Cyrille Jacobsen's Top Tips, Head of marketing at the UCI

After being a high level athlete in modern pentathlon for 10 years, graduating from l’ESCP (Paris), working for Adidas, Eurosport, Amaury Sport Organisation and Lagardere Unlimited Cyrille Jacobsen became Head of Marketing at the Union Cycliste Internationale. Here are his 3 tips for anyone eager to work in the sport industry. 

1.    Have a real culture of sport business

In addition to a passion for sport, which is an essential requirement, it is necessary to learn about the industry from an economic and social perspective. Simply flipping through Four Four Two every morning isn't enough; you have to read the specialized press to understand the economic issues related to major global events. These publications often deal with media and marketing aspects, allowing not only to understand the different business models involved in sport, but also to understand the role of federations as well as rights holders, communities, etc. in short all the major players in the sports industry. It is a culture that must be acquired by having the most international approach possible. It is important to understand the cultural differences around the world. Some sports, though considered global, are not as powerful in some areas of the world, such as soccer in the United States which occupies only a secondary place. There are many regional characteristics such as the importance of cricket in India and the UK, ski jumping in Germany and Poland or cyclo-cross in Belgium! This culture allows being able to speak of all disciplines, to understand their economies and to learn more about the profile of fans who will be affected by these sports. This knowledge will influence the speech to be held to the various players who would buy the rights of a sport by clearly demonstrating the return on investment they can expect.

2.    Create and activate a network

The sports industry is a small world where everyone knows each other. We always see the same faces and very few information circulate officially on the job market. To stay updated, it is essential to work on developing a network. Of course this requires effort. A good network involves being in the right place at the right time, going to events, the giving of your time, of your person, to help without expecting help in return and learning to share information.

3.    Have an international approach

Many events are not based in a country, and this is the case for the majority of global events (World Championships, Olympic Games, etc..). Behind these events a huge economy is drained and thus opportunities for jobs can be found. Despite some major event that England will be hosting in the next few years, such as the Rugby World Cup, it represents only a micro market compared to the global sports business industry. This means you have to be willing to settle permanently abroad or follow these events and become as itinerant as they are. Being able to work in an international environment demands you to master the culture of different events and countries and have an international network, which brings us back to the first two tips.

If you are willing to actively work on these three points you will increase your chances of finding a job in the sports business industry. Places are expensive and scarce because of the high demand for jobs in this area due to the increasing number of courses offered by universities and schools. Unfortunately, the market does not increase at the same rate. You must therefore get noticed by both your skills and through your relationships in order to succeed.

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