Author - Megan Meisse

SBJ: Diversity: Front and center

Subject comes up in every meeting – here’s what firms are doing

By John Lombardo, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal

The following was published in SportsBusiness Journal on July 31, 2017, Vol. 20 — No. 15, Page 24. Prodigy Sports is not responsible/attributed for the original creation of this article.

Longtime sports industry recruiter Buffy Filippell has spent decades handling countless job searches, and she knows all too well the challenge of bringing diversity into the industry.

Some years ago, she was hired by the LPGA for an executive placement but finding qualified female candidates proved difficult.

Progress has been made since then, but increasing diversity remains a major issue within the sports executive recruitment industry.

“The challenge for the recruiter is to take one more step and keep digging for the next diverse candidate,” said Filippell, founder of the TeamWork Consulting search firm. “Then there is the challenge of how do we keep them.”

Diversity has become such a priority that most search firms will recruit diverse candidates regardless of client demands.

“One of the trends we are seeing is more and more of our clients are asking us [to present diverse candidates],” said Billy Dexter, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles and co-leader of the firm’s diversity advisory services practice. “In taking on a search, we focus on diversity because of client requirements but in general because it makes sense. We are seeing barriers go down.”

Tying a recruiter’s compensation to their search for diversity is one method that is pushing search firms to boost their inclusion efforts.

At Diversified Search, managing partner Tracy Murdoch O’Such is evaluated on her diversity efforts with a portion of her pay tied to diversity.

“We have our own criteria and we as managing partners are graded by our firm on diversity,” she said. “Every search I do, I have to do a diverse slate when a client asks for it or not. Diversity is front and center.”

Search firms are devoting more research resources to increase their pool of diverse candidates through bigger databases while also increasing networking across the industry with the difficulty of a gender or ethnicity search depending on the type of position. O’Such said that female candidates for senior level technical jobs are a particularly difficult search.

“We have a robust database of names who we flag in terms of gender and ethnicity,” said Scott Carmichael, founder of the Prodigy Sports search firm. The company has nine staff members, including four researchers, whose duties include focusing on diversity efforts. “It is about going out and finding more people.”

It is also about the willingness of an organization to focus on inclusion.

“It takes top-down behavior modification,” said Michele James, founder of James & Co. search firm, adding that in the last 10 searches her company has handled for the NBA, seven of the placements were diverse candidates. “That comes from a culture that wants to mirror its fans through its brands,” James said. “It is good for business.”

The pressure to deliver those diverse candidate slates demands a deeper pipeline of diversity, part of the reason why CAA is planning to launch a new program next year to attract minority and women candidates.

“It is massively relevant,” said Joe Becher, who co-leads the recruiting practice at CAA. “It literally comes up in every meeting. We are launching a diversity effort next year to be a catalyst to bring more diverse talent to the sector from other businesses. The way to look at it is two-pronged: There needs to be a focus to bring in talent, and there needs to be a focus on nurturing talent.”

While increasing diversity is growing more important, it often means a more expensive effort.

“If you do a gender-based search, it is a smaller candidate pool and you have to cast a wider net,” said Becky Heidesch, a former sports marketing executive who is North American practice leader of diversity and inclusion for the executive search firm Stanton Chase. “It can be four or five times more exhaustive. You put more research into a diversity assignment, and it will be a lower return on investment.”

Heidesch cites progress made over the past few years, but diversity is still an issue plaguing the industry.

“It is changing, but there is a long way to go,” she said.

There is a greater need for midlevel diversity hires, particularly in sponsorship sales, according to Liz Boardman, senior client partner for global sports at Korn Ferry.

“There is a need for more women,” she said. “One of the things I am working on is getting midlevel talent to groom talent. It is very personal to me and important to me that I help with client diversity.”

SBJ: Biz side vs. performance side

Biz side vs. performance side: Why the searches are so different

An executive search on the business side is far different from a search for a performance-side position such as team general manager or head coach.

