The Importance of Shadowing: Lifelong Lessons Learned in a Day

By: Adam White, @FOSAdam

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Recently, I had the ability to shadow a professional in the Sports Business industry. I was lucky enough to shadow a man by the name of Marcus Pauda, an Account Executive for Corporate Ticket Sales at the University of Miami. Marcus, who spent most of his life in Texas, has made the transition to the University of Miami after spending the last two years working for Texas Tech University. Not only did I get to meet an upstart and already successful person in the sports business industry, but I got to live the life of an account executive for one of the busiest days of their year, the opening of season ticket renewals for the upcoming football season. Not only is shadowing important because of the knowledge you are able to learn, but because of the relationships it can create, and in the sports industry having solid relationships with others is a key cog in the entire machine that could mean the difference between success and failure.

First off shadowing is a key step in the development of someone who wants to work in sports business because it exposes you to what the trials and tribulations of everyday life will look like. I arrived to my day 10 minutes early, and as soon as Marcus walked out he shook my hand and said “Lets get ready to go, we are going to be going 100mph today.” Although I didn’t expect any different, for those new in the industry, this may come as a shock to many that even in the offseason the work doesn’t become less and depending on the time of year, it could even increase. This lesson must be learned quickly for success in the sports industry. The faster you realize that you won’t work many 40 hr weeks and in fact when I asked Marcus how long he expected to work this week, without hesitation he said, “I’ll be lucky to work less than 70.” In that type of environment sacrifices have to be made, and if your looking to work in sports it is an idea that you have to come to terms with quickly, or the industry will chew you up and spit you out faster than Russell Westbrook can run the court on a fast break.

Shadowing also allows you to see how important being a team player is in the sports industry. Even though Marcus had come to the University of Miami with quite the resume, he was still relatively new and still learning. To many reaching out to others they work with to help them with a problem is seen as a weakness, but in sports it is encouraged, because just like on the field, when working in sports everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction. There were numerous occasions during the day when Marcus would reach out to his fellow peers for advice on how to input something or how to split a payment, but there were equally as many of times that Marcus’s co-workers poked their head into his office and asked for his help. As we took a break for lunch around 1pm, he was quick to point out to me that, “when someone is busy we will help them, even if they aren’t busy we will help them if they need it. It makes everyone’s job easier and, in the long run, it makes us more successful as a whole.” Team work has always been essential in life from a kid playing freeze tag in the park, to a professional in the workplace and the sooner you realize how pivotal it is, the rewards will follow.

“Strong relationships are everything…You must have them to succeed.” Although the aforementioned phrase is heard over and over again in the sports world, it truly is something that needs to be harped on and something that was made quite evident throughout my shadowing experience.  Not only was it evident the importance of relationships, but how imperative the relationships are with the customers themselves, especially in ticket sales the area Marcus works in. For those of you who don’t know, the University of Miami plays at the recently renovated Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. Because of the renovation, every season ticket holder had to chose a new seat for the upcoming year, with many not being able to get the same one they have had for years. As you can imagine, many of the people who were coming in were distraught over the fact that they had lost their seats, but Marcus demonstrated poise in the face of adversity consistently asking, “Although I understand you’re frustrated about the new seat configuration, what can we do to make you the happiest and most comfortable this year.” Not only did this put them instantly on their level, but it built a level of trust and rapport with the client that allowed for the beginning of a new and hopefully harmonious relationship between ticket holder and account executive. While relationships are important in the professional setting, for Marcus to have gotten to where he is today he’s had to rely on the relationships he has with his clients and, from what I saw on that day, it was evident as to why he is where he is today.

Although shadowing seems so straightforward, it is something that not many students take advantage of even though all it takes is one email or phone call to set it up. Next time you’re on a break from school, have downtime or just are sitting around grab your computer, email your athletic department and set up a time to shadow because in the end, the eight hours of your time you give up, is made up for by the lifelong lessons and relationships you can establish.

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