“When I go to the NFL or IT meetings and we sit around the table, there is not a lot of us (women),” Howard told Caribbean Today recently.
“So, how did I get here? Hard work, perseverance, knowing that if you fail, it’s O.K.,” she added.
“It’s how you deal with failure that really differentiates you. The other thing I did was volunteer for whatever I could … That allowed me to learn the business, make sure that people trusted me and I made sure I delivered. So, I grew with the company.”
Howard started as IT director with the Dolphins and quickly rose to her current position. Owner Stephen Ross recognized her talent and dedication, became her mentor and challenged her to create advanced technology that fans could easily tap into.
In her role, Howard, now in her 18th season with the team, manages and directs all technology strategies for its business operations. She focuses on infrastructure, telecommunications, business systems and broadcast media to position the Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium (the Dolphins home venue) as industry leaders.
Howard honed her skills at Carnival Cruise Lines where she worked for 15 years automating all the company’s ships.
“It was a fascinating journey at Carnival,” she said. “When I started with them they were building their first ship, so they grew exponentially. The scope of my responsibility included automating the ships. So, I was tasked to build a team, identify the technology and services.”
When Carnival went public its portfolio grew tremendously. Howard, with two young children at the time, made the choice to leave the job, which required constant traveling.
Her job with the Dolphins is not stress-free, but requires far less travel. The culture allows for a balanced work/life existence - a perfect work environment for Howard. Still, there are challenges. So, Howard said, she makes she empowers her “team with the tools that they need to be able to get the job done; mentoring them and encouraging them to be continuous learners, to have confidence, and making sure that we are servicing our users.”
To keep the Miami Dolphins users/fans engaged and energized, Howard and her team came up with creative IT strategies and solutions.
“Working with the marketing team we’ve developed a mobile app that enables all our fans from all age groups to look at and experience all of our content and our brands,” she explained.
“Everything from parking to mobile wallet to beacon technology for finding seating, restaurants. They will also be able to tap into certain services that we’ll have in the parking lot. So the mobile app becomes the centre of our communications and our face to the fans.
“We are a community-based franchise. We care about our fans because they are committing to us for the experience. And most importantly, we are committed to our players and coaches who really give everything they have.”
Hard Rock International won the naming rights for the stadium last year. So Howard must incorporate the brand’s global standing in her technology initiatives. She noted that blending the two recognized brands – Dolphins and Hard Rock - means understanding Hard Rock’s key values and how the company wants to be represented in the industry, as well as maintaining the Dolphins’ international presence.
“It’s a really good complementary relationship for both,” she said.
Howard credits her Caribbean heritage and value system for her attitude toward hard work, accomplishment and balance.
“As an immigrant to this country I remember my parents working very hard,” she said.
“We lived with very little for a long time. I saw the hard work, I saw the sacrifices that they made, learning the language, going back to school …
“That has always remained with me. If you work hard and you persevere and you have integrity you can do it.”