Meet the Rising 25 Class of 2018: Cole Cook

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1. Tell Us About Yourself and Your Current Role

In February of 2017, after interning for over 6 months in the Wasserman office in Carlsbad, CA my supervisor pulled me aside and surprised with an offer letter to join the Properties team as an Associate Manager. Our Properties team works with leagues, teams, college conferences, broadcast networks, and entertainment studios to identify groundbreaking opportunities to engage fans, brands, and media.

My primarily role focuses on sponsorship measurement and valuation for a variety of teams across professional sports. Our cross-channel measurement identifies, values, and contextualizes the amount of partnership media exposure across linear TV, social, and digital channels. I work day in and day out with an image recognition technology that uses computer vision and machine learning to identify each brands size, duration, and clarity of exposure across all key channels, mediums, and platforms. We provide monthly, quarterly, and end of season reports for our clients where I work to develop a narrative and context for partner performance.

When I’m not working on cross-channel measurement, I assist on projects ranging from sponsorship strategy, to social analytics, and more recently have been tasked with a variety of eSports consulting ventures where I work with our team to help brands and properties understand the landscape of eSports and how or why they should enter the space. Most recently, I worked with an MLS club to identify their eMLS Cup athlete, negotiate the contract, and structure the partnership opportunities available for brands.

2. Where do you see yourself in 15 years/dream job?

I think the saying goes something like “Find a career you really enjoy and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Sports has definitely been that for me and I feel like I’m living my dream every day I wake up and go to work.

In 15 years, I hope to still be working in the sponsorship space of the industry and directing a team to exceed client expectations. I have really enjoyed the agency side of the business as it allows for a great work-life balance, something that is very important to me. If I had to pick, I think that I would really enjoy working on the brand side of the house as a director of sports partnerships and choosing which properties the brand should collaborate with would be an interesting role.

3. Who is your mentor at this point?

While I have had a surplus of mentors throughout my time working in sports thus far, it is hard to narrow it down to one person as there have been so many people that have bent over backwards to help me in my career. I have found that some of my best mentors have been colleagues that I worked very closely with because they are aware of everything that is going on and understand things on a granular level. With that being said, my current mentor is one of my team members in our office, Lee Schwemmer, a director on the Brands team at Wasserman.

While Lee has been incredible in helping guide my career with #TeamWass and helping me understand the role I need to play within the agency, he also has taken me under his wing away from the office and has had a profound influence on my life. His kindness and willingness to be there for me is something that doesn’t go unnoticed. Whether it be taking 10 minutes to play a game of ping pong to unwind at the office or on a Saturday night and I need a restaurant recommendation, he has been there.

His expertise in social and digital strategy and passion for business development and networking is something that I try to embrace each and every day. Lee has worked as a lead for our Nationwide Insurance account, where he focuses on how the brand can activate their NASCAR, golf, and NFL sponsorships. He is well connected and is always working to expand his rolodex of contacts in the industry and as we all know, this industry is about who you know not what you know.

There are a number of other individuals who have always gone to bat for me and deserve to be recognized as well as they have helped shape me into the person that I am today. Zack Sugarman at Wasserman, Joel Isaacson, Suzanne Sanregret, and Kevin Luke at Michigan Tech Athletics, and some of my classmates who I looked up to in grad school: Sean Bell (Rose Bowl), Carlos Martinez (Nike), Addison Nunes (Atlanta Hawks), Jamison Rowe (CSM Sports) and Andrew Sklar (Stony Brook Athletics).

4. What’s one thing you’ve learned early in your career that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

There are so many things that I’ve learned in this industry but if I had to choose one thing, it would be how many deals and/or projects are done because of relationships within the industry. That is why I continue to strive to network across the industry and to always be willing to take the informational interview because you never know where people are going to end up.

5. What does winning the Rising 25 Award mean to you?

Receiving this award with an incredible group of young professionals in the best industry in the world is incredibly humbling. So many people are deserving of this award, as we all know that sports can be a grind, it is truly an honor to be recognized and I am thankful for everyone who has helped my journey along the way. I look forward to getting to know the entire class of recipients and judges who dedicated their time to review all nominees. It was truly inspiring to see the list of recipients and see what the next generation of sports professionals has already accomplished by age 25. Thank you to Front Office Sports for organizing and for continuing to be a leader in #SportsBiz news.

I also owe a big shout out to my parents who have been supportive of my dream to work in sports since the day I said I didn’t want to play basketball in high school because I wanted to work as the student manager for the local college team which acted as a springboard for my career in sports.