Jeff Angus

Eight Thoughts on Shanghai and Beijing

The University of Oregon’s ninth annual Engaging Asia trip this past September was my first foray into Asia, and we were able to visit some pretty incredible and historic places in a little over two weeks.

We spent the middle part of our trip in China’s two biggest cities, starting in the south in Shanghai before taking the train up north to Beijing. Thanks to some relationships through the school (and many gracious alumni), we were able to take in a lot in each city. Here are my eight (since it is considered a lucky number in China) takeaways from our time in Shanghai and Beijing.

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1. Scale. Everything in China (and particularly Shanghai) is massive. It is the world’s largest city, after all. Endless skyscrapers lined the smoggy sky during our drive in from the airport. The downtown combines the size of New York with the lights and glamour of Las Vegas. In Beijing, the city seemed to stretch on forever. It had much more of a ‘city feel’ to it than Shanghai, which was more of an oversized downtown (at least in the areas that we visited).

2. The middle class. China’s middle class is increasing very rapidly in size, and this boom has really propelled the economy forward. The Chinese are consuming more entertainment, sports, and technology than ever before. This meant lots and lots and lots of stores, shops, factories, and things for you to buy and consume. Everywhere.

3. The factories. We were toured around several factories in Shanghai by Josh Warsaw, the nephew of Jim Warsaw (the namesake of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center). Josh has been working in Shanghai for over a decade and gave us a crash course education in China and the manufacturing industry in Asia. Having exposure to the development and manufacturing of many of the products we consume in the United States, at the beginning of the life cycle, was very interesting and not something that many people get exposure to.

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4. Street ping pong is very real. Just as you would see a basketball court in the middle of the city in the United States, there were sweaty and shirtless men playing ping pong in the middle of Beijing (in front of a pretty decent sized crowd, too). As a very amateur ping pong player, I didn’t feel brave enough to test my skills against them.

5. The culture. And more specifically, the cultural differences between Shanghai and Beijing. As a primarily English-speaking travel group, we had a lot more trouble navigating our way around Beijing compared to Shanghai (although having a Beijing native in our group definitely helped when it came to ordering food and figuring out the subway system). There is also an intense rivalry between people from Shanghai and Beijing – as a Canadian, this reminded me of the way Toronto is viewed by the rest of the country (and vice versa).

6. Food. Lots of it. We were treated to some pretty incredible food in both cities. I am an adventurous eater thanks to my upbringing (exposure to sushi before turning one probably helped), and the highlight of the time in China from a food perspective was definitely hot pot in Beijing after our morning at the Great Wall of China. I’d recommend the beef stomach, but I wouldn’t recommend dropping it onto the flame (I had to get a second hot pot from the restaurant and I could tell that the waitresses were unimpressed with my chop stick failure).

7. Nike’s RISE campaign in China. Warsaw alum Adam Antoniewicz walked us through the strategy and execution of Nike’s most recent basketball campaign in China (here is a look at Episode 1 of RISE). If I am able to work on one thing in my career as successful – both from a personal and professional standpoint – as this campaign, I would be a happy man. The way that this campaign connected with and motivated an entire country of youth through sport was incredible to hear about.

8. The weather. We had a lot of smog in China, as we were warned about, but we were treated to gorgeous day of sunshine and blue skies in Beijing (as you can see in the picture at the top of this post). On that day all of the locals from Beijing were telling us how lucky we were.

Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

The 2014 Warsaw Bay Area Adventure

The incredibly rich experiential learning opportunities provided by the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center (and the Oregon MBA) are unrivaled in the sports marketing space. Along with the rest of the first-year MBA class, I recently returned from a whirlwind week of information and education in the Bay Area. In six short days we met with both Oregon alumni and influential sports industry members at the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, Visa, EA Sports, Google, and a number of other companies. Read on for some of the highlights of the 2014 Warsaw Bay Area trip.

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Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

The Oregon MBA Heads to Indian Wells and the BNP Paribas Open

I very recently attended the 2014 BNP Paribas Open at the iconic Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. Along with two other Warsaw Sports Marketing Center students, I was selected to write a business case study on the tournament’s history and in particular its impressive turnaround in the early 2000s. We had a very busy few days on the ground, but still found time to enjoy the sun and some world-class tennis.

Heading to California

Lena Macomson, Andrew Green, and I flew down to sunny and warm Palm Springs from overcast and kind-of-warm Eugene, arriving at night after an unsurprising delay at the San Francisco airport.

We immediately drove out to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to meet with George Mackin, who served as our point-of-contact and fearless leader during our time there. In addition to achieving tremendous successes in the publishing industry, George was a major part of the ownership team at Indian Wells that saved the tournament from moving overseas and eventually sold it to its current owner, Oracle’s Larry Ellison. Before heading down, George had told us that the saving of the tournament was the best story in tennis that had yet to be told. And after a few days of interviews and experiencing a world-class event, he could not have been more right.