Turnkey Sports & Entertainment has worked on a variety of searches over the last 16 months in Atlanta, ranging from the Hawks’ general manager and chief financial officer to the head of business for Atlanta United FC to the athletic director at Georgia Tech. Each search came with its own set of nuanced challenges, said Len Perna, Turnkey’s president and CEO, and highlighted the differences between the searches.

For the AD job at Georgia Tech, Turnkey vetted 30 potential candidates, which represented a large pool to start with. From there, references and backgrounds helped Turnkey whittle the list to 12 and ultimately the final five who interviewed with school officials.

The Yellow Jackets eventually hired Todd Stansbury from Oregon State, giving the school a sitting power-five AD who also graduated from Tech and played football for the school.

The Hawks’ GM job was drastically different. Simply finding qualified candidates was difficult for one of the most demanding jobs in pro sports.

“It’s super-competitive,” Perna said. “When you’re a GM, you’re playing a chess game against 29 other teams. It’s multiplayer chess. Most of the candidates we talked to did not have the skill set to be in a game of chess with 29 other players. They know basketball, they know players, they know the salary cap, but to compete with 29 other clubs, that’s a level of expertise that’s really hard to find, and it’s slim pickings, quite honestly.”

Travis Schlenk, who spent 12 years at Golden State and apprenticed under GM Bob Myers, rose to the top of the Hawks’ list — a short list of only five or six serious candidates.

That’s different from the club’s search for a CFO, which resulted in the hiring of sports executive Thad Sheely, who subsequently was promoted to chief operating officer.

“We literally started with hundreds,” Perna said. “There are a lot of financial executives out there to talk to.”
Speed in the performance side search is also a defining factor.

“A search on the business side can take an average of two months to three months in order to vet, present and close,” said Scott Carmichael, founder and chief executive officer of Prodigy Sports. “That would be a lifetime in the world of coaches or general managers. The performance types are very fast because they need to be.”

Confidentiality is also heightened among performance side searches given the speed of the hires as well as the smaller pool of talent within the coaching and general manager professions.

“One of the tactical differences is that head coaches’ and general managers’ searches are very intensive,” said Liz Boardman, senior client partner for global sports at Korn Ferry. “Business side searches are intense, but it is more of a process. With a head coach or a general manager search, you have to act extraordinarily fast. If confidentiality is blown, the whole search can go sideways.”

But with coaching salaries at both the professional and collegiate levels skyrocketing, the use of search firms is becoming more prevalent on the performance search side of the industry.

SBJ: The new creativity in executive search

Zeroing in on culture, delivering diversity help drive the industry

Forty-five days later, Nolan delivered a far different-looking short list to the client, featuring candidates hailing from five countries, some of whom had no specific industry experience. Eventually, the hire was made from the sport of cricket.

The approach stemmed from what Paul Nolan, chief executive officer of Nolan Partners, calls getting under the hood of a client in order to match a company’s culture with executive skills.

“The business of sports has become more mature,” Nolan said. “In the past, it was kind of one-dimensional in the way they searched and appointed organizational leaders. They are far more willing to be imaginative now. There is competitive advantage in it.”

At Korn Ferry, Liz Boardman’s current search to find the right fit for the athletic director’s job at Fairfield University has meant multiple visits to the school, dinners and lunches with the school president and multiple meetings with the former athletic director, the associate athletic director and other executives familiar with the job.

“We’ve met with 30 different people and have been on campus three different times,” said Boardman, senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s global sports practice. “It is multiple reps for this. We really embed ourselves with the client and make it so we become part of a team. I have worked with clients that weren’t as interested, and the searches don’t go as well.”

Both searches reflect the changing approach in how executive recruiters fill jobs at teams, leagues, colleges and other sports properties. More than ever, the emphasis is concentrated on the importance of defining and matching corporate culture to qualified candidates. Firms must now provide deeper searches that include candidates from outside the sports business and are mindful of diversity, an issue that continues to challenge the industry. The focus on culture also has created more demands on search firms but also greater opportunity as clients increasingly look for more expertise in attracting top talent.

