How long does it take to get to top of the business side in sports? We researched how many years from graduation to making it as CEOs or Presidents, and CIOs (or equivalent), among MLB teams.
Quarter of a Century
The average time from leaving school to first stepping into the role for the 27 CEO’S and 21 CIO’S included in our study was 25.4 years for CEOs and 17.69 years for CIOs. CEOs in MLB make a livable wage, typically into the seven-figure range.
The range was 13 to 46 years for CEOs and 3 to 34 for CIOs. Stan Kastan took 13 years to get to the top of the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Ron Fowler of the San Diego Padres took the longer route (46 years). In technology, Corey Kmichik of the Milwaukee Brewers, reached the CIO spot in 3 years and Don Brown of the Chicago White Sox took 34 years.
We also wanted to visualize where these major players received their education. As you can tell from the following the large majority did come from D1 level schools for both CEO’s and CIO’S.
Proportion of D1, D2 and D3 schools for each path.
We found a few interesting facts about the types of degrees that these leaders received. All CEO’s have bachelor’s degrees, but the spread of degree type is more varied than CIO. You have anything from psychology and American history to business and economics. Some CEO’s have MBA degrees, with one from Harvard and one from Wharton. Of the CIO’S, seven of the 29 have master’s degrees. The majority of the bachelor’s degrees are in engineering, with a few in MIS and computer science. There is even one CIO, Scott Swist, that has only a high school diploma and a lot of technical experience.
If you want to be a CEO the chances are higher if you have a law degree and come from a D1 school. To become a CIO, engineering degrees from a good school is a likely starting point, but other paths exist to get to the top of tech.
When the S3 program launched in 2004 we were—and are—the only academic program in a business school devoted to developing talent aimed specifically at generating revenue in the business of sports. After placing more than 270 professionals in sales and analytics positions we see even greater demand for Baylor S3 graduates. Notable S3 alumni in management and executive positions at scores of professional teams, corporations, and agencies now mentor, train, hire, and advise students right alongside us, as do many outstanding professionals from coast-to-coast.
As we look forward to the next 15 years we must set the stage for success for those who follow. Much has changed in the past 15 years. Think about it. After the first graduating class of S3 majors in 2006, the iPhone was introduced in 2007. This mobile revolution transformed how fans search, buy and go to the game. Augmented and virtual reality are changing how fans engage with our experiences and sponsors. Venues are beginning to use facial recognition as admission.
With the onslaught of data and digital selling, properties and brands recruit and pay for the talent to manage and analyze data to more effectively and efficiently reach fans where they are—which is mostly (online) on their phones, tablets or desktops. The most productive organizations invest heavily in technology capabilities (in-house and/or outsourced) to enable the salesforce to connect and engage with fans in ways we couldn’t even imagine even 10 years ago.
Our position has always been at the forefront leading the way into the future. In keeping with our WINS values, we need more hard-working, integrated, relationship-driven, spirited people to join us.
The advantage and disadvantage of the S3 major in the Hankamer School of Business has been its exclusivity. The most successful students consciously committed to a career in the business of sports no matter what the costs. That is still the case. As a side note—conscientious commitment to excelling in your craft, to your career, is still the price to be paid for success no matter the business. Companies still buy from people who know where they are going.
At the same time, S3 missed potential sales superstars. Great salespeople love to keep options open. Not wanting to be constrained to sports, they didn’t take the chance to be sold themselves. The Vice President of Sales at the San Antonio Spurs, along with many executives at other teams, often say, “Hey, just let me have a chance to talk to them!”
S3 missed out on problem-solvers keen to manage and analyze data to answer big questions businesses have in a digital-first marketing world. Marketing majors with a double-major with MIS, Accounting or Finance took their talents elsewhere. The Wide World of Sports has been slow to get up to speed. But, like every company today, they now demand more highly skilled analytically-minded graduates to close the gap.
Opening the Doors
S3 majors have always been well-rounded. Salespeople understand analytics and analysts understand sales. All understand the importance of living lives of integrity. Having integrity means having the courage to face the demands of reality. The reality is sales-oriented students thrive in the sales courses. Analytic types want the freedom to build out technical and quantitative skills.
Recognizing these realities, and the realities of marketplace demands and opportunities, the S3 program has moved to open courses to all Marketing majors. Students may choose an emphasis in S3 Sales (MKT 3310 and 4341) or S3 Analytics (MKT 4342 and 4360), plus an internship, for a total of 9 hours. They can still take all S3 courses (15 hours) if they use additional upper-level business electives. All S3 students selecting one of the two areas of emphasis will complete an internship in sales or analytics in the summer after the junior year. Read more here.
Our stock & trade has always been internships at the highest levels of professional sports, as well as associated brands and agencies. As Colin Faulkner, Senior Vice President of the Chicago Cubs, famously said in our first S3 promotional video, “In sports, to get a job you need experience. But to get experience you need a job.” Internships provide the job that provides the experience that gets you started in your career in sports.
