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Getting to the C-Suite and How to Stay There

By: Scott Carmichael, Prodigy Sports

CEO, COO, CMO, CRO, CTO, CFO…the list goes on.  Regardless of industry, for those who are career-oriented, have exceptionally lofty goals, and are ambitious, the C-Suite is the target.  In sports, those roles don’t come around often – but when they do, are you on the short list?  How do you get on that proverbial list to be contacted for available opportunities (keep in mind – these jobs rarely get posted or made available for public consumption)?  If you aren’t on that list, how do you break through and become part of the conversation?  Moreover, once you land that highly-coveted role, how do you stay there and not just survive but rather thrive?

Before starting Prodigy Sports in 2007, I was fortunate enough to have secured executive positions with the Los Angeles Kings and NHL League Office.  It wasn’t an easy road nor did I take any shortcuts.  Furthermore, I wasn’t your traditional revenue-generator working in the sales department, so my path to senior-level roles had other obstacles and challenges.  Sure, I was involved in critical business development efforts, but I was not quite your conventional “rainmaking” ticket or sponsorship seller.  Perhaps the first lesson is right there: the C-suite wants and needs exceptionally-talented operators, marketers, technologists, and otherwise strong financial, strategic, and big-picture thinkers and doers.  I’ve seen just as many strong legal and accounting minds succeed in C-level roles as I have your classically-trained branding executives or big-game hunters.  Whether your background is traditional or not, it is critical that you conduct thorough due diligence on the organizations you admire or otherwise are targeting in your pursuit of the C-suite.  Find those companies that are like-minded or have had prior success with paving a path to the top, regardless of who you are on paper, for someone like you.  However, some of those crucial skill sets and traits that are “color blind” to your résumé, current title, area of expertise and/or degree are –

  1. The ability to deliver business results on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that fit into long-term company-wide goals – balancing short-term wins while not losing sight of future goals. It is easy to accept a quick fix, a cash grab, a minor victory but if it impacts your detailed strategic plans down the road, is it really worth it?
  2. The confidence to create, maintain, communicate and sustain a comprehensive vision and mission.  This must be articulated clearly and consistently.
  3. The capacity to establish and advance a culture that takes into account the present environment and personality of the organization while considering the perspective of ownership, your board, staff and other vested stakeholders.  Is it “your” culture or “our” culture that you are building as a leader?
  4. An understanding of, respect for and openness to embrace the strengths and complementary skills of other C-suite executives to work towards a common goal.  When you are sitting around the table, it doesn’t matter what letter comes between the “C” and “O” in their job title.
  5. A tireless work ethic, a strong support system, an immeasurable level of determination and chameleon-like character and disposition.  These intangibles are sometimes more impactful than the hard skills you possess.

Getting to the top requires careful career road-mapping and strategic career planning.  You should draft a plan, put benchmarks in place, but do so in pencil; you may have to change course, develop a different proficiency, build a more diverse network and grow your portfolio with a different team, league, agency or sport.

Once there, continue to learn and develop.  Just because you have earned that C-level title, doesn’t mean you’ve reached the pinnacle and your work is done.  Stay on top of trends in your industry and other industries; learn from executives you admire; put yourself in uncomfortable positions; continue to work towards being a well-respected and fair leader.  Most of all, don’t become stagnant and simply collect the paycheck.  There are plenty of others waiting in the wings that would do anything to get that “Chief” notation on their business card.

An industry veteran with nearly 40 years experience in the sports business, Scott Carmichael founded Prodigy Sports in 2007.  Now entering his 11th year leading the agency, Carmichael has established Prodigy Sports into one of the nation’s premier boutique executive search firms. As Prodigy Sports has grown in national prominence, Carmichael has led successful placements with organizations such as the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, AEG Worldwide, TD Garden/Boston Bruins, SeatGeek, Engine Shop, Gen.G esports, NBA 2K League, Monumental Sports/Team Liquid to name just a few.

NFL Combine: From the Field to the Office

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

For a week in early March, college football players come from across the country to perform several physical and mental tests for their chance at a life-changing opportunity with the NFL. Showcasing their skills in front of NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts from across the league, the NFL Scouting Combine has grown significance not only for the prospects but also for fans and media alike. With more than 300 prospects competing for their chance in the NFL, these prospects go through several tests and drills, from vertical jumps to offensive and defensive drills. These prospects also go through several rounds of interviews to test their mental strength, which could even be more important than their performance on the field or in the weight room.

