Dr. Cara Wright: Running the Business Operation of a Sports Team
Dr. Cara Wright, the Director of Business Operations for the LA Clippers G-League team, joins the show and discusses everything from buying a bus, to the changing roles for women in sports. Dig into this episode!
Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast.
I was listening to some other podcasts the other day, you know a little opposition research, and I was trying to figure out if I needed to change anything. Not because I wanted to, but just because I wanted to learn what people were gravitating towards.
You know what struck me, most people who have guests on their show, the guests are there to sell something. Their course, their book, their speaking engagements, their conferences.
Now of course, someone will point out, I work for a subscription sports job board, so my very presence is trying to sell memberships… fair enough, and we are the top sports jobs board in the sports industry so what’s not to love, but what I’m really talking about here is our guests.
They are here for one reason, and one reason only – they want to help you. Not me, they aren’t doing me a solid, they are here because the like the idea of giving back to you. Of helping guide and mentor.
When I listen to other podcasts you notice a different tone from guests who’s end goal is different. When their goal is to move product, they have an anxiousness in their voice, and a near over-exuberance that borders on being inauthentic.
I listen to our guests and they don’t sound rehearsed, they sound raw and honest. They don’t sound scripted, they seem like they take pauses to get their thoughts together before speaking. They don’t sound slick, they sound vulnerable and open.
That’s what I love about this show.
Everyone gives a piece of themselves. Sure I’ve tried to sell tickets to our sports accelerator event, and I’ve mentioned the benefits of our membership a few times… but if you don’t think I’m giving back, I don’t think you’ve been listening well enough. And if you don’t recognize how dedicated and authentic our expert guests are, well, you don’t truly have an appreciation of how cold it can be out there, and how warm it is in here.
This week’s guest is Dr. Cara Wright, Director of Business Operations for the Agua Caliente Clippers – the LA Clippers G-League team… she’s on the cusp of her season and she took 40 minutes to chat with me about her section of the industry, competing in a market so close to LA, and the growing role of women in sports. Why? Because she cares about helping… so do her the courtesy of listening and sharing!
Here’s Dr. Cara Wright:
Questions for Dr. Cara Wright, Director of Business Operations for the Agua Caliente Clippers
1: Looking back at your beginning, you played D1 basketball at the University of Dayton – how much did being a student athlete prepare you for the sports industry?
2: Many student athletes will say they don’t have time to intern and gain experience that is so vital to getting hired in sports, how did you overcome this challenge, and do you have any advice to the 460,000 student athletes out there?
3: You made the choice to go further than most in your college education, getting your Masters and eventually your Phd. Only 8% of US citizens over age 25 have their Masters, and only 1.68% have their doctorate… why was this the right path for you, and has it helped differentiate you in your career?
4: It’s pretty clear tracking your career that you are a big basketball fan – from coach, to camp administrator for Basketball without Borders in South Africa, to the Indiana Pacers and Fever, to the Clippers …with a few stops in between – how important was it for you to know what your passion is, and lean into those opportunities?
5: As the Director of Business operations for the Clippers G-League team you handle the daily operations of the business – that’s a huge role – can you tell us a little more of the specific expectations of the role?
6: Just running through your responsibilities -- marketing, communications, game day staff and talent operations, community relations, social responsibility, media/PR, merchandise, liaison to Basketball Operations and financial reporting and approval processes. I am also the liaison to the NBA G League front offices, Broadcast for Twitch, Eleven Sports, NBA TV, and Facebook Live, and the Citizens Business Bank Arena/Ontario Convention Center.
So…that’s a lot on one person’s plate. How important has it been for you to build up a staff that can support the team initiatives? Or are you a one person show?
7: You’re in LA, a city with thousands of distractions. How do you get your events to stand out amongst the competition so that at the end of the day you can be generating positive cashflow and make the business look good?
8: So many people think jobs in sports are connected to talent evaluation, that you have to know the transaction wire and scout talent… but in reality, almost all the jobs are related to the business. In your experience, what advice would you share for someone in college who knows working in sports is their dream, but doesn’t really know how to get there?
9: I read an article that you shared on LinkedIn today regarding NBA commissioner Adam Silver sending a memo to all teams that he wants them to hire more women, especially in leadership and supervisory positions.
This was pretty groundbreaking for a league commissioner to comment on team hiring practices -- in your view is this an important step towards hiring equality in sports, or do you think this will have little effect on how teams operate?
10: The NBA has been leading the conversation in sports about equality, both in the front office and on the court. What is it about the NBA that has it to have such a progressive mindset…is it leadership? Or is it something else?
11: I’ve interviewed many female sports executives on this show and they’ve all agreed that things are changing for women in sports, they are up for better jobs, being considered for top roles and breaking through in areas that used to be closed off – do you feel the same way?
Listen to the podcast to hear all of the answers to these questions and more!
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