Leaders Under 40 Class of 2023 honouree

We took 5 minutes with our Group Digitial and Data Director, Tom Huggins, who was recently named in the Leaders Under 40 Class of 2023. In our 5 minutes, we discussed how it felt to be announced as a winner, his proudest acheivements over the years, and what he can be found doing outside the office.

Describe your career in five words.

Not without twists and turns.

You’ve recently been named a Leader Under 40, which recognizes the talent shaping the future of the sports industry. Congratulations! How does it feel to be part of that Class of 2023, and what direction are you, and your team of digital and data experts, trying to take the sports industry in?

Thanks! At just a shade under 40, I think I am probably the oldest of the 2023 cohort but just managed to sneak in there. Genuinely, it’s a privilege to be a part of that group.

From my side, our business started because we wanted to make sport more sustainable and accessible. We believe that by taking a more data driven and performance approach to partnerships, we can keep more revenue in our ecosystem and keep communities engaged with the sports they love.

Globally, brands spend $680b in digital marketing and only $65b on sports partnerships, but in our view, the industry is fishing in the wrong pond. We know sports partnerships have a huge commercial impact for brands and should be seeing greater investment. If we get this model right, all those invested in the sports industry can flourish financially.

You set up Greenroom Digital in 2011, before partnering with CSM in 2018. By 2021, you were a formal part of the CSM family. Outside of those milestones, what are some of the achievements you are most proud of, be that client work or business growth?

It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point, with plenty of challenges a long the way, but we had a model that we believed in, and thankfully CSM shared in that vision too.

Outside of that, without a doubt the highlight has been the continuous development of our team. Back in 2011 when we set up Greenroom, we could never have imagined that a decade on, we’d have a team of 30+ people delivering unrivalled activations on behalf of several of world’s most well-known businesses.

Seeing such a talented group of people taking our work to new levels is incredibly satisfying. It’s lovely to think that from our beginnings in a windowless office in Melbourne that we’ve been able to impact the careers of people all over the world.

Clearly your approach to partnerships suggest that you believe there is a huge amount of untapped potential in marketing performance within sport and entertainment. What are the big opportunities that stakeholders need to be focusing on across the next five years. Or in other words, what should brands and rights holders be getting excited about?

It’s a great question, and I think it is important we do see it as an opportunity to get excited about, rather than a challenge to overcome.

We are lucky enough to work in an industry that creates rituals, brings people together and delivers experiences in a way that no other industry can. That, in itself, is exciting. Using that as our grounding point, rights holders should be excited about how they can enhance and elevate that fan experience through the creation of innovative partnerships. Giving fans more of what they want when they want it.

Off the back of that, brands can then get excited about a rights holder’s ability to give them a quicker path to their audiences. In that model, you are ultimately left with a virtuous circle; fans, rights holders and brands can all win!

When not at work, what would we find you doing?

On an ideal day, outside with the family and friends (preferably pool or beach adjacent) for a long and lazy afternoon of food and drink.