Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

3 Big Takeaways From the National Sports Forum Case Cup Competition

Earlier this month, three fellow Oregon MBA and Warsaw Sports Marketing Center second-year students joined me in attending the National Sports Forum in Cincinnati. Seth Bohne, Ryan Malleus, Char Zoller, and I (and  Warsaw Center staff member Craig Leon) made the trip with to the twentieth iteration of the conference to compete in the NSF Case Cup Competition against eight other master’s level programs.

The format of the competition involved a first round of three flights, each with three universities. One team would be selected to advance from each flight and compete in the finals. We were drawn into a group with the University of Ohio and University of Nebraska. Together, the three schools had accounted for the last three championships at the competition.  Perhaps it was fitting that our group was immediately dubbed “The Group of Death”. Not long after learning who we would be competing against, we were loaded onto a charter bus. Destination, unknown.

After passing into Kentucky and continuing down the highway for an hour, we came to a halt at Kentucky Speedway, where we were given a tour and a presentation by the staff. Though we could not be certain, we believed our case would revolve around the speedway and the information we were provided. From there, it was a night of nervous sleep before the competition began.

At 10:30 the next morning, we were given a packet that contained the case, a flash drive, a printer, and an empty room. This space would be our office, dining room, exercise grounds, and (if we chose) sleeping area for the duration of the 24 hours. The case was indeed related to Kentucky Speedway, and while it combined current issues affecting the property, the case boiled down to creating an integrated marketing strategy for the speedway to be implemented over the next 2 years. It needed to be designed in such a way that would attract more millennials to the events on-site and sell more tickets without alienating the core NASCAR fan. We were on the clock. The ensuing 24 hours provided many lessons, but I will focus on three:

Teammates Char Zoller and Seth Bohne presenting to a panel of judges

Teammates Char Zoller and Seth Bohne presenting to a panel of judges

LESSON 1: EVERYONE MUST MOVE IN THE SAME DIRECTION

“You have 24 hours. But we are not looking for a 24 hour idea. We are looking for a big idea” – Alex Perkins, Marketing Manager, Kentucky Speedway

Early in the process, our team knew that a stern challenge had been placed before us. The case was long, involved many prompts, and raised many questions without specifically delineating the most important to address. It was clear to us that we would need to be on the same page and make some of the largest decisions of the entire process early on. This was particularly evident when we were given twenty minutes to speak with Kentucky Speedway’s Marketing Manager, Alex Perkins. He pushed us to provide recommendations that would deliver detailed, actionable strategies not only to be used over the next two years, but as a platform for a long-term vision.

Our goal as a team was to strategize early and set a point of no return, where we would move forward together and create as holistic a presentation for our panel as possible in the remaining time. For this to be feasible, it was essential for the entire team to buy-in and remain focused on the direction we were heading.  Our team did this well. The direction we chose revolved around a multi-faceted approach to attracting sub-segments of the millenial population. Our recommendations sought to leverage current Kentucky Speedway partnerships, incoming opportunities to increase awareness by using other local sports events (2015 MLB All-Star Game), a revamped mobile app with enhanced ticket purchasing ability and a mobile fantasy sports component, and the creation of a concert series to build on the festival atmosphere and camping component the speedway prides itself on.

LESSON 2: PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

Even before the case was handed to us, our team knew we would rely heavily on each other’s strengths to produce the highest quality product possible while under such a strict time constraint. One of the many benefits of the Oregon MBA is that our small class size has allowed each of us to work extensively with one another over the past year and a half. When we needed something created quickly in the middle of the case, we knew we had a teammate who could deliver. We knew who would be leading the way with strategizing sponsorship opportunities, and who would be taking the lead on establishing metrics that the client could use to evaluate our strategies’ success. By playing to our individual strengths, we knew we could rely on a product being produced as efficiently as possible, and that we would be able to carry these strengths over into our presentation.

LESSON 3: SEE THE BIG PICTURE

After a grueling 24 hours of fantastic ideas, intense work, and an hour or two of sleep each, we were dressed and ready for our presentation. We delivered a polished 20 minute overview to a panel of judges, including representatives from Robert Morris University, the Columbus Crew, and GMR Marketing. Shortly after the presentation, we learned that we had been selected the winners of our group and would be competing in the finals against teams from the University of South Carolina and University of South Florida. After presenting again in the finals, we had to wait almost 24 hours to hear the results. Finally, at the end of the first day of the conference it was announced to NSF attendees that the University of South Florida had won the competition. We were disappointed to learn that we had not won, but I could not be more proud of our team. Reflecting on it all, we had the opportunity to represent the Oregon MBA and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center on a national stage, were able to meet and connect with many other future members of the sports industry, and we gained invaluable experience along the way.

