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.
Russell Scibetti, Director, Relationship & Database Marketing
New York Jets
Name: Russell Scibetti
Current Job Title: Director, Relationship & Database Marketing
Company Name: New York Jets
First sports job: Marketing Fellowship at Arizona State University
College education: MBA in Sports Business and Marketing from Arizona State University, BS in Computer Science from Rutgers University
Executive most admired: Mark DiMaurizio, VP of Technology Solutions, Comcast-Spectacor
Brand most admired: ESPN
In my current role, I am responsible for creating, managing and reporting on all sales and service campaigns, building in-depth consumer profiles, and generating qualified leads for the Jets' consumer and corporate sales departments. To do this, I make sure that we aggregate all the important data for our customers and prospects and then analyze this data to make sound marketing and operational decisions. This information also allows our sales and service staff to deliver the best personalized experience to all of our fans.
Prior to taking this role, I worked as a CRM analyst for Comcast-Spectacor, where I implemented CRM and technology-based marketing initiatives for the Philadelphia Flyers' consumer, premium and advertising sales departments. On the side, I am also the Founding Editor of TheBusinessOfSports.com, an industry blog discussing current events and best practices in sports business.
Tell us a little about your first job in the sports industry. How did you land it?
I was able to get my first position with Arizona State because I was a student in their Sports Business MBA program. For me as a career-changer, this MBA program was instrumental in getting my career off the group. In the marketing fellowship position, I was able to run all elements of a marketing campaign for several smaller sports, such as volleyball and wrestling, while assisting the larger sports with their email and digital marketing campaigns. In addition, my first job after graduating came directly from a relationship I built at ASU. My boss was able to connect me with my future boss at Comcast-Spectacor, and we spoke several times throughout the spring semester. Not long after graduation, they had a position come open and reached out to me directly about applying.
What advice would you give to students looking to make sports their career?
Get as much experience as possible as early in the process as you can, so you can learn how the industry really works and what the different job functions are like. I see a lot of students decide after they graduate that they “want to work in sports” but don't really know what role they see themselves in and just apply for anything and everything. The odds of this approach working are slim, especially when many of these applicants have pipe dreams of being a “GM” but no understanding of how the business works.
However, if you've taken the time to get a couple of internships and seek out information interviews with those already working in the industry, you will be able to focus on jobs that make the most sense for your career goals and match best with your interests and skill set.
What advice would you give to people in established careers trying to make the transition into sports?
To me, the biggest thing is to embrace your skill set and find parallel opportunities where your non-sports experience can apply. At first, I was afraid of being pigeon-holed as an IT guy, and actively tried to distance myself from it. However, in learning more about the industry, I found a particular niche where my technical background could be applied in a strategic marketing role. Those analytical skills I developed as a system and database administrator directly led to my current role in the sports industry.
We all know that working in sports generally involves long hours. What are the perks that offset this?
In my opinion, the biggest perk is that passionate connection that you have to the industry that you are a part of. I worked in the IT world for a few years before changing careers, and even though I was good at my job, it was hard to have a passion for network administration. Now, I wake up every day and know that I'm contributing to a team and a sport that I'm excited about. I might not be on the football-side of the company, but I still feel that excitement and energy when I step in the door, especially on Sundays.
When hiring, what major traits do you look for in a candidate?
I look for a strong skill-set that matches the needs for the position. With my job function, I'm generally looking for an analytical person with some experience with Excel, statistics, ticketing, or some technology-related role. However, if I was hiring for ticket sales, marketing or event operations, I would look for the skills that best match those roles. That’s the big reason why I stress the value of internship to gain those skills and experience.
The last trait I look for is being a fan of the team or organization you’re applying for. In a strange way, the more of a fan that you are of a particular organization, the more I wonder where you’re focus will be – on your job or watching the game. Don’t get me wrong, I want people that are passionate for and motivated by sports, but don’t cross that line from passionate to fanatic.
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