Meet the President and Co-founder of GlideSlope, our latest acquisition in the U.S.
Describe your career in five words.
Blending innovation, marketing and sport.
Since GlideSlope was founded in 2010, the company has become internationally known as innovative, data-driven strategists. Was there a specific opportunity in the market that you spotted before you set up the business?
Prior to GlideSlope, I had always been on the brand side as a marketer. In 2010 it was becoming increasingly evident that marketing executives were looking for more meaningful data, rigour and analysis when evaluating current or future investments in sport. More importantly, stakeholders (leadership, investors, partners, etc.) were also asking more questions than ever about sports ability to positively affect the bottom line. Yet, having also worked with a number of traditional management consultancies in my career, I didn’t think they were the answer. I felt the marketplace was asking for a solution that blended two skill sets: management consultants who were also experts in the global sport industry. With this the journey began, Eric Guthoff and I launched GlideSlope out of a rent-a-desk warehouse for start-ups in Brooklyn.
You and Eric have both spent time working in various regions. Is there a lesson you learnt from one of these experiences that has stayed with you and still influences your work today?
Eric and I truly got to know each other while working on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. I was Johnson & Johnson’s Director of Global Olympic Marketing and Eric was one of the IMG lead executives working on our IOC TOP Sponsorship. Like many others who worked on that extraordinary sporting spectacle, we not only learned a great deal about doing business in China, we gained immense insight into the power of sport to drive business. Yet, perhaps the most important lesson we learned was that sport’s magnetism pulls in people from various markets in various ways - especially around mega-events like the Olympic Games. Sport can mean very different things to different people in different geographies. Understanding those differences is a must for multi-national companies looking to leverage sponsorship (or ambush) opportunities.
At GlideSlope, you stress the importance of a strategy informed by quality analytics and insights. Do you have an example of a brand who is a leader in this approach?
As a former Nike staffer, I prefer to reference the company as infrequently as I can. I certainly remain a Nike loyalist at heart, but the brand is often overused as a business example. However, I’ll note Nike here for reasons that most might not assume: Nike obsesses over data that creates insights that, in turn, gives them foresights. Beyond all the famous athletes and cool products is an army of data scientists forecasting everything from the best price point for a shoe through to weather patterns effecting days-at-sea for product shipments coming from their Asian manufacturing facilities. There are even staff at Nike who are “colourists” – their only job is to travel the globe to scout the future trends in colour so that Nike’s products will stay ahead of the influencer curve. Most would give Nike credit for innovative products but I doubt many understand just how methodical and rigorous they are about data.
What trend do you think is going to have the biggest impact on the sport industry in the next five years?
Self-customisation of the sports experience remains the thing I’m thinking about most these days. From a macro standpoint, a lot of the buzz-terms we marketers debate daily; things like cord-cutting, virtual reality, OTT content, etc., really boil down to technology’s non-stop innovation. This innovation is allowing all of us to increasingly pick exactly what we want, when we want it and how we want it. Largely due to the mobile devices we all carry, the ability for consumers to self-select has never been greater. What this means for us as marketers is a need for more strategic thinking than ever before.
What is your most memorable moment in sport?
Walking into the opening match of 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. As an American who had been to event such as the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Fours, I figured that I understood the passion of fans pretty well. However, then I entered the Stade de France for that opening match between Brazil, the defending Champions, and Scotland. The fervour of the fans was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
When not at work, where would we find you?
No doubt, you’d find me with my wife and three kids. My wife is also in the industry (2017 marks her 20th year at Nike), so other than our kids’ matches we tend to step away from sports on the weekend and just relax as a family.