Together, we were lucky to take part in an unforgettable experience that led us from Kentucky Speedway to Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals) and the Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds), which were only the tip of the iceberg in what was an incredible conference with many great insights from professionals in all corners of the sports world.  This could be the last trip I take with fellow members of the Oregon MBA as students, and I would not trade it for anything.

Written by Jake Martin

Jake is an MBA '15 student from Boise, Idaho, and is part of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Jake completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied Business Operations and Information Management. Jake worked for Titleist as a Golfer Insights intern between the first and second year of his MBA, and aims to continue working in golf.

My Advice to a Young Sports Business Professional

Last Monday, the media-centric niche of the Twittersphere blew up with a post from Fusion’s Felix Salmon on his advice to any curious young journalist. Vox’s Ezra Klein followed up with his own advice. The hashtag #AdviceForYoungJournalists then became a massively trending topic on Twitter for most of the week.

Salmon’s forecast was grim. The well-known finance blogger said he was lucky to move up in the journalism ranks as he did and when he did. “Journalism is a dumb career move,” he warned. The odds of making a good living in the journalism profession “have probably never been lower,” he concluded.

The response from Klein – and arguably everyone else since – took on a largely more positive approach. Klein encouraged aspiring writers to seek out their desired field of interest and start doing work in that field directly. He said there are lots and lots of new opportunities popping up every year.

So what does this have to do with the Oregon MBA program? And why is a first-year sports business MBA student blogging about journalism and giving advice? Why should folks listen to me? It’s because I think my fellow young sports business professionals can actually learn a thing or two from the trends in the media industry. Here is my advice on all this advice:

1) Blog. Buried within Salmon’s post, he wrote the following two-sentence thought:

Similarly, there’s no particular reason to believe that the advice I’d give five or six years ago, which was basically “start a blog and get discovered”, still works. With the death of RSS, blogs are quaint artifacts at this point, and I can’t remember the last time I discovered a really good new one.

I want you to throw that out the window. Sure, it might be true. The odds of creating the next Gawker Media, BuzzFeed or Huffington Post are incredibly unlikely now unless you have a boat load of capital. It’s like buying a lottery ticket in the journalism world. Anecdotally, I believe certain websites are seeing a decrease in direct traffic and an increase in referral traffic. Perhaps people view blogs now as an ending point to a link they saw elsewhere, not a beginning point for value and entertainment.

That still shouldn’t impact you, the young impressionable networker who needs to build your own brand and identity. Just because you can’t build a blog behemoth doesn’t mean blogs aren’t a pivotal force in creating your own voice, honing your craft and proving your competitive advantage in any industry.

2) Blog more. Let me share my story for a moment. I’m not any particularly great case study. Heck, I don’t have a job yet, I’m in my second quarter of this MBA program and I’m searching every day for a summer internship. But I’ve had a pretty fun crossover with the blogging and journalism worlds for the last decade.

When I was 14, I really hated the Bowl Championship Series, that old college football ranking. I didn’t like it at all. So I started doing my own. First, by hand. I had notebooks upon notebooks of every 2005 college football game and every score. I build a pretty simple model for a new rankings system. And I started to email some family friends about it.

Over time, that email list grew to about 150. I was sending regular rankings updates and writing about my random thoughts on the sports statistics world. That’s what led me to start my first blog, The Sports Report, back in mid-2008. I started my Twitter account that August. I blogged about politics, I blogged about my Dayton Flyers and I kept blogging about my rankings. It was a humble start, but combined with writing for my college newspaper, got me more comfortable with putting my thoughts into words and writing for an (albeit meager) audience.

I started sending my emails to the editors of the Cleveland sports site Waiting For Next Year and they invited me to join in spring 2009. I’ve joined other sites, too, including Sports Analytics Blog and Nylon Calculus. I’ve blogged at my own Tumblr page. I blog here and at the Warsaw SportsBlog. Heck, a Twitter friend and I recently started a site called Basketball Twitterlytics. All that has helped me build a decent Twitter following. It was all a hobby. But one that built up my personal brand and has been quite fun.

