Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.
Spotlight - October 19, 2008
Database Marketing Manager, Orlando Magic
"When you wish upon a star..."
Which way do you see sports job descriptions written?
The ideal candidate will have a graduate degree and 8-10 years of related experience or...
The ideal candidate will have 8-10 years of related experience and an advanced degree is a plus.
From marketing Jello to generic drugs-companies are constantly vying to secure our best and brightest talent. Free-agency often isn't an option. So, the businesses descend upon the young, the freshly minted, MBA students. My alma mater, Indiana University, is no different.
But the sports business can wait for these youngsters to develop because jobs are so popular. Thus we are allowed to place greater value on an individual's experience before the advanced degree. The advanced degree, we contend, has value later in one's career, as it differentiates a candidate against other candidates vying for higher management or senior level jobs.
An MBA from Harvard Business School gave Scott O'Neil's credentials more weight when he was interviewing for the job of President of Madison Square Garden. Having an MBA differentiated Ron Minegar, when he applied for a job at the Disney-owned Anaheim Angels as its head of sales and marketing many years ago. Jamey Rootes, now President of the Houston Texans, was told years ago by NFL league staff members that merely a business degree and seven years of sales experience with IBM would not get him a job in the NFL league office. He then sought an MBA from Indiana University. In all cases, their experience outweighed their degree when they first entered the sports business.
It was no different for a young man I met a few years ago, Robert Rardin, who yearned to be in the sports business.
I got to know Robert through Indiana University's MBA program in 2003. I served on the Kelley School of Business's Advisory Board for interested graduate business school majors with an eye towards sports and entertainment. He was a graduate student there. There has always been a tug of war, though, between entry level sports salaries and entry level business salaries. And since the degrees are expensive and business school ratings are calculated by how much money graduates earn upon graduation, sports tend to draw fewer young MBA graduates.
Like many MBA students, Robert wanted to turn around his earlier years in finance to marketing, specifically sports and entertainment marketing and went back to Indiana University where they had this specialization in entertainment and sports. A marketing internship with Fox News in Chicago whetted his appetite. As Robert was nearing graduation, he eagerly jumped at an invitation to the 2003 NBA/WNBA/ D-League Teams Job Fair.
Over 150 enthusiastic and anxious young people were invited to that 2003 job fair. It was there Robert saw how fierce the competition was to get into the industry. "The job fair was a wake-up call for me," Robert recalled. "I saw who I was competing with. People were just as hungry as I was. There were a lot of people willing to sacrifice a lot of things to get into the industry."
Robert was popular and was offered three ticket sales jobs at the job fair. The challenge he had was weighing a high five figure salaried job with Time Warner versus a $13,000 ticket sales job with an NBA or D-League team. He loved sports. But Robert, like many, had mounting student loans. He consoled himself that Time Warner was entertainment. His love for sports and particularly the NBA, though, never waivered and he was hoping to "get in the back door."
Within a year he was recruited to the National Geographic Society where he could marry his interest in financial analysis with marketing and rose to a level of Senior Group Direct Marketing Manager. He always kept an eye out for sports, as he said, "constantly getting the alerts from TeamWork Online."
General business led the way in regression analysis to the study of the return on investment. Robert was able to parlay that experience of being able to analyze interest in subscriptions and the amount of money needed to attract those subscribers into a role to project ticket sales and attendance at the Washington Nationals. Then when family and lifestyle concerns kicked in, he jumped at the chance to move to Orlando, Florida to join the Orlando Magic.
The Orlando Magic's human resources staff was proud of one of their latest recruits-Robert Rardin. Because of our IU connection, a recruiter forwarded onto me an announcement of Robert joining their team. It's another circle of life incident I'm tallying. Former Orlando Magic recruiters had met him at the job fair. I was not surprised the new ones, like the previous ones, found value in his business school degree:
"I am pleased and excited to announce that Robert Rardin will be joining the Orlando Magic as our new Database Marketing Manager. Robert comes to us from the Washington Nationals baseball team where he was Senior Consumer Marketing, Database and Research Manager. Before working with the Nationals, Robert worked for the National Geographic Society as their Senior Group Direct Mail Marketing Manager. With over 5 years of database marketing experience and an MBA concentrating on Marketing and Strategy from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Robert will be a great addition to our team."
It's the experience we value, and the degree enhances the resume as you progress. Congratulations, Robert. You're surrounded by the Magic Kingdom, a place where dreams surely come true! Welcome back to the NBA!
- Buffy Filippell
"Robert's experience was perfect for this position and the higher level of expertise the Magic were seeking. His work experience with National Geographic and the Nationals was a great fit. When you add the MBA from the Kelley School of Business it was an easy decision for us."
--Stephanie Mellenberndt - Director of Marketing, Orlando Magic
What I do...
SRobert handles the fan and in-market research, direct and e-marketing, and maintain/enhance/segment our customer and sales lead database.
HOW I GOT HERE...
ORLANDO MAGIC; Orlando, FL; 2008-present
Database Marketing Manager
WASHINGTON NATIONALS; Washington, DC; 2007-2008
Senior Database and Research Marketing Manager
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY; Washington, DC; 2005-2007
Senior Group Direct Mail Marketing Manager
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY; Washington, DC; 2005-2005
New Business Marketing Manager
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY; Washington, DC; 2004-2005
New Business Finance Manager
TIME WARNER INC; New York, NY; 2003-2004
Associate Marketing Manager
FOX NEWS CHANNEL; Chicago, IL; 2002-2002