• Andy Marston

Networking with Jordan Williamson, Commercial Manager at CSM Sport & Entertainment

Welcome to the the Sports Pundit Networking Series. For the latest edition, I caught up with my colleague at CSM Sport & Entertainment, Jordan Williamson.

When did your journey (in the sports industry) start? And how did you get to your current role?

My journey started back at university. It was looking likely I would go on to pursue a career in finance (or something maths related). As part of this I underwent the somewhat obligatory search for ‘work experience’. Not hugely excited by this I decided to try and align it with my love of all things sport.

This is when I first came across CSM Sport & Entertainment. I was lucky enough to secure a couple of weeks experience helping out the finance team, who happened sit next to the Athlete Management division at the time. A career in the sports industry had never fully settled onto my radar until that moment. I learnt more and more about what the Athlete team worked on. I decided to follow up after graduating to see if they fancied giving me a shot on the team – luckily they did!

Since then my journey with CSM has allowed me to work with some incredible athletes and brands and work at some of the world’s top sporting events. As a lifelong Chelsea fan, getting to play a tournament at Stamford Bridge has to be a personal highlight!

Photo Source: Chelsea FC

Who inspired this journey? And who continues to inspire you today? I have to attribute my love of sport to my Mum and Dad, who always encouraged me and my brothers to give every sport a go (and acted as a full time taxi service to allow us to do so!).

I strongly believe that it is the athletes who make sport so compelling and who inspire people around the world on so many different levels. On a weekly basis I am inspired by what different athletes are doing and their stories.

I have also been incredibly lucky to have met and worked with so many amazing people within the industry. I can never thank those people enough who have given me their time and energy to allow me to learn so much - I am constantly inspired and motivated by the work they do. They know who they are!

Besides Sports Pundit, where do you look for insight? The amazing Research & Insights team at CSM provide brilliant summaries of industry news and trends.

Sports Pundit is my go to weekly newsletter of course! I also enjoy Sam Carps fortnightly sponsorship and marketing newsletter for SportsPro, which is always packed with interesting insights. The Guardian football podcast is my go to for staying up to date on all things football. I also spend a lot of time on social media looking at athlete and brand accounts to keep an eye on what everyone is up to!

I do my best to always have a book on the go to help support my overall thinking and ability to convert insights into something meaningful. Dave Trott’s books have been some of my favourites along with Daniel Pinks ‘To Sell is Human’. What trend in the industry most excites you for the future of sports? And why? It is being talked about a lot, but I am fascinated by the trend most are referring to as athlete activism. It feels recently that not a week goes by where an athlete isn’t hitting the headlines for utilising their platform and speaking out about a cause that is important to them. Athletes are increasingly becoming their own brand, having their own voice and often having a fan base that dwarfs those of the clubs or sports they play for.

I am intrigued to see how this plays out with regards to ambassador brand partnerships – we’re already seeing this come to life with the likes of Marcus Rashford’s partnership with Co-op and Anthony Joshua’s with Revolut.

Photo Source: Twitter/ Revolut

Who is an example of someone that is well positioned to take advantage of this trend? It feels odd to use the phrase ‘taking advantage’ but Naomi Osaka has seen brands flood towards her following her strong stance for the causes she believes in. Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open, whilst met by criticism from many in the media, was publicly backed by her sponsors including Nike and Mastercard. This demonstrates the evolution of the partnerships between athletes and the sponsors that back them. Partnerships are increasingly becoming less focused on purely the athletic part of the ambassadors life but are also about signing up for who the athlete is as a whole and what they believe in. I’ll be taking a full look at Osaka’s commercial portfolio over on my website (coming soon!)

Athletes who are willing to authentically talk about the causes close to them, are likely to find brands wanting to partner with them to help bring their mutual values to life.

Some athletes and some brands will get it wrong and will inevitably try to jump on the ‘trend’, however my hope is that those who get it right will truly help progress important causes across the globe.

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