Kuo Chen graduated with an MS in Sports Business in 2010. Currently, he is Manager of Global Partnerships at NBA China.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
I oversee all the marketing activation of our partners in China during marquee NBA events in the region, such as the NBA Global Games, the two preseason games held in China, and the NBA5V5, an annual summer elite grassroots basketball tournament across the nation. Through months of planning and preparation, my favorite part of the work is when the light is on and the game tips-off, I feel fulfilled to see all the fans enjoying the moment and all the partners successfully delivering their brand messages to the fans.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
When you were managing the fulfillment of over 15 sponsors’ benefits at one single event, it would require extremely high level of organizational and communication skills. In addition, the name of the NBA stands for the industry standard, and there is very little tolerance to making mistakes in such an high-standard live event, which also requires high level of concentration on every single detail. What’s most challenging of the job is that you always wanted to make it perfect and make everyone happy, while the reality forces you to assess the priorities and to balance the each sponsor’s requests based on your judgment and limited resource you have on hand.
What does your average day look like?
A good part of working at the NBA, especially in Global Partnerships dept., is that the job is very evolving and dynamic, and there is always something new to learn and explore every day. When planning for a new marketing event, I get the opportunity to meet with and work with a lot of smart people both internally at the NBA as well as from many different industries all around the world. During the event/game days, we would need to travel around the country and work long hours in the arena or the event site to get prepared. Again, everything gets paid off when you see all the fans having a great time at the game you’ve worked very hard to put on.
What advice do you have for current students looking for jobs in your industry?
Understand clearly on where your passion is and what exactly you wanted to do in this industry first, and then get well prepared with knowledge and experience before looking for the dream job you want. I’ve met a lot new graduates who said that they wanted to work in the sports industry when I was interviewing interns for my department, while they didn’t really have a clear picture on what specific area they would like to explore their career path, either sports marketing, broadcasting, event management, or digital marketing.
What are some common misconceptions about your work?
People always thought about the glorious side of my job, such as meeting and working with a lot of super star athletes, having the chance to watch live games from courtside, or being exposed under the spotlight. However, unfortunately, it is not the full story. They didn’t see us spending days and nights working in the arena to prepare for the game, carrying lots of heavy props on and off the court, or sitting at the backstage talking and emailing to different function groups to make sure the smooth flow of the event. Most of the time, we are not the ones on the red carpet but behind the scene.