Straight to the Majors: Mandy Lincoln’s Path to a Major League Front Office

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This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

By: Meaghan McCloskey, @Meaghan_Mc3

Lincoln, right, said planning the Hall of Fame trip and Number Retirement Ceremony for her childhood hero, Ken Griffey, Jr. was

“I’m not the norm. I’m an exception.”

That’s what Mandy Lincoln, Senior Marketing Manager of the Seattle Mariners, emphasized when we talked on the phone. Lincoln, who started working for the Mariners in 2008, is one of the rare industry professionals hired by a pro sports team in a full-time capacity within a year of graduating college. She knows how lucky she is.

Lincoln grew up going to Mariners games- her dad was a season ticket holder- and developed a passion for the game at a young age. This passion fueled her desire to work in sports, along with the creativity marketing and advertising entailed.

“You have to love the product you’re marketing,” she noted.

During her senior year at Western Washington University, Lincoln had her mind set on doing anything and everything she could to differentiate herself from others. This included interning in the athletic department and being president of Western’s Marketing Club.

“My internship in the athletic department took place when Facebook was just starting to get big. There was a lot of basic Facebook advertising [compared to now], in addition to making posters and fliers. There were three of us interns, so we worked collaboratively on game presentation, too.”

While Lincoln was president of the Marketing Club, she arranged for Randy Adamack, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Mariners, to come speak to the club. Knowing she wanted to work in advertising, she asked Randy if he could introduce her to someone in the Mariners marketing department. Adamack introduced her to Kevin Martinez, the team’s Vice President of Marketing.

“My experiences with the Marketing Club, athletic department and even marketing classes helped me build a portfolio and have something tangible to show Kevin when we met. It wasn’t just talking,” Lincoln said.

While there weren’t any available jobs with the Mariners when they met, Martinez sent her a job description for a Seasonal Marketing Coordinator position they would have the following year.

Lincoln decided she wanted to wait and apply for that job when it opened. So, after graduating, she moved to London for five months and worked at Lurzer’s Archive helping manage subscriptions.

“I would recommend traveling and living abroad to anybody, whether it’s study abroad or after graduation. Take that time to go other places.”

A few months later, the Seasonal Marketing Coordinator position with the Mariners opened. Lincoln applied, had a few interviews and in March 2008, was hired. Two months later, she was promoted to a full-time Marketing Coordinator.

Now, as the Senior Marketing Manager, Lincoln has her hand in much of the game day experience, including overseeing the Mariners Navigators (promotions team) and on-field promotions participants. During the off-season, she oversees Mariners FanFest (which takes place in January) and shortly after FanFest is over, it’s off to Spring Training for filming commercials.

“Planning for the following season starts early-the (current) season ends and you’re already building towards the start of the next season. We plan creative new things for the video board, Opening Day, pocket schedules, radio promotions. When we’re planning the commercials, we think, ‘What do we want our message to be? When do we want to launch them and through what channels?’ We’re also pushing season tickets from January to April.”

One of Lincoln’s career highlights came this season when she got to plan Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Number Retirement Ceremony and the front office staff’s trip to Cooperstown, New York for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She said the Mariners had the benefit of knowing Griffey, the team’s first Hall of Famer, would get in on his first-ballot, which helped with planning the trip to Cooperstown.

“Knowing he’d get in on the first ballot, we were able to book housing, flights and vendors, early. I was able to talk with other teams who have Hall of Famers to see what they did and went to Randy Johnson’s induction to get a feel for the weekend.”

When it came to the planning of the number retirement ceremony, “It was easy to let the fan part of me takeover,” said Lincoln.

“I became a big time Mariners fan because of him and was able to work with his status (as a Seattle sports legend and MLB star), character and personality. When the announcement was made, we had a launch video ready, a ‘24’ flag ready to fly from the Space Needle and a display for FanFest. It was surreal to get to plan this for my childhood hero.”

When asked what advice she would give aspiring sports-industry professionals, Lincoln said to get involved right away.

“Don’t be the person who waits and says, ‘I’m here. I want a job.’ Everyone wants that job. Everyone wants the flashy pro sports team. Most people don’t go straight to pro sports. You have to find ways to differentiate yourself. Find any way to get into sports, whether it’s college, the minor leagues, blogging. Just because it’s not as sexy, doesn’t mean it doesn’t go places. If (pro) sports is your goal, it all adds up.”