3) Well, blog some more. Are you starting to get the gist of this article? Let’s not just focus on my story. Mark J. Burns is a contributor to Forbes and recently joined the Atlanta-based agency CSE as an operations coordinator in talent/athlete marketing last month. In a recent post titled “10 Ways For Aspiring Sports Business Professionals To Crush 2015,” he also focused on blogging:

9) Find a website to write for around an area you’re interested in. If you enjoy marketing, search online for a sports marketing website to write for. It’ll probably be for free, but that’s okay. As a 20-year-old junior in college, you’re looking for worthwhile opportunities, not a get rich quick scheme. Through writing for a respected website about a niche you want to work in, you’ll soon become a go-to resource for knowledge in that area. At the same time, having this platform allows you to strategically connect with industry professionals for Q&As. This is a game changer. Instead of just reaching out to a 15-year veteran in marketing for an informational interview, now you have this website where you can not only learn about this person, but also, share his or her story with a wider audience.

This was also a point that Rich Campbell, marketing professor at Sonoma State University, emphasized during last week’s Warsaw Workshop event. While the other event panelists focused on their direct professions, Campbell often relayed his remarks to his blogging gig as a sports careers writer for About.com. Here’s one such example of a comment he made, focusing on how it can lead to more conversations and improved problem-solving:

A college newspaper friend of mine, Stephanie Vermillion, gave a list of 15 different reasons why folks  should start blogging in 2015. Her advice on networking with other bloggers and becoming an “expert” in your field is particularly sound. I’ve also enjoyed similar posts over the years from Joshua BeckerKristi Dosh, Melinda Emerson, Belle Beth CooperMark Schaefer and others. In today’s hyper-competitive workplace, doing anything you can to stand out from the masses will help you go a long way in life.

4) And while you’re at it, read and blog some more. The best companies and the best thought-leaders in sports write for the public eye frequently. To inspire yourself to think of innovative solutions for your industry, read the best of what is out there.

If you’re interested in sports and social media, follow Jessica Smith’s blog, Sunny Cadwallader’s blogNeil Horowitz’s podcast and #smsportschat. If you’re interested in sports revenue topics, check out The Migala Report, Russell Scibetti’s blogTroy Kirby’s podcast and #sbchat. There’s Sports Business DailySports Agent Blog, Hashtag Sports, Joe Favorito’s blogSport Techie, Around The Rings and so, so much more. There are countless incredible resources, just in the sports world alone.

As a hopeful young professional in sports — or really, in any industry — you should be doing what you can to be educated on trending news stories and doing what you can to put your build up your name. The Internet is at your disposal. Use it. Start blogging.

Jacob invites fellow University of Oregon sports business students to join him over at the Warsaw SportsBlog, where he is serving as a co-editor of the site with first-year MBA classmate Kurian Manavalan. For more information on how you can join as a writer, email Jacob at jrosen@uoregon.edu.

Written by Jacob Rosen

Jacob Rosen is a second-year MBA student in the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His goal is to work in business or sponsorship analytics for a professional sports team. Jacob interned in business analytics for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets this past summer. He can be followed on Twitter @WFNYJacob.

Surviving a “Deadweek”

Adidas Headquarters

A few of the MBA students at Adidas Headquarters.

Two weeks into our winter term, the first year Warsaw Sports Marketing Center students had a “deadweek”. While other Centers went on experiential trips to either Seattle or New York, we had a week to ourselves. So what exactly does a Warsaw student do during a week off? Whatever they’d like.

After having a very intense workload during our first term in the MBA program, things started off a bit slower this time around. There are fewer classes and you have more options about which ones you’d like to take, which ultimately means you get to take classes that are of more interest to you. Maybe the workload isn’t actually much lighter, but you enjoy it more so it seems that way. For example, talking about sports and how they relate to business for three hours a week doesn’t sound like a stressful class, it’s more like what I’d enjoy to do on any given night with friends.

Obviously, instructors and admin from the program have their ideas about what to do during this week and you can take a wild guess as to what those may be.

Get caught up on work, get ahead on work, network, network, network.

 This may not come as a surprise to you, but I think it’s their job to tell students this.

While I did do some work, some networking, some internship hunting, and was able to enjoy a great day-trip to Adidas HQ hosted by alumni, I have my own added suggestions for deadweek:

Relax. Sleep. Explore.

