Many business school sports management students are particularly interested in the opportunity to build their career within the sports events sector. Global sporting events offer a world of opportunity to professionals, and being increasingly large scale and technical operations provide ever increasing diverse career prospects. However, working in this field requires a balance of passion, organisational and communication skills and specialist capabilities; every detail counts for organisers who wish to ensure the successful delivery of an event. We look at the how to build a career in this ever growing sector with its rich experiential rewards.
Sports events require diverse professionals with different backgrounds to come together and harness their broad skill sets through effective collaboration. Project managers, Sales Managers, Press Relations Managers, Hospitality Managers, Ticketing Managers and now even professional with knowledge of Esports need to join forces and work as as a unified team.
Be aware, this sector will potentially require greater personal investment than other areas of sports business with a need to make sacrifices. For example, sporting events often take place at weekends or evening at intentional locations and the largest events require many months/years of preparation with long periods away from home.
There are a wide variety of sporting properties you can join to be part of sports events and you are certainly not confined to opportunities at organising committees or event hosts. In-house event and sponsorship teams within commercial brands; national and international federations, sports marketing agencies, data & analytics agencies and many more all play key roles in successful event delivery. Sports agencies are increasing being commissioned to wholly (or partly) design, create and deliver events on behalf of LOC's or federations. These agencies require a diverse team of professionals with the aforementioned skill sets to deliver results. Lagardère Sports & Entertainment and CSM Sport & Entertainment for example, deliver event activations for key stakeholders across Championship events, World Cups and Olympic Games.
To progress and ultimately succeed in sports events as within the sports industry in general, it is important to develop a broad and varied network. Relationship building will give you the competitive advantage over your peers when identifying and securing job opportunities. There are a number of good ways to develop your network such as industry events, social networks such as linkedin as well as undertaking relevant industry placements such as internships or volunteering.
Understanding how the range companies and organisations come together to plan, create and execute their operations within event delivery, as well as identifying the professional profiles involved in these processes is the key first step. Knowing this will enable you to identify where you could fit into the diverse events ecosystem. From here you can start building the skills and experiences to secure opportunities to realise your future career. There are also soft skills that are particularly important due to working with and managing diverse teams and stakeholders. Developing your skills and attributes in team communications and risk management as well as your attention to detail and multi-tasking will hold valuable weight with future employers in this sector. Work experience or volunteering is an invaluable way to build relevant skills and make your CV stand out though gaining hands on experience.
Working at a sporting event, whether regional, national or international is exciting, especially when you are passionate about sport. If you are excited by the prospect of a career in this sector, event volunteering should be your initial goal as it will likely be the best way to build the required skills, experiences and develop your network.
Nathalie Deutsch, a Global Sport Business Masters student at AMOS London School, tells us:
"I started volunteering in France before I even joined AMOS, and I was one of the youngest working with FFR (French Rugby Fédération). Alongside my higher education studies, I was given responsibility for important tasks, which allowed me to develop my skills. My experiences taught me to have self-confidence, to anticipate and manage problems, and to manage others too… In terms of developing managerial and human competence, there is nothing better than working in the field."
Volunteering provides the unique opportunity to discover the different aspects of sporting event through 'real world' experience, which is invaluable. In addition, it is a opportunity to develop your network and build your profile within the sector. The sports industry remains very much a 'people industry'. The positive connections you make with professionals at this early stage will pay dividends in the long term.
While not always easy, financial incentives should not be your motivation, instead focus on your commitment to the bigger picture and securing future success in your career.
AMOS Business School specialises in Sport Business and has many partnerships with sports organisations that organise events. Every year, the London Campus places more than 500 students on events like the London Half Marathon or Volleyball Champions League Games to develop their skills and experience.
Baptiste Le Berre, a Bachelor student at AMOS, tell us:
"During my experiences as a volunteer, I was able to see from the inside how all the organisational aspects of an event come together. This allowed me to better understand how a sporting event works and give me first-hand experience on the field."
Baptiste Le Berre had the opportunity to lead a group at an Adidas city 10k race, acting as the link between organisers and volunteers and providing him with valuable team management responsibilities.
"The experiences I developed whilst volunteering have allowed me to enhance my CV and can be a real added value when it comes to standing out in my future internship/job search."
There are no sporting events without volunteers, so there are endless opportunities if you have the commitment to developing your career by putting in the leg work. In 2018 over 17,000 volunteers participated in the football world cup in Russia. These 17,000 volunteers were scattered over the various World Cup sites and were an essential and integral part of ensuring the success of the competition. Volunteers worked in various fields such as media, ceremonies, transport, protocols, language services and anti-doping control.
This year, the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 will welcome nearly 80,000 volunteers working across stadiums, media, transportation and related missions to ensure a successful Olympic Games for spectators and athletes.
Deepak Trivedi, Sport Consultant at Tokyo 2020 highlights how volunteering is the lifeline of sporting events:
“Volunteers are an important element of an events success. It is estimated that they make up to 70% of an events human resources. Not only does this have a wide-ranging economic impact (since volunteers are not paid) but volunteers are in many ways the face of the event. They are the ones of help to create the event experience for our fans, so they are extremely important.”
Deepak, however is aware that there are challenges for volunteers that event organisers need to consider:
“I think one of the biggest challenges is providing meaningful work to volunteers to ensure they remain motivated. Often, we don't tend to think of volunteers as being a 'skillful' resource and I believe this is a big issue in sports events. It really is so important for us to think about how we would make the experience for the volunteer a memorable one as they have given up their valuable time to help make your event successful. And when someone gives up their time, they can never get that back so it should be appreciated, recognised and rewarded.”
The sporting event sector is unique with many constituent parts coming together to deliver greatness. As a result, experience is the critical component to your resume when building a career into events and what employers look for more than other sectors.
For this reason, volunteering is such a beneficial opportunity to provide that vital stepping stone. As Deepak Trivedi explains; “If there is one thing that is key in the sports industry, it's experience and volunteering helps to build this. Students will build many important skills like effective communication, customer service, teamwork and problem solving."
Alongside experience, growing your network and your self confidence within the industry are important. Research opportunities and build relevant skills via courses to develop your knowledge, build your profile, make networking easier and demonstrate your actions are focused on your career goals.
Make no mistake, the path can be long, and even volunteering can be a very competitive environment. Taking pragmatic steps to building your experience, knowledge and network, will ensure you reach your destination at the worlds greatest sporting occasions soon enough.
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