By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports
On July 19, Prodigy Sports co-sponsored, along with Drexel University’s Center for Sport Management, an invitation-only Sports Business Career Conference for current graduate students and alumni of Drexel’s relatively young Sport Management program. The theme for the day was the “Evolution of Careers in Sports Business – How the Game Has Changed”. With strong speakers and talented panelists, ranging from key leaders at companies like the NBA, Philadelphia Eagles, The Athletic, Red Sox Foundation, and many more, it was a day of knowledge sharing about and relationship-building in the sports field.
We were very lucky to have Lara Price, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, start our day as the keynote speaker. Aside from her incredible insights into the present and future business ventures of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, she talked about how things have progressed over the years – from multiple ownership changes to tremendous growth of staff sizes and scope of responsibilities, and of course, incredible technological advances. Beyond that, new revenue streams are emerging every day as are varied business interests of her and other ownership groups (i.e.: HBSE’s focus on the NBA G-League, international soccer, minor league hockey, esports). It was fascinating to hear her discuss the areas that are advancing and therefore what job seekers should keep an eye on – analytics, data, esports, content, and OTT, among many others. The biggest takeaway from Lara from her session – “we are looking for people with intellectual curiosity!”
After Lara, we had two back-to-back panels: 1) Ask the Recruiter and 2) Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry.
From the “Ask the Recruiter” panel, a few common messages stood out:
- Apply for the most relevant and applicable jobs, not dozens or 100s at a time, for/with the same company
- Use social media, like LinkedIn, as a candidate to enhance your brand, tell your story, and market yourself
- Be different, stand out…but perhaps don’t mail the organization jerseys, shoes, or cookies to express your passion and interest
- Look in areas where the jobs are being developed as we speak…esports, market research, social media, digital asset/digital library, sport performance and business analytics, fan experience, sports gambling, fantasy sports
- Search outside of the “Big 4”, branch out, and be flexible; don’t be afraid to get experience and gain skills outside of the industry
- If your long-term goal is to be physically based out of a specific region (“home”), develop a road map that may allow for short-term, reasonable relocation to other markets that would position you best to return after you’ve built skills and gained experience
The moderator and panelists from “Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry” provided another perspective as true practitioners in unique spaces in the industry:
- Networking is a lot of work (after all, the word “work” is right there)
- Utilize sports business industry conferences to volunteer, build relationships, and get your name out there at a young age; be a sponge for information and introductions
- Have a positive, don’t quit attitude; you won’t be the first or last sports industry professional to get knocked down…just get back up
- Grind it out, especially but not exclusively, early in your career; don’t be afraid to take risks
- Don’t be afraid to change directions and pivot in your career; take chances, particularly calculated ones
- Have a plan, have goals but be willing to go off script
- If struggling to find a job “IN” the sports industry, work towards landing a job that works “WITH” the sports industry
- Let your network know EXACTLY what you are doing and when you are doing certain things (graduating, changing careers, moving), inclusive of family and friends, not just your professional network
Dr. Karen Weaver, Associate Clinical Professor at Drexel, summed up the day for the attendees very simply – “Add Value”!
“Ask the Recruiter” was moderating by yours truly and welcomed Dan Rossetti from Prodigy Sports, Colleen Scoles from the Philadelphia Eagles, Bryan Lick from the NBA, and Christopher Nash from Comcast Spectacor.
“Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry” featured Mark Burns from Sports Business Chronicle, Elyse Matsumoto from NESN, Mick Blume from Red Sox Foundation, Arin Segal, formerly of Prodigy Sports, and currently with Delmondo, Kevin Giordano, formerly of Nelligan Sports/Philadelphia Union, from Spark, and Derek Bodner from The Athletic.
As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.