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.
Sydney Schneider, BIG ‘15
Schneider is a marathon-racing sports fanatic who now works for the National Football League after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. As part of the NFL, Schneider analyzes big data to make smart business decisions to grow the NFL’s reach and revenue. She is passionate about the sports business industry, specifically about reaching a broader and more diverse fan base and using athletics as a vehicle for uniting people through unique storytelling.
David Goldstein, BIG ‘15
Goldstein graduated from Princeton University with a degree in philosophy. At Princeton, he was an undergraduate assistant coach for the men’s soccer team beginning in the spring of his sophomore year. Goldstein will attend the Sports Management Master’s Program at Columbia University next year.
How has winning the BIG Initiative impacted your journey to where you are today?
SCHNEIDER: The BIG Initiative provided me with a network of dynamic peers and mentors, across sports disciplines, with which to connect with and learn from. Thanks to the BIG Initiative Award and the Michigan Sport Business Conference, I learned that the sports business industry is far more than players, teams and leagues, but also includes a variety of media outlets, sponsors, licensees and technology companies. Now, when I attend industry conferences or begin phone calls with prospective partners, I often discover someone related to MSBC and a relationship immediately begins to form more organically because of it.
GOLDSTEIN: Winning the BIG Initiative has given me the confidence that I need to pursue a career in the sports industry. In addition, it has given me a network of resources that will help me grow as an industry professional and find new opportunities.
What is the most valuable aspect of the BIG Initiative/MSBC experience to you?
SCHNEIDER: As Michigan students and alumni would say, “The Team, The Team, The Team” is the most valuable aspect of the BIG Initiative/MSBC experience. Members of the MSBC team of students, faculty advisors, speakers and BIG Initiative winners have become some of my closest friends and colleagues. Together, we propel the conference forward each year to tackle some of the industry’s most cutting-edge topics. The conference is exhilarating and inspirational.
GOLDSTEIN: The potential in the future to connect with like-minded people who will also play a part in revolutionizing the world of sports.
If you could provide this year’s BIG applicants and recipients with one piece of advice, what would it be?
SCHNEIDER: My advice to BIG applicants would be to make sure your passion for working within the sports industry shines through, rather than purely displaying a passion for sports.
GOLDSTEIN: Be genuine in describing your passions in the sports industry. If you truly care about the work that you do, then it will show in your application without you overdoing it.
And lastly, if you could have coffee with anyone in the sports industry, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
SCHNEIDER: I would want to have coffee with Martin St. Louis because he embodies the power of the “underdog” and how perseverance, hard work and faith in oneself leads to success. Underrated and undrafted, St. Louis went on to score 1,000 points in an NHL career, was named to an NHL All-Star Team on five occasions, was awarded Stanley Cup MVP and was a two-time Olympian. Despite the fact that his height was considered a physical limitation, St. Louis ignored others’ perceptions that height would be his Achilles heel and bolted forward, blazing the path for people in every aspect of their lives who don’t quite fit the mold but can achieve greatness nonetheless!
GOLDSTEIN: I would have coffee with Vince Lombardi. It would be incredible to learn about his ability to lead and rally his team to achieve unprecedented feats.
Thanks to Sydney Schneider and David Goldstein 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.