60-second interview: Jim Small, VP, Asia, Major League Baseball
1. Please introduce who you are, what you do and what your job entails.
My name is Jim Small and I serve as VP, Asia for Major League Baseball. Aside from a three year stint at Nike, I have spent my entire working career...almost 30 years...at MLB or with MLB teams. For the past nine years I have been in charge of MLB's business in Asia based out of Tokyo.
2. What career path have you taken to get to where you are today?
I was a journalism major at the University of Kansas and spent the first half of my career working in PR, which was amazing preparation for what I do now. To be able to communicate effectively is essential to the sales and marketing process. There is not a day that goes by that I don't use something I learned in my communications background.
3. How has Major League Baseball developed in Asia over recent years?
When I opened our first Asian office in Tokyo in 2003, our business was much smaller then it is today. But thanks to some good people that work for us here and in Beijing, an office we opened in 2008, our revenues have grown exponentially. We have dozens of Asian players in our minor and major leagues and there are more on the way.
4. What are some the key challenges you face in raising the profile of the sport in this region?
Asia is not one market. It is a collection of vastly different cultures, buying habits, viewing habits and sporting habits. We focus on learning new markets before we get involved. In China, for instance, we spent a few years learning the market before deciding it was the right place for us to invest. So the biggest challenge for any brand in this region is simply recognizing the difference in each Asian market and devising a smart plan to build your business here.
5. What advice do you have for candidates looking to get into sport?
Stay passionate. Jobs in sports are not easy to find. Don't give up. The payoff is worth the fight.
6. What has been your career highlight to date?
The thing I am most proud of is helping take the World Baseball Classic from an idea to the world's most prestigious, global baseball event.