Meet the Rising 25 Class of 2018: Karim Fathi

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1. Tell Us About Yourself and Your Current Role

Ever since I figured I’m not good enough to play sports professionally, I still wanted to be involved in some capacity. Throughout high school and college, I jumped on any volunteering/part-time opportunities, from journalism, events, marketing, and ticket sales. All experiences were eye-opening and beneficial, expanding both my network and mind-set. Definite that this would be my career, I joined Ohio University’s globally ranked Sports Administration Graduate Program. My 2 years in Ohio were invaluable, getting hands-on experience with pro sports teams, brands, and agencies, as well as interacting with the program’s exhaustive alumni base.

I was fortunate enough to be work with reputable organizations; FIFA, U.S. Soccer, Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, Zamalek SC, Perform Media are a few to name.

In mid-2016, I joined Lagardère Sports in Paris, France as Digital Manager. Through my role, I’m mainly responsible for developing digital solutions for our clients as well as creating and selling sponsorship campaigns for brands. Alongside our digital team, we define digital strategies for right holders, events and athletes.

My main account is the Confederation of African Football (CAF), which includes various events and competitions such as the AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations) and the CAF Champions League. Across the different events, we manage and deliver 360° digital activation campaigns for global brands such as Total, Orange, and Pepsi from top-level strategy down to event support.

I’m lucky enough to be part of an innovative team that is constantly challenging the status quo,

always seeking to be bold, unique, and daring. No one day is the same, as we’re always involved in different projects and activities.

I like to stay on top of all updates and trends in the sports, entertainment, retail and fashion industry, seeing how everything connects and blends together. FOS’s newsletter is a great example!

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

Long answer short – I have no idea!

Life is dynamic and goals/dreams change and adapt accordingly. Tell me 10 years ago that I would go through what I did so far and I’d tell you-you’re out of your mind!

I’m currently living the dream of combining my life-long passion for sports and my interest in digital and innovation as a career. As long as I’m dedicated, ethical, and persistent, I believe I can keep evolving and growing – wherever that takes me, I’m ready to go.

I hope that in 15 years I develop new hard skills, become fluent in a third language, extend my network, pay it forward, and stay hungry and passionate about what I do as I was on day one.

3. Who is your mentor at this point?

Throughout my career thus far, I’ve had and continue to have various mentors in different parts of the world. I was fortunate to meet and interact with so many experienced individuals in our industry, absorbing it all in the process. I’ve learned different lessons from each mentor, helping me evolve across multiple aspects of my life. I’m also lucky that my mentors have enabled me with various opportunities and contacts that have paved my path in sports business.

If I had to single out one person, it would be Maxime Lebessou, Vice President Global Digital at Lagardère Sports. Throughout the past two years, he’s been more than just a boss. He’s someone that manages to push my limits and get the best out of me. I continue to learn something new from him every day, whether in organization, leadership or communication. In addition to that, he’s always available whenever I seek advice, helping me develop both personally and professionally.

Various individuals have also helped build and enhance my character and skills, and I continue to learn from them to this day: Russell Sargeant (NBC Sports), Tom Hunt (D.C. United), Jim Kahler and Norm O’Reilly (Ohio University), Zohair Ammar (Score A2Z) and Dina Bassiouni (AUC).

I’m thankful to have encountered intelligent, passionate and hard-working individuals that were kind enough to pass along valuable knowledge and advice.

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

As big as you’d think our industry is, it’s quite small. Most people working in sports know or are connected to one another in some sense. Whether it’s the same sport, client, event, mutual connection etc, – there’s almost a second degree of separation.

This means that every action you take or interaction you make should be held accountable. Never be ‘off-guard’ and always be willing to give your utmost efforts in all endeavors. On a positive note, hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and can create endless opportunities.

Always show everyone the same amount of respect, from intern all the way up. You never know who you’ll deal with in the future – as a co-worker, client, or even manager.

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

It’s special to be recognized for your efforts, but it’s also extra special to know you’re sharing that experience with 24 other professionals who have worked hard at such a young age. This award will only push me to keep on grinding and will act as a reminder to pay it forward to whoever needs advice or assistance. We’re in a relatively difficult industry to break-in, and a selfless tip can go a long way. I’m looking forward to connecting with the FOS Rising 25 Class of 2018 class on a personal and professional basis, knowing that I’m part of a group that will shape the sports industry for years to come!