January 8, 2020 – ZRG Partners, one of the fastest growing executive search firms, has launched a new sports and entertainment practice with the addition of Jamie Crittenberger. He joins the firm as managing director and head of the practice based in Washington, D.C. Mr. Crittenberger will also serve as a senior member of ZRG’s consumer and private equity practice groups.
“Having worked with a wide array of organizations across the globe, Jamie understands the demands of multiple functional roles and connects high-performing executives and innovative leadership concepts to forward-thinking brands and properties,” said Larry Hartmann, CEO of ZRG. “With nearly three decades of industry operating and consulting experience, Jamie Crittenberger is a global leadership advisor who assists high-profile sports, entertainment, and media properties in complex assignments. We couldn’t have picked a better person to lead our global sports and entertainment practice.”
Previously, Mr. Crittenberger was a practice leader and global partner at Spencer Stuart and Odgers Berndtson, respectively. His diverse portfolio of clients includes those in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, PGA, WTA, FIBA, NASCAR, NCAA, NGBs, Olympic Movement, and more. Before entering leadership advisory, Mr. Crittenberger spent 10 years as CEO of Starbridge Media Group, a firm he co-founded to leverage the convergence of sports and entertainment across multiple platforms. His firm represented and partnered with marquee sports, media and consumer-facing properties along a spectrum of revenue-generation and content initiatives. His TV production work won five Emmy Awards.
“I am thrilled to launch this practice with ZRG and to be able to bring my sports and entertainment business experience to the firm’s technology-driven search process,” said Mr. Crittenberger. “Our practice group is filled with a diverse team of veteran leadership advisors who possess specific sports and entertainment sector experience along with deep functional expertise across a wide spectrum.”
Earlier in his career, Mr. Crittenberger served in football and business operations roles for the Washington Redskins. He held subsequent operational roles with SFX Sports Group, Clear Channel Entertainment and Viacom. He has been an active youth sports coach for over 25 years and coached over 75 teams in football, basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse, including teams at the high school varsity level.
ZRG’s other key executives in the global sports and entertainment practice are industry veterans Ken Lubin and Steve Tosches, both of whom are former Ivy League head coaches, and Alex Bennett, a former professional rugby player.
Over the last quarter century, the sports sector has grown into a formidable global industry. Historically, professional sports teams operated on a relatively modest level, with league officials, team owners, managers, and coaches surrounding themselves with people they knew and trusted from their own small worlds. College sports teams relied on in-house search committees and word-of-mouth recommendations. Much of that has forever changed.
Teams with tremendous followings like the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid and Manchester United have seen their valuations soar into the billions of dollars. That’s attracted search firms – big time. Seasoned recruiters now provide strategic planning advice, in addition to talent identification services, with the capability of applying their findings to speed along the process in the hunt for talent. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.
Mr. Lubin is a managing director in ZRG’s Boston office. He joined the firm in 2002 and has focused on C-level and senior executive searches globally in the sports, media, technology and financial services sectors. Mr. Lubin also founded Executive Athletes, a community of high-level executives who are still competing as high-level athletes, and started the Executive Athletes podcast, which focuses on peak performance, human potential and what it takes to succeed in both business and sport. Before entering executive search, he was the Alpine ski racing coach at Brown University and spent time coaching at Carrabassett Valley Academy.
Mr. Tosches is a managing director in ZRG’s New York office. He has a wide range of clients and adds a seasoned perspective on recruiting, character assessment and people development. He entered the search industry in 2000 following his 20-year career in college athletics, which culminated with a 13-year tenure as the head football coach at Princeton University.
Mr. Bennett is both a managing director and ZRG’s chief growth officer. With 16 years in global leadership roles, he has built a proven track record in C-suite, top executive and board-level searches. His clients represent every aspect of the industry from large multinationals to private equity and VC firms. Mr. Bennett is passionate about the life sciences industry and its patients, having recovered from an extremely serious spinal cord injury and paralysis. He works with a number of charitable foundations and regularly gives inspirational speeches to corporate clients and charities around the world. Before moving into executive search, he led the commercial operations of a U.S. medical device company.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media