From Phoenix Suns Ball-Boy To FanDuel Partnerships Manager
Meet Ben Levy. His story in the sports business industry started at age 14 as a Phoenix Suns ball-boy. Fast forward just over a decade later, Ben is now working at FanDuel as an NFL Partnerships Manager where he overlooks sponsorship assets related to many of the organization's football related team partnerships. Ben's prior journey through Arizona State University allowed him an opportunity to get involved with the university's sports business association, leading him to career opportunities working for the Cincinnati Reds, NFLPA, Octagon, Navigate Research and now FanDuel.
The Sponsorship Space had the chance to sit down with Ben to chat about his experience with FanDuel, his extracurricular activities outside of work and his commitment to creating opportunities for other young professionals to connect.
1) Tell us about your role as NFL Partnerships Manager at FanDuel.
At FanDuel, I am on the team that oversees our 15 NFL team partnerships and how to best utilize the assets to drive our business objectives.
2) Must be interesting to have seen first hand the amount of growth that daily fantasy sports has had in the past few years. What is the culture like in that kind of environment?
FanDuel is an extremely vibrant place to work and a great place for self-starters to thrive and grow. The company continues to innovate in many ways and is truly changing the way that fans consume sports, which is part of the reason why I love it.
3) Take us through your career path. Have you had to face any challenges on your journey?
My desire to work in sports started an early age, when I was a ball-boy for the Suns at age 14, but didn't officially start until I joined Navigate Research in 2012. At Navigate, I primarily helped develop the sales strategy which allowed me to learn how brands, properties, and agencies all think and the challenges they face (the questions they need research to answer). After three years at Navigate, I was fortunate and joined FanDuel on the partnerships team.
All of that is for context to show my growth at a high-level, but more to share that it's been a long journey and one I've worked at for nearly half of my life...but it's all been worth it. There have been many challenges that I've faced, but the most prominent one has been how to truly differentiate in an industry with so many talented people and such high demand and little supply of opportunities.
4) What do you think was the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I think the biggest contributor to being where I am today is the mentors I've had throughout my career. Everything I know today is honestly due to a few key people that have really taken me under their wing and have taught me everything they know. They really are the reason that I've been able to get anywhere in the industry...
5) Throughout your career, you have been involved with many extracurricular activities in the sports industry. Most recently you helped launch the 'Emerging Chicago Sports Professionals".... What was the inspiration behind this initiative?
Emerging Chicago Sports Professionals was started with one of my best friends, Chris Lamb (who works at Genesco Sports Enterprises). Essentially, we saw a need in the marketplace to develop a better place for emerging leaders in the industry to get to know their peers, so we set out to create a platform for that to happen authentically.
We have now launched in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago and are two key pillars are really focused around connecting peers and providing professional development opportunities.
All of this wouldn't be possible without the help of many great people (including Chris Lamb, Erik Rask, Austin Hahn, Matt Riskin, Ricky Munoz, amongst many others).
If you're interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to me at Ben@FanDuel.com.
6) You were also involved with the Arizona State Sports Business Association. Did you find being involved in the industry during University helped get your foot in the door?
ASU is where I was able to learn the value of finding mentors and creating relationships and having the same university on your resume as someone from the industry is a great way to build a connection. The most valuable thing I learned at ASU was the value in networking - but also that initiative is rewarded.
7) If you could rewind back to the university days - would you do anything differently?
I would want James Harden to stay four years and lead ASU to a championship - fear the beard!
8) If you can leave our young professionals reading this article with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Work relentlessly on your craft, but most importantly find people you connect with that can serve as your peers and your personal advisory board to not only help you get into the industry but navigate the waters of it.