We will continue placing students in internships for those that declare an S3 emphasis and take the sales or the analytics courses in succession during the junior year. Others may take the courses and interview for internships and positions as available, with priority going to declared S3 program students.
Graduates in the 2021 class and beyond may submit their declarations as S3 program members by completing this form.
The S3 Club
Further priority for internships and positions is given to those active in the S3 Club. The S3 Club will continue under S3 faculty advisement but will be wholly and completely run by students, supported by an S3 Alumni Advisory Group. The objectives of the club will continue to be to network with sports business executives and to learn more about relevant careers.
The End Goal
With the end in mind, our vision continues to be to instill integrity in the business of sports & entertainment. What’s changed? Nothing, except we want more students to catch the vision, to consider the opportunities, and to join us! We’ve removed every obstacle to keep superstars from exploring business careers in sports. Want to talk some more?
The Baylor Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program graduated 30 students in the 2015 class. Two, Erin O’Neill and Travis Roeder, opted to pursue law degrees at Tulane and Alabama, respectively. We congratulate them and the others in the 2015 class with this slide show highlighting their placements. We offer a special thanks to Murray Cohn, Vice President of Team Ticket Sales (NBA), for his dedication and help, as well as to the many other great people and organizations who give back their time to help these newcomers into the sports industry.
In addition to the 30 graduating seniors, the S3 program also placed 28 juniors for training in one of the three S3 tracks offered to students: Sales, CRM & Analytics, or Brand Activation & Service.
In the last five years, colleges have started outbound ticket sales centers modeled after professional sports. After spending nearly three and a half years working with the San Francisco 49ers and Legends Premium Sales, I received the opportunity to go back to my alma mater and start an outbound ticket sales center at Baylor University.
I’ve been working the past eight months to develop Baylor’s program. The three important things I have learned so far are (1) create a positive relationship with the ticket office, athletics foundation and marketing department, (2) implement a CRM system to help manage fans more efficiently and (3) hire and lead the right employees.
Create Positive Relationships with Other Departments
The ticket office, athletics foundation and marketing department all work with tickets in a variety of supporting roles. I connected with each department to learn how they work and be able to implement productive changes.
Creating these positive relationships between departments is built on communication. As Matt Rousso, Director of Ticket Sales & Service at the University of Southern California, shares,
“At USC we work closely with our ticket office on all ticketed athletic events leaning on their expertise to help improve overall processes as well as the fan experience. There is no doubt that we will continue to improve our synergies in this respect as our tenure together increases.”
Each department has a variety of objectives, but the overlapping goal is to provide a great customer experience to each fan.
Implement an Effective CRM System
We recently implemented a CRM system that our ticket sales center, ticket office and athletics foundation all access. This helps internal communication so we know what is going on with our fans as we document calls, sync e-mail lists and make notes in the system. The ticket sales center uses CRM to prospect leads and turn them into specific sales opportunities.
Rich Wang, Associate Director of Analytics & Fan Engagement at the Minnesota Vikings, has over eight years of experience in the database world, believes
“having the right information is key in today’s world. CRM provides the level of detail and insights a sales center can act on in real time. Further, CRM can provide data that allows an sales organization to form tangible relationships between existing clients and prospective targets.”
For a CRM system to be a productive tool, every department needs to be involved, and for that to happen you need the right employees.
Build the Right Team
We have taken a methodical approach to building the Baylor ticket sales center. The culture we want to create is one that cultivates talent, but also challenges and pushes. Finding the right candidate can be difficult, so we look for candidates eager to learn, work well in teams and want to be challenged.
Jared Kozinn, Director of Business Development-Premium Seating at the Detroit Lions, has experience building sales teams in the NHL, MLB, & NFL. Jared says he likes to, “look to hire passionate candidates with positive attitudes that want to learn and are open to constructive criticism.”
While finding talent through a variety of sports networks, including the Baylor S3 program and referrals, our sales center is beginning to take shape.
It has and will continue to take some patience to get things where they need to be to make it an overall success. Through positive internal relationships, CRM collaborations with fan experiences, and training the right employees the Baylor Ticket Sales Center is well on its way.
Katy Gager (Baylor S3 ’08) is a Senior Account Executive at The Marketing Arm an agency based in Dallas, Texas. She represents and manages AT&T’s brand through corporate sponsorship of professional & collegiate sports properties in the Southeast Region.
Willing to move
Katy transferred to Baylor for the S3 program to begin her junior year. One of three transfers in the class, Katy was torn between UT and Baylor when deciding to transfer. Gager felt like Baylor was home and believed the S3 program gave her the best opportunity to start a successful career in sports. After moving halfway across the country from California, Gager experienced challenging projects through the curriculum from selling tickets for the Rangers (back in their losing days) to presenting sponsorship ideas for the AT&T Challenge.
