“Sport is like rock ‘n’ roll. Both are dominant cultural forces, both speak an international language, and both are all about emotions.”
I found the above quote from Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. I ran across it while preparing for a presentation at Fuqua back in the fall, and it’s really become my elevator pitch for why I passionately want to continue my career in the sports industry. You see I’m all about sports. My pre-Fuqua life included 7 years in the Australian sports industry, working with both highly paid professional and amateur athletes, with teams and individuals. I aim for my post-Fuqua life to also be all about sports.
So far, I had plenty of opportunities to share Phil’s words of wisdom as well as my own passion in my pursuit of opportunities in the US sports industry. In November, Fuqua’s Media, Entertainment and Sports Club oversaw an explosion of sports & business related activities both on and off campus.
The month was jam packed. The huge global sports agency Wasserman Media Group hosted “The Business of Sports” conference and launched a sports themed case competition. To participate, one of my sports industry classmates, Mike Leopando (he worked at Adidas pre-Fuqua), and I formed a team, including a couple of MMS students, Nancy Yu and Taylor Glymph (she was a Duke Women’s Basketball Manager). The objective is to present a case for Clif Bars to utilize sports as a marketing tool to expand in Western Europe. The winning team will receive a fully funded trip to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, and courtside seats to the Boston Celtics, so we’ll be spending a bit of the winter working on the case!
Also in November, students hosted the annual “Wide World of Sports” conference and another group of students traveled to New York to represent Fuqua at the industry leading “Ivy Sports Symposium.” The “Wide World of Sports” was a great chance for me to help promote sports business on campus, as the first-year student organizer for the Media, Entertainment and Sports Club event. I got to team up with a great second-year to put on the event, bringing a number of alumni back to Fuqua to share their sports business success stories with classmates looking to find their break in the industry. The Ivy Symposium was a bit more relaxing for me as I could simply sit back and absorb all the amazing wisdom dished out by heavy hitting executives from MLB, the NBA and NFL including Duke basketball alum and current GM of the Brooklyn Nets Billy King.
With the value of MBAs in the sports industry slowly but surely being recognized, the significant sports themed activities offered for Fuquans are a huge boost for those of us chasing opportunities in the realm of bats, balls, and baskets.
I believe the key to unlocking the door to a career in sports is building a network within the industry, and the power of these events is giving students the opportunities to lay the foundations for this. In the past couple months alone, I spoke one-on-one with executives involved with one of the biggest naming rights deals in all of sport (the MetLife Stadium in New York); executives who work with huge global brands like the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC; and others who develop the branding strategy for the NBA.
I packed up my life back in Australia and traveled half way around the world to pursue an MBA at a top 10 school, all with the ultimate aim of landing a dream job at one of these places. I’ve had to pinch myself multiple times. But this is not a dream. The potential to spend this summer working for one of the biggest brands in global sport is very real.
At all of the recent events and during all my networking conversations, four things have been constant. Four features of a successful sports/business person have been shared time and time again. They are:
- Team focused with great people skills
- A global mindset
- A passion for the sports business
- A blue chip education
Hearing these attributes reinforced over and over has made it clear that coming here to Fuqua was the right choice for me. It made it clear that working at the NBA, at Wasserman or at Nike is not just a dream, it can be a reality.
These four traits are the hallmarks of what Fuqua offers or what Fuqua can foster. Working with teams is at the core of the first-year Fuqua experience. In an environment where about 40% of us are from beyond the US borders, you have to have a global mindset to be successful. When you are learning from a faculty ranked number one in intellectual capital by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, you are in the midst of a blue chip educational setting. When campus is home to the best college basketball team and fans in the nation, (ok, I’m biased!) you can live and breathe sports!
Armed with my Fuqua experience and my sports background from Down Under, I’m confident I’m on track to making my sports business dream a reality. If you want to read more about my journey to Fuqua from Australia, feel free to check out my blog or my tweets at @moore_crouch.