Beautiful Oregon

Go explore beautiful Oregon.

I was able to catch up on some sleep, hang out with friends, and go to the gym. I played my first game of golf since getting to Eugene (if you can even call what I did playing golf), and I was able to check out parts of Eugene I haven’t seen yet. I took in what was quite nice weather for this time of year to bike around and give my mind a refresh. If this sounds like I wasted some valuable time, I strongly disagree. I believe it is just as important to take care of your body and mind as it is to stay caught up with work and networking. So my advice is to take full advantage of the free time you are given while you’re in the Oregon MBA program. Oregon is a beautiful place and you could have less than two years to take it all in, so do just that. Besides, all work and no play makes James a dull boy.

Written by jstewart@uoregon.edu

James is a first year MBA student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Before joining the program he worked as an Email Marketing Coordinator at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), and Toronto FC (MLS). He would like to continue a career within the sports industry after graduating; focusing in marketing, partnerships, or consulting. In his free time, James is usually playing, watching, or reading about sports and relaxing with his guitar and his friends.

Start spreading the news…

It is a market unlike any other. It is famed and fabled. New York, New York.

New York Lens

Our cohort of business minded individuals, that after traveling around the world together and many late nights in the Lillis Business Complex, I now call my friends, just returned home from our last trip. We have walked the hills of San Francisco, the streets of Mumbai, the high speed trains of China and survived the muggy commute in Singapore. With all of the miles under our belt, there was simply no better place to end our world travels as MBA’s than in the city that defines american business, New York.

It was a capstone to our travels but a beginning to our “re”-entry into the professional world. For many of us the New York marketplace was just as foreign as the Singaporean market. It was unique, established and aggressive. The biggest challenge wasn’t fear of competition or unforeseen threats but rather the challenge of growth.

It’s unique to walk into businesses that have different functions, products, consumer uses and experiences and have all of them repeat the same notion, “not selling is never an issue.” It was reiterated time and time again that in the New York City Market, selling out wasn’t a goal it was an expectation. From nonprofits to the Major leagues, every business identified their greatest asset was that, they were in the “best” market in the world. This seems haughty when comparing to the boom of Silicon Valley or the emergence in popularity of the Pacific Northwest, but for anyone who has been or is from New York, you have experienced this ethos, that New York is to some, quite literally, the center of the universe.

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Radio City Music Hall

As a student of business and a professional that will be relaunching my career, learning and familiarizing myself with unique markets is invaluable. Although New York stands for American business it is safe to say that it is not representative of the challenges that other markets face. It recalls the infamous Mad Men episode in which the New York ad executives spend time with a major client in southern CA. Although our country is unified around the same language, government and founding values, the business environments are just as foreign as traveling to southeast Asia.

While I suggest the uniqueness and power of the New York market, I still believe it to be the perfect representative of American enterprise. Mixed and challenged but strong, resilient and confident. Start spreading the news…I want to be a part of it, New York.

Written by Lauren Stornetta

2nd year Warsaw Sports Marketing MBA. Building a career in strategic planning with a passion for creative business development.

The Essential Oregon MBA Checklist

As 2015 brings about another New Year and a new term, I realize that I am already over one sixth of the way done with my MBA experience! Despite the fact that I am over 2,500 miles from home and miss my friends and family immensely, I can honestly say that after my first term at the Oregon MBA, I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to join this cohort and school in my pursuit of a post-graduate degree. The first term was certainly a challenge and presented me with many obstacles and new experiences, all of which will help prepare me for the world of business I hope to one day be a part of. As I reflect on my first term, I come to the realization that this MBA program is so unique in so many ways and these distinctive qualities have provided me with the perfect learning environment, both academically and personally. Because of this realization, I have come up with my “essential MBA checklist”. Although everyone looks for something different in an MBA program, I will outline my list in the hopes that there are others looking for similar characteristics in their pursuit of a Master’s degree.

  • Diversity: Living in North Carolina nearly my entire life, I was accustomed to a certain type of person, lifestyle, etc. My graduating class features students from multiple countries and all across the United States, which has opened my eyes to so many different cultures, viewpoints, and opinions. Although diversity was not something I initially based my decision on, I was extremely lucky to choose a program that focused on diversity because it will certainly make me better prepared for the workforce and life in general after graduation.
  • Teamwork: Upon initially hearing that for our first term we would be put into teams and would have to work with these teams in every class, I will admit I was extremely nervous and anxious. However, the constant emphasis on teamwork and combining skills with your classmates to produce the best output possible is something I cannot praise enough! I was fortunate enough to not only develop my personal teamwork skills, but also to learn to find the best qualities in my teammates and bring out these qualities in all projects. Although it was not always easy, this program’s emphasis on working together has been an invaluable lesson that will serve me equally as much as any educational knowledge throughout my two years.
The class of 2016 MBA's volunteering at Mount Pisgah.

