The last six months provided a good insight into the hopes
and aspirations of students graduating with an MBA Sports Administration from
AISTS in Lausanne into the wide world of jobs.

We at Lagardère Sports sponsored a group project on digital media consumption and the future commercial implications, undertaken by a group of Generation Y-ers.

The term Generation Y immediately excludes myself and brings meaning to those born between 1980 and 1995, who were the first generation that experienced the change from analogue to digital technology and media first-hand. They have been referred to by sociologists as ‘digital immigrants’.

The process has been revealing as to how Generation Y MBA
students gather knowledge; for some, the conclusion that the internet does not always
contains all the answers was a revelation.

The process has been revealing as to how Generation Y MBA students gather knowledge; for some, the conclusion that the internet does not always contains all the answers was a revelation

Russia and China market analysis offered scant information
online, however this elicited some creative solutions. One student checked with
journalist friends in the Moscow media scene who referred him to statistics on domestic
vs. foreign consumption of porn and the regulatory environment as a comparative
benchmark for sport and PPV models. This alone is powerful insight into the
challenges of obtaining accurate data in regulated markets.

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For China, another student cross-referenced press releases on corporate digital claims with real consumer feedback online to build up a truer picture of which sports were viewed as ‘popular and successful’.

Listening to these smart solutions made me think of the
skills that an employer is seeking and whether a business school equips
students with the mental tools and behavioural qualities required.

This skills checklist is based on my own personal
recognition of candidate talents:

Creativity in problem solving Because of the very unpredictability of sport and the personalities that govern sports events, this is fundamental. The ability to anticipate views and objections and shape your own thinking and arguments accordingly is crucial.

Cultural awareness Asia is, and will be, a force in the field of mega-events, with the next three Olympic Games and next FIFA World Cup and Rugby World Cup to be held in the region. The broadly similar Asian cultural styles of establishing relationships leading to personal trust, before business is transacted, will be a shock to many who expect the quick deal. The rise of Chinese interest and investment in sport will challenge the traditional US and European models of doing business. The long-term relationship model leads to an in-depth understanding of client needs.

Commercial acumen Linked to cultural awareness, the art of negotiation is essential. Whether you learn this through a student job, starting up as an entrepreneur or backpacking on a budget, it’s well worth mastering.

Responsibility You need to take this early and not be afraid to share some mental heavy lifting. Fiscal responsibility and budget management are great skills to demonstrate. Anyone whose CV delivers projects on time and on budget has a door-opener of a conversation and will add value to an organisation.

Communication skills Liaising with stadium staff or presenting to client senior management demonstrates the wide scope of engagement. Research into Generation X-ers shows them multi-device surfing when consuming entertainment; whether this breeds great communicators remains to be seen.

Digital world The need to be digitally savvy is essential. Major sports properties are judged on first impressions and the digital image (video, still, clip, feature, animation) is the first port of call for the consumer. The inquisitive mind should also look behind social media trends and claims to establish what is accurate and what is hyped or fake. All candidates should be able to produce a sports video clip from start to finish just to appreciate the complexity and the art of creativity.

Languages Second languages will be essential, since just one language is not enough. A candidate who speaks two or three languages fluently stands out from the rest. This skill should allow them to move between cultures and social and work situations with relative ease and confidence.

Broadcast knowledge I am going to stick my neck out and say it is a primary skill for every event organiser and international federation manager. It sets the frame of reference for any sports event: the date in the calendar, live timings, availability of top athletes, venue, visual image and whether the sport is suitable for live broadcast – does it have meaning? Planning broadcast for an event is a great discipline. 

Integrity Without this behavioural trait, it’s difficult to have confidence in the long-term health of the sports marketing industry. Keep it on the table from the start.