Michigan Ross Students Lead the Launch of New MBA Sports Business Alliance to Increase Employment Opportunities in the Industry
With a rich sports culture at the University of Michigan, it is no surprise that many students at the Ross School of Business have an interest in going into sports business after graduation.
However, several students in the Full-Time MBA Program at Michigan Ross noticed that despite the desire they saw among their peers, not many pursued careers in sports business immediately after graduation.
“We attended a meet-and-greet for Ross MBAs students interested in sports business careers and 20 people showed up, but then only two of those students actually took jobs in the industry,” said Jordan Enos, MBA ’22. “We recognized that was because even though there is an increasing interest, there are current challenges with the recruiting path and a lack of MBA-level opportunities. This means students often abandon their true passion in sports in favor of more traditional post-MBA careers with structured recruiting processes.”
That led Enos and classmate Alex Abrams, MBA ’22, to partner with MBA students from three other top business schools with similar powerhouse sports programs — the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the University of Texas McCombs School of Business — to launch the MBA Sports Business Alliance. The group aims to address the recruiting challenges head-on and develop an extensive pipeline of MBA talent into sports and entertainment organizations.
“We know that there is demand from both sports organizations and students at top-tier business schools for a more defined pipeline of MBA talent into sports, but neither side knows where to begin. MBA SBA addresses this need by acting as a more formalized conduit for the two groups,” said Abrams, president of MBA SBA. “We are thrilled to have four schools on board as founding members that have both rich athletic tradition and first-class business school programs, and we believe this is the beginning of a very exciting future for our organization.”
By bringing together like-minded individuals from the country’s premier business schools, Abrams said MBA SBA hopes to pool resources to develop shared materials, best practices, and structured recruiting norms that the schools and sports organizations understand and can abide by.
“This will result in a powerful network for our members to tap into, educational resources that will build industry knowledge, and, ultimately, a collaborative environment that will enable members to get the jobs in sports they are passionate about and make an immediate impact,” he said.
One of MBA SBA’s first actions has been to create an advisory board of sports business professionals who understand the value that MBAs can bring to sports organizations and who will help the organization’s goals through sourcing career opportunities, providing extensive industry knowledge, and guiding member schools on how best to achieve the organization’s mission. Among the leaders they have on the board are: Darline Llopis, senior director of finance at the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium; Dominic Truong, director of brand strategy at adidas; Matthew Boyd, vice president of esports and games at Nielsen Sports; Sam Marks, director of strategy and analytics at the Arizona Coyotes; and Tori Stevens, a sports media and tech executive.
Embracing the pay-it-forward mentality of the Michigan Ross community
Back when Enos and Abrams were thinking about the challenge of how to increase the number of MBAs going into the sports business, the duo was inspired to act by a culture within the Michigan Ross community to look out for and give back to current and future students.
"A predominant number of Rossers, ourselves included, recognized that one of Michigan's key value propositions is its vast, hyper-engaged alumni network that actively helps current students with recruiting, mentorship, and community,” explained Abrams. “This positive relationship creates a pay-it-forward mentality where the current students and alumni network are constantly looking to help those who come after them and create initiatives that can be built upon to improve the community.”
Enos and Abrams began by working to shift the Sports Business Association at Michigan Ross to be a more professionally focused student club, and they helped to create the inaugural Michigan Ross Sports Tech Conference in partnership with Business + Tech at Michigan Ross last year.
At that conference, Enos and Abrams said they received lots of feedback from students at other top business schools who were having the same challenges of getting MBAs into the sports industry and wanted to be involved.
To launch the organization, MBA SBA and members of its advisory board will host a “State of the Industry” panel discussion on Oct. 25. Following the panel discussion, there will be a 30-minute peer-to-peer networking session for students from member schools.