The Columbia Sports Business Club and CCE co-hosted the Industry Showcase: Sports Business on the evening of February 26, 2019.
The event included a panel, moderated by Cassidy Gabriel (CC ‘21) and Anthony Argenziano (CC ‘20), as well as additional time for networking over food & refreshments.
Companies represented at the event include:
- ESPN: Emeka Ofodile (CC ‘01) Vice President, Sports Marketing
- Yahoo Sports: Ishwara Glassman Chrein (CC ‘02, SIPA ‘03) Head of Sports Partnerships
- SimpleBet: Lloyd Danzig (SPS ‘16) Lead Sports Betting Analyst
- GMR Marketing: Matt Hill (CC ‘01, MBA ‘09) Senior Vice President, Global Sports and Entertainment Consulting
- BSE Global: Tyler McKenzie and Saloum Camara, Human Resources team
Tips to Breaking In
The panelists shared their unique pathways to the sports business world, highlighting that there are many ways to break into the industry.
Some of the panelists started in the sports industry right out of school in assistant level roles, while others made their way from consulting and financial roles in other sectors, using transferable business skills to break into the sports sector.
Networking is Key For Both Candidates and Hiring Managers
Networking is essential in the field and simply applying online is not enough, due to the popularity of the industry and the number of candidates looking to break in. — Panelists
They recommended using LinkedIn to find alumni, reaching out to people directly to introduce yourself, or being introduced through a common contact.
Build relationships with people with hiring capabilities. - Ishwara Glassman Chrein (CC ‘02, SIPA ‘03)
Lloyd Danzig (SPS ‘16) shared that he will always look at his current network or a referral when hiring for roles. As everyone’s very busy in the industry, they want to make hiring as smooth as possible, he said.
Glassman Chrein shared that having a list of “must hires” for interns can reduce diversity in the workforce and prevent companies from getting the best candidates — which is why networking is absolutely essential for both candidates and hiring managers right now.
For tips on how to grow relationships with alumni, check out our Tools for Building Alumni Connections.
You don’t have to leave campus to network
Matt Hill (CC ‘01) shared that CU students are going to school and living in a sports mecca — there are brands, agencies, teams all here and there is no shortage of opportunities to get one’s foot in the door and meet people.
There are many ways students can gain experience and connect with the industry right here on campus — whether it be through writing about sports for student publications or working with the athletics department.
There’s Never Been More Ways to Break In: Finding Your Fit
Emeka Ofodile (CC ‘01) shared that there’s so much choice in the sports business industry and so many ways to break into the field now that didn’t exist in the past. For instance, he shared that there are ways to be involved in the sports industry now through companies like Facebook, Twitter or Google.
Ofodile encouraged students to widen their lens of the industry, find their passion and figure out how to apply it to sports. He shared that students should look at the intersections of what they love doing every day to be the best guide of what they want to do after their education.
“Look at what brings you joy every day and find where you can bring it to sports.” — Emeka Ofodile (CC ‘01)
Danzig shared that he finds the work in his industry to be intellectually challenging and that there are many opportunities to apply quant and software skills to the field. He also shared that the attraction of top minds in math and physics is a big movement for the industry right now.
Being a Sports Fan is Not Enough
Being a fan of sports is a bare minimum for breaking into the field, the panelists agreed.
“Show you can add value on day one.” — Lloyd Danzig (SPS ‘16)
Instead of focusing on their love of sports, students should think about what skills, qualities, and experiences they can translate to a sports company and in what capacity.
Working in the field is less to do with being a fan of sports and more about the skills you can bring to the role. — Matt Hill (CC ‘01)
He also shared that the industry, especially when just starting out, is not as glamorous as many expect it to be.
In terms of industry trends, the panelists agreed that all sports companies are vying for consumers’ time. And, unlike in the past, competitors aren’t just in the sports realm — instead they’ve broadened to things like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Industry Trends: Everyone Is Battling for Time
Students today have a unique edge in understanding the consumption of content and decision making patterns of their generation — and you can capitalize on this perspective during your job search. — Panelists
Other industry trends included: consumers looking for content in shorter spurts, the decline of advertising and the increase in subscription services, and the growth of fantasy sports and the betting industry.
You Don’t Need to Be an Athlete, But it Builds Great Skills
Ofodile was on the soccer team at Columbia and fielded a question about how being a student-athlete could be useful in the field. He shared that in hiring an athlete, he already knows that they understand teamwork and how to hustle. He said that athletics definitely helps prepare students well culturally because they develop skill sets that relate to navigating the workplace.
Hill also shared that playing at the collegiate level shows teamwork and the ability to time manage.
But above all, the panelists agreed that you don’t need to be an athlete to work in the field — and that business skills are of top importance.
Want to learn more?
Check out our Sports industry page.