On February 16th, the Rice University Sport Business Alliance was lucky enough to Have Kristen Gambetta join them for breakfast to share her experiences working in the sports industry. Gambetta is a Rice alum (Sid Rich ’05) who is now working as Director of Client Services for the Houston Dynamo.
Like most graduates, Gambetta did not know exactly what she wanted to do coming out of school. With the assistance of Sport Management professors, she was lucky enough to land an internship with Nike’s Sparq Training, and flew out to Portland, Oregon, within a week of graduation to begin work. Unfortunately there was not a full-time position available for her after the internship. She then managed to find a marketing and coaching job at a local gym in Portland, but again did not feel that she was where she was meant to be.
Around this time, the San Jose Earthquakes relocated to Houston to establish an expansion MLS franchise. While the players and coaches made trip, a new front office need to be established. Many jobs needed to be filled, and when the Dynamo reached out to Rice’s Sport Management professors they all knew that Gambetta was their girl.
Just over a year after relocating to Portland, Gambetta repacked her bags and moved back to join the Dynamo ticket sales team. A former soccer player at Rice, Gambetta was happy to finally be working in an area of interest to her. Ticket sales were not where Gambetta saw herself long-term, but she thrived in the competitive environment, and consistently outperformed her peers.
In ‘08, a position opened up in sponsorship sales and Gambetta jumped at the opportunity. Despite her stellar performance, the Dynamo were worried that she was too green for the position, and she was not offered the spot. This only fueled her fire, and when a position became available again in 2009, Gambetta was the obvious choice. Unfortunately, there was no one to take her spot in ticket sales, so she spent the ’09 season executing both roles.
From early on, Gambetta realized that sponsorship sales and activation was her niche, and she excelled. She quickly became Head of Sponsorship Fulfillment, which has evolved into the role she currently holds. When questioned about what she thought were the keys to her success she offered two pieces of advice: communicate with your managers, and speak up in meetings. She emphasized that new positions and promotions will rarely be handed out on a silver platter, and that only by voicing your intentions of upward movement will you be able to achieve you goals.
Ben Kohl, a senior from Los Altos, California, is majoring in Mathematical Economic Analysis and Sport Management.