Sprinting Towards The Finish Line: Third Semester Guest Speakers

As the Sports MBA Class of 2018 heads into the home stretch of their in-class work, students have also been exposed to some great lectures from visiting guest speakers and alumni:

Chris Clark (SMBA ’12), founder of Shaper Studios here in San Diego, stopped by for a short series of lectures in entrepreneurship. Chris shared his real-life experience founding and maintaining a global brand, including the bumps in the road along the way. His lessons included exactly what should go into a business plan, how to prepare for a meeting with potential investors, and when to get going and get to work!

Alumni Jack Tipton (SMBA ’06), Mike Warkentin (SMBA ’13) and Amy Wesson (SMBA ’17) flew thousands of miles out to San Diego last week and shared their respective experiences in different facets of the hockey business – from Jack’s perspective selling corporate partnerships for the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, to Amy’s point of view from the other side of the sponsorship equation as an Account Specialist for PPG Paints, and the career lessons that Mike learned and shared with us on his way to becoming Director of Event and Entertainment Development at Northlands in Edmonton, AB.

Rounding it out for us was Chris Codington’s guest lecture in effective sports sponsorships. As President of the marketing consulting agency Sports Strategies, Chris shared some highlights and lessons learned from his 20+ years of experience in the industry, including exactly what goes into an effective and successful campaign.

We’re thankful for the time that these industry professionals took out of their busy schedules to come into the classroom and share some knowledge with us. We’ll definitely keep their lessons in mind as we fly towards the finish line of our final semester!

The Use of CRM in Sports: A Classroom Visit from Neda Tabatabaie

By Forrest Lockwood & Greg Morrissey

Neda Tabatabaie, Vice President of Business Intelligence with the San Jose Sharks, stopped by to talk about data management through CRM and how she has helped the Sharks become one of the most data-driven organizations in the NHL. Originally from Iran, Neda and her family moved to Toronto when she was young, which would ultimately lead to her entry into the sports world. She graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Toronto and landed her first gig as a Marketing Coordinator at Holt Renfrew, a high-end chain of retail stores in Canada. Much like anyone’s path into sports, hers was as unconventional as they come. Given her expertise in analyzing customer loyalty, Neda was exactly the candidate Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment were looking for. Upon her hiring in 2005, Neda was tasked to manage the CRM data at a time when very few sports organizations had adopted a CRM system. After years of successfully managing the CRM system for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Neda was hired on at KORE Software, one of the top CRM software providers on the market. As Vice President of Best Practices, Neda was able to help ensure KORE Software remained a leader in CRM data management. After a little over a year with KORE Software, Neda landed her current position with Sharks Sports and Entertainment as the Vice President of Business Intelligence. What Neda has been able to do for Sharks Sports and Entertainment is nothing short of amazing.

Her goal was to be able to use CRM to become more efficient with ticketing, sponsorship, and marketing. After accomplishing that goal, Neda was then able to integrate all the departments into the CRM system to ensure the entire organization operated more efficiently. The San Jose Sharks have now become a full digital ticketing organization; they have also significantly improved several aspects of the fan experience, with a better arena wi-fi system, more useful mobile app, and stronger content being posted on their social media outlets. Every single one of these improvements can be attributed to Neda Tabatabaie, as she has centralized every single department in the organization into one robust CRM system. Neda stated that her goal is always to “acquire fans through a holistic view of their behavior.” In doing so, her main focus is always on customer retention, which is the hardest task any organization faces.

Kate Bartkiewicz: Intro to Jobs in Analytics

This week SMBA’18 had the pleasure of hearing from program alumna Kate Bartkiewicz (SMBA ’12), Co-Founder of Clickvoyant and Digital Analytics Consultant/Owner of DigData, for an introductory lecture entitled “Jobs in Analytics.”

Kate shared with the class that being able to differentiate yourself is key in the industry and that one way to do this is to have an inquisitive mindset. She explained that great analysts ask questions about behaviors, and that asking many questions will often unlock the answers from the data presented. Furthermore, Kate mentioned another key skill to make one stand out is to communicate clearly. Making things simple allows the information to stick with those to whom you are presenting, and improving upon PowerPoint skills will help make this happen.

Mastering these two key concepts while having the technical skills to clean the data and using a foundation in Statistics to practice these concepts will be advantageous to someone breaking into the field of data analytics. Other points of advice from Kate are to keep asking “why?” after you think you have reached a conclusion, and to always keep whatever it is you are trying to understand in mind because it is not about the data point itself; rather, it is about the customer and what they are trying to accomplish.

We are looking forward to hearing more from Kate throughout the year and to participating in her tutorial on the KNIME analytics platform.

SMBA ’18 Book Reviews: Round One

Sports MBA students at SDSU are expected to continue their study of the sports industry outside of class, which includes volunteering at sports events, attending guest lectures, and reading extensively about the business of sports.  Over the course of the year, SMBA ’18 will be reading a multitude of books that will help them gain insight into a career in the sports industry.

For the first round of book reviews our students each read one of these books over the holidays and reported on them during the first few weeks of the semester. This included summarizing the plot, going over specific takeaways from their respective books, and whether or not they would recommend it to their classmates.