Great pitchers can throw three pitches: a fastball, a breaking ball and some third type of pitch, perhaps a curveball.
When life threw curveballs at Ann Kirschner '78, Bob Reif '89 and Mark Shapiro '89, they relied on their versatility and entered the sports management business. They talked about their experiences in sports management at a Career Services panel discussion in Robertson Bowl 2 yesterday.
"I don't want to go to work every morning to see a bunch of people I don't like and do work I don't like and drink all night to forget about it," Reif said of his experience managing the finances at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. He has held several jobs since then and now works for Florida sports magnate Wayne Huizenga.
Then working for International Management Group, Reif said he looked up Huizenga in the Fort Lauderdale phonebook and left a message saying he could make Huizenga $50 million. They had breakfast and Huizenga hired him.
Reif encouraged the audience of students to pursue careers in which they are sincerely interested. "I just sort of followed my bliss, whatever I thought would make me happy," he said.
Kirschner said involvement in new technologies can lead to a successful career. She started in the cable business and moved on to satellite TV. Now she conducts Internet negotiations for the National Football League involving "nfl.com" and "superbowl.com."
"If I could stop my 1978 self and see my 1998 self, I'm sure I wouldn't recognize her," Kirschner said. "My husband says I'm the only person whose career spanned George Eliot and Jumbo Elliot. That's always a good joke because half the people in the room don't know who George Eliot is, and half don't know who Jumbo Elliot is," Kirschner said, referring to the Victorian novelist and the offensive lineman.
Shapiro, meanwhile, works more closely with the sports aspect of sports management as the Director of Player Personnel for the Cleveland Indians. He said he has been able to combine business with his passion for baseball.
He started doing consulting work in southern California, but visited spring training one year and knew baseball was his calling.
"I left an environment and a place where I was making more money," Shapiro said. "It's about doing something you're passionate about and dealing with people who share your values."
Though all three abandoned mundane jobs for lower-paying positions, their ability to learn about sports management helped them realize newly created positions in their companies.
Reif said reading sports business publications, directly calling companies and having the ability to talk about sports management serve prospective front-office employees well.