“The value proposition for executive search has proven to be strong, so that’s what has attracted so many firms,” said Len Perna, president and CEO of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, which has been in the search business for 21 years. “Ten or 15 years ago, there was this feeling that you could post a job and the world would beat a path to your door. That’s proved to be false. There are certain jobs you can post and ones you can’t because you have to — have to — get them right. Posting a job doesn’t get you the best of the best. It gets you the best of the people who are looking for a job.”

In many instances, even for the highest level of searches, finding candidates who fit the job description can be the easiest aspect of an executive search. Matching the candidate with the company’s culture can be far more complex.

“One of the things we are finding is that our clients are asking us to think outside the box,” said Joe Becher, who along with Asher Simons, runs CAA’s human capital division. “They want to see more people from diverse backgrounds. There is the continued focus in the sports industry on analytics, and it is getting smarter and being held to higher standards. Private equity and venture capital demand more rigor. They are much more open-minded.”

Methods to measure culture and ensure a good executive placement vary, driven mainly by the client. Some demand detailed quantitative testing in their recruiting, meaning search firms might use a variety of methods such as IQ testing and the use of industrial psychologists to measure personality profiles. Other firms rely on the interviewing process to gauge the best fit.

“You know what to listen for and what questions to ask, and it is a skill of listening and understanding,” said Scott Carmichael, founder and CEO of Prodigy Sports.

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins used search firms in the team’s recent hiring of general manager John Hammond. Martins has also used executive recruiters for senior-level business jobs.

“The No. 1 priority is finding the right individual that is the right culture fit,” Martins said. “You look at the depth and the magnitude of the searches. The one thing they bring is the data and intelligence gathering. What are their relationships, and how are they able to secure a strong pool of candidates in a confidential manner, so that you know you can rely on them to bring you a depth of candidates you wouldn’t do on your own.”

But finding the proper match between candidate and company culture can be an inexact science. One search firm executive recounts a search in which a candidate moved from a high-level sales job at a large New York property to take a job at a small agency. The motivation for the job change was more about leaving a job where the executive was unhappy than it was about embracing a new opportunity.

“It was about getting out from underneath one extreme culture and going into a startup,” said the search executive, who requested anonymity because he didn’t want to talk on the record about his firm’s involvement in an unsuccessful placement. “It was less than a year when he landed back with another big firm.”

Many search firms also create their own research templates to measure culture. For example, Heidrick & Struggles has developed its Leadership Signature product to measure executive leadership skills. Spencer Stuart also has developed its own cultural assessment questionnaire that is administered to candidates.

But nothing is more important than the executive search firm’s ability to get access to their client to gauge the company culture.

“There are key culture diagnostics that are crucial and the need for quantitative data is critical, but it has to be supplemented with a boots-on-the-ground mentality,” said Jamie Crittenberger, co-leader of Spencer Stuart’s sports practice. “That is the only way that a client feels a sense of partnership.”

No longer is executive recruitment a purely transactional process where a search firm is simply selling an empty seat in an organization.

“We move far beyond that,” said Dany Berghoff, principal at RSR Partners. “We spend an extraordinary amount of time learning about our client. It is the only way to do the search well.”

 According to Berghoff, past performance of a candidate isn’t always a clear indicator of future success. It is just as vital to understand the motivation of the candidate, which he said is best measured through interviews.

“The easiest conversation is the competency part,” Berghoff said. “What is paramount is digging in and assessing for potential. Think of it like a scout operates in football. It is not about the obvious.”

As soon as Chuck Cain lands a search for his Harvard Group International firm, he calls his travel agent. While placements in the financial industry and other sectors rely on a battery of quantitative testing of candidates, Cain bases a sports executive search effort on interviewing the client as much as the candidate.

“We get on a plane and spend a day with the company,” said Cain, who is managing partner at the firm. “We request to meet everyone that touches the role. For a CMO search, we want to talk to sales, corporate partnerships and finance, and on the team ops side we talk to the GM and the coach and find out how they interact. It is much more about interviewing. Teams don’t do much testing.”

Search firms increasingly are pressured to match company culture with the candidate faster than in years past.

