Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

Nancy Spears

Nancy Spears, President

Los Angeles Sparks


Rec league game brought new president to Sparks

Nancy Spears’ career took a new direction after a recreational league basketball game in early January. Spears learned that her teammate, Carla Christofferson, was part of a group that had recently bought the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks and that the team was looking for a new president. Spears, a well-known marketing executive and a basketball player since the age of 12, was intrigued, and after a series of meetings she took the job. She has worked for such companies as Coca-Cola, Mattel and most recently Warner Bros.

Age: 37
New title: President, Los Angeles Sparks
Previous title: Director of worldwide acquisitions, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
First job: Analyst for a market research company
College education: Bachelor of arts, economics, University of California, Berkeley; MBA, Duke University
Resides: Los Angeles
Grew up: Pasadena, Calif.
Favorite vacation spot: Florence, Italy
Last book read: “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal,” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
Last movie seen: “The Last King of Scotland”
Favorite movie: “Private Benjamin”
Favorite musician: Prince

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?

Re-establishing a connection with the L.A. community and the Sparks fans by reaching out to our fans and strengthening the in-arena experience. We want 17 home games to be thought of as 17 parties.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?

In 2000, I joined a startup Internet company and left a steady job. It was still a marketing position but in a new industry that I knew very little about. It was such a challenge for me. The company ended up going under but that failure became my biggest lesson in life. The skills that I gained at that job are really helping me in this job.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?

Working so hard at something, putting your all into something and having it fail like with the Internet company.

With new ownership and management, what does the future hold for the Sparks?

We really have three main objectives: expand and strengthen the Sparks community, strengthen the in-arena experience and bring a championship back to Los Angeles. Kathy [Goodman] and Carla are two of the most supportive owners you can have because they just get it. They were inaugural Sparks season-ticket holders.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in sports today?

Basketball in general. I love March Madness. I went to Duke University because of their basketball team! I just wanted to see Coach Krzyzewski coach a game and see good basketball.

This career spotlight is courtesy of the SportsBusiness Journal. CLICK HERE to visit their official website.

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