The class of 2016 MBA’s volunteering at Mount Pisgah.

  • Cohorts: I have absolutely loved the four distinct cohorts in our program! Although I am a member of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and am so excited to be starting my sports specific classes this term, I do not believe I would have gotten as much out of this program if we were not all mixed together with the Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Business, and Finance cohorts. Having distinct centers within the MBA program creates a small immediate family within a larger family and I believe this unique quality of the Oregon MBA is part of what makes it such a perfect fit for me. I have gotten to know and become friends with people that I most likely would never have interacted with or known I had anything in common with had it not been for the combining of centers for many of our first term classes.
The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center first and second years after a kickball tournament.

The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center first and second years after a kickball tournament.

  • Size: The intimacy of this program has really been perfect for me. I know all of my classmates by name. We frequently find internship postings or interesting articles and immediately know which classmate to send them to based on their interests. I can go into the Career Services or MBA office and feel like a person, not just a number. Being so far away from home, this emphasis on helping and caring about each individual student has made me feel comfortable and has instilled in me a caring attitude toward the MBA program that will carry on long after I have graduated.
  • Customizability: Lastly, this program provides me the perfect opportunity to study something I care about, while still getting a meaningful degree. I always said that I did not just want any MBA because I felt it would not be specific enough to help me achieve the highest level of success possible. Through the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, I am able to learn about sports and marketing while still gaining the specific business knowledge I need to succeed. Not only am I provided knowledge in the classroom, but I am also provided with trips, speakers, and networking opportunities that speak directly to my passions. I can tailor my coursework, internship experiences, and class projects to perfectly fit my individual goals. I will most likely have a different experience than many of my classmates based on our career goals and yet we are all given the tools to succeed if we choose to be proactive and use them!

Ultimately, I have learned that getting an MBA is so much more than just a degree. Upon arriving at school, I was only expecting to get a great education; however, after one term here I have realized that the Oregon MBA is about so much more than classrooms and studies. It is about learning from every experience, speaker, and visit. It is about using your classmates to help you grow and to help them grow as well. It is absolutely what you make it and if you choose to make it great, Oregon will provide you will all the resources possible to make your dreams a reality.

Written by Christine Lutz

Christine was born and raised in North Carolina and is a current second year MBA Student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

The Journey of One Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step

“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat, when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion”

It is probably this quote that sums up my desire to work in the sports industry. My heart probably started to beat when I was chosen as the Sports Head of my university, which gave me a chance to be involved with multiple facets of organizing sports events; from marketing the event to landing a sponsorship deal for funding it. My interest has only strengthened and has continued to grow exponentially ever since.

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My mom, dad, and I moments before I boarded the plane headed for the USA

 

Having completed my undergrad degree in engineering, I got an opportunity to work with a Boston based digital marketing agency, Sapient. Life at Sapient was amazing, a good work life balance, financial stability, getting to live at my own place and weekend Cricket matches. What more could I have asked for?  Just when complacency started creeping in, and the desire to follow my dreams started dimming, I gave myself a kick in the butt. I decided to quit my job and join a sports startup while preparing for an MBA focusing in sport. And here I am, 2 years down the line and 8000 miles away from home, following my dream and pursuing a career in sports marketing at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

The transition has not been easy and has been filled with doubts and questions–which course to go for, which university to target, which country to target, and the biggest one- ‘Have I made a correct choice of getting into the sports industry’?

Through this blog I aim to answer a few of those questions.

My journey till now

Coming from a conservative military family, the decision to take up sports as a career was not an easy one and I consider it to be the most important one that I have taken in my life. I find myself lucky to have very supporting parents who not only supported me but also pushed me that tad bit extra to overcome challenges coming my way- and believe me, there were many; especially after choosing a career option that was unconventional in my country. It was my parents’ sincere aspiration for me that I complete my Engineering degree as it could be a fall-back option in case the script of life threw unforeseen surprises. Having achieved my parents’ ambition for me, I believed that now was the time to follow my own interest and carve a path for myself in the sports industry and it was this dream of mine that has today brought me to University of Oregon pursuing the course of my choice.

