To celebrate the release of applications for the 2017 BIG Initiative Award, the Michigan Sport Business Conference team caught up with past winners. Each recipient has followed a unique path since being honored at the MSBC and has a wealth of valuable advice to share with up-and-coming sport industry professionals. Their journeys, insights and advice will be shared over the next few weeks.
Sam Rubinroit, BIG ‘13
Sam currently works in the Club Business Development department at the National Football League, focusing on enhancing the gameday fan experience. Sam broke into the sport industry at the age of 12 as a journalist, interviewing countless sports icons, including Jim Brown, John Wooden and Willie Mays. Sam attended Brown University where he served as the president of Brown Sports Business and a sports editor for the Brown Daily Herald.
Avish Sood, BIG ‘13
Avish has worked in sponsorship marketing for the last five years since graduation and is now working as an Associate Marketing Manager with Brita. He is also the CEO and Co-Founder of The Sponsorship Space, an online marketing platform dedicated to sharing news and articles to educate young professionals on the world of partnership marketing. Avish was recently included on Marketing Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list and awarded Young Achiever of the Year by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce.
Josh Klein, BIG ‘16
Josh is a rising senior in the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University, pursuing minors in business, law and communication. On campus, he is the Co-President of the Big Red Sports Network (Cornell’s only exclusively student-run sports media organization on campus) and Vice President of Events of the Sports Business Society. Josh interned for NBC Sports at the Rio Olympics as well as Horizon Media in the Scout Sports and Entertainment Marketing division. This summer, he is a Strategy and Operations Summer Scholar at Deloitte.
How has winning the BIG Initiative impacted your journey to where you are today?
RUBINROIT: I still keep in touch with several of my fellow BIG award winners and they have been invaluable when I’m in need of advice or to bounce an idea off of someone.
SOOD: It was the start of an incredible journey. To be recognized by an international institution as well respected as the University of Michigan while in school is a BIG deal. I was the first Canadian to be recognized by the initiative and it really helped accelerate my career up here north of the border.
KLEIN: Winning the BIG Initiative was an especially meaningful achievement for me. Not only did it serve as official recognition of my efforts on and off-campus to break into the sports industry, but it allowed me to share my experiences and story with many other undergrads and industry execs. It also served as a talking point for my interviews in the fall, as it was something that employers immediately noticed and asked me about.
What is the most valuable aspect of the BIG Initiative/MSBC experience to you?
RUBINROIT: Similar to the first response, probably the relationships that have developed with my fellow winners.
SOOD: Building meaningful connections with talented young professionals from around the continent. Also, the MSBC is probably one of the best value-for-your-money sports conferences out there.
KLEIN: I think the most valuable opportunity of the Big Initiative/MSBC experience is the intra-student networking. While being able to speak with industry executives is obviously an important and beneficial part of the conference, it is really the opportunity to meet and connect with other similar-minded students that truly completes the experience. After all, those are the people that will enter the workforce alongside you, and having a network of people your age across different industries and companies can really broaden your understanding of what opportunities are out there.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the sports industry, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
RUBINROIT: I had the opportunity to interview Magic Johnson when I was younger and ask him about transcending the basketball court to gain success in the boardroom. That was nearly a decade ago, so I’d love the chance to reconnect with him to see how things have changed what he has learned en route to his current position atop the sports industry.
SOOD: Kevin Durant – why would you do that to OKC man!? COLD.
KLEIN: I would have coffee with Kevin Plank (Founder and CEO of Under Armour). As someone who started his business selling t-shirts out of the trunk of his car and now manages a multi-billion dollar global brand, he can provide rather unique insight into what it takes to be successful in sports.
Thanks to Sam Rubinroit, Avish Sood and Josh Klein for sharing their experiences. Conversations with past BIG Initiative Award winners will continue to be released over the next few weeks. For more information on the BIG Initiative Award and what it is, click here. To apply for the BIG Initiative Award, click here.