“Don’t expect your career to be linear,” advised Chuck Steedman ’84 in his keynote remarks at the inaugural student-run McCormack Future Industry Leaders Conference on February 21 at Isenberg. “I’m sports to the core, but if I received a job offer with the Lyric Opera that would open the right connections and skills, I’d say, take it.” In other words, you have to be adaptable and ready for anything that comes along, emphasized Steedman, who is Chief Operating Officer with AEG Facilities in Los Angeles. The firm owns, operates, or provides consulting services for over 100 sports and entertainment venues worldwide.
You also need to outwork the competition, added Steedman, who illustrated his advice with sweat equity examples from his own internships and posts with New England Sports Ventures (parent to the Red Sox), NESN, Raycom Sports, the American Skiing Company, the Resorts Sports Network, and others.
Steedman’s keynote was one highlight among many in a daylong event that attracted ninety students from five colleges and universities,* and 14 industry practitioners** comprising McCormack alumni and others. The event’s principal sponsor was AEG Facilities. Sports1Marketing, Walmart, and TD Bank also lent support to the conference, which was organized and executed by the student-run McCormack Sport Management Leaders Club.***
Learning from Practitioners
One way that the McCormack Sport Management department differentiates itself “is that we let our students drive and run these events,” department chair Lisa Pike Masteralexis told the gathering. “They’ve created a fantastic opportunity to connect with industry, a tremendous networking opportunity for us all,” she added.
Masteralexis also praised the organizers for immersing their fellow students in hands-on case studies during the conference. To that end, alumni and other industry practitioners fielded questions about their professions and evaluated case solutions by student problem solvers. Separate cases addressed event and facilities management, sport finance, sales and sponsorship, representation, and sport marketing.
Advice from “Young Guns”
The conference’s final session, “The Young Guns Panel,” offered advice and inspiration from four recent McCormack graduates. “Start by being active in campus organizations,” Melcolm Ruffin ’13 of the NBA told the gathering. You’ll differentiate and position yourself for increasingly challenging internships off campus. And you’ll build your skill set and network step by step. “After graduation, expect to sacrifice. You have to trust that the growth will be there,” noted Octagon’s Jennifer Geary ’12. “At the end of the day, I pay my bills and love what I do.”
As a salesperson, “talking to the right people is half the battle,” remarked Preetam Sen ’10 of the Brooklyn Nets. And self-confidence is critical. “I tell myself that I’m the best salesperson in the organization and that I should be treated that way.” As for landing that key internship, the Patriot’s Christopher Silvia ’10 was adamant: “Be persistent. It’s the ones who won’t leave us alone who get the job.”
Boston College, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Western New England University.
Ikenna Ezeh ’06 Authentic Brands, Emily Gardner Octagon, Jennifer Geary ’12 Octagon, Keith Gornish Civilian Military Combine, Matt Keller, Civilian Military Combine, Gabrielle Langman The Rhiannon Group, Evan Levine ’07 Roc Nation, Michael Moran Chaney Group Holdings, Michelle Price ’15 New York Mets, Melcolm Ruffin ’13 NBA, Preetam Sen ’10, Brooklyn Nets, Matt Siegel ’07 Steiner Sports, Christopher Silvia ’10 New England Patriots, Ryan Spalding ’10 MBA/M.S. ’14 Ph.D., McCormack Lecturer
***Student Organizing Committee
Anthony Dombrowski ’15, Zachary Deckler ’15, Ronell DeNegre ’15, Nicholas Kaminski ’18, Brody Mankus '15, Scott Savran ‘14
Thanks to McCormack faculty member Anthony Lachowetz for excelling in his role as event advisor.