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My family

 

Why Sports Marketing?

I was born and brought up in a family of people in love with sports. My father was a former all-India police tennis champion and my sister is the current goalkeeper for India’s national football team. I had always sincerely wished to be associated with sports in any capacity that I could, be it a player or an administrator. Being a player early in my career, I had the opportunity to get in touch with some supremely talented people who never really got an opportunity to showcase their talent and I have dreamt of playing a significant role in creating a sports structure for my country where every sportsman gets an opportunity when he/she deserves one. Once I learned about the sports MBA courses offered across the globe, it just seemed to be a logical extension of that dream of mine.

But choosing the sports marketing domain was a decision not driven by instinct but by careful research that I had done over a couple of years. I studied the market and spoke to professionals who were working in the industry and had been associated with brands such as F1, Nike, FIFA. Also, with the sports culture in India on an upswing and the advent of corporate giants in the sports industry, my faith that the sports industry would be one of the fastest growing industry in the next few years only strengthened. With the sports industry in India finally adopting sports other than cricket, and also being considered the hotbed by a major number of high profile sports team, I finally decided to take up the course and embark on my journey.

Why Warsaw Sports Marketing Center – University of Oregon?

By talking to professionals working in the industry and reading through information/blogs on the internet, the United States seemed to be one of the best places to pursue a sports marketing course and study about the various aspects involved with it. The U.S. has one of the biggest and the most organized sports industries across the world with major leagues such as NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, MLS and provides ample opportunities to expand the off-field experience to on-field experience.

The uniqueness of the course at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center lies in its multi-dimensional course structure that focuses not only on the multiple facets of sports but also gives the business subjects its due importance. The key highlight of the course that I have experienced in my rather short tenure here is the strong bond between the Center and its alumni. In my two months here, I have had an opportunity to interact with numerous alumni who have been supportive and helpful in helping me understand the market and pave a path for myself in the sports industry here (though that is far from done, I can say for sure that I have taken my first step towards it).

How is life apart from the MBA program?

Well the program has so much to offer, especially in the first half of the term, that taking out time for other activities becomes a challenge. Did I just scare you off? Frankly, it is tiring- but we did pull out time to host group activities twice a week, participate in intramural soccer tournament, play tennis on weekends and a long enough trip along the coast. It’s basically about lasting through the first half of the term and the sailing is pretty smooth once the first hurdle is crossed. The two week long orientation, right at the start of the course, prepares you well enough and gives you a taste of how things are going to be in the first term. My advice would be: Hang in there.

Plan after the course?

I plan to steadily work towards building my profile during the course, with relevant project and internship experiences and in the process, strengthen my network. At the end of the course, I would ideally like to see myself in a business development-consulting role or in the Global Product Marketing domain. My long-term goal is to return to the country of my origin and help create a ‘sporty-er’ country. I would have achieved my dream if I could do my bit in creating a structured sports industry in India, which would encourage and reward true genuine sports talent and not let them fade away into obscurity.

Advice to those looking at the course:

Dream big and follow those dreams- for no dream is ever too big and no dreamer is ever too small! Give your dream the best shot you’ve got and the results would follow.

Written by Aaditya Chauhan

Aaditya is a first year UO MBA student attending the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His inclination towards Sports Marketing led him half way across the globe to pursue the Sports MBA course at University of Oregon. Having a background in Business development and Analytics, he looks forward to pursuing a career in Business development consulting or Event management within the Sports industry.

Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

Why Studying Math is a Sexy Choice for Your Future

Howdy, Oregon MBA blog. My name is Jacob Rosen and I’m a first-year in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center program. While many of my new classmates here in Eugene know me as a loudly proud Ohioan and non-stop sports blogger, many recognize me most as the MBA class of 2016’s token math guy.

I majored in applied mathematical economics with minors in Spanish and business administration during my undergrad at the University of Dayton. I selected Dayton similarly to how I picked Oregon – both schools had attractive existing programs in niche subjects and the schools’ warmhearted communities won me over on my first visits. No one in my family had ever attended a Catholic university or moved out to the Pacific Northwest. But both schools felt like home immediately.

