We’re living in a world enveloped by technology. We see toddlers intuitively playing with iPads, commuters streaming live sports on their phones, and drones delivering packages to households. The distractions are endless…and we’re just getting started!
According to Statista, the number of devices that will be in consumer and business hands will grow to 30 billion in less than two years, and 75 billion in less than six years. Just imagine the accessible entertainment the everyday consumer can digest with virtual reality still in its infancy. Engagement is and will always be king.
Sports organizations are not lost on this evolution. Similar to athletes needing advanced training and nutrition to compete, the sports world needs to evolve to improve and retain engagement in this digital age.
Because of this, at SPMB, we’re getting more and more interest from sports clients to recruit thought leaders from best-of-breed technology companies. So how did we recruit technology executives from the likes of Spotify, YouTube, and Facebook? Six key learnings below…
1) Affinity for sports and a love of the game is vital – obviously. From a recruiting perspective, we estimate 1 in 3 executives has a genuine interest in sports. For example, a Facebook engineer recently mentioned that most people in her department couldn’t name a single player on the San Francisco Giants. Some tech execs see it as a dream job, while others are completely disinterested. Extensive market mapping is essential. Time to hammer the phones!
2) Compensation will be top of mind. Sports organizations don’t traditionally offer equity, therefore the candidate doesn’t have an opportunity for a ‘grand slam’ like we see in Silicon Valley. A healthy cash package should be budgeted for executive hires to offset the opportunity cost of leaving equity behind. Furthermore, HQs are often based in NYC, which means a higher cost of living.
3) Interviewing for a major sports organization is different than a technology company. As tech recruiters, we’re used to interviewing for details on revenue ramp, team size, product launch successes, etc. Sports organizations are already multi-billion entities and don’t see large growth in their bottom line. It’s important to have clearly-defined initiatives and deliverables that this hire needs to accomplish so we can properly assess talent and skillset.
4) There’s going to be a splash of cold water with regards to culture. The C-suite and EVPs in New York highrises differ vastly from the Silicon Valley engineering leads wearing flip flops and shorts to the office. It’s a matter-of-fact that politics play a role here, so someone who can and wants to navigate this landscape will be more at home and successful.
5) Technology impact is vital to attracting technology talent. This candidate will come from a ‘change the world’ mentality to focusing on innovation for a specific use case and audience. We’re seeing groundbreaking technology from Statcast to stadium engagement to 3D replay capabilities that will prove challenging to the most proficient technology executive. The legalization of gambling also opens endless opportunities for product and marketing iterations.
6) Pedigree. Resume matters here. These are press material type hires.
Through our experiences at SPMB, we suggest keeping these six learnings top of mind when recruiting top technology talent to the sports industry.
Our Representative Searches:
MLB Advanced Media – Chief Product and Digital Officer
MLB Advanced Media – Chief Technology Officer
Golden State Warriors – Chief Financial Officer
Pittsburgh Steelers – Senior Director of eCommerce
San Jose Earthquakes – Vice President Finance
To learn more about SPMB and our sports recruitment practice, please contact us at spmb.com or contact the author, Brad Delaplane, directly.