Finding Her Niche
Gager quickly found she enjoyed the relationship focus in the field of sponsorship. All S3 majors are given a DISC assessment (DiSC Profile Website) to determine their own personal behavioral style and what types of careers are likely to fit them best. Katy has a high Steadiness trait, which “place[s] an emphasis on cooperating with others within existing circumstances to carry out the task <ref>DiSC Profile Steadiness Overview</ref>.” Being a high S and having a more conscientious, detail-oriented personality helped make Katy a great fit for contributing to an agency sponsorship team.
Gager started her career at The Marketing Arm (TMA) in Dallas working on the Insights and Analytics team. She had the opportunity to work with over 25 different accounts including AT&T, State Farm and Frito Lay conducting research for each brand related to their sponsorships with properties nationwide. After becoming an account executive for TMA, she was able to pull from her knowledge of the brands objectives and her research background to manage programs for AT&T that would yield results and drive sales.
Eric Fernandez, Senior Vice President of MEDIALINK LLC, says,
“Katy is a great example of an S3 student who seized the opportunities presented to her. While the S3 program prepared her for entering the sports marketing business, her work ethic, positive “can do” attitude and natural curiosity have contributed to her professional growth and advancement. She’s achieved quite a bit in a short time and continually is a model representative of the S3 program.”
High praise also comes from Travis Dillon, Vice President of Activation and Property Management at The Marketing Arm.
“Katy is one of our rising stars at TMA. She has been an integral part of our national college football program the past 2 years with AT&T and ESPN College GameDay and is quickly establishing herself as a leader on the team. In addition, her insights and analytics background make her a valuable strategic asset to the team since day one.”
This work ethic, “can do” attitude and natural curiosity led to a recent promotion to Senior Account Executive.
Approach to Networking: Sports is a small industry. No matter where you are or have been, your name and personal brand will come up again with come up again. Continue to build your personal brand equity.
Be a Problem Solver: Look for different areas of your client’s business and your business to solve problems all across the board. Be known as someone who finds solutions.
Have a Great Attitude: Be a team player with a positive attitude when approaching all projects, including that those aren’t exactly your favorite.[/dropshadowbox]
Key account management (KAM) may take on a different meaning depending on the size of your organization. Coming from a smaller property, key account management is essential for us to be successful. In comparison to major college and major league franchises who may consider its five to ten primary or anchor sponsors as key accounts, just about every account we have needs to be treated like a “key account.”
We must approach all of our customers with a different mindset and philosophy. To us, EVERYONE is important, but we need to be careful to not cross that fine line that may damage value down the road. [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]
How to compete
We compete with the big boys in three ways. We offer great:
Value. We have the same footprint as the SEC, but partners don’t have to pay a premium just for the association.
Access. Our staff is easy to access and we treat our partners with more care than our larger competitors can afford.
Accessibility. Partners can get access to athletic directors, coaches, sidelines and the venue to really activate the brand in ways you often can’t other places.
Our fans are just as passionate as anywhere else. The difference is we can really integrate the brand into their experiences in ways the big boys have a hard time doing. [/dropshadowbox]
How to compete with the big boys
At the conference level we are more than just raising funds through sponsorships. We are educating, providing scholarship opportunities, enhancing the student-athlete experience, and off-setting costs.
It’s not a technique; it’s how your organization does business. The organization needs to commit to work differently with each customer. Recognize that up front before the process begins.
Get high-level buy in. Obtain support from the member school presidents, athletic directors, coaches, and other key stakeholders. A smaller property will obviously not have the same resources of a major league team. Get creative to enhance your corporate strength.
Gain support from the top of your organization to facilitate interactions with member schools.
Work with the head decision maker in your department.
Have an open communication style to discuss new opportunities.
Identify key accounts.
Identify the sponsor category or type: product trade, off-setting costs (travel agreements), media exposure and traditional cash partnerships are a few examples.
Rank each partner’s level in each category. A partner may not spend $50,000 a year with us, but they may provide merchandise or media exposure just as valuable. The account paying $5,000 but providing other assets valued at $50,000 is more valuable than the $10,000 straight cash sponsorship.
Set expectations fitting each account level, but recognize how small the sports industry is and how quickly word gets around when expectations aren’t met.
Understand potential lifetime value. You may struggle at times, but don’t sacrifice long-term relationships for quick dollars. You may get the quick dollar at your current organization, but poor decisions can produce long term damage. You may not only lose clients at your current property, but also lose the lifetime value of that customer (and positive word-of-mouth) over your career. In other words, don’t sacrifice ethics or relationships for a $10,000 deal one year, in what may turn into $1,000,000 over your entire career.
Keep the fresh ideas coming. Changes occur in needs for the conference or for the sponsor. For trade partners, be sure your needs continue to be met with what they can provide. On the flip side, an existing key account may completely change their needs. Be known as someone who is flexible enough to adjust what you can provide for them.