Last year, Tracy Murdoch O’Such, managing partner at Diversified Search, handled two sponsorship searches for the World Surf League with the expectation that she present an initial slate of candidates within two weeks. A few years ago, O’Such would have had about six weeks.

“The industry shift is that clients are looking for faster but equally high-quality solutions,” O’Such said. “Speed to solution is key, but at the same time it has to have quality. That wasn’t necessarily the case. Gone are the days of six-month searches. The stakes are so much higher and the money is so much bigger. It’s not just ‘Hey, what is your brother-in-law doing?’”


Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Tony Cima as Senior Vice President, Stadiums & Arenas for SMG.

Cima previously served as Vice President of Projects with Flash Entertainment, leading the development of the company’s global business strategy and portfolio. Cima also had a long tenure with Live Nation in various capacities including Executive Vice President, Facilities, National Director of Facilities and Director of Operations. He got his start in facility operations with Sun National Bank Center as Assistant General Manager.

About SMG

SMG, the world leader in venue management was founded in 1977 with the management of their first facility, the Louisiana Superdome. SMG currently manages convention centers, exhibition halls and trade centers, arenas, stadiums, performing arts centers, theaters, and specific-use venues such as equestrian centers. SMG’s clients benefit from the company’s depth of resources and its unparalleled expertise, leadership, and creative problem-solving. Their successful growth has been built on the many partnerships, relationships, and resources they have developed with clients — both municipal and private. This unique combination of resources, relationships, and expertise has allowed SMG to define and refine the industry throughout its history.  SMG’s ownership and team of dedicated corporate support personnel makes them unrivalled in the field of private facility management.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Tony Cima to SMG!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Arjun Suresh – Americrown & International Speedway Corporation

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Arjun Suresh as Senior Director of Concessions for Americrown & International Speedway Corporation based out of the corporate headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Suresh most recently served as General Manager, Food & Beverage for the Lynchburg Hillcats Baseball Team (MiLB) in Virginia. Previously, he spent time with Legends at Rose Bowl Stadium as General Manager, after serving as Premium Clubs Manager at Angels Stadium. Suresh began his career with the Lake Elsinore Storm (MiLB) as General Manager in California.

In his new role with the Americrown & International Speedway Corporation, Suresh will work with culinary leadership to ensure high quality presentations, identify and evaluate best practices and improved concession strategies and develop and implement standardized inventory, accountability, and control procedures. Within his support role out of Americrown headquarters, Suresh will track to all ISC tracks, sharing best practices, elevate standards, and budgeting/pricing for concessions.

About Americrown & International Speedway Corporation

International Speedway Corporation, (“ISC”) founded in 1953, is a leading promoter of motorsports-themed entertainment activities in the United States. The company owns and/or operates 13 of the nation’s premier motorsports entertainment facilities, which in total, have approximately 900,000 grandstand seats and 500 suites. ISC’s facilities are located in six of the nation’s top 13 media markets and nearly 80 percent of the country’s population is located within the primary trading areas of its facilities. ISC promotes major motorsports events in every month of the racing season — more than any other motorsports promoter. Collectively, the company’s facilities promote well over 100 motorsports events during the racing season.

Americrown, a subsidiary of International Speedway Corporation, was formed in 1989. It is the leader in motorsports catering, concessions and merchandise sales and service. Operating at 12 NASCAR and IndyCar-sanctioned tracks nationwide, Americrown touches millions of race fans annually. Its ever-growing fleet of mobile food concessions, merchandise and catering equipment is unparalleled in the industry.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Arjun Suresh to Americrown and ISC!


Prodigy Sports Announces First esports Executive Placement

Leading Boutique Agency Places First Director of Esports Position with Monumental Sports & Entertainment

(Freehold, New Jersey, August 15, 2017) – Prodigy Sports, one of North America’s leading search and recruitment firms solely dedicated to the multi-billion dollar business of sports, today announced the placement of Grant Paranjape as Director, Esports Team & Business Operations with Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE).

The landmark placement marks the first dedicated hire by Prodigy Sports within esports following their January announcement of a dedicated division. “As we launched into the esports world in January of this year, we are tremendously humbled by the trust of Monumental Sports & Entertainment to partner with us on this project,” said Prodigy Sports founder and CEO Scott Carmichael.

