Executive Stories

Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.

Executive Spotlight - May 2, 2004

Kristin Bernert


Vice President, Operations Palace Sports & Entertainment/Detroit Shock (WNBA)


When I joined Mark McCormack's International Management Group in 1978, I was the only female agent in the company. When we held staff breakfast meetings at the Union Club, I was the only one who had to use the back elevator as the front stairs were reserved strictly for men. In fact, I was reprimanded by Mr. McCormack's secretary for taking the front stairs down after the meeting.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when the NBA recently hosted its annual NBA Team Jobs Fair in early April. Young to-be-graduating students applied to get into this job fair for entry-level ticket sales jobs. A little more than 100 students were invited, many of them were women. The women were the most sought-after candidates! Oh, the times they are a-changin'.

Recently, I stood in front of a group of young women executives in Atlanta (WISE - Women In Sports & Entertainment), many of who are in the sports industry. 30 to 40 of them. I was taken aback by their jobs -- a woman in charge of security for an arena, a promotions executive with an Arena Football team, and a community relations vice president for a major league baseball team. My breath was taken away. It was them I was celebrating. Oh, the times they are a-changin'.

This past fall, there we were three 40ish women (I hope the others are 40ish because I'm now a 50ish!) sitting in a steakhouse at lunchtime talking business. One of the women was a major league baseball team president; the other a Chief Financial Officer and me! Okay, you'd think it was maybe a dream. But it wasn't. The times they are a-changin' - we all thought!

Not long thereafter I was out in Los Angeles at Dodger stadium. Three top executives still working after hours were all women- the former head of marketing and sales, the head of ticket sales, and the CFO. Oh, the times they are a-changin'.

A year or two ago, I met a sponsorship sales executive with the Cleveland Indians. A woman sales-person in baseball? Oh, surely the times they are a-changin'.

Kristin Bernert was bright, ambitious, confident and a terrific sponsorship salesperson, managing and generating over $7 million in sponsorship revenue for the Indians. She was interested, interesting, and somehow I took her on a ride from Cleveland to Detroit to visit my long-time client, the Detroit Pistons and Palace of Auburn Hills. She never got home. I can't think of anyone Kristin meets that doesn't like her. We all convinced her to stay right there and help sell Detroit's version of the WNBA - the Detroit Shock. Is it a surprise how successful the Detroit Shock has been these last couple years? Together with former Piston-great and now coach, Bill Laimbeer, Kristin and Bill have become a marvelous, powerful combination in the WNBA, coaching and marketing the Shock to the WNBA finals last year. Get this, a month before this year's season has even started, Kristin has led the Shock's sales force to selling more tickets than they did the entire season last year. No surprise here, sponsorship sales have improved over 65% of last year's total.

As "Plain Dealer" columnist Connie Schultz recently wrote, "These younger women colleagues are the best proof we have that what we women did really mattered."

Philip Morris sponsored women's professional tennis with the tag line, "You've come a long way, baby." 26 years later, it's women like Kristin, young women at the job fair, women team presidents, women CFOs, heads of tickets sales, heads of security...they all show us.....we've come a long way! For the times they have been a-changin'

--Buffy Filippell


"Kristin has utilized her previous experience in the sports industry to maximize her impact in her current role with the Detroit Shock. Her work ethic is second-to-none. She only waits so long for others to get the job done before she'll go do it herself."

--Bill Laimbeer, Head Coach - Detroit Shock


What I do...

Kristin is responsible for the sales, marketing and promotion of the WNBA team. She works with the various department managers at Palace Sports & Entertainment in setting sales goals and managing their progress and often goes out and sells tickets and sponsorships herself.

HOW I GOT HERE...

PALACE SPORTS & ENT./DETROIT SHOCK; Detroit, MI; April 2002-Present
Vice President, Shock Operations

CLEVELAND INDIANS; Cleveland, OH; 2000-March 2002
Corporate Sales Representative

BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS; Bowling Green, OH; 1999-2000
Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Communications

THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY; Columbus, OH; 1997-1999
Assistant Director of Marketing

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"Morey is the whiz-kid stats analyst who made news last month when he was hired from the Celtics, where he worked on the business side, to take over as (GM) Dawson's eventual replacement. With his background as a Bill James disciple, Morey's hiring was hailed as the NBA's first venture into "Moneyball."

- Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated