Here at MacKenzie Corp, among many other things we are data fans and we are sports fans. Furthermore, we are advocates of using data to continually improve customer experiences. So we love when these worlds come together and we get to discuss how data can be used to grow and develop the experiences of sports fans. Last month we discussed our involvement with the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD) and what an incredible time we had at their annual conference. There we made a number of connections with some big names in the world of Sports Business, one of whom agreed to be in our August 2018 Thought Leader Spotlight.
It’s no secret that our neighbor to the north, San Francisco, is a hub for innovators and forward-thinkers. The Bay Area sports scene is no exception, and the San Francisco 49ers happen to have a brilliant, data-centric mind on its roster. As the Vice President of Strategy & Analytics for the San Francisco 49ers, Moon Javaid oversees the application of business intelligence across multiple organizational divisions. He was a driving force behind the development of a data warehouse that processes over 3 million records per day and broke NFL records for highest revenue in a regular season game. On top of all that, he’s a pretty cool guy.
It’s our honor and privilege to introduce this month’s Thought Leader, Moon Javaid.
Was a career in sports always a goal of yours? Or was it a path that revealed itself along the way?
I never imagined a career in sports was possible growing up. What kid thinks of sports as a business with employees? I certainly didn’t, but I have always loved sports and some of my favorite memories as a child were going to Cleveland Cavs games with my Dad. It wasn’t until I read Moneyball that I realized someone with my educational background could have a job in sports. Once I was set on joining this world, there was nothing that was going to stop me from fulfilling this dream.
What life experience(s) do you feel best prepared you for a leadership position?
I would say my experiences working in consulting and private equity were great training grounds and are a giant piece of the puzzle. Being able to work on many projects simultaneously in high pressure situations with executives from leading companies has been especially transferable. In addition, I ran a startup for a few years. It ultimately failed and I was faced with having to piece together why. I was a big reason why. I was not a great manager or leader and I had to self-reflect to understand how I could be better. I have spent the last six years reading as much as I possibly can on leadership and management and seek to continuously learn and adjust my tactics when needed.
Who had the biggest impact on you throughout your professional development?
This question is too hard to answer. I have had a lot of great influences and mentors in my life. Starting with my parents, high school coaches, managers that took me under their wings and executives who have given me tiny anecdotes. I will highlight that I am always paying attention to what people are doing in a room. You can not only learn who and what you want to be but at the same time you can learn who you do not want to be – and that is just as valuable. If you are learning both, there is never a meeting where you don’t learn.
What do you consider to be your team’s strongest, most valuable asset?
The people. We have an amazingly talented team with a strong culture.
You have the opportunity to travel around the world as a presenter sharing your expertise in data-driven business strategies. Do you prepare differently depending on the location? Or do you maintain a consistent message and delivery?
I always do my best to cater to the audience. This advice translates into managing individuals as well. Everyone is different, every audience is different. There is not a single recipe for success. You have to have a strong arsenal of skills and speaking points, and understand what is best to use in each situation.
Are there any fan engagement trends or team initiatives that have you particularly excited looking forward into 2019 and beyond?
Real-time fan analytics! I am a huge fan of our Happy or Not deployment that gives us the ability to tackle challenges and issues in real time. It is a first for the sports and entertainment industry and we’re only scratching the surface of the benefits it’s providing to the fan experience we provide our guests and our organizational bottom line.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to land an entry level position in the world of professional sports?
Try and be as specific as possible with what you are looking to do. Simply saying you want a job in sports does not tell an employer what they need to know about you as a potential employee. What are your skills and how can you leverage them to add value? Be proactive and build your network. I used to email people in different cities and say I was in town for a day and would ask them to grab a coffee for 15 minutes with me. If they said yes, I would book a ticket to meet with them!
What is your favorite quote?
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
We ALL have gifts – we should do our best to maximize them!