Do you love sports? Have you ever dreamed about working in the sports industry but don’t know how to get started? JobsInSports.com recently interviewed Geoff Wilson, a Sports Strategist and Sports Marketing expert with FIFA to discover how he got started and was able to land his dream job and the steps he took along the way to achieve his dreams.
Interview with an Sports Strategist, Geoff Wilson
Q) Tell us about what got you into working in sports? How it all started.
I left college, and I got a graduate job at British telecom. I was always into the sports, especially, football, and then a job came up for the Irish football association.
I applied for it, and the rest they say is history. I’ve probably been in the sports industry for almost 15 years. It’s been fascinating for me.
Q) You have quite the resume online. I see you’ve worked with FIFA/UEFA/AFC/ and FIBA, to name a few. Tell us about how you came to work with such companies?
My history and heritage are in Soccer. Now, I’ve recently started to do work in Basketball. So it’s a principle, the business principles, strategy, governance. So you can bring all of those learnings to other sports.
Over the last couple of years, I have put together two fundamental models, and those models want a debate, fan engagement, and the other one is around growing attendance at games.
The idea is just taking from all of the knowledge and experience that I’ve had, and put it into some sort of working strategy.
Q) You work as a Sports Strategist for your own Consultancy Company. Tell us a little about your role, responsibilities and what you do on a day-to-day basis.
Yes, that’s right. I set up my own sports consultancy in December of 2013.
I love working with different sports companies; it’s been excellent. I end up going to federations or sports clubs and doing workshops for strategic planning.
So, for me, working with the likes of a FIFA or UEFA, and Asian Football Confederation, and the World Basketball Champions league. It gives you that opportunity to see what they’re all doing, and to learn from each other and to be able to provide some direction or directional thoughts.
Q) Many professionals today find they aren’t even working in the field of study that they earned a degree in. How much impact has your degree benefited you in working in the sports industry?
For me, my degree didn’t specifically help me to get into sports but allowed me to get into a career in marketing. Because without the degree, I couldn’t get into specific interviews. The first sports job then that I went for, the head of marketing at the Irish football association, requested a degree.
I see now more than ever a real need to have a Sports Management degree if you’re looking to get into the sports world.
Q) Did you play sports in High School or College? And if so what position were you best at?
Yes. I played football. Football was my sport, and that’s where I had the passion.
And when the job came up at the Irish football association, what I was doing, it was in marketing. So I had my qualifications in the career that I was doing with my hobby. Yeah. So when you’re matching your hobby with your skill and career, that’s a real sweet spot. If you’re a student, make sure you do your job or go after a job that you are passionate about, something that you will get you up in the morning and feel excited.
Q) When you were in the thick of your job search, what were the things that frustrated you the most?
I was fortunate that the job that I wanted in sport as the head of marketing, at the Irish football association, I secured, I got my dream job at the first attempt.
Not everybody’s like that. I think the reason why I got the job was not because of Geoff Wilson, but because of the experience that I got when working for British telecom. I had a variety of marketing experience, so from research to campaigns to PR, to data management, that made me more marketable. So when I went for the job with the Irish EFA, I had all of this experience where other people who applied were maybe just experts in PR.
Q) Is there anything you’d like to tell our audience about, any new projects or passions you’d like to share with JobsInSports.com users?
What you will need is hard work and dedication drive, uh, keep that knowledge up to date with the latest—VR, Artificial intelligence, e-Sports. So you’re always reading and always networking.
I’ve recently been working on a whole range of projects from an executive handbook for sports organizations, strategic planning through to digital marketing courses for one of the top football clubs in the world.
There’s a lot of fascinating things going on, and over the next six months, you’ll start to see some of these very, very interesting strategic sports strategy modules I’ve been working on.
So there’s good progress that’s happening on high. We’re looking to see what the future of sports will be. It’s an exciting time.
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