In addition to sharing a tournament suite with former tennis great Rod Laver, we were able to watch the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Li Na compete. Did I forget to say that this was a school project? After watching Djokovic take care of business on night one, we headed back to our hotel to do some research in advance of our interviews the next day.

Djokovic with the night one victory.

Djokovic with the night one victory.

The Unofficial Fifth Major

Some quick hits for those unfamiliar with the tournament:

  • Over 430,000 people attended this year, making it the third most attended tennis tournament on the planet
  • The field is unrivaled in the sport – the best players from the ATP (men) and WTA (women) compete each year
  • The tournament generates a tremendous amount of positive economic impact for the city of Indian Wells within its two weeks
  • The Tennis Garden was constructed back in 2000 after the tournament moved there from the Hyatt Grand Champions nearby

In addition to the incredible quality of tennis, the gardens offer an unrivalled sporting experience. A second stadium was completed this year, and it seats approximately 8,000 people. This new stadium also has three world-class restaurants that overlook the court, including famous Los Angeles restaurant Nobu. There are countless practice courts where the first few days of matches are played (and players practice otherwise, obviously).

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

There are numerous food spots, from hot dogs and burgers to the aforementioned high-end cuisine. The second stadium was also designed with concerts and other attractions in mind as the Garden looks to create new revenue streams during the other 50 weeks of the year.

While we were able to watch some amazing tennis while at Indian Wells, we were down there to work. We interviewed a lot of people over the three days we spent on the grounds – talking to everybody and anybody within the organization, including the COO & Tournament Director (Steve Simon), the CEO (Raymond Moore), the head of media and PR (Matt Van Tuinen), as well as the leaders of pretty much every other department. A particularly interesting and informative interview was with their Director of Business Development Rolf Hoehn, who works with global brands like BNP Paribas, Rolex, Emirates, Fila, and Oracle.

The tournament’s success is due in large part to its people. Most of the executives and leaders have been there for upwards of 20 years. This longevity has allowed a culture that is focused on providing unparalleled experiences to permeate through all facets of operations and to all stakeholders. We read about “culturally driven organizations” in school, and it was a great to actually experience one in the real world.

The amount of information we absorbed in two days was probably enough to fill an entire 10-week class. We learned about negotiations, sponsorship deals, technology and infrastructure, and leadership, among other topics. We were also able to speak with the other founder of the tournament, Charlie Pasarell. On the second night of the tournament, Pasarell was presented with an International Tennis Hall of Fame ring for his work in the sport. It was his vision to create the most prolific tennis tournament on the planet that has guided the BNP Paribas Open through the last 30+ years.

Warsaw MBAs hard at work.

Warsaw MBAs hard at work.

As a former tennis player, Charlie never wavered from his belief that the players must be taken care of above all else, even in really lean and turbulent years. The tournament is the favorite stop on the tour for most of the players, and it is easy to see why. The best competition in the world, an unbeatable facility, great weather, and incredible hospitality.

We also had George’s son, Lucas, with us. Lucas was documenting us documenting the tournament – a case study within a case study, if you will. He was our creative guy and he did a fantastic job capturing the experience with picture and video.

Wrapping Up

We now have about six hours of interview content to transcribe and piece together to help tell this amazing story through a teachable case study. Personally, I learned an incredible amount in the short time we were there, particularly about sponsorship and business relationship development at a very high level. It was a great feeling to walk around the tennis concourse and hear multiple “Go Ducks” from other tournament attendees.

I’ll leave it to Andrew Green to offer up his thoughts on the tournament and experience:

Some of my favorite moments included watching Roger Federer’s quarterfinal defeat of Kevin Anderson, touring the facilities and broadcast production trucks, and conducting interviews in the same room as tennis icons Billie Jean King, Bud Collins, and Rod Laver. I also enjoyed having George Mackin’s son, Lucas, with us as he authored a project on conducting case studies. Having him with us was a reminder of the importance of giving access and time to create opportunities for other – just as George and the people at the BNP Paribas Open have done for us.

From left to right - George's son Lucas, myself, Andrew, and Lena. Go Ducks!

From left to right – George’s son Lucas, myself, Andrew, and Lena. Go Ducks!

 

Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

Thoughts on the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Along with seven other MBAs from the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, I attended the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston this past week.

2000 sports nerds gathered over the two days to listen to some incredible speakers, including former NBA coach Phil Jackson, author Malcolm Gladwell, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, and a number of other respected and powerful people  from the sports industry (GMs, network executives, coaches, athletes, authors, reporters, and more). The trip also featured some great seafood, cold weather, and a memorable experience at Fenway Park.