In addition to a first for Prodigy Sports, with this hire, MSE becomes one of the first ownership groups in the NBA to hire a full time director to oversee the management and growth of its NBA 2K operation. In addition to NBA 2K, MSE also owns a stake in esports organization Team Liquid, which this past weekend had the single most profitable day in the history of competitive gaming. In his new role with MSE, Paranjape will report directly to Zach Leonsis, SVP and General Manager of Monumental Sports Network, and will be responsible for building out the NBA 2K team while additionally exploring and building future esports related opportunities.

Paranjape comes to MSE from Splyce Inc., where he secured partner relationships, lead strategic business initiatives, and worked with team managers to create an industry leading experience for players across 11 titles.  He has previously worked with to manage content creation by top esports players and Caerus Management as a research analyst.  Paranjape is a graduate of Tulane University, where he received both a Bachelor of Science degree and an MBA.

“While esports is a fast-emerging business within the sports industry, identifying candidates who have both a knowledge of esports and also the ability to direct business strategies is a unique combination. While challenges do exist in this uncharted territory, we are proud to announce Prodigy’s first esports placement and a first for Monumental as well,” said Carmichael of Prodigy Sports.

Prodigy Sports has recently completed executive level searches for organizations ranging from the On Location Experiences, Boston Bruins, Miami Dolphins, New York Yankees, to SeatGeek, in which the esports practice will fit into the needs of both current and future clients, some of whom are entering the traditional sports space for the first time.

About Monumental Sports & Entertainment

Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), located in Washington, D.C., is one of the largest integrated sports and entertainment companies in the country with one of the most diverse partnership groups in all of sports. MSE owns and operates five professional sports teams: the AFL’s Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor, NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics. The company just recently purchased an NBA G League development league team, is co-owner of aXiomatic, which has controlling interest in global esports franchise Team Liquid, and also owns and operates Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Monumental Sports & Entertainment also manages Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the state-of-the-art training facility for the Capitals and EagleBank Arena on George Mason University’s campus.

In 2018, Monumental Sports & Entertainment will bring the Mystics and the G League team to a new state-of-the-art Entertainment and Sports Arena being built by Washington, D.C. and Events DC at the St. Elizabeth’s campus in Ward 8.  The Wizards will also practice there.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment co-owns and operates Monumental Sports Network with the NBC Sports Group. Monumental Sports Network is the mid-Atlantic region’s top direct-to-consumer destination for exclusive fan experiences and original sports content across desktop, tablet, mobile and OTT streaming devices.

About Prodigy Sports

With a staff that carries nearly 60 years of experience across multiple business segments, Prodigy Sports is a nationwide leader in senior-level executive search and recruitment. Prodigy Sports brings a personal touch to each search by adapting to the unique personality and culture of the client, knowing successful executive recruiting comes from thoroughly understanding the team culture, the intricacies of the sports business and the extensive professional qualifications and skills needed to fill a role. Founded in 2007, Prodigy Sports has grown into a nation-wide leader through the sports and entertainment industries.


For any additional questions regarding Prodigy Sports’ esports division, please contact Arin Segal at

For further information regarding Prodigy Sports’ press relations, contact Megan Meisse at


PS10: Top 10 Tips for a Successful Corporate Culture

As Prodigy Sports celebrates our 10th Anniversary, each month leading up to our celebration, we will be highlighting our “Top 10’s” of Prodigy Sports’ first 10 years.

In August, we are recognizing our Top 10 Tips for a Successful Corporate Culture.  As Prodigy Sports was recently highlighted in the SportsBusiness Journal, our key executives discussed how critical putting together a cultural environment in the workplace. Aside from some suggestions from Prodigy Sports, below are thoughtful recommendations from sports industry leaders on how to establish a successful corporate environment in your organization, whether you are the CEO or an intern.

Respect – Create open discussion forums for employees to voice concerns or share new ideas. If employees get the chance to contribute to conversations, they generally feel more of a willingness to participate, collaborate and have more discussions that can help the company to grow. Value the opinions of your staff, even if they are not the same views as your own.

