Kristian Stengel '21 Hired Full-Time by UFC

Kristian Stengel '21 Hired Full-Time by UFC

Rice University’s Department of Sport Management has a broad network of alumni working in countless different areas of the sport industry, and this year, graduating senior Kristian Stengel has further expanded the Rice Sport Management network by accepting a full-time job with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In his new role, Stengel works as a Business Development Coordinator within the UFC Global Partnerships Department.

Kristian Stengel '21 hired full-time at UFC

Stengel became the first Rice student to intern with UFC in Summer 2019, working as a Global Partnerships Intern. Stengel also worked with Wasserman as a Brands and Properties Intern in Summer 2020, prior to joining UFC full-time in his current role.

According to Professor in the Practice Tom Stallings, Stengel wanted to work for UFC since his first semester at Rice. After learning about his career goals, the Department of Sport Management worked with Stengel to identify internship opportunities, gain experience working sporting events, and arrange meetings in preparation for an internship interview with UFC.

“The most consequential obligation we have to the students we serve is to meet with each and every student to determine their short- and long-term career goals and help create a roadmap for them to use in achieving these goals,” Stallings said. “This means introducing them to contacts or creating contacts at destination organizations and helping them identify the ideal function within these organizations.”

In addition to his internships with UFC and Wasserman, Stengel was a Sponsorship Activation Intern on behalf of the Rice University Athletic Department for IMG College in Fall 2018. Further, Stengel worked events such as the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four, the 2018 ESPY Award Show, and the 2019 Formula 1 Emirates United States Grand Prix during his time as a Sport Management student.

“I never dreamed I would have had the opportunities I did while at Rice,” Stengel said. “The professors were intent on making sure that we, as students, received real-world information that we could carry into our internship experiences and succeed.”

Kristian Stengel at UFC fight

As a Business Development Coordinator for UFC, Stengel’s job responsibilities include sales planning, performing relevant category and activation research, and ideating new potential assets and integrations. According to Stengel, the UFC Global Partnerships Department focuses on three criteria related to partnerships: revenue, brand equity, and activation.

“Activation is the most important bucket among these criteria,” Stengel said. “This is how we bring the partnership to life: ‘What custom activations and integrations are we developing with our partners to tell a unique and authentic story, drive KPI's, increase the UFC fan experience, and increase the partner's consumer experience?’”

Stallings says that after meeting with Stengel, they determined that corporate partnerships would be his ideal function at UFC. Stengel attributes his passion for corporate partnerships to the competitive and, most importantly, creative nature of the work.

“Crafting that story and authentically integrating a brand into a sports property's ecosystem is a very fun challenge, especially in a day and age where most consumers are extremely turned off by traditional advertising,” Stengel said. “Accomplishing that really does take a lot of creativity, and I absolutely love bringing those activations to life.”

Stengel says that his Sport Management classes helped him succeed in his new role because his professors shared industry knowledge gained from their own experiences, and the department’s student-specific approach to curriculum allowed him to tailor his class projects towards his personal goal of working for UFC. For those who have had the opportunity to work with Stengel during his time at Rice, landing this new position is just one more example of his commitment to excellence.

“Ultimately, Kristian did all the work and represented himself with distinction at each opportunity,” Stallings said. “Kristian is the type of hard working, forward thinking and eager-to-learn student who thrives in the program, and we could not be more proud to see him achieve his dream after going through Rice Sport Management.”

Elliot Stahr, a senior from Irvine, California, is double-majoring in Psychology and Philosophy.