits down with ADU’s Tai M. Brown at the 2024 NACDA Convention to reflect on her continued quest for leadership growth and development through her work with an executive coach, noting that her current goal is to continue to grow as a leader for the emerging leaders in her department. Rawak also shares insight into the development of a talent pipeline for the state of Delaware through Athletics via an internship pilot program and the “302 Tour,” opening up about her intentional efforts to connect student-athletes with the state’s business community. Rawak: “I think that’s our superpower, that we have the ability to do phenomenal things together because we have the ability to band together around one area code. We want everybody to win. I spend a lot of time in our business community and the communities across the state, investing in those relationships… They want talent to stay in the state of Delaware. Okay – I have talent.”

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - I think the underlying theme each time we talk is that you are never content with your leadership role, at Delaware or any position you've been in throughout your career.
  • - The second time I talked to you, we were analyzing how as a leader, the mid-level management can be reporting you and it may seem like things are going well but if they've never been in a leadership role before, the people reporting to them may be turning over because they aren't experiencing good leadership - and that's what was happening at Delaware.
  • - You said "role play." So they practice leadership?
  • - What is the next thing for you to develop as you lead this department at Delaware?
  • - What was it about yourself that thought, "I need to bring on someone to coach me up as a leader"?
  • - So you onboard a new executive coach and you talk to them about all the things you think you need to improve on.
  • - So they come to you with a strategy?
  • - What was an example of a homework assignment from your executive coach that was uncomfortable for you?
  • - If the goal is keeping talent in Delaware, knowing you, you're probably creating a program so that your student-athletes can get the experience so that they want to stay and work at companies based in the state.
  • - Are companies signing up for that internship program?
  • - What's good about that is that the workforce now, in terms of project management...
  • - You talk about higher education changing and hopefully a campus realizes the value of what you have in college athletics and engaging students in athletics and student-athletes in the rest of campus... I wonder where you are in terms of that.
  • - How did the sports analytics program start?
  • - Is everything in Athletics fair game in terms of analyzing and data on it?
  • - How do you correct for the possibility that you might fix something that doesn't need fixing when you start receiving data from all the different parts?