After attending the Sports and Business Career Fair this past November, SPH alum Justin Gurney was kind enough to answer the following questions that will be especially interesting to Sport Marketing and Management or Sport Communication majors. Justin received his Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University with a Major in Sport Marketing and a minor in Business from the Kelley School of Business. He currently works for the NBA.
Could you describe your position with the NBA?
As a Director in the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations (TMBO) department, I am part of a team that is responsible for consulting with NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League teams in an effort to help them maximize profitability. In my role I advise teams on how to institute best practices as well as create “next practices” via in-market visits, webinars, workshops and training sessions. Over the past year, one of my primary responsibilities has been to train teams on how to properly adopt “social selling.”
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
This may sound a bit cliché, but the most rewarding part of my job is paying forward what others have done for me in terms of mentoring others through the sports industry. I have been lucky to have worked for and with some great people over the last 11 years in the industry and would not have been able to do so without learning from some of the best in the industry. When I’m able to provide advice to others or watch aspiring sports professionals grow within the industry (and as people) I take a lot of pride in that.
Could you describe your career path in the sports industry prior to joining the NBA?
I have 11 years of experience in the sports industry in sales, management and consulting. Prior to joining the NBA in 2012, I worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates serving as their Manager of Group Ticket Sales and, before that, as their Manager of Inside Sales. Previously I was the General Manager for the Orange County Flyers, an Independent Professional Baseball team in the Golden Baseball League. I started my career as a Ticket Sales Representative for the Chicago Bulls and, shortly afterwards, joined the Atlanta Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena as a Group Sales Account Executive.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned while working in the sports industry?
- Don’t ever burn any bridges, this is a very small industry.
- Never stop learning – there are so many ways to make yourself better (books, blogs, people, etc.) and it only takes a little time to make yourself a little better each day.
- Always re-prioritize your life as things change. Today, getting a job might be the most important thing where as tomorrow living by family may be more important – life is fluid.
- Only work for good people and good organizations. It’s easier said than done, but if you are unhappy, it’s not worth it.
- As a continuation of #5, don’t wait for happiness. Too many people say “I’ll be happy when…” That doesn’t have to be the case.
What types of skills and/or characteristics have you found to be most essential to a successful career?
- Intellectual Curiosity
- Public Speaking, Writing and Communication in general
- Fun/Professionalism Balance
- Be a great teammate – other people’s success is not in spite of your own, there is enough success to go around.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone and everyone, regardless of title.
Finally, what are a few key pieces of advice you can give to current students hoping to work in sports after graduation?
- Reach out to your Alumni Network to the best of your ability, it’s one of the best.
- Stay up on all of the recent business trends (right now it’s social, so make sure you know all about LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, etc.). This is your generation’s competitive advantage.
- “Follow” all teams/businesses on all platforms and learn as much as you can about them.
- Be smart about the internships you get, don’t just take the first one that’s available to you.
Brandon Jones is a junior at IU majoring in Sports Marketing and Management with minors in Business and Spanish. He one day hopes to work for a professional sports organization in either marketing or communications. He also works with IU Student Athletic Board as Chair of Alumni Relations and Men’s Soccer.
IUSPH Career Services
Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:
•resume and cover letter preparation
•graduate school preparation