In regards to math, I was always data friendly as a kid. When I was 15 years old, I created my own mock-up of college football’s Bowl Championship Series ranking. I created similar rankings for baseball and basketball and began blogging regularly by the time I was 17. Regardless of my major, I probably still would’ve ended up involved in the sports analytics blogging community and I always thought an MBA was a good fit.

But majoring in mathematics opened doors to me in ways most traditional majors might not. From a young age, I always had wanted to work in sports, whether in sports business, player personnel or sports journalism. But the advice I had gotten – prove your competitive advantage in whatever way possible and stay away from a sports journalism-centric approach – fit right in line with going the math route. A math degree is very, very sexy in this field. Just think of Moneyball.

And that sex appeal is certainly not just true in sports. It’s very, very true in all realms of business. Look at any relevant study – PayScale, Inc. and Georgetown University have two good data sets – and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors always are at the top of the career earnings list. And that’s with over 70 percent of STEM majors working in non-STEM fields.

Again, I wasn’t the best at math in my undergrad. Econ and business courses came much easier for me. Some of those math classes, such as linear algebra and discrete mathematics, were harder than anything I’ve had in my life. I struggled for the first time in my academic career. The subjects pushed me further and further. They made me more comfortable with challenging problems and critical thinking. They are making the first term of my MBA much easier for me.

The point of studying math is that employers in every field are looking for young people who can analyze data and think on their feet. There’s a reason why the Wall Street Journal recently said a master’s in data analytics might be as hot as an MBA. Big Data is the future of business. A math major – or at least several courses in math – can be the differentiation point to lift your resume to the top of the pile.

Written by Jacob Rosen

Jacob Rosen is a second-year MBA student in the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His goal is to work in business or sponsorship analytics for a professional sports team. Jacob interned in business analytics for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets this past summer. He can be followed on Twitter @WFNYJacob.

Paving My Own Way

Growing up as the daughter of a college basketball coach, I was blessed with a childhood that gave me the unique opportunity to be a fly on the wall in the world of college athletics. My father has been at a variety of schools at different levels as both head coach and assistant coach, and currently he is the Associate Head Men’s Basketball coach at North Carolina State University. This upbringing and constant exposure and involvement in college basketball instilled in me an extreme passion for sports. All throughout grade school, I never missed a home basketball game and once I started college I began traveling with the team on all road trips. Basketball was always something that bonded our family. My mom, sister, and I could frequently be found yelling in unison in the stands at a home game or in the visitor’s section in a hostile road environment. Conversations at the dinner table always seemed to center around some aspect of college athletics, from teams to coaches to the constant changes occurring within the NCAA.

My dad, sister, and I with former Pfeiffer University basketball player and current radio analyst for the Portland Trailblazers, Antonio Harvey, on his graduation day.

As I got older and began thinking about a career path,  sports never crossed my mind. I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Business at NC State University and constantly struggled to discover a niche within marketing that sparked my interests and excited me. All throughout my undergraduate studies, I subconsciously gravitated towards internships and part-time jobs that involved sports: I worked for the NC State Women’s Basketball team, at a country club, and as an event operations intern at Primesport putting together travel packages to sporting events nationwide. Upon graduation, I earned a full-time internship at the Wolfpack Club, NC State’s athletic fundraising organization. After getting this position, I was came to the realization that it would be impossible to separate my life from sports. The experiences I had as a child in the world of college athletics were some of the best of my life and I realized how impossible it would be for me to ever leave that huge chunk of my identity behind.

My sister and I at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri for a Sweet Sixteen game between NC State and Kansas.

My sister and I at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri for a Sweet Sixteen game between NC State and Kansas.

I began researching jobs and graduate programs in the sports industry during my internship and came across the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I immediately realized that this program could provide me with the education, exposure, and network that I needed to succeed on the business side of sports. Although the idea of getting an MBA had never previously crossed my mind, I realized what a truly unique opportunity the Warsaw Center could provide me with. I decided to apply, was graciously accepted into the program, and made the difficult but exciting decision to move 3,000 miles away because of the faith and passion I felt from those involved with the center.

After many years of internal reflection, I have come to discover that part of my aversion to working in sports was a desire to make my own path and not use my family name or childhood experiences to define me. The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center has allowed me to carve my own way in an industry that is already such a huge part of my identity. I am so proud of where I came from and the exposure I got to college athletics but am excited about the possibility to impact the world of sports in my own way.

