The Jayhawk Career Network offers KU alumni the opportunity to give back with both their time and expertise— and alumni are stepping up to the plate.
Jason Booker serves as the senior director of corporate partnerships and broadcast sales for the Kansas City Royals. His sport management degree from KU pitched him into a sports marketing career that’s going 20 years strong.
Booker, d’00, currently serves on the board of the Greater Kansas City Network for the KU Alumni Association, as well as the Kansas City Sports Commission Board of Directors. Jason and his wife Susan, d’99, live in Olathe, Kansas with their daughter Ava.
We recently met up with Booker to learn how his Jayhawk experience has kept him from striking out in the corporate world.
What made you choose a sport management degree?
I knew I wanted to go into sport management, so the program really led me to KU. What really sold me on my visit was this great sense of tradition and the feeling that I was joining a university that cared about the success of their students.
What’s your favorite memory on the Hill?
My favorite KU memory was interning in the athletic department, especially getting the chance to be a part of the 100 years of basketball celebration where I had the opportunity to meet Wilt Chamberlain and Dean Smith.
Why are you a proud member of the KU Alumni Association?
I love staying connected to students through the KU Mentoring platform, and I get to meet new Jayhawks through the various networking events that we host in KC. I had so many people help me on my career path, so it is important for me to stay connected and try to give back.
Why should Jayhawks join the Alumni Association?
The best part of being a member is that it keeps me informed of everything that is going on with KU through all of the digital and social correspondence and Kansas Alumni magazine.
There is a great opportunity to connect with Jayhawks you’ve never met through KU Mentoring and the many KU Alumni events. Being a member also gives you the ability to give back through volunteer opportunities in your local communities.
What is your favorite part of serving on the Greater KC Alumni Board?
I love making an impact in Kansas City through our KU Cares volunteer efforts and the mentoring platform. I also enjoy being involved with Rock Chalk Ball to help raise money for all of the great programs that KU Alumni holds throughout the year.
The Jayhawk Career Network provides a central hub to coordinate career connections and networking opportunities for students and alumni at every life stage. KU Mentoring is part of the Jayhawk Career Network and provides a mentor matching program for students and alumni to create connections as well as provide professional insight and opportunities. The Jayhawk Career Network is open to all KU alumni and students.
The Greater Kansas City Network has elected its officers and six new board members for the 2016 to ’17 term. Kansas City is the nation’s largest community of Jayhawks with more than 94,000 alumni. Lindsay Hare, c’02, l’05, lives in Leawood and will lead the board as president. She is an attorney and partner at Norton Hare.
Jessica Nelson, j’11, managing director of TeamKC, Kansas City Area Development Council, lives in Olathe and is executive vice president. Another Olathe resident, Sheri Hart, f’93, who manages compliance at Adknowledge, is secretary.
Executive committee members include Jace McClasky and Andrew Wank. McClasky, c’95, l’01, lives in Prairie Village and is principal attorney at Burke McClasky Stevens. Wank, b’09, enterprise relationship manager at blooom, lives in Leawood.
Six alumni who join the existing board members are:
Sasha Flores Boulware, Fairway, c’98, g’00, owner of Esbee;
Bobby Burch, Kansas City, j’11, editor in chief of Startland News;
Kimberly Hobbs, Kansas City, j’94, vice president of partnerships and premium sales at AEG Worldwide/Sprint Center;
Billy Marshall, Prairie Village, c’00, territory sales manager at Straumann, USA;
Todd Moore, Kansas City, c’96, project director at KU Medical Center; and
Melissa Thomson, Overland Park, j’01, business development manager at TREKK Design Group.
“We have six exceptional new additions to our board membership that will, without a doubt, be incredible assets to the network,” says Hare. “We cannot wait to get to work and further develop our local alumni programs and outreach to the Kansas City community over the next year.”
Hare succeeds Matthew Taylor, a senior wealth adviser at Frontier Wealth Management, who served as executive vice president from 2014 to ’15 before becoming president last year. He also led the membership committee for two years and will now serve as ex-officio president.
Taylor, b’98, g’03, has hosted and helped organize several Kansas City area alumni events, including the Jayhawk Career Networking Series, and he has served on the committee for the Rock Chalk Ball, the Alumni Association’s largest fundraiser. For his commitment and service to the Kansas City Network, Taylor received the 2016 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award.
Nine additional board members will continue their service on various committees, including membership, community awareness, student recruitment and the Rock Chalk Ball. They are:
Jake Ballard, Leawood, b’01, senior vice president and unit manager of Lockton Companies;
Jason Booker, Olathe, b’99, senior director of corporate sponsorship and broadcast sales for the Kansas City Royals;
Scott Fiss, Leawood, b’87, principal at Johnston Fiss Insurance Agency;
Mallory Hammersmith Hannah, Kansas City, j’08, strategic marketing consultant at Mallory Hannah Inc.;
Christina Stephenson Hopkins, c’10, clinical research coordinator at the University of Kansas Cancer Center;
Grant Kollman, Prairie Village, c’10, associate director of Berkadia;
Susan Anderson Leonard, Fairway, d’96, g’07, associate principal at Shawnee Mission East High School;
Joe Mulvihill, Overland Park, b’06, director of inbound marketing at Keypath Education; and
Mark Van Blaricum, Lee’s Summit, b’99, l’02, m’08, owner/operator of Pita For Good food truck.
