Sports MBA Students Pitch Sports Partnership to T-Mobile
Over the past few months, the SDSU Sports MBA Class of 2023 created a project in their Sports Marketing and Partnerships course led by Dr. Vassilis Dalakas. In groups, students reviewed T-Mobile’s sponsorship objectives and were tasked with selecting a property (whether that was an event, league, or club), and pitch a full partnership plan to Sports MBA alumna and Senior Sponsorship Manager at T-Mobile, Kelley Harrison (SMBA ‘12).
Each of the eight teams chose among a plethora of properties including pickleball teams, ski resorts, esports tournaments, and auto racing. The ability to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a hands-on project elevated students’ capabilities and knowledge of the corporate sponsorships space. Each pitch consisted of data-driven alignment of each property’s business and values with T-Mobile’s, as well as creative activations to bring the partnerships to life.
Current Sports MBA student Josh Himbury (SMBA ‘23) noted, “To have worked on this presentation all semester and then have the opportunity to present it in a boardroom to the Senior Sponsorships Manager from T-Mobile was a fantastic experience that is going to be useful for all of us no matter what field we end up working in.”
Throughout the semester, student groups worked with Sports MBA alumna and Director of Partnership Activation at Pittsburgh Penguins, Amy Wesson (SMBA ‘17), who encouraged students to be creative, yet practical with their pitches. “Students were tasked with working through a sponsorship pitch from start to finish,” said Wesson. “It was really encouraging to see the creative thinking that the students applied to their projects. These real world projects are what makes the SDSU program so impactful.”
Kelley Harrison flew to San Diego to observe each group’s sponsorship activation plan in person, providing students with the opportunity to present their ideas directly to an industry executive with first-hand knowledge of the brand side of corporate partnerships. This provided students with invaluable experience, particularly important since a large number of SMBA ‘23 students are looking to pursue careers in corporate partnerships upon graduation.
“My own career in sports got its start because of these types of first-person industry exposures that I had during my time in SMBA, so I’m glad to have had the opportunity to provide a similar experience to this class. Professor Dalakas is doing a great service to this group by contextualizing his course from the start, and I look forward to seeing where this cohort ends up after graduation.”
Professor Dalakas commented, “With the students developing sponsorship plans on behalf of real properties and then pitching them directly to the Senior Sponsorship Manager of the brand they targeted, this was as close to a real-world context as a classroom experience can get, truly experiential learning.”
San Diego State Sports MBA ‘23 would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Dalakas, Kelley Harrison, and Amy Wesson for this incredible hands-on sports industry experience.