Mount Union Alumni Serve as Speakers at 2009 Annual Sport Marketing Association International Conference

November 10, 2009

Four Mount Union College alumni served as the keynote speakers at the 2009 Annual Sport Marketing Association International Conference that was hosted by the College’s sport business program on Wednesday, October 28 through Friday, October 30 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

The conference, “Addressing Challenges, Providing Solutions,” brought together local and international sports marketing practitioners and academics to discuss sport marketing strategies and how to enhance and advance the sport industry.  Some of those practitioners included Mount Union alumni Nancy Hill ’79, Brent Stehlik ’99,  Mike McGee ’97 and Bridget Huzicka ’02.

Hill, the president and chief executive officer of the American Association of AdveNancy Hillrtising Agencies (AAAA), discussed with college students the importance of taking chances, networking, staying up to date with the digital age and being open minded. 

“Never take anything for granted,” said Hill. “Take chances. There is a world of opportunity that exists for you.”

Hill encouraged students to “think outside the box,” explaining that there is a world of opportunities tied to the sports industry beyond working for a professional franchise, including working for an ad agency. Athletes and professional teams are constantly developing sponsorships and advertisements with companies like Coca-Cola and Gatorade.

Over the course of her advertising career, Hill has been able to work with athletes such as Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez and Larry Bird – people she wouldn’t have ever imagined she’d meet when she was student majoring in sociology at Mount Union.

Hill also stressed the importance of staying up to date with technology. “The minute everything went digital, it went global,” she said.

Prior to joining the AAAA staff, Hill served as chief executive officer at Lowe New York, where she led an agency reorganization to more closely align services with the demands of clients in the 21st century.  She was executive vice president and managing director at BBDO New York, where she oversaw several of the agency’s largest accounts, including Motorola, HBO, Visa and AOL.

McGee also served as a keynote speaker during the 2009 conference. He currently serves as the managing director of ANNIKA Inc., a collection of companies that includes a clothing line, fragrances, wine, a finance group, foundation, golf course design and an academy. McGee explained to international sports marketing practitioners and academics the concept and importance of brand management.

He explained that although ANNIKA is a collection of a variety of companies, each entity still has to have a different brand promise.

For example the ANNIKA Foundation teaches children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition. The Academy on the other hand is a boutique school that caters to small groups of golfers of all skill levels and provides individualized golf instruction and custom made fitness programs.

Director of business development for the Dallas Cowboys, Brent Stehlik, served as a panelist during the conference where he discussed ticket sales in a tough economy and tough market.

“I was happy to be a part of the conference and to be able to impact practitioners and students alike. Being able to give an overview of what it’s like to work in ticket sales and to tell others about my experiences, both good and bad, is something I really enjoy doing,” he said. “I wish I would have had this same opportunity to attend a conference as a student. It would have better prepared me for my first job and helped me understand what to expect.”

Stehlik noted that it is not only important for students to learn from the successes and mistakes of others, but to also understand that they can learn from every experience because they will inevitably shape and mold their careers. 

Other international sports marketing practitioners and academics that served as keynotes speakers included Len Komoroski, president of Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena and Paul Dolan, owner and president of the Cleveland Indians. Panelists at the conference included Chris Heck, senior vice president of team business operations for the NBA; David Lehanski, vice president of integrated sales and partnership marketing for NHL; Cameron Scholvin, vice president of corporate development for the Columbus Blue Jackets; Vic Gregovits, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Cleveland Indians; Mike Tomon, vice president of ticket sales and service for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Leigh Castergine, director of ticket sales and fan relations for the Boston Bruins, among others. 

While serving as the conference host and organizing the international conference, seven Mount Union students served as conference coordinators and three recent graduates of the institution helped with the event as well.

Last year's conference was held on the Gold Coast of Australia and next year the conference will be held in New Orleans, LA.

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