Throughout my two years here I will be able to discover and pursue the area of sports marketing that most fits my passions. After being here for only two months, I have already gained experiences and knowledge that I could not have gotten elsewhere. I applied to this program not only because I wanted to learn about the business side of sports, but also because I wanted to be exposed to all of the niche markets within sports business and marketing that I had never previously known existed. Through center speakers, project involvement, and a worldwide alumni and partnership network, I have learned more in eight short weeks than I ever thought possible and I am confident that the future will continue to bring incredible opportunity. My childhood allowed me to experience first-hand what a difference a coach can make in the lives of their student athletes and I am blessed to be able to carry on this passion to use sports to bring positive change into the lives of others.

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Written by Christine Lutz

Christine was born and raised in North Carolina and is a current second year MBA Student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

From Toronto with Love

James and PuddlesBack to school? It has been three and half years since I’ve been in a classroom, but the learning never stopped. I don’t think it ever will stop. I hope it never does.

My name is James and I’m a first year MBA student at the University of Oregon in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I’m originally from Toronto and graduated from a small school an hour west of the big Canadian city.

Throughout high school I never really knew what I wanted to do, so I went to a university that a majority of my friends were going to and chose to study business because, “why not”? It seemed like everything fell under the umbrella of ‘business’, so I’d be covered in whatever profession I ended up pursuing. As I went through university I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do afterwards. All I knew was that I was having fun playing sports and meeting new friends, and doing enough studying on the side to get my degree. I graduated with an Honors BBA and a specialization in Marketing in April of 2011.

I was lucky enough to have had a connection from a previous summer job, so I started my first full-time role at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) the following month. The money was nice, I hadn’t done enough planning to have any other offers, but I still wasn’t too sure about what I wanted to do. Looking back, I learned more in the first few months at RBC than I did throughout university. I learned about business operations, efficiencies and managing projects. I learned about how to act in an office, who to speak to, how to speak to them, how to get work done. Most importantly, however, I learned that this job wasn’t what I wanted to do. It became harder and harder to keep myself motivated to go into work, so I had to start looking for a new job.

For the first time in my life, I started thinking about where I actually wanted to go career-wise. What industry could I go into that would keep me driven to succeed? Where could I be happy working? The answer was right in front of me the whole time – sports.

I spend all of my free time playing or watching sports, so why not spend my hours in a job doing something along those same lines? I spent countless hours surfing job postings, websites, and setting up meetings. I learned that it’s not very easy to land a job, especially one in your field of interest. I lucked out by meeting the right people who were able to get me an interview for a position at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. I wasn’t the most qualified person for the E-mail Marketing role, but I was the most passionate. This was the company who ran the teams I followed since I was a kid. They had shaped my life, and the hiring managers could see I would put that energy into my work.

The only problem was that the role was a three-month contract, working four days a week, for a much smaller salary than at the bank. I didn’t even think twice. I worked hard through a year of three-month contracts. I wanted to be there and my work ethic showed just that. They had no choice but to hire me on full-time, but it wasn’t enough for me. I had learned that I wanted to be in the sports industry, specifically in marketing, and I had learned that nothing in the working world is easy to achieve. I had learned that I wanted to be better and I wanted to move up the corporate ladder.

This newfound personal awareness encouraged me to start looking at MBA programs. Oregon was my top choice because of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I would be given all the opportunity in the world to learn more about the industry, to increase my knowledge and experience, and to network with top executives in the sports business world. I’m about a month into classes and this time around, unlike my time during my undergrad, I know where I want to go and what I need to do to get there. The workload is tough, but from my time at Maple Leaf Sports I’ve learned that nothing worth working for comes easy. I’ve learned how to present myself in front of colleagues, how to get work done efficiently, and how to manage my time from my experiences at RBC. I’m learning from the courses, the cases, the group work, my fellow classmates, and the guest speakers. Most importantly, I’m learning more about myself, and that’s the most rewarding part.

It’s been a long journey to get here and I’m a long way from home, but these next two years are going to go faster than I can imagine. I’m just going to try to soak up the experience as much as I can, and make sure I learn something new everyday.

Written by jstewart@uoregon.edu

James is a first year MBA student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Before joining the program he worked as an Email Marketing Coordinator at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), and Toronto FC (MLS). He would like to continue a career within the sports industry after graduating; focusing in marketing, partnerships, or consulting. In his free time, James is usually playing, watching, or reading about sports and relaxing with his guitar and his friends.