“The growth in the quality of programming offered in Kansas City, in addition to volunteer opportunities, student recruitment, legacy relations and the impact KU makes in community, is directly tied to the strength in leadership on our Kansas City Network board,” says Betsy Winetroub, c’05, director of Kansas City programs. “Each year our leadership gets stronger, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with Lindsay and the rest of our new officer team.”
Student Alumni Association members and sports management students attended Networking Night on March 31, 2015, to learn from Jayhawks working in the world of sports. Ten alumni came back to their alma mater to give advice to the students about how to gain leadership qualities while in college, how to separate yourself from others trying to break into the field and how to balance work life with family life. Read more here.
At last week’s Networking Night, hosted by the Student Alumni Association, students interested in the sport management field learned from ten alumni currently working in the industry.
After three rounds of networking in small groups with nearly 60 students, the panelists reconvened for a general Q&A session.
Is it hard to balance work with family life in sports?
Short answer: yes. The panelists agreed that working in the world of sports marketing and management is a lifestyle. “You have to organize your priorities and be willing to take breaks and time off in order to be successful,” Jennifer Allee said.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for us to separate ourselves from others? What are you looking for on paper or in person that helps us stand out?
Experience is important, but so is character and personality. Refine your communication style and make eye contact. Hand-written thank you notes are still important! People don’t write them enough anymore.
Anything you can do to show you’re a self-starter or that you take initiative helps—we want to know we can give you a task and you can go get it done.
What type of leadership qualities do we need to be successful, and how can a college student gain those qualities?
You need to be a team player; you’re only as good as the people around you. You need to be able to make a decision, especially now when things move so fast. Have an element of confidence—but don’t cross the line.
“In my office, it’s team leadership. Your success is my success; my success is your success,” said Allee. Flexibility and being able to adapt to the situation is extremely important.
Students can improve these skills through leadership positions in campus activities, internships, even group projects in class will help you prepare.
How do I go after an internship where I have no connections?
Start early! There’s nothing wrong with cold-calling someone you’re not connected to, as long as you do it the right way. Handwritten notes will stand out here, too. You can also volunteer for an event the company is holding to make connections.
Use LinkedIn to research the company and and your mutual connections. Chris Galle shared that when he was looking for an internship, he found that one of his LinkedIn connections was connected to someone at the company, and even though they weren’t close connections, that person was still able to make an introduction.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“Getting to meet my clients in person after working so hard to make sales,” replied Beth Brittain. Allee concurred, adding that being able to touch the lives of the people she works for—the fans, student athletes— in an emotional way fulfills her.
Dr. Bernie Kish, lecturer and facilities director for sport management in the School of Education, thanked the panelists and students. “It makes me feel so good because there are so many people on this panel that I’ve had the privilege of teaching or working with in one capacity or another,” he said.
“If there is one nugget that you can take with you, it’s been a worthwhile evening,” adding that we are fortunate to be Jayhawks. He encouraged the students to use these Jayhawk connections, and to use the Student Alumni Association to help further alumni ties.
Thanks to our alumni panelists:
Jennifer Allee, d’04, g’06, assistant athletics director for marketing and fan experience, Kansas Athletics
Jason Booker, d’00, senior director of corporate partnerships and broadcast sales, Kansas City Royals
Student Alumni Association members and sports management students attended Networking Night on March 31, 2015, to learn from Jayhawks working in the world of sports. Ten alumni came back to their alma mater to give advice to the students about how to gain leadership qualities while in college, how to separate yourself from others trying to break into the field and how to balance work life with family life.
Jason Booker, senior director of corporate partnerships and broadcast sales for the Kansas City Royals, gave the keynote speech at the Student Alumni Association‘s Networking Night last Tuesday. He encouraged the students to find something they are passionate about. “If you truly find something you enjoy, you’re not going to ‘work’ every day,” he said, adding that who you network with professionally and who you associate with can make an impact down the road. “You never know when an opportunity will present itself.”
Case in point: Booker, d’00, was working at the University of South Carolina in 2007 when the Gamecocks hosted the KU men’s basketball team. He took the initiative to introduce himself to Lew Perkins, KU’s then-director of athletics, and discovered that Kansas Athletics had a position to fill. Two weeks later, Booker was on a plane back to Kansas to interview for a job he eventually landed.
Booker shared what he’s learned throughout his eighteen years in the sports marketing field, including these tips.
Eight Items to Consider in Your Career
1. You’ll be dealt obstacles; it’s all about how you handle them.
2. Don’t fall in line and be ordinary; be great for you. If you’re really passionate about something, figure out a way to do it.
3. Nothing will be given to you. If it has been, reality is around the corner. At some point, you won’t have someone there helping you.
4. Life is competitive, but compete for yourself, not the Joneses.
5. Do things the right way and it will pay off for you.
6. Knowledge is power. Stay up or get left behind.
7. There are two things you can control in your work life and personal life: work ethic and attitude.
8. Perception is reality. You are your own personal brand. If you aren’t willing to show it to your parents, it’s not worth posting on social media.
Booker’s current role with the Royals involves overseeing day-to-day functions of the corporate partnership sales and activation teams as well as the Royals Radio Network media sales and affiliate sales. He has served in the position since August, 2014.
Prior to joining the Royals, Booker served for seven years as the executive director and general manager for Jayhawk IMG Sports Marketing, where he oversaw the corporate partnership program and operation functions with the University of Kansas, including Jayhawk Radio and TV Networks, in-venue, digital, print sponsorships and endorsement rights for Kansas Athletics head coaches.
For more information about the Student Alumni Association, membership benefits and other upcoming events, visit www.kualumni.org/saa.