Senior Vice President, Corporate Sponsorships, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment
ince graduating from Quinnipac, Mike Zavodsky has been working his way up through a Nets organisation in a period of huge transformation. The nine-year project that has taken the NBA team from the boondocks of New Jersey to the bright lights of Brooklyn and the brand new Barclays Center has survived its stumbling blocks to get to its late September opening date through the tirelessness and enthusiasm of employees such as Zavodsky. Starting as an intern to Nets chief executive Brett Yormark in May 2005, Zavodsky was given a full-time role as an account executive before being promoted to director, vice president, and finally senior vice president. He has overseen sales efforts that have brought in a raft of stellar domestic and international partners at the Barclays Center and oversaw the efforts that culminated in the Izod Center, Rutgers Stadium and Quinnipiac University hockey arena naming rights deals. Zavodsky is a regular lecturer at colleges and universities across New York. Landmark moment of your career so far? It’s got to be Friday, September 28th, the grand opening of the Barclays Center. It’s really for me the culmination of years of strategic planning and work with national and international brands, programmers, industry leaders. I really had the opportunity to work on all facets of the business, from sponsorship to tickets and suites, operations, booking events, marketing; the culmination of all that and it all came together that Friday. Sports industry idol? Brett Yormark. He gave me a chance as a 21-year-old kid with no experience and he let me shadow him and learn the ins and outs of the business at the highest level. Favourite franchise/team/ athlete/brand in sport? Athlete has got to be Magic Johnson. He’s been a role model for a lot of
people on and off the court and I kind of have a mini shrine of him in my office. Team has got to be, for me, the New York Giants. Anyone that knows me, I’m a diehard fan and I’ve rarely missed a game since going to my first game with my dad when I was four years old. Franchise, I’ve always admired the Minnesota Twins. They’re always competitive and they really draw well through their farm system and they’ve really done a nice job over the years. And brand, I’m going to be biased here: the Nets. We’re the hottest brand in sports right now; it’s cool, it’s hip and the merchandise has really crossed over into fashionable apparel, not just fan apparel, and everywhere I go in New York people are wearing it. I was recently just down in Miami and came across a bunch of people wearing it down there, so it’s really all over the place and it’s really cool and hip. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? Ideally I’d like to be running a team in an arena, helping take a franchise, just like when I got here, and really build the brand; to make it be the ‘it’ building, and a cool brand that people gravitate towards. One piece of advice for someone looking to start out in the industry? Networking, networking, and unwavering determination, and be prepared to make sacrifices in order to achieve your end goal, and once again, networking. iPhone, Blackberry or Android? Blackberry. I know, I know. I still haven’t made the switch but I’m a fan of its functionality and I use my iPad when I need to do some browsing. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Foursquare? I’m a Facebook guy. Although I rarely post anything, I like to keep in the loop of what others are doing.
Age: 28 Location: New York, USA Education: Graduated summa cum laude from Quinnipiac University School of Business, Connecticut What his nominators said about him: “Michael has helped drive the international sales effort for the Barclays Center and the Nets basketball team, consummating sales with companies from China, Russia, and the UK.” Moët or Bud? I’m a Bud Light guy. One particular line you use to close a deal? I have to say the best sales job of my career was closing my now-fiancée on the spot. It was after a Nets vs Heat game on Halloween, and I went to meet some friends at a party and everyone else was in costume and I was in a suit and the line was: ‘You know everyone is checking you out, right?’ And I don’t know how it worked and how I closed that one but it’s worked!
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