During a typical SMBA week, we take a couple of classes a day three days a week on subjects such as marketing research, finance and business analytics.
But last week was different as we welcomed back former students for the annual SMBA Alumni Week. Program director Scott Minto jammed our schedules with four days of speakers from all reaches of the sports industry. Visit our Facebook page to see pictures of these speakers in action.
Alumni Week accomplished a variety of important goals. First and foremost, most speakers discussed tips for networking and getting jobs since they have gotten where we want to be. We also learned more about their career path as well as interesting and sometimes inside information about their companies.
As you will see, they cover a wide variety of industries, from a PR manager in an MLB agency to the owner of a company that allows customers to make their own surfboards.
The speaker lineup included:
Lisa Jenkins (SMBA ’06) – She discussed career planning tips from the perspective of a former student who spent seven years with IMG before becoming a national event marketing manager for Red Bull.
Victoria Hoe (SMBA ’11) – She spoke about her job in partnership marketing for 24 Hour Fitness.
Mike Kitts (SMBA ’07) – This master networker who doubles as the director of corporate sponsorships for the Golden State Warriors talked to us about sponsorship categories in the NBA, taking us on a behind-the-scenes tour of proprietary data.
Mallory Geis (SMBA ’13) – This analyst at Brailsford & Dunlavey scared the hell out of everyone by bringing in her final SMBA project, which was roughly the length of War and Peace (or at least that seemed to be the case).
Graham Siderius (SMBA ’07) – He started a conversation on dynamic and variable ticket pricing. Graham is now a manager of corporate partnerships for the Anaheim Ducks but he started his career in ticketing.
Dave Stark (SMBA ’09) and Scott Roegner (SMBA ’09) – They presented together as client service directors for Next Level Sports. We discussed more job acquisition skills and went through the finer points of the informational interview.
Scott Tinley – This former pro triathlete and SMBA professor gave us a lecture on alternative sports.
Rebecca Kingsbury (SMBA ’11) – As a Competitor Group business development manager, she taught us how to use SurveyGizmo and how to analyze that information in pivot tables.
Ryan King (SMBA ’11) – As a product manager at Upper Deck, he told us tales from the road (such as when he authenticated LeBron James signatures) while giving insight into the memorabilia business. He also introduced us to a Scott Minto bobblehead doll he earned for winning an SMBA fantasy football league.
Chris Clark (SMBA ’12), Miles Bower (SMBA ’12), Greg Zweig (SMBA ’12) and Eduardo Bayao (SMBA ’12) – These four gentlemen presented at the end of Wednesday on the action sports industry. Chris showed us financial projections on his surfboard shop Sharper Studios that correlated with some of the concepts we’re learning in class.
Kevin Doidge (SMBA ’07) – Kevin gave us more networking tips that will most certainly come in handy in the coming years.
Aaron Pelander (SMBA ’07) – As a senior manager of retention marketing and strategy at Provide, he taught us more about digital marketing.
Hugo Coreas (SMBA ’12) – This UFC marketing coordinator showed us how his career path led him to his hometown of Vegas and the UFC.
Matt Balvanz (SMBA ’08) – Matt was the only speaker to give us homework, but it was worth it. This vice president of Analytics at Navigate Research, let us play around with their Sponsorship Navigator tool that allows sports teams and brands to value their sponsorships. Then the next day we presented our findings and learned from Matt why many people don’t understand ROI.
Brent LaVasseur (SMBA ’08) – This former assistant athletics director taught us how things are run at a small school (Wisconsin-Parkside) and answered an obligatory question on how he would handle the Johnny Manziel fiasco.
Roberto Castro (SMBA ’11) – The only student to complete the academic portion of the program while working a full-time job in sports, Roberto spoke with us about his stadium operations job with the San Diego Padres.
Adam Fritz (SMBA ’10) – Adam, the Vice President of Business Operations and Communication for a Minor League hockey team, showed us how a team’s business is run in a market with less than ideal circumstances. His Abbotsford Heat are an affiliate of the Calgary Flames but are located just outside Vancouver.
Michael Rolnick – This non-alum showed us a different side of ROI as the Senior Business Leader of Affluent Assets at Visa
Robert Rodriguez (SMBA ’10) – He recently earned a promotion that sees him managing a department of 20 at FOXDeportes.com. Robert took us through his path that includes becoming a sales strategy and solutions manager for Disney Interactive and founding The Sporting Nation, a bicultural sports web site that tells the stories of Latino professional athletes.
Paul Kuo (SMBA ’07) – Another member of the vaunted Class of 2007, Paul took us through his career that includes stops at MLB, ESPN, WhatIfSports, and FoxSports and now has led him to being the director of public relations at the Beverly Hill Sports Council. Paul enlightened us on the arbitration process and appealed to the baseball lovers in the crowd.
Bailey Axelrod (SMBA ’11) – Bailey does everything at the Prodigal Sports Group, a small agency that represents baseball players. He taught us how the life of an agent is much tougher than just “Show me the money!”
Luke Epp (SMBA ’11) and Joe Shemanski (SMBA ’11) – These gentlemen from Cobra PUMA closed out Alumni Week by enlightening us about their jobs in the golf industry, with some great videos and swag to boot.
From a job search perspective we learned everything from how phone interviews should be taken standing rather than sitting to the fact that we should strive to create a need for ourselves during our internship so they would miss us if we were gone. In the same vein, we learned that through our final graduate consulting project, we should identify a need in the company we work for and use that project to solve it.
In all, it was a great networking opportunity to get to know some of the biggest successes from former classes. We saw what we needed to do to be in their shoes in a couple years coming back to speak at Alumni Week 2016.