International sporting events and federations offer excellent career opportunities for people who have the right skills. But these highly sought-after positions don’t just require skills in sports management or event management, they often require both, plus a combination of soft skills and business knowledge. The students of the Event, Sport and Entertainment (ESE) programs at Glion Institute of Higher Education have experienced this phenomenon first-hand. From their stories, we learn that the hard skills in sports and event management are only a small part of the recipe for success in international federations.
First, let’s consider the number one requirement for most management positions in the international sport and event sectors: quality industry experience.
Industry exposure is an essential part of Glion’s sport and event management programs, delivered through the hands-on learning module called the Project Factory. Students in the Project Factory have worked on the Champs freestyle snowboarding competition, the Verbier Bike Fest, the Matterhorn Ultracks Skialp and Trail races, and an annual ESE conference attended by many industry professionals.
For these students, the chance to participate in real projects for real companies is a highlight of their studies. The excellent results of these projects have shown that Glion students use their knowledge of sports culture and their experience in event management to produce excellent events.
But running operations is just the start. To really get ahead in the industry, the students have to take their knowledge to the next level and apply business strategy.
In May of this year, Glion’s ESE students presented their Integrated Projects (IP) at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Their objective was to create a new event program focused on Culture, Education and the spirit of the Olympic Movement for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. In order to accomplish this task, the teams presented proposals that incorporated their personal experience in the Project Factory, plus the theoretical knowledge from four of their ESE management courses:
- Management Finance in Event, Sport and Entertainment
- Event Management
- Emerging Technologies in Event, Sport and Entertainment
- Creativity and Innovation
Following the presentations, IOC representatives commented on the valuable contribution and very interesting proposals for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Another quality that is indispensable for a career in international sports and events is the ability to deliver unforgettable customer experiences.
At Glion, the ESE students get more than what they signed up for; they have a unique opportunity to experience the world of luxury hospitality and its service standards. Indeed, Glion is also a top-ranking school of hospitality management with more than 50 years of experience in forming leaders for the global hospitality industry. And it’s not uncommon for hospitality students to make a professional foray into the world of international sporting events, as Sergei Romanenko 2014 alumnus of the Postgraduate Higher Diploma Hospitality Management, can attest.
“My first internship was working in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. That was an unforgettable experience with a lot of hard work but even more memorable moments! I was responsible for welcoming, hosting and guiding guests around Sochi and the Olympic venues. My personal goal was to exceed guests’ expectations and make sure that they are getting an unforgettable Olympic experience.”
Sergei goes on to explain that his internship experience at the Olympic Games showed him the connection between international sports events and hospitality. “This internship allowed me to see myself as part of a global event such as the Olympic Games and it proved to me that hospitality is the industry I want to grow in. Moreover, it was fun and there were a lot of Glion students and alumni around, so I was able to feel the support of the Glion family. Glion spirit mixed with Olympic spirit equals an unforgettable cocktail of experiences.”
And last, but not least, career connections and a good reputation may be just as important one’s professional skills and experience.
As an alumna of Glion’s ESE program, Kristina Jabornicka ‘13 began working at the Czech Olympic Committee for the Commission for Foreign Affairs straight after graduation. In a recent interview, she explains that it’s the soft skills that helped her most in her first real job.
“At Glion we learned that theory is one thing and practice is the other. So far in my career, I have not yet used all of the knowledge I learned while studying, but the skills I developed have helped me to adapt, understand and improve in my job,” Kristina says.
She adds that the connections at Gion helped her to get her current job. “One of my dreams was to attend and be a part of the Olympic Games. So when I found out that Glion was hosting a presentation and job interviews for the Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014, I knew that I would have to excel in the interview for a chance to work at those Olympics…I worked at the Olympics and it was my best professional experience so far and afterwards I started immediately working at the Czech Olympic Committee thanks to my dissertation topic, which brought me there in the first place. Currently I am working at the Czech Olympic Committee for the Commission for Foreign Affairs. It is a great opportunity and I am doing something what I really like.”
So what should you look for in a sport management degree, if you want to work in the big international federations? From these testimonials, it seems that hands-on experience, industry insight, cultural skills, soft skills and career connections outweigh the purely academic aspects of a degree.
About Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion offers business degrees that are purpose-built for the merging worlds of sports, events and entertainment. Since 2001, our faculty of industry-experienced leaders has pioneered sports management programs combining hands-on learning, industry exposure, and strategic business that have earned the support of global sports and event companies.