During his time at the University of Maryland, David was laser focused on launching his career in sports sponsorship. It wasn't until he got an opportunity to intern with both Under Armour and Notre Dame Athletics that he got to experience a small taste of the industry. He soon moved to GMR Marketing as an Account Coordinator, where he was focused on bringing activations to life for their client SAP for the next year and a half. After doing a small stint at Kore Software, David's career turned full circle when an opportunity came up to work with SAP once again. He now works with the multinational software giant as the Americas Marketing Activation Manager on SAP's Global Sponsorships team.
The Sponsorship Space had the chance to sit down with David to chat about his role on the Global Sponsorships team at SAP, his past experiences and his extracurricular activities outside of work.
1) Take us through your career journey. What was your first role in the sponsorship world?
I’ve definitely had an interesting journey in my career thus far. During my senior year at Maryland and my grad year at Notre Dame, I knew that I wanted to enter the sports sponsorship industry. I ended up turning down several offers with sports marketing agencies and accepted a position with IBM in their social media division. Although it was a great opportunity, I learned quickly that I made the wrong decision for where I wanted my career to go. I started to reach back out to many of the people I grew close with during the interview processes at the agencies. GMR had a position on the SAP account and I jumped on it right away. Being on the agency side allowed me to learn more than I could have ever imagined about the industry, having worked closely with the property and client side. I then wanted to challenge myself and grow my capabilities by moving towards the sales side of the industry, where I joined KORE Software selling sports and entertainment specific CRM software that help corporations manage their ticket and sponsorship sales. This was an unbelievable crash course into the sales side, but ultimately I wanted to be on the sponsorship management and activation side of the business. When I was approached by a member of the SAP Global Sponsorship team about an opportunity to join the team, but on the property side this time. It was a no-brainer for me. I now manage SAP’s sponsorship activations across North and South America, and extremely happy to be in this role with company where I plan to stay for a long time.
2) Did you always think partnerships was going to be your career path?
Yes. I took a two year Sports Management Fellows program at Maryland where I immediately gravitated towards the partnership side of the business.
3) Your career has grown a great deal since you graduated from the University of Maryland. What do you think helped drive that growth?
The main thing that helped my growth was my determination and knowing what I wanted to do with my career. My aspirations were shaped by many experiences before entering the industry; the sports management program at Maryland, internship at Under Armour, and internship within the sponsorship division at Notre Dame during my graduate year. Additionally, I had great people to learn from and support from my family to follow what I was passionate about.
4) You started your role earlier this year as the Americas Marketing Activation Manager - Global Sponsorships at SAP. Take us through what the experience has been like during the last year?
My experience with SAP thus far has been fast paced and, in a great way, challenging. I joined the team right as we were on-boarding our new agency Momentum Worldwide, so with my past experience on the agency side working on the SAP account, I jumped right in to help with this transition. We also had our large scale activation at the World Cup of Hockey only 2 months after I joined the team, so I was tasked with managing many aspects of this program from our presence in fan village, to our customer hospitality program, and everything in-between. It’s been great working again with many of the same people I worked with while I was at GMR on the SAP account, which help make the transition seamless, and also fun.
5) Give us a Coles' Notes version of SAP for those at home who aren't familiar with the company.
We have to fight this battle all the time, because some people still think we are the button you push to watch a TV channel in Spanish, but in short, SAP is a business software company. Our software helps business run simple and live. A fun fact about SAP is that approximately 75% of all revenue transactions in the world touch an SAP system.
6) What is a typical day like as the America Marketing Activation Manager? Tell us more about the role.
My role is dual faceted. First, I work closely on a daily basis with the regional marketing leads of North and South America to fully utilize our contractual sponsorship assets we have with our partners. Our main goal here is to utilize these assets in the right way to showcase how our software is helping our sports and entertainment partners, with our target market being our current and potential future customers. Second, I then work closely with our property managers at SAP, who own the relationship with our partners, to figure out the best way possible to leverage these assets.
7) Are you involved with any extracurriculars or passion projects outside of your work environment?
I’m a sports junkie at heart, so even though I work in sports, most of my extracurricular activities are based around sports. I play in a co-ed soccer league with friends, have an on-going golf competition with my roommate, play basketball in parks around this city, and try to snowboard when I can.
8) Where do you see your career headed within the next five to ten years?
I’ve found a great place to grow my career and skills at SAP in our Global Sponsorship division. I’m hoping to grow within my current role over the next few years, and down the line, continue to gain more knowledge and responsibility within our team and own a relationship with one of our great partners, or maybe a new one!
9) What's your advice for young professionals trying to break into the sponsorship field?
Break in any way you can, be a sponge, and understand that it’s going to be a grind – don’t get discouraged by your finance buddies making 6 figures right out of college.
Americas Marketing Activation Manager
Global Sponsorships at SAP
Education: University of Maryland