Another action packed NASCAR season is off and running so we were excited to have our weekly Q&A with Lauren Hoffmann. Lauren has been with Richard Childress Racing for five years and is currently the Director of Partnership Marketing. Once a sponsorship is sold for the team, her partnership team takes over for all things activation related, making sure to deliver on all the commitments promised to the sponsors and helping sponsors maximize their ROI.
Have you always had a passion for sports? Yes, as a kid I always like playing and watching sports. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized I could actually have a career working in sports (knowing I would never make it playing sports, professionally).
What did you think were cool jobs during your formative years? I always had planned on being a teacher when I was a kid. It was what I always dreamed about doing, and made my sisters play “school” with me (they were my students, and I was their teacher). However, when I went to Elon for undergrad the light bulb came on during my freshman year, so I got a degree in Leisure and Sport Management. I had an advisor that kind of opened my eyes to a potential career in sports. It was the best of both worlds; being around sports and working in the sports business world at the same time.
Share a brief history about your career path? I graduated from Elon in 2003 and took an internship with the Roanoke Dazzle, an NBA Development League team. The first year was an unpaid internship and then my second year it turned into a full-time paid position. After two years with the Dazzle, I took a job with the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA. I worked for the Grizzlies for two years as Coordinator of Promotions & Event Presentations. I then took a break and went back to grad school to get my Masters in Sports Administration from Ohio University. It was good timing for me after four years of real world experience to get some additional formal education with a focus in sports business.
Once I received my MSA, I took a job with Wasserman Media Group in Raleigh, North Carolina. I worked in the consulting division on the Nationwide Insurance account where I was first introduced to the world of motorsports and specifically NASCAR. I spent two years at Wasserman soaking in all I could about the world of NASCAR, and consulting.
After two years, I got a call to take a job back in my home state of Colorado working for the Professional Bull Riders Association (PBR). In that role, I served as a partnership marketing executive working with the automotive sponsors, for about a year and half. It was at that point where I got a call from Richard Childress Racing and decided to move back to North Carolina in March of 2011 to work with the team in NASCAR I’d always thought so highly of.
Who inspired you along the way or a person to thank? In general I have always had mentors and have leaned on folks during the walks in my career. When I was at Elon, my advisor, Jim Drummond was very supportive of me being a female in the sports management program. He really praised the work I was doing and the internships that I did and gave me a lot of self-confidence to move forward in the sports world.
In Memphis, Megan Rojik was my boss and to this day is one of my best friends. She had spent time in the NBA for quite a while and was just so inspirational and motivated me to do good work. I also would mention Mike Redlick, who was also with the Grizzlies during my time there. He talked me into going to grad school and was always a great mentor and supporter of my career. At Wasserman Group, Kristin Ryan became a good friend and a life mentor. She helped with so much both in life and with my career to this day remains a dear friend of mine. There are so many others who have helped me along the way, too. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of so many friends and mentors.
Career highlight or accomplishment you are most proud of? I would say it would be when I got “the call” from the Grizzlies to come and work for them in Memphis. I got emotional because I felt like I had “made it” and was being called from the minors up to the major leagues. I will never forget that feeling when I got that voicemail. Originally I was thinking wow, how did they know about me and why would they want me to come there? Luckily, something I said at the NBA conference that previous summer must have resonated. Thank goodness that all happened because that changed my career path forever.
If you took a different career path what would it have been? I think I would have gone back to the teaching route. I most likely would have become a teacher then moved back and taught in Colorado.
Advice for a kid going to college today who wants to get into sports? Never burn a bridge, be willing to move anywhere (i.e. Memphis), and your first job will certainly not be your last job, so be willing to go out on a limb. I am thankful I did things the way I did and it was great for me to get some real life experience in and out of the sports world before going to grad school. When I was in Roanoke, making no money, I had to get a waitressing job to make ends meet. Maybe everyone should work in the service industry for a bit to appreciate to how to balance life a little better. I think internships are underrated and that everyone should do them when first trying to break into the industry. I’d also highlight the opportunity that minor league sports can give you when you’re first getting into the sports world. They’re great for helping you determine what you want to do, and perhaps what you don’t want to do!
Advice for making it in the sports industry? I think it is really important to build relationships, and do all you can to make a name for yourself wherever you work. For instance, getting to know as many people as you can in your organization is incredibly beneficial. Never underestimate the people you work with, as you never know who may be able to help you get a future job. Don’t be afraid to volunteer within your company, outside of your specific department, solely to get experience with things that may be outside your area of expertise or interest. It helps with your overall experience, reputation and marketability by learning more about your business.
Any tips for a good work/life because Sports industry is a grind? This is a tough question, but I would first say that you have to take care of you. Nobody else is going to worry about your work-life balance so you have to make that a priority. You also have to find the balance of the infamous “work hard/play hard” along the way, too. Some of my co-workers have become my best friends, which has helped to keep my jobs fun along the way. If you aren’t having fun while working in sports, it’s time to change jobs!
Any parting shot or final words of wisdom? Always make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward, and offering the most to your team/co-workers that you can! And of course, celebrate the victories along the way, whether big or small!!
Now some fun quick hitters to see another side of Lauren:
Name your dream foursome for golf then out for dinner? John Elway because he is an icon, my grandfather Baba because he would make a game of golf so much fun and my fiancée Andy because there’s no one I’d rather spend my time with!
What is your favorite movie of all time? Shawshank Redemption & Love Actually
Favorite book? Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Top 3 favorite athletes of all time? John Elway, Andre Agassi and Michael Jordan
What was your favorite TV show as a kid or growing up? The Wonder Years
Three items you would take to a deserted island? Endless supply of Mac ‘n Cheese, my Kershaw survival knife and my fiancée Andy!
Favorite game to play as a kid? Spoons, with my sisters
Hobby that would surprise people? I love to knit! In all of my spare time…
Do you have a favorite charity you support? I would love to raise awareness for the Buddy Program in Aspen, Colorado.
Childhood idol? My older sister, because she was so good at everything she did!
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