At the end of this week I wave goodbye to the sports data industry.
Since I walked in to the office at PA Sport in Jan 2006, I’ve been working in the same market sector.
In that time I’ve marketed PA, Opta, Perform, RunningBall, Omnisport, Catapult and Sportradar. All different flavour of sports content.
I’ve spoken at conferences, judged some high-profile awards (and even won a couple), become close personal friends with Jessica Ennis (I said ‘excuse me please’ when she was in my way at an awards do, and she said ‘no problem, sorry’) taken credit for other people’s wonderful work (sorry about that, Rob/Dunc/Matt/Si/Edney/Colm/everyone else) and got to know some fantastic people.
Met some twats too, but the ratio has generally been very healthy.
But I’ve always had an itch to test my marketing chops in a different sector, marketing some new stuff to some new people and being exposed to new business models and buyer behaviours. As a ‘sports data B2b marketer’ I’ve always considered myself more at the ‘B2b marketer’ end of that than the ‘sports data’ bit, as much as I’ve enjoyed watching that world develop into a mainstream industry.
So, time to test myself, and in mid-April I’ll be joining an exciting, growing business called DealTrak, and seeing what the automotive F&I sector has to offer. Hopefully I can help them develop and thrive. I see a lot of similarities between the culture there and the culture at Opta, which was unquestionably the time I’ve enjoyed most so far in my career.
It’s pretty scary though. It’s daunting to essentially have a large chunk of my brain stuffed with knowledge that won’t help me in my new gig – people and what they do, sport industry events and whether they’re too expensive to attend or not (spoiler: they are), the names of data feeds and what is in them, and so on and so forth .
I’m well aware that my brain has a finite amount of space in it, and as the lyrics to the World in Motion rap and the full name of 90s Everton midfielder Preki are inexplicably retaining their place in it, I need some sort brain de-frag to clear out the space for the equivalent mind-clutter in a new industry.
I’m also nervous about taking the role of the bloke who asks the stupid questions (probably for months) rather than the bloke who brings a level of industry knowledge to the table right from the get go. That has been a useful short-cut to some form of “credibility” in my last few jobs, and something I’ll need to start from scratch on.
But I think it’s good to be nervous at work. To feel challenged and to have to learn. And it’s good to work in a culture that allows a level of vulnerability (so here’s hoping that’s what I walk into. It certainly feels that way.).
I’m delighted to be staying in Leeds, a city I’ve grown to love, and where me and my family are settled. Hopefully I can also contribute to the growing tech marketing scene here and across the north of England as and when the opportunity arises. I’d always steeled myself for a relocation at somepoint, so nice to not have to think about that for a little while.
North > South. Don’t @ me.
I’m also looking forward to re-calibrating my relationship with sport as a fan and player again, and hopefully getting involved in more community and participation led stuff in that world.
Once I’m settled into my new routine and established in my new role, I’ll have a think about what to do with any spare time I have (now that I won’t be spending the bulk of it it on the Virgin Trains East Coast express or in a London Premier Inn). I’m keen to keep learning, to keep broadening my experience and knowledge inside and outside of marketing and I’m also keen to mentor someone (so if you know anyone who might benefit from that, let me know). I’ll also be developing my new found role as semi-professional run-bore, so you have that to look forward to.
If you need me, you can still contact me across all of my usual social media channels, where I’ll no doubt be haemorrhaging followers as people realise I can’t introduce them to OptaJoe any more.