The importance of mentors and the rise of e-sports highlighted a lively discussion June 21, when eight Kansas City-area professionals in the sports industry shared their varied expertise, career journeys and advice during a Jayhawk Career Network event at the headquarters of Populous in Kansas City. The Association’s Greater Kansas City Network hosted the panel discussion, which drew an audience of more than 50, including alumni and students.
Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, encouraged participants to join the KU Mentoring digital community at mentoring.ku.edu or through the Association’s mobile app. KU Mentoring is the first phase of the Association’s Jayhawk Career Network, a multi-faceted strategy to connect students to the powerful network of Jayhawks worldwide and connect alumni across industries, he said. Kristi Durkin Laclé, c’99, assistant vice president of the Jayhawk Career Network, leads the program.
Program and panelists
Introducing the panelists was Jordan Bass, KU assistant professor of health, sport and exercise science who directs the sport management program. Panelists included:
Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff
Earl Santee, a’81, a’82, Americas managing director and founder at Populous
Andrea Hudy, KU assistant athletics director for sports performance
Stephen Hopkins, a’05, president of Shield Healthcare and Sport
Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation
Matt Baty, d’07, KU associate athletics director, Williams Education Fund
Kim Hobbs, j’94, vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales for the Kansas City Chiefs
Zach Mendenhall, c’05, j’05, director of client engagement at VML
Santee, who in his 33 years with Populous has helped design stadiums, arenas and other event spaces nationwide, says architects and designers must collaborate to create not only inviting spaces but also great experiences for the public—and that extends to the new trend, venues for e-sports.
Mendenhall manages sports marketing partnerships, including the digital campaigns, for Wendy’s, a VML client. “We are challenged to not just slap logos on ads but to do a lot with social media activation and trying to find relevant, fun ways to bring sponsorships to life,” he said. As for the e-sports craze: “We all rolled our eyes at first, but it’s amazing how many people watch these competitions. It speaks to the fact that advertising in sports is constantly evolving.”
Hancock, who began his career in the athletics department at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, and went on to lead the NCAA Final Four and the Bowl Championship Series before launching the College Football Playoff, said the fervor for college sports is intrinsically tied to school loyalty: “A triple-A Lawrence team in the NFL or the NBA would not have nearly the passion that the Jayhawks have, and it’s because it’s a part of higher education.”
When the discussion turned to mentors, Hancock named three: former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, d’53; Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer; and longtime KU Athletics Director Bob Frederick, d’63, g’64, EdD’84. “If you’re lucky, your mentors also become your friends,” Hancock said.
Jayhawks celebrated their alma mater’s past, present and future at the 23rd annual Rock Chalk Ball, held April 28 at the Kansas City Convention Center. This year’s event concluded a week of inauguration festivities for Chancellor Douglas A. Girod.
Hosted by the Alumni Association and the Greater Kansas City Network, the annual event unites Jayhawks in the nation’s largest KU community and raises funds for Association programs to advocate for KU; communicate to alumni and friends in all media; recruit students and volunteers; serve current students, alumni and KU; and unite all Jayhawks.
Chancellor Girod and his wife, Susan, served as honorary event chairs. Curtis Marsh, j’92, director of KU Info and the DeBruce Center, lent his voice—and his wealth of KU knowledge and traditions—as this year’s emcee. The event featured silent and live auctions and the enthusiastic sounds of the Patrick Lentz Band, one of Kansas City’s premier cover bands. The KU Libraries exhibit, History of the Jayhawk, was on display during the cocktail hour.
Sasha Flores Boulware, c’98, g’00, and Billy Marshall, c’00, served as network co-chairs for the event.
In keeping with the Alumni Association’s mission to strengthen KU, proceeds from the 2018 Rock Chalk Ball will be used to benefit legacy student recruitment and student programs. Proceeds from the Fund-A-Need portion of the auction will benefit the Jayhawk Career Network. A new KU Alumni Mentoring Program will be launched this fall to give students easy access to the power of our alumni base.