Transparency – Be able to have open communication with co-workers. Be aware that not everyone may have the same opinions, values, beliefs, or ideas as yourself. Even so, be aware of others and how they may react to certain situations and comments.

Balance – With work-life balance being an important value, offer employees the ability to disconnect. Encourage the usage of vacation time, especially after a season ends, and be flexible with hours if the employee has shown their work value. Mental health is critically important to a human so take that into account as work life can often impact someone’s time.

Empowerment – Providing opportunities to grow and take on new challenges keep employees engaged. Clearly define roles so people can excel to their fullest and have specific goals to be reached. Some ideas to encourage empowerment are offering employees the ability to break out of silos and explore other departments. Switch up who works together generally to gain new views from others who you may not work with prior. There is always room to learn something new.

Environment – Create work environments that people want to be in. The details of design from conference rooms to comfort of sitting areas to the art on the walls can play a role in how excited someone is to spend the day at the office. Be free to decorate your desk space to personalize it – within reason and abiding by corporate policies.

Celebration – Celebrate the wins of the team or individual, which can go a long way to boost morale. Encourage one another to be the best versions of themselves and motivate those who need help.

Learning – In an age where information is rapidly changing and new skills must constantly be learned, provide opportunities for continuing education through education reimbursement, on-site/off-site courses, conference attendance or just general networking opportunities. Break down the “how we have always done things” wall; however, one must be tactful in their approach to not disrupt “what got us here.”

Dress – Fashion has a significant impact on mindset. On the field, some teams require rookies to dress in suits while others allow a ‘dress to feel good’ mentality. While there are certain standards that should always be met, evaluate what your dress code says about your company. What type of culture are you trying to encourage? Take pride in looking your best and if you are starting a new job, it is always best to overdress than under dress until told otherwise.

Diversity – Embrace being unique. Diversity is a much emphasized buzzword in the talent space both in terms background, gender, and ethnicity. Create an environment that embraces unique and different ideas, because without them it will be difficult to retain great talent. Build a culture with different personalities but with the same values. Respect and value diverse opinions regardless of title, seniority, gender, ethnicity, etc. Support independent thought.

Adapt– Look at where there are currently problems and work backwards to find a solution. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another, so take a closer look at where employees consistently are pointing out flaws and pick the most important issues to tackle. Embrace communication through various technologies both internally and externally. Be open for change because like the great Albert Einstein said: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”


Stay tuned next month for more of our

Prodigy Sports Anniversary Countdown!

If you have any questions regarding our 10th Anniversary, please contact Megan Meisse at

Lessons Learned on Corporate Culture

Workplace fit is critical in putting together ‘culture puzzle’

The following was published in SportsBusiness Journal on July 31, 2017, Vol. 20 — No. 15.

Prodigy Sports had the privilege of attending the 2017 National Sports Forum in Minnesota in February. This year, while at NSF, Prodigy’s very own Mark Gress Jr. hosted a roundtable discussion that carefully delved into the topic of corporate culture. In the following, Mark shares his results, conclusions, and lessons learned about corporate culture throughout the sports and entertainment industry.

If you have been on the conference circuit in the last few years, some of the buzzwords I’m sure you have heard ad nauseam are “millennial,” “content” and perhaps most of all, “culture.” Culture, like the other two, is an admittedly tricky topic and one that we at Prodigy Sports had a great deal of consternation about before presenting the idea to Ron Seaver for the National Sports Forum. The reason: Culture, unless discussed with specific, defined direction and purpose, can be too robust of a theme or too abstract of a concept to have value for those involved in the conversation.

You have seen and read in these pages about the specific focus on culture with respect to Bill Sutton’s examination of space, office setup, and how teams are investing in the environments that they are creating for their employees (yes, some of whom are millennials). I assume, unless you haven’t been paying attention, that you have heard Scott O’Neil talk about the Philadelphia 76ers corporate culture and how “trusting the process” on the court oozes into the magic that they have created across sales, marketing, and their other business functions.

