By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Mark Kendrick, player manager for Kendrick Sports Management and authorized officer for FIESA. He is an alumnus of University of Canterbury where he was a triple major in History, Geography and Classics and Honors Geography. He was gracious enough to offer up his insight on what FIESA is, how relationships are key in being a successful agent, and why it is important to follow through on expectations
What previous positions did you hold prior to your current position and how did they help you get to where you are today?
I have worked and still do in sale based roles. Roles where building relationship are the key focus. I have worked in insurance, both Commercial and Health and Life, Investments and non for profit manager for a bank and current role in Corporate Vehicle Leasing. Coming from a business background and having been on various non for profit boards I have an understanding of what it means to build relationships and achieve goals. Building relationships with those key people that will help you reach the goals you have set yourself. Be it business or your sports career it is an important skill to master. Having a business plan is important, and as an athlete, you should have some kind of plan in place for your career. It should run side by side with your goals, both on and off the field.
For those us who do not know, can you explain what FIESA is and what its goals are?
FIESA stands for Female International Elite Sporting Agency. We deal only with women athletes both at the elite level and also the grassroots level. Our goals are simple; we are here to help support women athletes to be the best that they can be. It is hard to train, compete and also try and look after your own career.
The athlete is in their bubble of training and playing they don’t either think to market themselves or have the time. Most women athletes work full or part time, compete and train. This doesn’t leave much time to work on sponsorships, branding etc. And to be fair that is probably not their skillset.
We offer the Athlete Management such as Contract Negotiations, Financial Management, Media Exposure to help them find sponsorships, help them develop and deliver their brand. The youngest athlete we have is 11 so for the younger players we help them build that brand around what they do so as they grow as an athlete their brand and marketability grows.
Another goal is that we don’t tax the limited financial resources of the athlete. So we don’t charge the athlete, we take our fees out of sponsorships etc. that we get. So you can imagine for the younger grassroots players we do this for no cost basically. It is about supporting women in sports as well as running a business. But the key factor is zero cost to that athlete.
What is a normal day like for you? What are some day to day challenges?
For what I do, I have the easy job. I get to talk to the athletes, find out what they do, what drives them, what are their goals, and hear about the good things and frustrations that come with playing a sport. The challenge is to get a full understanding of what they want, but also set expectations to what we can achieve. It is important for them to look long-term.
What is your favorite part about working in the player representation side of sports specifically being female focused?
It is always great to be associated with athletes that always strive to be the best they can be in their chosen sport. You get to be involved in the highs and lows of their career. For me dealing only with women, I understand how hard it is. Most women athletes either don’t earn a living or get paid very little (apart from some sports such as tennis and golf) Helping them is very rewarding.
What is the best career advice you have received?
Do what you love and don’t box yourself into one career. Develop your skillsets by education, mentors, being on non for profits boards.
If you were going to hire someone today what would the ideal candidate possess to be able to succeed in the field of player representation?
One of the key things is being able form relationships with people, either in person or on the phone/skype etc. People work with people they like and stay with people they like. Someone that sees the development of the athlete as their own. Generally, if one is successful the other is as well.
What is the hardest part about being a sports agent?
Probably setting expectations of an athlete. Getting sponsorship is not an easy road and harder for women athletes. You must be clear in the direction you are heading, make sure the athletes know what is going on.
As an agent you have to wear many hats to help your clients, how difficult is it to balance everything and still provide top notch service to the clients?
As mentioned before, if you set expectations early on it does help. It is important to keep the lines of communication open so that they know what is going on at your end but more importantly so you know what is happening with them. The more you know more effective you are.
What drew you to wanting to be an agent that focused on female athletes?
Early on in my work life I was lucky to work with a woman who played cricket. She had to work full time, take personal holidays when she wanted to go on tour and she was basically self-funded. She retired at the age of 28 as it got too hard. I always thought that was rather unfair as she was in her prime. It started there and over the years I had contact with other female athletes with a similar story and it developed to what I do today. It is a growing sector in sports with more and more women playing sports at higher levels, greater opportunities are being developed all the time. While there is a lot of work to be done, these are exciting times for women in sports.
Who is someone you looked up to when you started out in the sports industry? Why?
I don’t think there is a single person who I Iooked up to. As a kid, I wanted to be Chris Cairns smashing the ball for Six or Jurgen Klinsmann scoring goal after goal. But what impressed me was what the athletes did well in sports that their country was not known for. These are players that probably didn’t get much funding or support but worked hard and stood out in the crowd.
For any female athletes seeking representation you can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org