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 - April 3, 2003
Dr. Bill Sutton
Vice President, Team Marketing & Business Consulting, NBA
Weren't you taught, "birds of a feather flock together" and "similarities attract"? I'm constantly reminded how these axioms help in making life transitions, such as finding a new job.
Professor Bill Sutton first met me on the back porch of my home in the summer of 1987. I was six months pregnant and was draping my swollen body with a giant white long sleeved shirt and expandable waist shorts. I sweltered in the 70º heat. Bill had been teaching sports management at Ohio State University - two hours away from me - and wondered whether he should continue teaching or get a job in the sports business. He had done some consulting work with teams analyzing their ticketing schemes, and liked that work, agency work.
I listened to him talk about his career. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a Masters in Physical Education (I have one of those as an undergraduate degree from Indiana!) he began teaching sports marketing at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh. After completing his thesis from Oklahoma State, and a few more years at Robert Morris, he moved onto teach sports marketing at Ohio State. Concurrently, though, he served as a Commissioner for the Mid-Ohio Conference. That's what struck me. Larry Albus, then Senior Vice President and Partner with Del Wilber + Associates, a leading sports marketing agency at the time, also had some collegiate athletic background, and was a Commissioner of the Atlantic Conference, too. I encouraged the two to meet.
Bill and Larry connected. Bill became head of a new consulting division for Del Wilber + Associates working with sports teams and leagues on analyzing their ticket marketing programs and devising a computer program to collect and spit out all the data. From there he went back to teaching at a premier sports marketing school, the University of Massachusetts, and has since joined up with another "bird of a feather" former UMASS college professor, Dr. Bernie Mullin, in team services for the NBA. This is a flock of teachers with actual hands-on experience in the sports industry....still teaching.
So, besides similar jobs, I've heard Bill list other connection points his "students" can discover about a potential employer to help them make a transition:
- Alma mater
- Friends in common
- Summer camp
- Similar sports participation, playing position, coaches
In 1967, Harvard University's social psychologist Stanley Milgram studied the "Small World Phenomena." He proved we can really unite with anyone in the world through a chain of merely six friends, six connection points; thus coining the phrase - "Six degrees of separation."
We really are that close. Look for the connection points.
- Buffy Filippell
"Bill is one of the most creative minds in sports marketing. Nobody understands what the sports fan wants better than Bill Sutton. He has no peer."
--Dr. Bernie Mullin, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Team Business Operations
What I do...
Bill works with a number of NBA teams in helping them increase their revenues, develop their brands, present the product, hire staff, and generally improving their business.
HOW I GOT HERE...
NBA; New York, NY; 2000-present
Vice President, Team Marketing Services and Business Consulting
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS; Amherst, MA; 1993-present
DEL WILBER + ASSOCIATES; St. Louis, MO; 1990-1993
Vice President, Marketing and Information Services
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY; Columbus, OH; 1986-1990
Assistant Professor/Coordinator Graduate Studies
MID-OHIO CONFERENCE; Columbus, OH; 1989-1990
ROBERT MORRIS COLLEGE; Pittsburgh, PA; 1982-1986
Assistant Professor and Sports Internship Coordinator