As recruiters, we look at potential job candidates just as the NFL coaches and staff look at these combine prospects. To use some key NFL phrases throughout the week-long event, the prospects must show their value with their statistics and their measurables after their college playing career has ended. Similarly, the job candidate must show their value with their resume to highlight revenue generating, their experience, hard skills and soft skills. Blatantly showcase hard skills on a resume – technological, languages spoken; weave soft skills throughout. Prospects highlight their statistics including their numbers of sacks or games played so do not be afraid to also highlight your individual numbers. For sales, be confident in your comfort level with high-dollar amounts and explain your deep “rolodex” with examples. For more marketing/digital roles, promote your creativity and establish your own brand. Tell your story, use detail and examples.

Like NFL Combine prospects, interviews take place when seeking a new job opportunity and they can be just as important, and nerve-racking, as those that the athletes go through. Just like the active job seeker, athletes prepare for any question that can be asked of them but for some questions, there is just not enough preparation to answer the tough ones. Showcase your ability to think quick on your feet.

Aside from the skills behind a potential NFL prospect or a job candidate, one of the most important aspects of a person is their personality, which is highlighted in their interview. There have been several articles throughout the media coming straight from the Combine listing some of these unique questions. In a job search, be prepared for the tough questions. Aside from explaining your background, be prepared for questions like: Tell me about your greatest accomplishment? What do you know about our company/this role? What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome? The biggest mistake any candidate can make is not being prepared for their interview, simply because you are selling one of the most important brands – yourself.

A key phase in the NFL world is also viewing tape/film, which is seen any place from the NFL Combine to the locker room to the Super Bowl. It is critical for teams to review certain players and plays to see what they are truly made of or what to improve on. Hours are spent reviewing film for prospects and players and the same goes for the active job seeker in a similar fashion. Think of having good tape or film as your professional references. Of course, it is easy to pick the references who will say all the general “fluff” that you are a great person and hard worker but think outside the box when submitting references for a job. Think of clients you went above and beyond for. Think of a former co-worker you may have had to overcome something with.

With the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine nearing an end, think of yourself as one of these young college students who is about to fight for potentially the biggest moment in their life. Never give up on that fight, no matter the difficult interview question or the other candidates interviewing in the process or the resume you submitted. Be your best self and be able to sell it. To the 2018 Combine Prospects, the best of luck to achieving your NFL dream.

As Senior Recruiting Associate, Megan Meisse works across Prodigy Sports’ executive search division, handling various clients across the sports and entertainment industries. Aside from her executive search role at Prodigy, Meisse also handles digital initiatives and content creation for Prodigy Sports.

Contact: megan@prodigysports.net

 

 

 

Q&A: University of Central Florida: Got Gig? Career Boot Camp

Q&A: University of Central Florida: Got Gig? Career Boot Camp

By: Mark Gress Jr. & Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Having recently returned from Orlando, Prodigy Sports’ Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. was invited to speak with the UCF DeVos Sport Business Management MBA cohorts and participate in their Got Gig? Career Boot Camp. The day included resumes reviews, three mock interviews, LinkedIn preparation, values discussion, networking and job searching overviews. Utilizing the skills and tips taught from Mark, below are questions and answers about his time at UCF and his insight on incredibly crucial skills and education for career development.

What is the biggest concern of students entering the job space, specially to break into the sports industry?

Alex Vergara and Mike Redlick invited me to speak and participate in their Got Gig? Career Boot Camp. Given these were MBA students, perhaps their concern was breaking in at the appropriate level.  Ego aside, most of them simply want to know where they slot in and how they can get there.  For those currently in or who have recently completed their MBA, it comes down to how that degree is sold, marketed, and positioned as part of a candidate’s “experience” and skill set.

If there were one or two major errors as an interviewee to stay away from within an interview process, what would they be?

Not answering the specific question that was asked OR lacking details, telling a story, giving examples – turn the abstract into something concrete.

Not having questions prepared to ask the interviewer and not just any questions; questions that show the depth of your research and the sincerity behind your curiosity.

For those who are frustrated in the job search, either not finding the right roles or getting interviews scheduled, what would be the biggest piece of advice to handle the job process?

