Many students aim to land their dream job, but many forget that important steps and sacrifices are needed to make it happen. While studying at the University of Florida, Danielle's love for football opted her to take a risk for the summer and move north of the border to be a Marketing Intern with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. The opportunity helped her gain the necessary experience needed to later land her a seasonal partnerships role with the Atlanta Falcons and eventually a Partnership Services Manager role with the Detroit Lions. After three football related roles in three different cities, Danielle's career came full circle when she moved back to Florida after getting offered an Account Manager role with her home-state Miami Dolphins.
As part of our monthly Young Achiever series, we had a chance to chat with Danielle DeLuca (Account Manager, Partnership Activation & Retention at Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium) to learn about her current role, career path and to find out if she had any advice for other young professionals.
Take us through your experience at University of Florida, did you always want to work in sports marketing? What kind of steps did you take to achieve that goal?
During my time at the University of Florida, I was privileged and honored to be selected as a student ambassador of the university. As a member of the Florida Cicerones, I served as an official liaison for university in a variety of capacities including football recruiting. It was during this time that I established a strong working relationship with members of the Florida Football staff and received opportunities to volunteer and assist with leading some unique community initiatives. This experience was when I realized that working in sports was an incredibly fulfilling way to spend my time and would make for a very unique and exciting career. I took on an internship during my junior year with the Calgary Stampeders, a football club in the Canadian Football League, as a marketing intern assisting with various corporate partnership initiatives. As my time at the University of Florida came to a close I received an opportunity to join the Atlanta Falcons for the 2013 Season as a Corporate Partnership Seasonal Assistant. In this capacity I was exposed to various impacts the Partnership Team had on the organization and began to develop a strong passion for what this department is able to achieve for the organization. Ultimately my time there has shaped my vision for my career and led me to where I am today.
You have worked for multiple NFL teams now in various cities including Atlanta, Detroit and now Miami; What have you learned from those experiences?
Each team has their own unique set of characteristics which are often shaped by the owners of the club and the market they are in. The ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl and generating revenue remains constant, however, the focus on season ticket members, partners and marketing campaigns has varied greatly.
You have had great experience in the Corporate Partnership Activation/Retention department – can you share some of the challenges to expect when working in this capacity?
One of the most unique and challenging aspects of working in Corporate Partnerships, specifically on the Activation Team, is that we work so closely with almost every department in the organization to relay the goals and objectives of each client. While managing expectations both internally and externally with the goal of providing a positive return on investment for the client and maintaining the integrity of both brands. Needless to say, it is crucial to be an effective communicator, incredibly organized with a high attention to detail.
What kind of collaboration is there between partnership activation and some of the other departments in an NFL sports organization?
Our department collaborates with every facet of the organization. From Creative Services and Marketing, to Brand Impact and Development, to IT and Football Operations. For example, when we’re working with a partner to develop a platform or partnership benefit specific to their objectives we ask for some key performance indicators. Are we looking to engage with the fan? Showcase a product? Generate leads? From there we’ll meet with the Brand Impact and Development team, for example, to outline the objectives of an event and develop and shape the fans experience so that we can ultimately prove the return on investment for the client. With the help of the Brand Impact Team, we’re able to create an enjoyable event for the fan that is Dolphins centric while maintaining the focus of client and driving results.
If you could leave our young professionals with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be genuine. You don’t work in sports unless you have a strong passion for it. Show interest, be willing to take on more projects. Ask questions. Get to know those around you and absorb as much as you can from those who are willing to teach you along the way. Always remember, that the sports industry may seem overwhelmingly large but it really is a small network of people. The relationships you build and the reputation you develop will carry you throughout your career. Make it one you’re proud of!
Are you involved in any extracurricular or passion projects outside of the work environment?
I’m very passionate about health and wellness. I work pretty diligently to find a time each day to make exercising a priority. I love group exercising classes, such as cycle class, plyometrics, or yoga.
What is your favorite quote of all time?
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
This is favorite quote of all time and one that I believe would resonate with some of your readers and young professionals in our industry. I appreciate this quote because I believe that when you focus on the right things, and have a strong purpose in your work, your passion and conviction naturally show through. This quote by Nelson Mandela is taped on the wall by my computer as a gentle reminder to focus on the power of sports, the power of the NFL, and the power of the Miami Dolphins to act as a catalyst for positive change. We’re fortunate to do what we do. I never want to lose sight of that.