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Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

A Day at the Innovation Lab Charrette

Along with a few of my MBA classmates, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the University of Oregon’s Innovation Lab charrette up in Portland last month. Quickly after I said “yes” to attending, I had to actually look up what a charrette (pronounced “shu-ret”) actually was. Read on for some thoughts on a creative and interesting experience.

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Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

Reflecting Back On a Busy First Quarter at the Oregon MBA

Reflecting back on a very busy first quarter as an MBA student (and a Canadian) at the University of Oregon.

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Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

Talking Sports, Sales, and Basketball with Portland Trailblazers CEO & President Chris McGowan

Although the 2015 MBA’s at the University of Oregon are only two months into the two-year program, we have already been fortunate enough to hear from a number of influential and interesting people from within the sports industry. From the designer behind the Jordan brand to executives with teams, leagues, and sports/athletic companies, all have been very engaging and relevant. And this past week’s speaker, Portland Trailblazers President & CEO Chris McGowan, was no different. (Here’s a link to McGowan’s full bio from the Blazers website.)

The Blazers tipped off in Milwaukee just as McGowan started talking, but he made sure to stay up to date on the score of the game (Portland ended up winning by nine – 91-82 thanks largely to strong performances from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard).

The Journey to Portland

McGowan, after an introduction from Portland’s VP of Corporate Communications Michael Lewellen, spent a brief amount of time discussing his career in the sports industry before diving right into a Q&A. A quick recap:

McGowan started off in the industry in 1996 with the Los Angeles Kings in their ticket sales department. At the time, he had recently graduated from University of Delaware (where he also played soccer). McGowan also spoke about the growth of AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) from then to present day. AEG is the parent company that owns the Kings, and over the past 16 years it has has developed into one of the largest sports and entertainment companies in the world. McGowan considered himself lucky to have spent the first 16 years of his career with a single organization, a rare feat for many in the industry.

The importance of strong ownership was a theme throughout the evening, from AEG’s owner Phil Anschutz to the Trailblazers owner Paul Allen. McGowan also specifically referenced Tim Leiweke, the former CEO of AEG and now the CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, an important mentor throughout his career.

Taking The Next Step

McGowan was in a great position as COO of AEG, but he wanted to take the next step in his career in the industry. He was also looking to get into basketball, as the NBA was a league that he had long admired. McGowan spoke on the passion that Oregonians had/have for the Trailblazers. But the organization needed a fresh voice, and the first year of McGowan’s tenure has been full of changes to almost every area within the organization.

McGowan has brought in the best and brightest new talent in business analytics, sales (particularly in ticket sales, where he got his start in LA), marketing, and human resources. He has motivated his people to think differently. The organization has invested heavily in digital upgrades, an area that needed significant improvement when he took over in 2012.

The Game Day Experience

One of the main focuses of McGowan’s efforts right now is on improving the game day experience at Trailblazer games. He commented that this was something that appeared to be missing when he took over, and he wanted to change it. The Portland Timbers of the MLS have done a phenomenal job of creating an ‘experience’ surrounding their home games, and as a soccer fan McGowan talked about how much he enjoyed taking part in these festivities.

The Trailblazers have a strong tradition in the city, and they are looking to blend that “Rip City” history with the future. The “Rip City” moniker is one of the most recognizable in professional sports, and it was originally coined by the team’s first play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely.

“The Schonz” originated the phrase “Rip City” after a Jim Barnett jumpshot ripped through the net on February 18, 1971. The phrase has taken off since then becoming synonymous with the city of Portland. During the 2009-10 season, the team unveiled specialty Rip City jerseys.

The team has put together several “Rip City” themed spots.

The Importance of Selling

Selling and sales were strong themes throughout McGowan’s Q&A with the MBA students. As he said, “doors open if you learn to sell.” Selling generates revenue, and after winning, revenue generation is the most important thing in professional sports.  McGowan started in ticket sales, but quickly moved through the ranks to suites and eventually sponsorships.

The challenges nowadays revolve around getting people to attend games instead of experiencing them at home, where they can watch commentary from former and current NBA greats. The at-home viewing experience has improved tremendously over the past five to 10 years (particularly with HDTV), and the pressure is now on teams to attract people to their games by improving the in-arena experience. McGowan specifically mentioned that fans have loved the new Portland-themed food and drink offerings at the Moda Center (for example, food and drink from local restaurants and craft breweries are now available at the concessions).

Wrapping It Up

The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center grants students incredible access to successful sports executives like McGowan. Being able to pick the brain of an NBA President & CEO on the details of the sports industry and specific challenges within his job is the exact reason many of us moved here from far away.

And after a year of change and transition, McGowan is very confident with where the Blazers are heading, both on the court and in the front office.

 

Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.