As indicated by the title of our recent session at the National Sports Forum, the approach was to focus on “Insights on Building and Maintaining a Winning Corporate Culture.” In daily communication with our clients (employers) and candidates (both active and passive job seekers), we focus intently on culture and we do so with both parties in mind. With our clients, we put aside the job description, the required skills, credentials and education, and we delve into what is most important and paramount. We want to know what type of candidate will thrive at an organization long-term. With our candidates, we listen to what they perceive to be the ideal ownership, organization structure, and core mission and values for them to succeed in their career. Putting the “culture puzzle” together is not easy but when done correctly can yield incredible results.

With that in mind, our session aimed to guide discussions with participants surrounding their individual philosophies and company’s efforts to maintain an environment that focuses on employing, training, and retaining the people who make it successful. The three key areas of focus were: 1) hiring and recruiting; 2) talent management, retention, and workplace performance; and 3) the daily/day-to-day cultural mindset, influence, and impact.

Some of the common themes from more than 50+ roundtable attendees were:

1. Respect and value diverse opinions regardless of title, seniority, gender, ethnicity, etc. Support independent thought.
2. Let employees own specific ideas and plans — it is theirs, let them run with it. Offer to aid but do not meddle.
3. Break down the “how we have always done things” wall; however, one must be tactful in their approach to disrupt “what got us here.”
4. Utilize and embrace various technologies to better communicate internally and externally; remember, it is 2017!
5. When hiring, paint an accurate picture and set clear, defined expectations; do not oversell a job or “over recruit” to land a name or close a vacancy.
6. Balance the “revolving door” and “no one ever leaves” reputation as a company; encourage exploration while maintaining stability — seek a middle ground.
7. Encourage “radical candor” from the top down and vice versa. Open and honest regular dialogue is not a “nice to have,” it is a “must have.”
8. Build a culture with different personalities but with the same values.
9. Bridge the gap, when possible, between millennials and baby boomers; find the connector internally and lean on them.
10. It is normal, and expected, for the culture of a specific department to vary somewhat from the overall company culture. Appreciate the differences between the two.

Shauna Gilhooly, Vice President of Human Resources for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden, broadly discussed her take on culture and eloquently stated:

“Culture is something that exists in every department and every organization without any effort. To shape and influence culture, on the other hand, takes tremendous focus, effort and time. Progress can easily be disrupted with something as innocuous and frequent as a new hire. That is why ‘fit’ is so critical in the recruiting process, because people are the real drivers and keepers of culture.”

Below are the results of a nationwide survey Prodigy Sports conducted with more than 100 sports industry executives prior to our session at the National Sports Forum –

Written text and graphic courtesy of Liz Spangler/SportsBusiness Journal. The above was published in SportsBusiness Journal on July 31, 2017.

SportsBusiness Journal July 31-August 6, 2017

Checking In With: Josh Brickman, Boston Bruins & TD Garden

Enhancement and Measurement through a World-Renowned Franchise: Advice from Placement Josh Brickman

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Candidate placed: October 2016

Home of the NHL’s Boston Bruins and the NBA’s Boston Celtics, TD Garden hosts over 3.5 million people a year, between its 19,600-seat arena, top-notch premium areas and award-winning technology. With two professional sports teams and a record breaking concert season the energy around the building has been buzzing.

Josh Brickman

Imagine, your first day of work at New England’s largest sports and entertainment arena happens to also be the home opener for the Boston Bruins. From his very first day of his new job with TD Garden, Josh Brickman experienced what it’s like to be a part of a 90+ year old franchise and become part of one of the most passionate fan bases in the country.

Prodigy Sports was pleased to place Brickman in his role as Vice President of Business Strategy for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden.  In this role, Brickman reports directly to Glen Thornborough, Chief Revenue Officer for TD Garden and Boston Bruins, and is responsible for the newly created digital team, which includes digital marketing, data solutions and analytics. As the Vice President of Business Strategy, Brickman works to streamline Boston Bruins and TD Garden research and strategy efforts in conjunction and collaboration with marketing, ticket sales, corporate partnerships, premium, retail, and other business lines.

