Pacific League Marketing (PLM) and The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management in the Isenberg School of Management have entered into a global partnership focused on delivering consulting and education services to Japanese sports stakeholders since 2020.
The McCormack Department of Sport Management is the second oldest sports management program in the world and has been ranked #1 in the world for five of the last six years. As a part of the partnership, McCormack interviewed notable alumni of the school who are involved in the front lines of sports business around the world, to gather insights regarding their careers and their business.
My name is Abby Higgins and I grew up right outside of Boston, Ma. My dad was a Red Sox season ticket holder so growing up I spent my entire childhood at Fenway Park which inspired me to pursue a career in sports specifically and after being a season ticket holder I was fortunate to partake in many season ticket holder experiences which drew me to get into sales to provide those same experiences to others. After graduating from the McCormack Department of Sport Management, I started my career with the Mets in 2017 and am now starting my 7th season with the team.
As the Mets Inside Sales Manager I oversee our entry level sales team. Inside Sales is an entry level, developmental program on the revenue generating side of the sports industry with the goal of getting to the next step of their career. My role involves recruiting the very best candidates to join my team and then training and developing them to be elite salespeople. Inside Sales is responsible for selling season tickets, group outing, and premium hospitality but we focus on selling the experience, not just tickets. You can think of Inside Sales as the minor league level of selling and my goal is to develop them into elite salespeople to get promoted to Account Executive levels which you can think of as the Major Leagues of selling.
While I was a freshman at the McCormack department of Sport Management I learned about the career path on the sales side of the sport industry and I knew it was something I could be good at but also passionate about. I started networking as a freshman through our alumni database and spoke with industry professionals in sport sales who went to UMass also. These networking calls led to my first internship after my sophomore year at Madison Square Garden as a Group Sales Intern. The next summer I moved down to Philadelphia and was a Sales Intern with the Philadelphia 76ers after my junior year. After I graduated from UMass I started with the Mets as an Inside Sales Representative. After 6 months I got promoted to the New Business Development team. While there I identified I wanted to grow on the leadership side of the business and was added to our Management in Training program where I was actively developed into people a leader while still selling. In June of 2021 I was promoted to Inside Sales Managers. I received every internship and my full time role with the Mets through networking with UMass alumni and I found them through out alumni database.
I originally wanted to work in sports because I grew up a sports fan. But as I entered the industry I learned that there was a career you could work towards in sports. We talk all the time about the difference between and job and career. A job is something you might not be passionate about, just a means to pay the bills, and no upward mobility. A career involves purpose, there is a path towards consistent growth, and most importantly there’s a ton of passion involves. Working in sport sales is truly a career and I love that my hard work directly reflects my career growth and it is something I love doing.
Working in sports in invigorating! It’s hard to find something people are more passionate about than sports and their own fandom so being surrounded by a passionate consumer group gets me so excited to get to work everyday. Even though we work for a business there are definitely some great perks like constantly being on the field, meeting players, etc.
There are definitely long and untraditional hours working in sports. We work all day and then games and sometimes games can fall on holidays. Also sometimes fandom can get in the way but it’s important to remove yourself and remember we do work for a business and it will also be a business regardless of wins and loses so it’s best not to get to attached to the fandom involved of the team.
The best advice I can give is to find out what specifically in sports you want to do. The sports industry is so vast and a front office of a professional sports is made up of many different departments. As someone who is in a hiring role, I hear all the time that people want to work in sports but we looks for individuals who know exactly what they want to do and why they would be effective in that role. Sales is very different from baseball operations so it’s important when interviewing for roles in sports or trying to break into the industry that you have a targeted approach. The best way to find out what you want to pursue is through speaking with currently industry professionals! By hearing about their roles you can find out what you might like or dislike.
interviewed by Takehiko Nakamura