By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Ryan McKenna, an Associate of Talent Recruitment for Thuzio, an online platform utilized by Fortune 1000 companies to book professional athletes, coaches, media personalities, etc for paid appearances and engagements. Ryan is an alumnus of University of Delaware where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management. He was gracious enough to offer up his insight on the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, why networking is so important and why you have to “move without the ball.”
What were your previous positions, if any, before your current position? How did those positions help you get to where you are today?
Prior to working for Thuzio full time, my previous positions were all internships. I started out at the University of Delaware as a Football Student Manager. There, I worked with the football program to assist in the daily operations of practice, games, etc.
From there, I took my experience and transferred that into a position with the Eagles as an Equipment Assistant. There, I worked training camp and the 2012 regular season assisting the equipment staff in day-to-day operations. This gave me great insight into the daily operations of an NFL franchise.
After my time with the Eagles I went on to become an intern at BAC Sports Management. I assisted NFLPA certified agent Bill Baldini in the day-to-day operations of running his sports agency. This experience was valuable in learning the nuances of the sports agency world in such a competitive industry.
Then I transitioned into working for Platinum Rye Entertainment as a market Research Intern. This experience was extremely helpful in landing my current job at Thuzio as many of the things that Platinum Rye does are similar to Thuzio.
I made sure to get as much related experience in different aspects of the industry as possible. This helped me decide what exactly I enjoyed the most and what sector of the industry I wanted to pursue. Related experience is one of the most important factors in breaking into the industry.
As a Talent Recruitment Associate what is a normal day like for you? What are some of your day-to-day challenges?
As Thuzio grows, my role continues to change and grow every day. For the past year, I helped in the recruitment effort to bring on new talent to the Thuzio platform. I would reach out directly to athletes; speak with agents, marketing agents, PR managers, etc. If an athlete finds they are interested in joining Thuzio, I assist in helping the talent set up their profile in regards to their pricing and products. I also assist our Client Services team with specific campaigns and requests from customers.
As someone who is a former participant in the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, can you tell us about that experience and how it helped you in your career?
MSBA was an amazing experience that certainly helped me land my position at Thuzio and break into the industry. MSBA is a two month experience that includes an internship experience at a company in New York City, networking and guest speaker events three to four times a week, workshops, and field trips to relevant sports business offices/companies. I was introduced to Platinum Rye through MSBA. I certainly recommend the program to anyone looking to separate and distinguish himself or herself as an up and coming young business professional in the sports business industry. The program will expose you to many people in the industry that your normally wouldn’t have access to on your own.
What’s the highlight of your career to this point?
I would say that the highlight of my career to this point was Super Bowl Week in New York City this past year. The reason it was a highlight for me is because I was fortunate enough to attend several great events throughout the week and meet athletes such as Troy Aikman, Reggie Bush, Ronnie Lott, Marshall Faulk, amongst others. This was an amazing experience to meet many of the athletes that I grew up idolizing.
How important is networking in your eyes?
Networking, in my opinion, is more important in the sports industry than any other industry in business. The reason for this is because in the sports industry, everyone knows each other. If you are comfortable with someone and have a good relationship with him or her, you are much more inclined to work with that person or company. Establishing strong connections through networking is vital to success in this industry.
What is the best career advice you have been given so far?
The best advice that I have received so far in my young career is the phrase “Move without the ball”. This phrase stood with me because it is easy to apply to the things that you should be doing in your career. It is not enough to just go through the motions, do a couple internships, and then expect to land a position in the sports business industry. You need to go above and beyond to separate yourself from the rest of the competition who are gunning for the same jobs that you will be. By “moving without the ball”, you are taking the additional steps that will help you succeed in this industry.
If there was one job in sports you could have for one day what would it be and why?
If there was one job that I could have for one day, it would be to act as General Manager for an NFL franchise on Draft Day. I always had a strong interest in scouting, coaching, and the operations of an NFL franchise through my previous experiences so it would certainly be cool to be the person pulling the strings on Draft Day.
What is one thing you think students or young sports professional should do to help them stand out from the crowd?
One thing that I think students should do to help them stand out from the crowd is to pursue experiences, internships, jobs, etc that will provide valuable related experience for themselves and also help to build their resume.