As I am approaching my 20th year in the sports industry (scary), I can’t help but fear that I am quickly becoming “old school” in a fast changing world. But how has the industry changed? When I started at the Phillies in 1995, how was I different than someone starting at the Phillies today… and, more importantly, how have the Phillies changed in how they evaluate the skill sets of entry level employees?
In my role at Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, I am exposed to graduate and undergraduate students on a regular basis. I am more impressed today with the pool of talent looking to break into the sports industry than ever before. Specifically, I see the following characteristics becoming more common in the younger generation of sports industry executives.
Leadership – Members of the up-and-coming pool of young sports business talent are not afraid to be leaders. While they may not yet be fully qualified, they are eager to be put in roles with responsibility. Experience will develop them into true leaders.
Teamwork – Even though the new pool of talent wants to be leaders, they are highly adept at teamwork. They have grown up in a culture of collaboration. When I was in school, group projects were a new thing. Now, group projects represent the most significant work and experiences garnered when in college, and the “culture of collaboration” they’ve engendered among tomorrow’s entry level employees is obvious.
Analytics – The power of analytics has not been lost on the next generation of sports executives. If you want to make yourself indispensable, be strong in statistics, economics and strategy. No longer do you need to have a sports marketing degree to become a candidate in the sports industry. I see very strong talent holding degrees in statistics, applied mathematics and econometrics. The roles becoming available for these individuals will be some of the most important roles at a sports property as our industry moves forward.
However, it’s not just candidates who are changing as our industry matures. Sports properties are also evolving, and creating environments to attract this next wave of talent. Specifically, I see the following being treated much differently by employers today then has been the case in the past:
Compensation – Finally, sports properties are realizing that you have to pay for talent. We are still far from competing with the compensation levels of Fortune 100 companies; however, long gone are the days when properties had the upper hand in recruiting talent no matter what salaries and benefits they offered. Strong performers are critical to success, and properties have started to realize that such talent needs to be compensated fairly.
Technology – Today, investment in technology – CRM systems, digital media software systems, hardware to improve the game day experience, etc. – is a priority. Who better to play a role in developing the strategy around technology than individuals who have lived every moment of their lives in a world driven by evolving technology? In my opinion, this sea change is great for the sports business executives of tomorrow – they’re perfectly suited to take a leadership role in this space.