Brickman and his team provide direction on consumer marketing, customer analytics, retention and sales strategy, retail operations, CRM and sales planning, in addition to, general market research to keep TD Garden as an industry leader in digital trends and maximization.

“It’s been a really incredible experience getting familiar with everything. The transition worked well and I was able to bring in some of my own flavor to the organization,” Brickman stated.

Many of the projects he is currently working on started before he came in, but Brickman’s role helped to get them these initiatives off the ground. One major task is the launch of SAS, which uses data collection from a variety of sources to help better serve fans in the future. Brickman explained that his responsibility is to lead the SAS project from start to finish, including TD Garden website and mobile application integration.

When asked what one of the most essential elements in using customer relationship management information systems is, Brickman stated, “it’s really two things; have a clear understanding of your goal and be able to clearly communicate the process.” He mentioned how important it is to be good at communicating what he and his staff are trying to achieve, both internally and externally.

In his prior experience at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Brickman served as Vice President, Strategy & Research, which was a very similar role to his now with the Bruins and TD Garden. One of the biggest differences in his current role is being more involved with the day to day operations with the arena. Brickman attributes much of his knowledge and understanding of certain processes from his education and earliest experience at his first job, where he could apply his economics background to his role.

Although many strategies have changed since his first job, Brickman is excited for emerging trends in the industry. Brickman states, “the opportunity to get away from ‘all to one is possible’. The ability to target an email campaign based on a fans actual behaviors and past interactions with the arena and team is a significant opportunity for us and a great benefit for fans. However, he also shared how it takes time and dedication to get to those next steps. “Anyone can do this work manually but once it is built in the system or in SAS, these tools allow you to build on that process,” stated Brickman.

Having grown up in Connecticut, he always enjoyed that market but admitted it is not easy to move a family. However, there is great benefit in utilizing your resources like family, friends and colleagues for someone looking for a career change. Brickman believes there is incredible value in sports management programs. Though it is not an easy industry to get into, if you leverage your early relationships and build you network, you are quickly reminded of why it is one of the best industries to be in.

For those looking for a career move or to get into the sports industry, Brickman emphasized the importance of understanding the pace of the game and the industry as a whole, something that someone with a sports background may understand at a higher level. However, he went on to state that there is room for every type of background in this industry, especially if you are willing to start in any role to get your foot in the door. “As companies try to keep up with their counterparts, there is deeper need for an individual with a mixed background. Sometimes those backgrounds see it from an outside view and do it better than us!” stated Brickman.

As the evolution of technology emerges, there are exciting new projects to come and look forward to the continued success of Brickman, TD Garden, and the Boston Bruins.


RECENT PLACEMENT: Jesse Gilmer – On Location Experiences


Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Jesse Gilmer as Vice President, On Location Experiences.

Gilmer spent the last twelve years with IMG in various capacities, most recently as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships after serving as Director, Strategic Partnerships and Manager, US Business Development.

In his new role with On Location Experiences, Gilmer will be responsible for generating significant revenue through the development of sponsorship opportunities for all of On Location Experiences assets, including but not limited to hospitality packages, game-day tailgating, unique, stand alone and customized travel places (Club Nomadic, Stadium Club), as well as other exclusive shows centered around the Super Bowl and other exclusive, global marquee events.

About On Location Experiences

 On Location Experiences is a premium experiential hospitality business owned by RedBird Capital Partners, Bruin Sports Capital, 32 Equity (the entity that oversees the NFL’s private equity efforts) and Jon Bon Jovi. On Location Experiences specializes in custom domestic and international event and hospitality experiences in the worlds of sports and entertainment. On Location is the official hospitality provider of the NFL, providing proprietary fan access to marquee NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Draft, and International Series Games in London. On Location is expanding its offerings through new partnerships, including the acquisitions of Anthony Travel, the nation’s largest provider of sports and travel management services, and Runaway Tours, the VIP hospitality business for premier music acts that was founded by Bon Jovi.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Jesse Gilmer to On Location Experiences!