Business consulting in the sports industry

Consulting Careers in the Sports Business: These are the Requirements

Dream job: Business consulting in the sports industry? To really help manufacturers or clubs succeed, strategy experts require plenty of insider knowledge and at the same time must be able to think outside the box. Here are five characteristics that a good consultant absolutely must possess.

The basic prerequisite for business consultants is a confident demeanor.
The basic prerequisite for business consultants is a confident demeanor.

Whether it’s McKinsey, Boston Consulting or Roland Berger – almost all of the biggest international business consultancies also have a unit dedicated to sport. There, customers from the sports industry, including large clubs and organizations, are given assistance in marketing themselves, conquering new business sectors or organizing their corporate structure more efficiently. All with the aim of making bigger profits.

Specialist business consultancies that apply themselves solely to sport still come to the largest consulting firms. On the whole, the number of business consultants in sport is increasing dramatically. As a result, their is a constant search for new employees – above all, novices with an excellent degree and a high level of affinity with sports.

Here, our practical experts Andy Gugenheimer (head of and cooperation partner of the ISPO JOB MARKET) and personnel consultant Gunther Schnatmann explain the prerequisites that applicants must meet to land a sought-after consultancy jobs.

1. A top degree

The last few years have seen no change in the general requirements for consultancy candidates: Beginners must be in possession of an excellent degree. In other words, a master’s degree with a grade of at least B+. Better yet, a master’s degree in business administration or a PhD. And where possible, numerous study abroad semesters at prestigious universities.

Business management is the classic field of study, but law or technical-scientific degree programs are also desirable. Ideally with additional qualifications or experience (in student trainee positions) in marketing or corporate strategy. “There’s no need to talk extensively about business fluent English and international focus, that should be a given for these jobs,” says personnel consultant Schnatmann.




2. Your own sports background 

For applicants to sports units within the largest consultancies, a high level of affinity with sport is very helpful for landing a job there. Roland Berger and others know that a sense of being “one of us” is required in order to be taken seriously by customers in the sports business. Because in contrast to “normal” industrial companies, sports retailers, clubs and organizations are rightly of the opinion that their business is a very special one, in which not all areas can be accounted for with the classic business consultancy tools.

Rather trends, stars and emotions are at the core of the sports business. Recruiting expert Andy Gugenheimer: “Anyone who has had at least a small career in competitive sports or has worked in the marketing departments of manufacturers and clubs as part of their studies is in a prime position!” 

Unternehmensberatung in der Sportbranche hat ganz spezielle Anforderungen.
Management consulting in the sports industry has very special requirements.

3. Unconventional thinkers and lateral entrants are sought-after

Despite the traditional demands of a degree and experience in the sector, lateral thinkers and entrants especially have a chance when it comes to sports consultancy. The best example is the digital transformation. Whether it’s Adidas, Nike and others reinventing themselves for the future with apps or investments in digital companies, or clubs having to better establish their marketing through influencers.

With their expertise and ample international business experience, IT and social media experts are sought-after additions to consultancy teams. Advertisers and designers with business administration knowledge can also land a job in consultancy when sports companies are concerned with creative reconfiguration.

4. Understanding of numbers and analysis

One thing that everyone who dreams of a cool consulting job should know: What really counts, also in sports consulting, is economic success! That means that business figures must be analyzed and assessed. Where has an area of business up until now been allowed to get out of hand? Where do competitors currently have better shares of the market that could soon seriously damage your own business? An extensive understanding of numbers is therefore a must.

Hidden weaknesses must be read from the business figures and possible strengths recognized. Also of importance are market research figures about customers and their idiosyncrasies. Andy Gugenheimer: “On the basis of figures, current analysis of the company and personal experiences, consultants are essentially able to look into a crystal ball and put the company on the right path for success in the future. That’s a great responsibility and therefore consultants must be confident in their use of figures in assessment!”

5. Confident demeanor

Consultants must naturally exude economic expertise and experience in sport in order to convince the customer, who should really know their business the best, with their recommendations. A confident demeanor is therefore a key competency. When a consultant in their thirties is explaining the weaknesses and chances of a business to an experienced manager or the company’s owner, that is a critical moment.

In the case of doubt, business consultancies select the strongest characters who can remain steadfast in such situations. Personnel consultant Schnatmann: “Applicants must know that. They should therefore present themselves confidently, stay firm in their opinions during negotiations and ultimately be able to convince other people.”

Business consulting in sport – the conclusion

Business consulting is a very emotional affair, especially in sport, characterized by a sense of shared passion. On the other hand, there is still a great deal of movement which could be made. In contrast to other industrial companies, it’s broadly speaking not about who can supply what and when, in doing so possibly causing some employees within a company to become superfluous.

Rather creativity, trends and often testimonials too play an important role. Sports business consultants are above all part of a future market in which much is possible. And: experience as a consultant in the sports business is the best prerequisite for later making the move to a management career as a sought-after industry expert in a business or club!

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