We say it a lot but it is true – the job search is a full-time job.  It is also a stressful one and one that involves and incorporates the “human element” regardless of whether you are working with a recruiter or not.  Be patient, be creative, adapt and adjust, change up your methods, build long-term relationships, and go outside of your comfort zone.

What is the best way to ‘tell your story’ on an interview? How much is too much or how little is too little detail to be left out?

It depends.  If I am asking to give me your elevator pitch and your 30 second commercial – keep it short and sweet; follow the direction of the interviewer.  If I am asking to walk me through your background, help me understand your career transitions, and let me hear your verbal version of your resume, it is OK to be a little verbose; let your energy and passion come through.  If you can’t do that when you are telling your own story, we’re in trouble.

With new sectors breaking out in the sports industry in the last 12-24 months, like the growth of esports and more digital roles being created, where do you see these roles going and what other disciplines are promising to break out in the coming months?

Aside from esports, digital, gambling, and all of the ones people talk about at conferences and onsocial media, it is also exciting to follow and potentially land a role in new, upstart leagues.  Beyond The Alliance of American Football, you have the XFL and other emerging football leagues.  You have a potential new lacrosse league coming down the road.  Look for teams and sports that are expanding, relocating, and/or otherwise evolving and position yourself in a way to be part of that growth.

To address those active job seekers, how can they diversify their skill sets to be more versatile in the industry? How do they know the right job opportunities to go after if still new to the industry?

Sometimes it is hard.  If you are an active job seeker who is employed, try to chip in with other departments.  If you have relationships in the sports industry, ask around, learn, visit other organizations, ask questions, seek out best practices.  If the advanced degree, a certificate, a formal training are options, consider and pursue them.  If you are an active job seeker who is unemployed, volunteer, take on research projects, do pro bono work, and otherwise stay current and fresh.

As for the “right” job opportunities, let’s not forget the most basic step.  Read and review job descriptions.  Digest them, understand what they are asking for and take a true, hard look in the mirror and see if you meet even the bare minimum requirements.  Then, what I would do is to research and look around, perhaps via LinkedIn, for who is doing that same or a similar role at the moment and see what their background and skills are and match that against yourself; use that as a barometer.

What is the most powerful resource someone can use in their career to network?

Hard question to answer.  What I told the MBA students at UCF was to leverage, utilize, and simply bang down the doors of your UCF alumni network.  What MBA programs like UCF do well is they integrate their alumni, professors, advisory board, and other key industry leaders into the curriculum.  Now it is on the MBA student or alumni who is seeking help in their career to ASK, follow-up, be persistent, and build a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

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.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

As Senior Recruiting Associate, Megan Meisse works across Prodigy Sports’ executive search division, handling various clients across the sports and entertainment industries. Aside from her executive search role at Prodigy, Meisse also handles digital initiatives and content creation for Prodigy Sports.

Contact: megan@prodigysports.net

Assessing Assessments as Part of the Hiring Process

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

Every Spring when it comes time to evaluate future NFL stars in the draft, there is plenty of discussion surrounding the Wonderlic Test.  Many think there is value, hence it is still administered.  Others give it no credence.  Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw scored a 16; Ryan Fitzpatrick and Greg McElroy scored 48 (out of 50).  The scouts, coaches, general managers, and owners use this test in addition to many other assessments, interviews, and film to evaluate their talent.  Sometimes it works, other times it is an abject failure.

On the business side of sports, when it comes to talent acquisition, we have seen our past and present clients utilize everything from Myers-Briggs to TriMetrix to the Predictive Index to the Caliper Test.  Some have used these tools at the beginning of the process, before interviews take place; others have used these tools after the entire process is complete and right before an offer is extended (or depending on the results, not extended).  The beauty of where we are positioned allows us to be Switzerland in not suggesting nor discouraging the use of these assessments.  However, one thing is for sure – employers are often using these and other tests to better understand the candidate they intend to hire not as an exclusionary tool in eliminating someone from contention.

