April 18, 2019 – Building on a period of unprecedented expansion, global search firm Odgers Berndtson has brought in Jamie Crittenberger as a partner in its U.S. sports practice. He will be based in Washington, D.C.
“We’re very excited to welcome Jamie to the Odgers team,” said Steve Potter, CEO of Odgers Berndtson U.S. “He’s a gold standard recruiter and has more than 20 years of experience working with many of the world’s most influential sports organizations. He’s going to play a big role at Odgers.”
“Jamie’s addition to the firm is a win for Odgers and the industry,” said Greg Santore, who heads the firm’s sports practice. “His extensive work with professional sports leagues, teams and related entities nicely augments our current expertise in collegiate sports, gaming and eSports, and helps to further expand both our domestic and international client offerings.”
Mr. Crittenberger joins Odgers Berndtson from Spencer Stuart, where he was a member of that firm’s global consumer practice and co-leader of its North American sports business practice. Before entering the executive search industry, Mr. Crittenberger held a variety of operating and advisory positions across the landscape of sports business. He was the CEO and co-founder of Starbridge Media Group, a VC-backed global sports advisory and production firm that worked with teams, leagues, agencies, universities, athletes and corporate brands around the world. In this capacity, he worked closely with the largest professional and collegiate leagues and associations in the U.S., including the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and the NCAA. Previously, he held roles in sales, marketing, communications and operations for leading sports organizations and broadcasters, including the Washington Redskins, SFX Sports, Clear Channel Entertainment, and Viacom. He also operated his own consulting firm that advised sports organizations on a variety of revenue-generation initiatives.
Growing Sports Practice
Coming just months after the firm opened its U.S. sports practice, Mr. Crittenberger’s addition amounts to a significant expansion of Odgers Berndtson’s commercial sports capabilities.
Mr. Crittenberger recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss what executive search firms brings to sports entities, how he plans to utilize his background in his new role with Odgers as well as how the firm looks to grows its sport practice in coming months. Here are some excerpts from that discussion.
Jamie, we continue to see sports teams from all over the world turn to executive search firms to find their next generation senior leaders. What impact and value do you think search firms bring to the sector?
In my view, there are four key areas of value and impact that search firms bring to global teams and leagues: First, there is stability brought to a search through a consistent process. Teams receive the benefit of an insightful and veteran sports advisor who has seen what works and doesn’t work in the recruitment of talented and coveted senior leaders – pacing, confidentiality, background checking, referencing, sourcing, and overall timing. Good searches take time and energy. Not all teams have the resources required to dedicate to a vigorous search. Second, search firms are adept at bringing a diverse slate of candidates to the process. Diversity can have many forms – gender, race, ethnicity, of course; but also geographic and professional diversity. Third, and this is only possible when a search advisor has the trust of the team or sports property, is the ability to offer an objective point of view on the attractiveness of the role and an assessment of the organizational culture. In other words, what is the view of the organization to the outside industry, and how will the team’s reputation help or hinder a thoughtful process? The seasoned advisor pushes back and offers candid feedback to a client. Finally, a good search firm working in the sports space will bring sophistication across sectors and industries that will match up well with the non-sports world.
“A good search firm working in the sports space will bring sophistication across sectors and industries that will match up well with the non-sports world.”
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How will you leverage your 20 years of experience?
I have worked in the sports business in a variety of operating and consulting roles on behalf of hundreds of entities for three decades. I started in professional sports working for the Washington Redskins during the team’s “Super Bowl era” of the 1980s and 90s. I worked for and alongside Hall of Fame coaches, executives, and players, legends in professional sports. That formed my thinking in the industry: What am I doing to help my team get to a Super Bowl? Separate from that early experience, I have worked for global sports agencies founded by Donald Dell and David Falk, leading entertainment and broadcasting companies, and in successful entrepreneurial entities. Functionally, I have been in roles in marketing, sales, communications, operations, finance, and human resources, and have worked across the spectrum of professional, collegiate, and amateur sports. I have sold tickets and sponsorship; I have been a team spokesman; I have hired a staff and created marketing and strategic plans; I have run a business and P+L. My experience is a mix of operating positions and advisory work giving me credibility in the industry and in knowledge of its current talent pool.
What types of searches will you be handling and how will Odgers look to expand its sports practice?
It is an exciting time in the global sports business across the league, team, venue, property, revenue, and content realms. Changes in fan consumption patterns, distribution of content, technology, legalized gambling, and eSports are evolving every day, making it hard to keep up. There is active and sophisticated ownership in the industry, including consistent arrival of new private equity players across a wide spectrum. The proliferation of new global leagues, a focus on athlete care and safety, and the challenges to monetization of assets across new mediums all require industry practitioners to stay current or be left behind. So, the opportunity for growth at Odgers Berndtson, with a truly global practice and a large team of industry veterans with both broad and specific knowledge, is enormous. Our U.S.-based sports team is growing alongside the rest of our firm. While I have experience across the spectrum of sports and entertainment, I will focus on the professional side of sport, both in the U.S. and overseas, and on the convergence of talent in the sports, media, and entertainment sectors. It is certainly an interesting time to be positioned at the center of the industry.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media