The sports industry is fascinating and is growing every year. However, if you want to have a solid career within the sports industry, you have to go after education and create a strong network.
After 12 years, 4 countries and 8 cities, Ophelia made a decision to change her life and pursue a sports career. Inspired by sports values such as passion, vitality and teamwork spirit, Ophelia is finishing her MBA in Sports Management at Real Madrid Graduate School and starting a new project with a well know football team.
Get inspired by Ophelia and don’t be afraid to take a risk!
Thank you for sharing with us your story, Ophelia!
Ophelia, can you share with us a bit of your professional and academic background?
I finished my bachelor degree of Business Administration in Spain. During my studies, I spent one year in South Korea and Taiwan as an exchange student, and did internships in Beijing and Madrid. Afterwards, I started my career in a PR&Event company in Shanghai first, then mainly working in a prestigious and global Spanish company (Porcelanosa), one of the biggest construction material suppliers in Europe, for two years and a half as a Senior Business Development Manager for Chinese market. At the moment, I am finishing my MBA in Sports Management in Real Madrid Graduate School & Universidad Europea.
As you could tell, my professional and academic experience is closely related with Spain and China.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the sports industry? What was your main motivation?
Most of my friends were pretty surprised when I told them that I was going to study Sports Management, which I totally understand. Dedicating in sports industry was an “ideal plan” that I started to have around 3 years ago before I decided to take the MBA and it popped up sometimes during those years. But to be honest, it was a career I thought I would never have the opportunity to get and that is why I didn’t share the idea much with others.
From the end of 2017, I was going through a career bottleneck. I started to seeking for positions in other companies, meanwhile, checking master or MBA programs. Going back to school after a period of time working had always been my plan, however, I was not certain about when to do it and which subject to focus on.
I normally use “exclusion method” to help me figure out what I really need. And by doing so, it reminded me again my interests in the sports industry and I was thinking that it might be my best chance to switch sector. On the other hand, the unique characteristics of sports industry attracts me a lot — the passion and vitality, high value in teamwork, the spirit of constant challenging and, at the end of the day, a global industry that generates 1,5–2% of the worldwide GDP — might drive me to dedicate my lifetime in it.
On the other hand, China is a country which its business dynamics is sensitively related with national policy, and Chinese government is determined in developing sports industry in all aspects for long term: improve sports industry structure and system, encourage investment in sports market, promote industrial integration, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, establish industrial carriers, advance regional industrial synergy, expand sports consumption … As a native Chinese, I believe it is one of the best moments to join in.
Currently, you are pursuing an MBA in Sports Management at Real Madrid Graduate School. Can you share with our audience how have been this experience?
I had finished the academic part and it has been quite wonderful year for me to look back. The new information and resources that I was receiving were massive considering that I was not from the industry. There were many moments which made me feel extremely proud to be a student of Real Madrid Graduate School: every class we had in Real Madrid VIP Area, every seminar we participated with updated information from leaders of various sectors within the industry, every school trip we enjoyed to discuss with executives of the sport entities, every match we got invited, every facility we visited and the beautiful ceremony we had on the field of Santiago Bernabéu…
On the other hand, the city itself offers lots of opportunities, big sports events and seminars are held actively, being a student in Sports Management at Real Madrid Graduate School makes it easier to get involved in thanks to the resources from the school, our professors and sometimes our classmates.
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This year you had the opportunity to be a volunteer at the UEFA Champions League and at Gira Es 2019 female basketball. How was this experience? What was your key learning points?
It was interesting to be behind the scenes after being as part of the audience so many times. Once again, those were the opportunities that could be hard to get if I were not a Sports Management student. It is an efficient way to see how professionals run an event, I was noting down feedback for myself the details that might be useful one day when I have a similar responsibility.
What pieces of advice can you give for those who want to pursue a new career within the sports industry?
The sports industry is big, the more I learn the more I found how complex and complete the ecosystem is. No matter you had the experience in the industry or not, be open and sensitive to all types of information. You might end up in doing something interesting which you never expected.
On the other hand, I encourage female who might not be fanatics of sports to join as well (those were my concerns before the MBA), as long as you have interests and in the end, sports industry needs professionals not “fans” to run it well.
What is your game plan for the future? In what area do you want to work on it?
I love doing business. I found the perfect combination to match my experience and capability within sports industry. Luckily, I am going to start to cooperate with a top football club that has been performing very well in the past years and more importantly, is open and keen to making a change in the business perspective. I will be developing a sports and tourism-related initiative that is tailor-made for the Asian market in order to elevate its brand value as well as to generate incremental revenues. I am very excited to be involved in an innovative initiative from scratch for the club, and I will try my best to help and add value.
A final message for our audience?
The things that I could share are my personal feedback as a young professional. People might find it kind of “depart from the dominant theory”, however, they really help me a lot in personal, academic and professional life.
- Don’t think too much.
Think but not too much. It is quite hard to have a perfect timing with perfect conditions. I would not make to move among 8 cities of 4 countries during past 12 years if I struggled too much on the difficulties. Taking into account a few points that you care the most, then try, review and adjust.
- Don’t worry too much.
- Don’t stress on something that is not happening. I found out the things turned around just the next day many times. I am more a person focusing on finishing my day to day work well instead of worrying about if I would achieve my target of the year.
- Don’t make long-term plan.
Be flexible and be curious in this information explosion era. Keep learning, adopting and changing.
- Don’t forget to show your “weakness”
It is too normal that sometimes you have concern or uncertainty, talk to people with that expertise or experience, they would have very good advices to share and many times resources or contacts to help you solving them as they are then aware of your struggles.
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