With just under a month until the 5th annual Michigan Sport Business Conference (MSBC), we spoke with Brandon Rhodes about this year’s event and the conference as a whole. Brandon was one of the founders of the MSBC, along with Dustin Cairo, and has an integral advisory role as an alum of both the University of Michigan and the MSBC student planning committee.
In what way do you think the Michigan Sport Business Conference has changed the most since the inaugural conference five years ago?
Dustin and I started the MSBC to enable students to build their understanding, inspire them with various industry stories, and help them build their careers through recruiting and connections made at the event. Each year, the student team has done an incredible job of innovating with the student in mind. Additionally, while the speaker list has become deeper and more impressive each year, I am more impressed with the programming that has been created for the students. For example, the Thursday Night Dinner at the Big House and the growth of the BIG Initiative Award.
Overall, I am amazed at how the students have grown the organizational culture and ways of working to create the best practical on-campus learning experience available at Michigan.
How do you think the MSBC best captures relevant and important topics in the industry of sport business?
The students do a great job of researching and leveraging our Board of Advisors and Steering Committee to pick a theme that is central to where the industry is going. From there, we are able to approach top industry professionals that are ushering in that change. One of my favorite speakers to date was Rohan Oza from year one. He preached the importance of creative disruption as an approach for building brands. I believe the MSBC has taken that speech to heart and gone after topics and speakers that are innovating and breaking barriers within the industry in all facets of the business.
What stands out to you as the most beneficial part of the MSBC for those in attendance?
For an attendee, the number one thing you can walk out with is a new connection. The content will always be great, but the ability to shake hands with the likes of Stephen M. Ross is even more valuable. At the first conference, I told the story of Jeff Blau meeting Stephen Ross at a similar conference on campus through a Real Estate professor, which is a true story. There are plenty of case studies from the MSBC of people finding a job, doing business with someone new, or making a lasting friendship.
How would you recommend a student looking to pursue a career in sport business prepare for the MSBC as an attendee?
Preparation is one of the biggest things that students overlook. There are over 500 attendees, many topics, and countless industry professionals moving around that day. If you try to take everything in, you might end up with nothing. The key is to identify what you are looking to get out of the conference and focus on those key areas.
If you are a freshman, you might want to make sure you go to a diverse range of panels to see which areas of the industry spark your interest. It’s important to research the topics and hear from speakers at companies you might want to work with one day.
If you are a junior or senior looking for a job, it might be more important to focus on talking to the companies that are recruiting and target a few individual speakers that you want to carve out time to chat with. It might even be worth it to reach out on LinkedIn prior to the day of the conference to introduce yourself.