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.
Jamie Brandt, Vice President, Ticketing & Suites
San Francisco 49ers
Name: Jamie Brandt
Current Job Title: Vice President, Ticketing & Suites
Company Name: San Francisco 49ers
First sports job: Ticket Sales, Tampa Bay Storm (AFL)
College education: BA Business Management, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
Executive most admired: My father
Brand most admired: Apple
Currently VP of Ticketing & Suites for the 49ers. Broke into sports in 1996 while still in college (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL) working with the Tampa Bay Storm (AFL.) Spent a season there before moving to the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) where we sold/opened up the Ice Palace (now St. Pete Times Forum.) Spent a full season there before moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) in 1997 to sell/open up the Raymond James Stadium for the 1998 season. After three seasons with the Buccaneers, I took the Senior Director position overseeing Ticketing and Administration with the Orlando Rage of the now-defunct XFL. After the league shut down operations in 2001, I immediately accepted a position as Director, Ticket Sales, with the Arizona Cardinals (NFL.) We sold/opened the University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006 and I moved on to the San Francisco 49ers in 2008. Was named Vice President of Ticketing and Suites in 2010 and now look forward to selling and opening the new 49ers Stadium in 2015.
Tell us a little about your first job in the sports industry. How did you land it?
A friend from college put me in touch with someone at the TB Storm and I landed the job after agreeing to $100/week starting salary. Thatís probably how I got the job; though, I have no idea now looking back how I survived on $400 a month. Thank god for multiple roommates and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
But seriously, I wanted to maintain a life in sports in some capacity after playing baseball in college but had no idea what that meant. I took a class and volunteered to work a few APV beach volleyball tournaments thinking that would get me in somewhere. The reality was, though, I was a college kid with virtually no relevant experience that would allow me to dive right into a career in sports after I graduated. So, I made the choice that while I was wrapping up my final three months of college (when most of all my friends were enjoying their last moments of college life on a campus surrounded by Florida beaches) I would try and find a job that might give me a head start after graduation. A former classmate of mine that was now working for the TB Lightning Ė he followed the same path the year prior while still in college Ė set me up with a meeting with the Storm for a part-time ticket sales position. I had no experience selling anything nor did I envision a career like that, but it was a chance to get into the industry and possibly the start of a career.
What advice would you give to students looking to make sports their career?
When I first entered the business, I wanted my employers to know I would do anything, anytime, anywhere to prove my worth. My position was in ticket sales, but I spent time each day and night helping out in other areas (common-place for entry-level positions in minor league or secondary leagues like the AFL.) While this all may seem standard for a young buck trying to establish himself, I was certain at all times to still make it clear that my primary focus and dedication was toward selling tickets because thatís what they hired me to do. I simply wanted to be known as a guy who moved the bottom line, who made money for the team. I believe a clear understanding of my role is what kept me in the business early on and, in fact, ultimately landed me a job with the Lightning. It was the 100 calls I made per day that got my bosses attention, not the 60-70 hours a week I worked helping around the office. Work ethic is great and hustle will always be appreciated, but your primary responsibility and what you were hired for is what will ultimately be measured. Teams like young people with drive, initiative, and the desire to help wherever needed, but will avoid hiring someone that isnít focused on what they were hired to do and instead gravitates toward other tasks besides, say, selling tickets. I canít tell you how many interviews Iíve conducted with folks that came in for a ticket sales job and spent most of the time talking about what else they want to do with their career after they get out of ticket sales. Be someone that understands the role and responsibility and focus on achieving the goals set out for you. Thatís how you stay in this business.
Now, once youíve broken into the industry and youíre early on in your career, you should be flexible and open to relocation to give yourself the best chance to move up quickly. Itís not likely you will start with a club and move right up the ladder in that same club. But, if you can prove your ability in one place and remain open to opportunities outside of your current market, you stand a much better chance of advancing your career. I made a decision at the start of my career that I would consider any opportunity that would allow me to advance. I would have preferred to stay in Tampa because, frankly, itís a pretty awesome place to call home and the Buccaneers are a fantastic organization. But, without making the jump to the XFL and then choosing to relocate my life across the county in Arizona, I would not be at the position I am today.
When hiring, what major traits do you look for in a candidate?
For management positions, I will look for relevant experience more than anything else. To me, management roles require someone with industry knowledge and a track-record of experience to properly lead a staff that is less versed on the ins and outs of the business. My vision for that staff, often entry level sales and service people, is a collection of self-motivated and role-conscious individuals that thrive within a team setting. I want people that show energy and enthusiasm when approaching the daily task at hand, even if that is the same task repeated over and over like is the world of ticket sales. I also want someone that understands their role and clearly accepts what the job calls for them to do. Experience isnít going to be there on the resumes of most entry level people, so itís critical they possess certain personality traits.
Where do you see hiring in the sports industry heading in the next 3 years?
As technology becomes more efficient and effective in driving revenue and general fan support, sales and service staffs will shrink or, at the very least, their roles will evolve. I can envision a world where we donít have separate ticket sales teams from service teams from ops teams. Instead, we have a single unit of skilled sales and service individuals that are trained and equipped to handle ticket operations. Whether itís selling tickets online or providing customer with the chance to manage their own accounts online, technology is streamlining our business and reducing the need for sizeable staffs.
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