In an effort to provide aspiring sports business professionals with a deeper insight into the college athletic world, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will be conducting weekly Q&A’s via email with industry professionals working in higher athletics. This week’s guest is Hunter Lochmann, Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Michigan.
Check out the Q&A below and let us know what you think of Hunter’s advice on Twitter.
BusinessofCollegeSports.com — When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in sports?
Hunter Lochmann — I caught the sports bug for two reasons: I grew up in Massachusetts during Larry Bird’s prime, and my dad worked for Converse shoes during their prime (coincidentally with Larry as an endorser). Just being exposed to that and playing all sports, I knew I wanted to be around it.
BOCS.com — You obtained your undergraduate and graduate degree (both sports-focused). Is a graduate degree necessary to work in college athletics? Or does it just depend on the position?
HL — In my case it definitely got me on the right path to work in sports but it’s absolutely not a must. Many folks who work in sports start with different majors and different careers. However, a sports background is going to help with the all important first job/internship – getting your foot in the door. I was fortunate to have a professor/mentor in grad school (Bill Sutton) who has been very important in my career.
BOCS.com — You worked for the New York Knicks for roughly 6 years. What motivated you to transition to collegiate athletics?
HL — I loved what I was doing at the Knicks but I was made aware of this opportunity at Michigan that was simply a dream job that included all of my previous experience plus for such a strong athletic and academic brand. Additionally, this opportunity offered me the quality of life upgrade to raise my family in a great college town.
BOCS.com — What does a work day typically look like for you as the University of Michigan’s Chief Marketing Officer?
HL — Lots of meetings. Lots of emails. Never a dull moment and no matter what you think you have planned to do that day, you never, ever bat 1.000 due to being sidetracked for one reason or another. That is what makes working in sports so fun and dymanic – no two days are the same. And with sports, team performances or a developing situation can make you switch gears quickly and activate entirely different marketing plans (like our basketball team’s success in the NCAAs).
BOCS.com — Social media plays an integral role in college athletic departments communicating with their fanbase. For you personally, though, how do you utilize social media to connect with wolverine fans?
HL — I know I have Michigan fans following me (I don’t have a huge following), so obviously like to tweet about all things Michigan athletics related. But it’s also fun to show a little humor and tweet about my family, likes and other observations. At times, it’s even a good place to set a record straight or get a message across.
BOCS.com — For someone wishing to pursue a career in college athletics, what’s the one or two pieces of advice you’d give them?
HL — If an undergrad (or grad school), volunteer for the athletic department. There are plenty of opportunities to help. We have a terrific student internship program here and many of the best students go on to work for the athletic department or move on to other jobs within the sports industry. Additionally, study, learn, and master the digital space. It’s a skill-set that every college department needs and if they haven’t already, will be hiring for in the future.
BOCS.com — Did you intern/work for free/volunteer during your undergraduate/graduate career? If yes, where? How valuable were those experiences for you into obtaining that first marketing job?
HL — Absolutely. I was a student manager for the Kansas football team so it was fun to see the interworkings of a football program up close (as well as in-state tuition!). At UMass, I worked for the Mullins Center (their arena) in a support role. That was also eye opening — the facility side. Again, I was lucky to have Bill Sutton as my marketing professor and mentor who has opened doors for me for my entire career.
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