Sports industry leaders speak about success

The USC Sports Business Association hosted a panel Tuesday in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center with industry leaders Jeff Borris, a sports agent at Beverly Hills Sports Council; Steve Harden, Vice President of Sales at Oakley; Brendan Meyer, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Wasserman Media Group; and Ryan Lawrence, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Relativity Sports.

The event began with an introduction to the panel by senior Annenberg lecturer and Sports Business Association faculty advisor Jeff Fellenzer. Fellenzer dove right into a spirited conversation with the group, asking how they got to their current positions and what they look for in job candidates at their respective companies.

Panelists share their success stories and advice with students. — Hailey Sayegh

Panelists share their success stories and advice with students. — Hailey Sayegh

Borris discussed his career path through law school along with how networking and persistence helped get him started.

“A friend of mine from elementary school who was working full-time at BHSC invited me down to spring training while I was interning and I was able to recruit Jose Canseco as a client. It just took off from there,” Borris said. “It worked out so well I had to rearrange my law classes since I was so busy at work.”

He has since negotiated over $1 billion worth of sports contracts for BHSC.

Lawrence began his career on Wall Street and followed up by getting his MBA at USC Marshall School of Business four years ago.

“Everyday when I go to work I’m excited about what I want to do [and] I was able to find my true passion and parlay a lot of what I learned on Wall Street into my current position,” Lawrence said. “USC was where I was able to hone in on my skills and really get a better understanding of what I wanted to do.”

When questioned about a typical day in the life of each panelist, they all laughed and agreed that no two days were alike.

“It depends on what time of the year it is,” Borris said. “Baseball’s offseason is my busy season, especially during salary arbitration when we have to prepare cases for each of our clients who are going through a process similar to a trial, which is where my law degree kicks in.”

Harden splits his time between Northern California, where his family lives, and Oakley’s headquarters in Orange County.

“I usually like to start my day around 6 a.m. and jump right into my work which then switches into meetings with my team,” he said. “Oakley has a young team in our office, which helps keep things moving and motivates me to always be on my toes.”

USC alumnus Brennan Meyer started out in athlete marketing and has been with Wasserman Media for seven years. Meyer focused his words for the students on the importance of relationship building to growing a career in the sports business.

“Its all about your ability to interact and carry on relationships with people,” Meyer said. “You never know when one person you were working with who is in a junior role on a deal will get a new job and become a decision maker at another company, that’s where the relationships come into play.”

A theme echoed throughout the night by both Fellenzer and the panelists was how vital networking was to their own success and the future success of students in the audience. Harden asked the audience how many students had a LinkedIn account.

“If you want to connect with me, send me a note and not just a general LinkedIn invitation, give me a reason to want to call you back,” he said.

Sports Business Association President Brennan Wise, a sophomore majoring in business administration, was extremely pleased with the groups first event.

“We were so excited to have such a great turnout at our first panel event,” he said. “Our goal is to engage as many students as possible across USC that are interested in Sports and Business by providing them with access to talented professionals in the Los Angeles area.”

Fellenzer closed out the evening by discussing how important it is that all students, especially those in the Sports Business Association take advantage of the resources USC has to offer.

“One of the great things about being at USC is the opportunity to connect with top people in their respective industries, in this case its sports and business,” Fellenzer said. “It shows how strong the USC brand is when industry leaders are willing to take time to connect with students and give them insight as to what its really like on the front line of their business.”

Editor’s note: This post has been updated.