Thank you to the event’s title sponsor, Tickets For Less, and the presenting sponsors—Boulevard Brewing, Charlie Hustle and Gohagan— for their contributions to the live auction.
Check out some of our favorite social posts from Rock Chalk Ball below! Official photos from the event, courtesy of Steve Puppe, are available here and may be downloaded for personal use. If you attended this year’s Rock Chalk Ball, we’d love to have your feedback—please complete our survey.
On February 20, 2018, alumni and friends from all over the world will come together to support the University of Kansas during KU’s first 24-hour giving campaign, One Day. One KU. This historic fundraising event is the perfect opportunity to show your Jayhawk pride by supporting the KU programs and priorities most meaningful to you.
Why February 20?
On February 20, 1863, Kansas Governor Thomas Carney signed into law a bill locating the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The bill passed the state House of Representatives by just one vote, proving that one person can make a difference! That one vote started a chain of events that, over time, has led to the thriving, multi-campus center for research and learning we are today. While we now have campuses located throughout the state, we are still ONE KU. And together, we can achieve so much!
How can you help?
We already know that one person can make a difference. Our history proves that. Please consider supporting KU on Tuesday, February 20 during One Day. One KU. Your support helps us advance our mission and strengthen our programs.
Jayhawk Career Network
Your generous contribution to the KU Alumni Association during One Day. One KU. will help fund the Jayhawk Career Network, a comprehensive initiative to connect current KU students with alumni, and alumni with one another, in numerous professional fields. The Association has created a new position for a full-time staff member to lead these new programs:
KU Alumni Mentoring, an online mentorship platform
With the support of Chancellor Douglas Girod and Provost Neeli Bendapudi, the Association has invested in a new digital service to easily connect students and alumni for long-term and one-time mentorships. The platform will support both student-to-alumni mentorships and mentorships among fellow Jayahwk alumni.
The Association is launching KU Alumni Mentoring in collaboration with the KU schools of Architecture & Design, Business, Engineering and Journalism, as well as the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the University Career Center.
Rock Chalk Connect events:
In key metropolitan areas, the Association and alumni volunteers will host programs to unite students with alumni experts in various industries. Successful Kansas City and Chicago events have focused on engineering, media and entrepreneurship, and the Association plans to offer Rock Chalk Connect programs in other communities with large Jayhawk alumni networks: Wichita, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Seattle, the San Francisco/Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Opportunities for shadowing, internships and post-graduation employment through direct relationships with KU alumni at corporations and firms in these key metropolitan areas—in coordination and partnership with the University Career Center.
With the ongoing support of Alumni Association members and contributors, the Jayhawk Career Network will help ensure the continued success of KU graduates.
The Jayhawk Career Network event on Monday, Nov. 27, allowed students access to real-world insight from Portia Kibble Smith, c’78, and Mark Mears, j’84. Putting your best foot forward was a common theme as both guest speakers brought to light what really counts when networking.
Just be yourself
When it comes to networking and interview preparation, the best advice is to simply be yourself. For some, that might be easier said than done. To be the most authentic and best version of yourself, you must first know who you are.
Mark Mears, j’84, stressed the importance of taking personality tests when preparing for interviews. When he spoke recently with KU students, Mears revealed, “your resume tells part of the story.” He believes grounding yourself in who you are helps show future employers the other part.
“None of the personality results are bad,” he said. Instead, these tests show who you really are, not necessarily who you think you are.
Whether it’s a DISC or a Myers-Briggs, these tests highlight your strengths. KU’s University Career Center even offers various assessments. Once you have a sense of who you are, you can understand how you work in a team setting and what you bring to the table.
Are you a leader? Do you work well under pressure? Do you try to keep the peace? Whatever your strength, remain true to whatever makes you “you.”
The KU Alumni Association and the Jayhawk Career Network are here to help students and alumni. Find more information about career resources, networking, and tips from alumni on our website.