From a young age, Lauren Robinson Barsamian ’04 loved playing sports and was motivated by the “team mentality” of working alongside her swim teammates. She has taken her love of team sports and competition through her 15-year career in sports sales and marketing. She is currently the Director of Sports Brand Solutions at The Walt Disney Company, ESPN in New York City.
During her career, she has led a variety of large-scale events, including College GameDay, The ESPYs, The ESPYS, ESPN's Super Bowl events, College Basketball events, and many more. In 2014, when the College Football Playoff (CFP) replaced the Bowl Championship Series, ultimately evolutionizing the postseason for College Football, she helped to successfully launch its official sponsorship program while also planning and executing multiple events surrounding the games.
“These sponsorships and events have changed the way that the sport of college football is now consumed, watched and experienced throughout the country on an annual basis,” said Lauren.
The Michigan State graduate is a proponent of mentoring women aspiring to work in sports. Her first piece of advice is to “level-set their expectations’’. She believes there is a misconception of sports being glamorous, which is mostly a product of the team of hundreds of people who work behind the scenes working non-stop to create these sporting events successfully.
“It is time spent on the weekends, traveling over holidays, long hours in the office, long hours on-site, troubleshooting weather complications, the list goes on,” said Lauren. “The ability to physically see the end product, though, by giving fans opportunities of a lifetime and know how much work went into it, is simply one of the best feelings in the world. It might not compete with the "winning a championship" feeling, but in reality, you're winning a championship of your own with your team, learning, growing and creating.”
She stays up-to-date with the latest trends in sports in two ways, the business side and the actual sports themselves. Working in digital media requires 24-hour content, which can be overwhelming. She relies on trade publications to navigate new technologies and ideas, and looks to key influencers to get a feel on the pulse of what people are saying about a variety of sports topics globally.
Qualities she finds have been key to her success in the sports industry include hard work, confidence, and having a solution-oriented mindset. Additionally, relationship building and fostering those relationships is crucial.
“This business is vast but small, meaning you start to grow with your colleagues across the country whether you're at a league, a team, a media company, or a stadium,” said Lauren. “Everyone is working towards a similar end goal. You will stand out if you are able to develop your skill set while also embracing the team that you work with. Listen. Observe. Learn. Female or not, you have a voice, find it, use it, and then make sure you become the person whose call will be answered.”