Esports degrees, female representation, and XL Esports with Sara Leghari

Esports degrees, female representation, and XL Esports with Sara Leghari

7 min read | 3 Oct 2022

With more women getting involved in all areas of the esports industry, we want to highlight some of the female talent across a variety of roles. 

We recently spoke with Sara Leghari, Partnerships Executive at Excel Esports, about her time studying esports, and how she progressed into the UK scene.

Starting the journey:

Sara’s introduction into gaming and esports started much closer to home, and from there the passion blossomed.

She said: “I always played games on my brother’s PlayStation growing up before buying my own consoles and eventually a PC. 

“I was studying PR, Marketing and Communications when I travelled to Los Angeles to watch Overwatch League. Being there made me realise how much I wanted to be part of it and loved it.”

From there, Sara went on to study an esports degree – which heightened her passion for the scene even more. 

Getting into the industry:

Whilst undertaking her degree, Sara networked and made herself more familiar with the industry – and this eventually led to her securing her position with Excel Esports. 

She explained: “Like any field in esports, it’s not always straightforward. I got into it because my mate (now boss) Jordan Bedford believed I was a good fit for it and told me to go for it. If he didn’t believe in me then I wouldn’t have even applied. 

“I worked up a lot of experience and had people to vouch for me, but I imagine it would have gone slightly differently if I didn’t have someone who believed in me or thought I was the right fit. I could very much either be jobless right now or be doing something completely different,” Sara added. 

Now, Sara works full time at Excel as their Partnerships Executive on a variety of projects with potential partners or collaborators for the organisation. 

What is a Partnerships Executive?

As one of the more niche roles in esports, being a Partnership Executive focuses a lot more on the brand, and business side of the organisation.

Sara explains: “There are two sides to the role: New Business and Partner Servicing, and I currently support on both. New Business is all about driving revenue for the organisation through sourcing new brand partners, with my role revolving around outreach, networking and research. 

“From a partner servicing perspective, I help to support the execution of existing partner campaigns and activations, from more admin-driven tasks like organising meetings/status calls to supporting the delivery of events and other contractual assets,” she says. 

Working at one of the UK’s biggest esports organisations, Sara has been able to get a feel for the inner workings of the company, as well as make friends on the way. 

She says: “I love the relationships everyone has with each other, they’re all friendly and supportive. Everyone has a laugh but also works extremely hard. When the office is stressed out, everyone will still make an effort to make light of the situation. All the departments work together and help each other out – it’s honestly an incredible dynamic and I couldn’t ask for more.”

Female representation and the future:

Even though the industry has taken strides over the years to become more inclusive to women, there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Sara explains: “If we’re talking numbers, there’s not nearly enough women in the industry. If we’re talking about how justified they are represented – there’s a massive load of work that needs to be done but I feel like everyone is trying their best and it comes with time, so that can only mean it will get better.

“We need more female and non-binary competitive teams for sure, it’s already changing but there’s nowhere near enough. If more women and non-binary individuals get the chance to play at a high level of gameplay, get access to resources to improve and are supported- we’d be able to have a variety of mixed teams in the future and that would create a massive shift in representation in my opinion,” she adds. 

Whilst Sara’s career with Excel has only just begun, her experience has gained her some wisdom for those wanting to get involved in the scene. 

She says: “This has been said a thousand times now, but network. It’s one of the best ways to stand apart from everyone when you’re applying to a job. For example, they come across your CV and maybe it’s not the best one but because they’ve met you, built a repertoire with you- they will probably give you that opportunity for an interview if they liked you. Some people will tell me they are introverted and they don’t like networking events. My reply to that is: do it – even if it makes you uncomfortable. 

“Do you know how many people hate networking in esports but do it because it’s beneficial to them and their job and prospects? We all have to do things we’re not comfortable with but you won’t grow or get your situation to change if you’re stuck inside a comfortable bubble. That’s just not how life works.

“If you truly want to do something, you’ll stop making excuses on why you can’t and will do it. Trust me,” Sara adds. 

If you would like to learn more about Sara and the work she is currently doing in esports, make sure to follow her on Twitter.

Want to learn more about esports courses and degrees? Check out our list of institutions running courses, and see where you can get involved.

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