I’ll admit, many years ago I had a client that always utilized the Caliper Test to present the client with a profile on the candidate’s key traits, personality, style, motivation, and leadership potential – and, I wasn’t too fond of it.  In theory, I thought it was a worthwhile tool.  But for one particular search, we had an executive whom we recommended to our client after we conducted multiple interviews and did adequate checking of their credentials. That person went in for a full-day, 8-hour set of formal and informal interviews; reference and background checks were clear.  Everyone was on board with this candidate.  That person checked every box.  Then it came time for the Caliper Test – everything prior, all of the work done to vet this candidate was for naught and an offer was not made because the results from that test were not to the client’s liking.  For that same client, several years later, I had a candidate who randomly filled out the answers to the test without reading the questions, and finished the test in record time, because that person thought it was a waste of their time.

These tools do, in fact, have a tremendous amount of value.  Both parties should take them seriously but keep in mind their place in the evaluation process.  For employers, there is danger in using them as the sole determining factor in making a hire (remember, there are good test-takers and bad test-takers).  If there is too much emphasis placed on a single test to evaluate whether a candidate is right for your organization, you are letting it trump the initial opinion of a candidate you have spoken with or met.  A bar graph, scale, grade, or any other purely quantitative assessment should not be used as a true judgement of someone’s talent. For candidates, take these assessments when you have adequate, quiet time and while it is recommended to not take these too lightly, do not overthink your answers or simply answer based on what you believe the employer is looking for.

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.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

Finding Reasons NOT to Hire (or NOT to Accept a Job Offer) is a Recipe for Failure

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

Employers are fastidious and they have every right to be.  They are in a position of leverage and we all know that – they have the jobs and a collective “we” want the jobs.  Executive search firms are picky as well, if we’re being honest.  That’s our job and we get paid to be particular and selective, whether it is following our clients needs, guidelines, or our own personal candidate interviews, conversations, and vetting.  What we sometimes wrestle with and try to balance is the notion of finding the “perfect candidate” with realizing what proverbial boxes don’t need to be checked off for the imperfect, yet immensely-talented candidate.

Assuming you have specific criteria from a job description that must be met, add in how the candidate fits with your company culture, and factor in feedback you have received from multiple rounds of phone, Skype, and in-person interviews; consider the additional reference checks, assessments, and/or projects/assignments you might have asked the candidate to complete.  After all of that vetting, why second guess?  Why go against your gut?  Why search for skeletons and dig for negativity ad nauseam?

Whether it is a Director of Ticket Sales, Vice President of Marketing, or Chief Revenue Officer, the importance of making the right hire cannot be understated.  But there is a BIG difference between doing your homework and research and trying to locate and land a unicorn.  This isn’t quite a paralysis by analysis situation…it is worse…it is paralysis by “over-analysis”.  Stop trying to find reasons NOT to hire and instead push for reasons TO make a hire.  Look at all of the positives that the new hire will bring the organization and focus on ways to aid where there are shortcomings. Think about the reasons why you were looking to hire in the first place and why you were initially intrigued by or sold on this specific candidate.  Trust that instinct!

All of that being said, we cannot let candidates off the hook.  We often talk about the “human element” of recruiting, which has many definitions and explanations, but it essentially points to the uncontrollable.  Clearly we are not selling a season ticket or pitching a marketing plan…but the idea of trying to convince someone to take a new job, relocate their family, report to a new boss, adjust their career goals, and shift their earning potential is easier said than done.  We know the grass isn’t always greener but candidates, like their hiring organizations, have to take a step back and look at what is most important to them and what is secondary, if not tertiary.  The perfect job/company/employer/location simply does not exist – try not to seek out reasons to TURN DOWN that offer…find reasons to ACCEPT that offer.  You have invested too much time, energy, money, and effort into the hiring process to say no when you are at the finish line.

As Big Tom Callahan (Brian Dennehy) once said – “Why say ‘no’ when it feels so good to say ‘yes’?

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.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

Checking In With: Zoe Wilson, PGA TOUR

Adapting to the digital age: Advice from Zoe Wilson

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Candidate placed: July 2015

When you are working with the largest golf organization in the world, growing and maintaining various digital platforms can be one of the most difficult jobs. HeadshotIn looking to expand their greater New York City media sales efforts, the PGA TOUR sought the assistance of Prodigy Sports, in order to find a creative, interactive sales professional, responsible for working with their clients to develop PGA TOUR media partnerships and campaigns.

