May 1, 2019 – The NFL and its teams continue to look to specialist recruiters to fill top C-suite roles. Recently, Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, helped recruit former Charlotte Hornets executive Pete Guelli as chief commercial officer of the New York Giants. Len Perna, Turnkey’s president, founder and CEO, led the assignment.
“The New York Giants Football Club is an iconic, legacy, powerhouse brand,” said Mr. Perna. “Pete Guelli is a great choice as chief commercial officer because of his 20-years of leadership in team branding, ticket sales, marketing partnerships, etc. You can’t find better ownership than the Mara and Tisch families, and they liked Pete’s leadership in those key areas.”
In his new role with the Giants, Mr. Guelli will oversee the commercial operations and report directly to president and CEO John Mara. “I am very excited to have the chance to join one of the most iconic franchises in professional sports and to work with John Mara, Steve Tisch and the entire Giants organization,” said Mr. Guelli. “The scale of the business, the strength of the Giants brand and the New York/ New Jersey market make this an unbelievable opportunity.”
Mr. Guelli was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer for Hornets Sports & Entertainment, the conglomerate that oversees both the NBA Charlotte Hornets and their arena, the Spectrum Center. In Charlotte, he made the organization profitable after three years, increased sponsorship revenue by $14 million, more than doubled the season ticket base and created the franchise’s Business Intelligence Department, among many other accomplishments. His tenure in Charlotte also included the brand transition from Bobcats to Hornets, the city hosting NBA All-Star 2019, the team’s first-ever jersey partnership with LendingTree, the organization’s participation in NBA Global Games China 2015 and the development of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation.
Mr. Guelli returns to the NFL, where he spent 11 years with the Buffalo Bills befeore going to Charlotte in 2009. During his time in Buffalo, he rose to the position of SVP of business ventures, overseeing all of the organization’s revenue-generating properties and the regionalization of the team’s business efforts.
Serving Sports, Entertainment & Media
Founded in 1996, Turnkey Search is a specialized talent recruitment/executive search firm focused on recruiting C-level, senior-level and mid-management level talent for sports, entertainment and media enterprises. Over the past 20-plus years, Turnkey Search has filled more than 1,000 positions across these three sectors. The search firm helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity firms and other clients identify, recruit and hire top management talent.
Mr. Perna manages all aspects of Turnkey Search. A top executive in the sports industry since 1985, he began his sports career as a business attorney for Cap Cities ABC/ESPN and also served as a top executive for the Detroit Red Wings/Tigers and the Dallas Stars/Texas Rangers.
Sports Recruiting Finds Its Own Field of Dreams
Sports teams, from the professional level on down to college athletic programs, all now require a strong professional talent base. It’s not surprising that dozens of search firms compete hard for every plum assignment that surfaces.
Turnkey’s clients include the University of Alabama, the Atlanta Hawks, CitiGroup, the University of Denver, Louisiana State University, the University of Michigan, the Milwaukee Brewers, the University of Mississippi, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the University of Nebraska, the Oakland Raiders, Richard Childress Racing, RocNation, Rutgers University, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Temple University, Ticketmaster, Townsquare Media, the United Center, VStar Entertainment Group and the Washington Nationals.
Recent NFL Searches
Turnkey Search recently placed Alex Chang as chief marketing officer of the San Francisco 49ers. Managing director Diana Busino led the search along with recruiter Allie Crone. A veteran of almost two decades in major brand marketing, Mr. Chang has become an influential player in the sports marketing industry over the last eight years while with American Express, IMG, Wasserman and Samsung Electronics America.
Turnkey Search also recruited Meredith Starkey as chief marketing officer of the Carolina Panthers. Ms. Crone also led that assignment. Ms. Starkey joins an elite and growing group of women in C-level positions across the sports industry. “The Panthers are laser focused on gender equity and overall diversity,” said Mr. Perna. “We need more teams like the Panthers. Female stars like Meredith won’t jump to team-side unless they know ownership is serious about empowering these roles. This ownership gets it and that’s going to benefit the Panthers, the Carolinas and the NFL.”
In addition, Turnkey placed Tom Glick as the new team president for the Carolina Panthers. Mr. Glick has more than 25 years of experience in sports management, having worked in baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer in both the U.S. and the U.K. For the past six years, Mr. Glick has been instrumental in the development of City Football Group (CFG), a multinational soccer organization that includes six clubs.
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