Best of 2020: Celia Bouza, Director ESPN Next - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning with and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

Let’s talk about retention. 

In the business world -- retention is a big deal as it relates to customers and employees.

Let’s take our business for a second, We provide a premium service, we have over 17,000 active sports jobs and internships all in one place, we match your skills to job openings, we connect you with sports employers, we have career training -- we do all kind of cool things to help you develop in the industry.

Once someone decides to be a member of our site, it makes sense for us to work to retain them, because it way way way easier to keep a current customer than create a new one from scratch.

Businesses focus heavily on retention through elite customer service, increased value, exclusive offers, and more. 

Now think about this concept in terms of a sports team… if you have a premium suite sold to a business in town… which do you think is more beneficial to the organization, getting this business that has already been committed to your experience and knows the process and value, to renew for another year. Or having to go on 20 sales trips to different businesses, make pitches, presentations and negotiate deals to get someone else in that spot?


Celia Bouza ESPN Next


Retention matters. 

But retention isn’t just for customers - it’s also for the employees.   

There is nothing worse as a manager of people than having one of your best employees leave for another opportunity.   When I started at Fox Sports Northwest back in the day, I was coming cross country from Atlanta and inheriting a staff that the GM had told me during the interview process had very low morale. 

Most didn’t feel good about working there. 

When I came in I made it my mission to figure out why, figure out who could be the pillars of the staff, and figure out how to fix the overall problem.

After identifying a complete stud in the building and elevating him to a higher role with more authority and leadership in the organization -- 6 months later he left. And it crushed me.  James Rafferty I’m still mad at you. His wife Melissa also worked for us on the assignment desk and was amazing, so this was a double gut punch as they both left and went to new jobs in Montana. 

This is when it became very clear to me, that doing everything you can to keep your best people is an absolutely essential way to operate. You’ll never be at 100%, people leave for reasons you can’t control, James and Melissa left for Montana to go back home… I couldn’t control that. But you can sure as hell try.  

So how do you influence retention? There are many ways really because everyone on your staff will have different triggers for what is important to them.  

Culture. Do people enjoy working here? Do they like the environment, do they have a smile on their face at work?

Accountability and process -- if you have an efficient system and hold people accountable for their performance, people are more likely to feel satisfied. 

Training - teach them how to be a stellar performer, show them what you want, and set them up for success.

Career Paths - let them see their future, what could be out there for them at your organization.

These are all methods to retain staff, and great organizations do all this and more -- because the people are what matter most.  

One of the organizations doing more than most is ESPN - the ESPN Next program is a big part of ESPN’s retention plan -- it’s the company's premier leadership development program, bringing in the best of the best from around the globe and training them to be even better.

The Director of the ESPN Next program is today’s guest Celia Bouza...buckle up, we’re getting into this. 

Here’s Celia. 


There is so much I loved in that interview. 

Seriously, you know in the first minute or two when you hit it off with someone, you get into a flow, you like their vibe, and that the interview is going to go great...Celia just impressed the hell out of me. 

Thanks for tuning in -- please remember to subscribe, share, posta  review wherever you listen… we love having you a part of our community and I’d like to retain you as listeners… see how I brought it all back… professional at work here…

Alright everyone, get back to work.

By Brian Clapp | December 09, 2020
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