Name: David Perkins
Current Job Title: Chief Operating Officer
Company Name: USA Baseball
First sports job: USA Baseball - Junior Olympic Intern
College education: University of Arizona, Bachelor of Finance (1999)
Executive most admired: Alan Mulally (Ford, CEO)
Brand most admired: Under Armour
Short Bio: Tell us a little about your current position and your career path.
David Perkins joined USA Baseball in March 1998, first working on the organization's Junior Olympic Baseball Championships. The then 56-team tournament has since become the 144-team USA Baseball 16U Championships. At the end of that summer, he assumed responsibility for USA Baseball's merchandise and retail programs. One year later, and prior to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Perkins moved into the role of associate director of business development.
In 2003, the Tucson, Ariz., native was promoted to director of marketing and licensing, and, later that same year he was part of a five-person relocation committee that selected North Carolina's Triangle-area as the new home for USA Baseball. More recently Perkins has worked to further develop the organization's revenue opportunities through both new on-field programs and marketing programs, which include USA Baseball's multi-year marketing partnership with Major League Baseball.
In early 2008, Perkins was named the organization's Chief Operating Officer and among his responsibilities now is to administer all aspects of the organization’s internship program. Perkins graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in finance. He now resides in Raleigh, N.C., with his wife, Liz.
Tell us a little about your first job in the sports industry. How did you land it?
In 1998, I was a student at the University of Arizona and a member of the university’s Sports Marketing Association (SMA). Early that year, information about a summer internship with USA Baseball was distributed to the members of the association and I submitted my resume. My interview was held in the left-field stands at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson during a Colorado Rockies / Oakland Athletics spring training game. I was offered the internship several days later and accepted.
I always tell people I was fortunate to land that first internship. USA Baseball had relocated from Trenton, New Jersey to Tucson, Arizona in January 1998 so the organization was relatively new to the area. I later found out there were only a couple of candidates for the internship . . . things have changed a lot since 1998.
How does working in sports differ from working in other industries?
I have been fortunate to spend my entire professional career working in sports, with the same organization and with the same Executive Director/CEO. We are especially fortunate at USA Baseball to see so many of the nation’s premier high school and college players go through our programs in the months and years prior to the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Here are a few highlights from the 2010 Draft:
• The top 3 picks were members of the 2009 18U National Team
• The top 5 picks were all USA Baseball alumni
• Eight of the top 10 were USA Baseball alumni
Both Stephen Strasburg (2008) and Bryce Harper (2009) played for the National Teams and watching these players develop and then go on to success both on and off the field is such a unique experience.
What advice would you give to students looking to make sports their career?
I always encourage students to begin “early”. “Early” encompasses everything from looking for that first job in sports while still in high school to looking for an internship a full year before the desired start date. At USA Baseball we take resumes in the spring for the following following summer's internships – a full 13-15 months away.
I also encourage students to take full advantage of every opportunity they are given to work in sports.
1. Be the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave the office at the end of the day.
2. Ask for more things to do, ask for different things and proactively look for things to do even when no one asks you to do it.
3. Have fun.
We all know that working in sports generally involves long hours. What are the perks that offset this?
One of the best things about working in sports is the people you meet and work with every day. I cannot imagine another career where you can meet such great people who are genuinely excited about what they do day in and day out.
At USA Baseball many of our staff members have had the opportunity to see places around the world which they might not have traveled to otherwise. In just the past two years, we have had staff in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and throughout North America.
Personally, I look back to my first two years at USA Baseball (when I was still at the University of Arizona) and I had the opportunity to travel to 40 plus states in this country during our annual Collegiate National Team Tours. Places I have never been back to but still have great memories.
When hiring, what major traits do you look for in a candidate?
This is somewhat dependent on the position but typically the first three things we look for are enthusiasm, experience and confidence. If a candidate has those three qualities we can usually find a good position for that person within our organization.
I think it is also important for candidates to remember the details. We ask all of our candidates to provide a cover letter with their resume because we want to see how they are with details. How well do they write, what format do they use for their letter and do they take the time to notice the details (spelling, punctuation, etc.). We feel can tell a lot about a candidate from their cover letter.
Where do you see hiring in the sports industry heading in the next 3 years?
I expect hiring will become even more competitive as candidates come forward from a wider range of educational and career backgrounds. We are seeing some great candidates who are getting degrees in accounting, economics and various foreign languages to name a few. The combination of one these degrees with enthusiasm, experience and confidence are a great starting point for a career in sports.