In July of 2015, a Texas native found her new home in New York with the PGA TOUR. Zoe Wilson now holds the title of Director of Media Sales for the TOUR. Having moved to New York in 2007 not knowing a single person, she quickly got involved with her alma mater, the University of Texas, with their New York chapter. Currently sitting on three boards for the Alumni Association with Texas, Wilson built her network and now pays it forward to her university by volunteering with undergrads, sharing her experiences in New York and offering career advice.

After graduating from the University of Texas with a Sports Management degree, Wilson began her internship with the Paralympics in Colorado, being tasked with hosting the Paralympics Charity Golf Tournament. Ironically enough, this was her first time around golf and being on a golf course. Shortly after her internship with the United States Olympic Committee, Wilson made the move to New York, with the United States Golf Association. After an interesting industry transition to work for Vogue and TIME in publishing, both in marketing and sales, Wilson reconnected with her USGA network and felt the desire to get back into sports.

After stepping off the plane her first night in December of 2007, there was snow falling, her possessions were on a truck from Colorado, and that is when she realized, “this is thpgatoure rest of my life.”

In her first year with the PGA TOUR, Wilson focused her efforts on business development; however during the summer of 2016, she transitioned into a new role, to run sales for a sub-media brand called Skratch. Skratch is owned by the PGA and engages a younger demographic through digital content that covers the world of golf beyond the PGA TOUR and their competitions. Wilson describes Skratch as “social first media branding towards millennial golf fans.”

“Skratch covers the fun side and now with so many younger participants in the sport and active on social media, we are able to grow the PGA footprint” says Wilson. In her role, she focuses about 70% of her time with Skratch and 30% on the PGA TOUR, selling across different portfolios and sharing resources between the two.  When asked about her greatest challenge she has worked on so far with the TOUR, Wilson explains “it’s about creating good content at the end of the day and figuring out their brand into Skratch content.” Having a small office in New York, with the PGA TOUR headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, there is a strong sense of family within the department. “Culture is so important to the life and DNA of the PGA TOUR. There aren’t a lot of jobs in digital media, in New York, in golf, but I have it.”

WSkratchilson explains there are a lot of great initiatives coming down the pike for the PGA TOUR and she is excited for all the opportunities coming in 2017 and beyond for her, as well as golf in general in a good place.

“One thing about the sports industry, it is very difficult to break in, but once you do, you are family,” says Wilson. Now that she has broken in, she offers two key pieces of advice: “talk to everyone you possibly can because the opportunities are communicated within the sports circle” and “do as much research as you can and get into sports for the right reasons.”

Prodigy Sports is proud to have placed Zoe Wilson into her role with the PGA TOUR and look forward to continued growth for Zoe, the PGA TOUR, and Skratch.

Sports Business Career Conference

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.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

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.

nhl.com/bruins

“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.

 

Summer Break or Work Late

Summer Break or Work Late: How to Regain Productivity During Summer Months

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Summertime tends to be a favorite for many compared to the other seasons. What is not to love about the sun shining, crowded beaches, and that delicious soft-serve ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles? Out of all of these summertime favorites, there is one that is generally not included in that mix: heading to the office and spending your week at your desk…even for those who love their job and love their company.

There is no surprise that it is easy for employees to be less motivated when the sun is shining on a hot day outside their window, which may impact productivity in the office. There are vacations taken either by your employees or by clients you are working with which makes it difficult to get answers right away. People tend to take slightly longer lunch breaks, if not on vacation, taking in every bit of warmth and fresh air they can. Let’s not forget about “Summer Fridays”. With that being said, how does management keep their staff motivated and engaged to prevent loss of productivity? Or can they?

The summer months are the perfect time to invest in your team and culture. Use the slow times to evaluate your staff and needs as a department or company overall. What are you lacking and how can you use that to benefit your department when seeking to fill in those blanks? How can you make your staff different? What are your goals for the coming months? Take the time to invest in your corporate culture as that can make or break an organization and the flow behind your employees. Prepare for the future and what is ahead.

