New London Lions general manager sick of talking about gender in leadership roles

Former NBA scout Vanja Cernivec was named as the new general manager for the London Lions women’s team last month – the first female GM at a women’s British Basketball League side.

Slovenian-born Cernivec, who has also become the global director of London Lions Academy, was the first female in NBA's history to become an international scout during her time with the Chicago Bulls. 

The new general manager is now hoping that top leadership positions in sport can be fulfilled by anyone, regardless of gender.

"I want this to be a norm. I don't want to have this conversation every time I speak to journalists. I want to move away from that conversation and let's start talking about the GM role, what it takes for a team to be successful.

"I understand that I have to be vocal on this part as well and support women to push this agenda forward, but on the other hand I am a GM - and if you would be talking to a men's GM, we probably wouldn't have that conversation, right?

"I would say the pressure should be on other teams to hire (in the) same positions.

"I think it's a huge statement from (London Lions owners) 777 that they actually kind of assigned this position, that it doesn't matter who it would go to.

"The fact that I am a woman and now in this position is maybe having more media outreach because of it.

"The England football team has done a great job demonstrating some of the leadership that now the young girls can aspire to.

"But these high profile jobs that women are getting at the NBA level, it's not enough.

"We need to do more at the entry level, so women get exposed to the entry-level jobs and get to grow within organisations and experience from coaching, from an office or from any businesses you look at. That's the way - and not just women, minority groups (also).

"I am a true believer of diversity brings immunity - anything in life you do, you need to (be) diverse and that goes on hiring people as well."

The 40-year-old will be looking to help her side emulate last season's success which saw London claim a domestic clean sweep of the WBBL Play-offs, Cup, Trophy and Championship.

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