Vicky Kloss has had a front-row seat throughout the extraordinary transformation of Manchester City Football Club. As a lifelong City fan, she joined the club in 2001; the year they were relegated from the Premier League while neighbours Manchester United won yet another title.
A Cambridge graduate, who initially trained as a detective, Vicky manages a team of 18, based in Manchester, New York and Melbourne, plus a network of agencies. Aside from the usual rollercoaster ride that comes hand in hand with our national obsession, Vicky’s team has been particularly involved recently with the development of City Football Group, the creation of New York City FC and the acquisition of Melbourne City FC.
I was in the midst of my career as a Detective in the Metropolitan Police when I met my husband, who just happened to live in Manchester. Cue a move back to the North West!
The only slight hiccup in the grand plan was that securing a transfer to Greater Manchester or Merseyside Police proved somewhat trickier than anticipated. My troublesome eyesight meant that I did not meet the entrance criteria for either of these forces and was therefore faced with a change in career path, age 30.
While having to start all over again was a touch daunting, I’d like to think I embraced the challenge in true Manchester High style, with optimism and resilience. Policing had been a real vocational calling for me but this was a chance to explore one of my other life passions; football.
I started as Junior Press Officer at Manchester City Football Club and have never looked back.
One of the many highlights of my job was the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela which was as mesmerising a moment as you might expect, but on a day to day basis, what I love is being involved in the direction of the football club I have supported since I was a little girl. The club is a long-standing and cherished institution in Manchester, committed to the community in which it resides, and it has also now grown on a global scale. My job puts me right at the heart of events that make both the front and back pages of the newspapers.
Controlling the communications and media frenzy around a top football club like City means the pace of life is pretty relentless. Anything could happen, at any time (and frequently does!), so it’s almost impossible to switch off. For me, this is generally exhilarating rather than exhausting but I can see that it wouldn’t be for everyone.
Football is an all-consuming, emotional business. Being a dedicated Manchester City supporter has mostly been a real positive over the years, but there are those moments when you have to be careful not to let the inner fan slip out or cloud your judgement!
The Group also owns football clubs in New York and Melbourne. Overseeing communications activity for all three clubs has turned me into quite the seasoned traveller and, while I am massively grateful for the opportunity to visit fantastic places, as a working mum of two girls, time away from home can be something of a challenge at times.
My two daughters are undoubtedly my proudest achievement in life. In terms of my career, I’m proud to have held down successful and enjoyable careers in two fairly male dominated professions and I have retained happy memories and amazing friendships from both the Metropolitan Police and Manchester City. I don’t ever want to be one of those people who will step on anyone to get to the top; integrity and mutual respect between my colleagues and I really matters.
My time at Manchester High School for Girls was a period of unmitigated happiness from start to finish. It was completely joyous. I was supported, developed and stretched without ever feeling pressured. The culture of academic excellence is equally met with warmth and humanity. My youngest daughter is a pupil in the Preparatory Department and her classroom sits just under what was my Upper Third form room. When I turn onto Grangethorpe Road in the morning to drop her off, I always look up to see it and am instantly filled with feelings of warmth and pleasure. There is something incredibly special, something indefinable about this school.
I must have read too many Enid Blyton books in my formative years, as one day I declared to my parents that when the time came I wouldn’t be going to the local comprehensive, but instead wanted to go to an all-girls school. Growing up where I did meant that independent education wasn’t really the norm. I remember we found out about Manchester High’s existence literally by searching the Yellow Pages.
Without bursary assistance, I would never have been a Manchester High girl. The fees would have been beyond the reach of my parents’ modest income.
Without my bursary funding I would never have walked into Miss Tong’s Latin class and been set on a life-changing path.
11 year old Vicky had never heard of Latin. I didn’t even know what Classics was. Yet within two minutes of being in Miss Tong’s presence I was besotted with her and the language. She was not necessarily the most ‘cuddly’ of teachers, in some respects she could appear at times rather formidable – something of a slightly eccentric academic, but she had a twinkle in her eye to match her incredible brain and she imbued in me a love of language that has stayed with me to this day.
It was Miss Tong who took me to one side in my later years at Manchester High and told me she thought I could study for a degree at Oxbridge. Again, in my naivety I genuinely didn’t really know at that time what a degree was, and I certainly had doubts that Oxford or Cambridge would be the right place for me. It was the ‘80s and the popular press was flooded with images of the ‘Hooray Henrys and Henriettas’ that attended these beacons of academia. They certainly didn’t seem a natural fit for me.
Miss Tong was however, resolute. She gained permission from my parents and drove me to Cambridge one Saturday morning. I, of course, loved it and was thrilled to secure my place to study Latin and French in 1989. Miss Tong is sadly no longer with us and it is one of my biggest regrets in life that I did not tell her that she, and Manchester High, altered the course of my life immeasurably. Hopefully, this goes some way in recognising that.
A Manchester High bursary will change a girl’s life. It puts her on a course, a road, to potentially do something extraordinary. Without everything a school like this has to offer, there are girls out there whose potential will always lie dormant, and that is a great shame both for her and for the people whose life she, in turn, may be able to affect.
‘…something of a role model’
The other teacher I absolutely must name-check is Mrs Hobson, who only retired last year! She was my much-loved German teacher who brought a real sense of fun into the classroom whilst getting the best out of every one of her pupils. It felt like I laughed every minute of her lesson but I was always learning and always inspired.
It is strange to see myself now named in the school’s ‘Notable Alumnae’ and to be told that I am something of a role model for current students. It was wonderful to welcome one of Manchester High’s A-level students to City’s press office last summer for work experience and I do enjoy hearing about the continued success of the pupils. The people you come into contact with during your school years can have such an impact on your future direction.
Apart from Juliet Bravo (!), and my dad, the other person I can recall being distinctly impressed by during my teenage years and wanting to emulate was a police officer who came in to talk to us for a number of weeks as part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. I really would encourage those ‘old girls’ who can to keep in contact with school and offer mentoring and advice to current students.