Aside from motivating your staff, it is easy to get frustrated when it comes to lack of response via email or phone from others outside your organization. The frequent ‘Out of Office’ reply email sits in my inbox more than I would like but the key to remember is letting go of what you cannot control. Mental health and taking a break every now and then is crucial for every single human to get through their life. Treat your brain like a muscle – exercise it but also let it rest. Trust in others and your staff that if an email is pressing enough, they will respond in a timely manner. However, if you are one of those also getting the constant “I am OOO with limited access to email” message back, let go of what you cannot control and hope they are enjoying their time as if it were you. Focus on another project, try alternative resources to get an answer to what you need, or simply wait. After all, patience is a virtue (something I need to remind myself every day).

Summer break is a great time to build your staff, focus on the culture you are presenting every day, set goals for the coming months, and take a mental vacation. Every business is different but when employers understand and acknowledge the separation of personal and professional life, employees feel more appreciated, engaged, and (hopefully) productive.

As Senior Recruiting Associate, Megan Meisse works across Prodigy Sports’ executive search division, handling various clients across the sports and entertainment industries. Aside from her executive search role at Prodigy, Meisse also handles digital initiatives and content creation for Prodigy Sports.

Contact: megan@prodigysports.net

 

Checking In With: Meredith Scerba, World Rowing Championships

Learn how to prepare for a worldwide event: Advice from Meredith Scerba

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

Candidate placed: August 2015

More than 1,700 Olympic-caliber athletes, from more than 60+ countries, and to be broadcasted to a worldwide television audience of nearly 130 million people. This 9-da308b409y period from September 23 to October 1, 2017 is estimated to have over 40,000 spectators. The 2017 World Rowing Championships mark the first time the International Federation of Rowing Associations, or FISA, has selected the United States to host the championship in more than two decades.

Prodigy Sports had the privilege to work with the 2017 World Rowing Championships and Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, better known as SANCA, along with Sarasota and Manatee Counties on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the competition will be hosted in Nathan Benderson Park (NBP). Leading up to this global competition, the Championship was seeking an Executive Director, in which Prodigy Sports placed Meredith Scerba into this role. Scerba brings a background with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When arriving at SANCA, Scerba started from scratch, taking what she’s done in Cleveland and applying that to something new, learning about the sport of rowing itself. Having been in one place for over 10 years in Cleveland, Scerba had to quickly learn the dynamics of working with a nonprofit with close government ties, for a county-owned park.

In her first three months, she was a “one-man shop” but shortly worked with a local organizing committee and staff workers, to bring all ideas to life through their key relationships nationwide. When building her staff, Scerba mentioned the over-arching principles in regards to hiring a proper event staff is fitting the mix culturally. “This is a family, our team is a family. We may not see eye-to-eye but we have to have each other’s backs” she said. Scerba explained how the philosophy is important as there are “lots of people with lots of skills and experience, but have to bring a passion to do so.”

When she came on board, her goal was to connect the local community to the event, by having all prior programs that are happening leading up have one purpose: The Championships. “99% of my job is managing my team and the success of the event – sponsorship calls, marketing plans, communicating with the counties and creating strategic planning to hit goals,” said Scerba. When putting on an event, her internal tagline is “what is their internal journey?” “Plan as if you are a visitor and that you don’t speak English. Step out of your typical mindset and you can better plan as an outsider and think through an event,” said Scerba.logo-wrch2017

Scerba loves the spirit of working in nonprofits because of the sense of passion and commitment to a cause. She now enjoys educating the community, bringing something new to Sarasota, getting them excited but also eliminate any fears of something new. Scerba described Sarasota as a very artsy community, in which she used to her advantage, involving local live art projects, film festivals, and amazing companies to show them why NBP is the only Grade-A course in the United States, and now it is their chance to shine not only locally, but attract new business to these chambers and counties.

When asked about the steps in preparation for the Championship, a chuckled “where do I began” was the reply. Most teams arrive 13 days prior to the event in Florida, training, adapting to time change and weather. The full buildout of grandstands and tents, teams take over the facility by the weekend of the Championship, Scerba defines it as “one big puzzle made up of pieces but that’s what makes it fun.”

Scerba’s advice for those looking to get into a role within the sports industry was to never step away from an opportunity and volunteer. “Be engaged. Different types of events help expand knowledge and make you more marketable.” Scerba suggests “that if it doesn’t come right away, don’t send out resumes sitting home. Get out there and volunteer in events and seek out people on the staff to learn from.”

Prodigy Sports is proud to have placed Meredith Scerba into her role with the World Rowing Championships and look forward to an incredible event in 2017!

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