SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/Forty Under 40

Malcolm Turner

MALCOM TURNER
ONSPORT

Malcolm Turner
Age: 36
Title: Senior vice president
Company: OnSport
Education: B.S., business, University of North Carolina; J.D./MBA, Harvard University
Family: Single
Career: Started career as a tournament official for the PGA Tour, managing sponsor, scoring and player programs from 1993 to 1995; attended Harvard University from 1995 to 1999; consultant to the president of Major League Baseball Properties in 1999; joined OnSport in 1999; currently works with American Express, Coca-Cola, Nokia and Wachovia; helped launch and teaches The Business of Sport curriculum and internship program at Duke
University.
Last vacation: Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Last book read: "The Man in My Basement,” by Walter Mosley
Last movie seen: "The Good Shepherd”
TV show you never miss: "Iron Chef”
What’s on your iPod: The Roots, Maroon 5, John Coltrane
Pet peeve: When people talk when they should be listening
Greatest achievement: Earning the Morehead Scholarship at UNC-Chapel Hill
Greatest disappointment: The Matt Doherty years at Carolina
Best sporting event you’ve ever attended: Final Four 1993, UNC defeated Michigan
Fantasy job: Five-star chef
Executives you most admire: David Stern and Tim Finchem
Business advice: There are no bargains for success. You must pay the price.

Before graduating from Harvard in 1999 with joint degrees in law and business administration, Malcolm Turner called his former boss and mentor at the PGA Tour, Gary Stevenson, for advice. Turner had just been offered a job with Goldman Sachs as an associate in the investment banking group — a six-figure job with significant bonus potential — and he wondered if he should take it.

"Is that something you want to do?" Stevenson asked.

"Unless there's something else you can think of," Turner said.

There was. Stevenson offered Turner, who desperately wanted to work in sports, the chance to do so by inviting him to Raleigh to become the second employee at OnSport, Stevenson's young sports consulting firm. Turner leapt at the opportunity.

"The chance to build something, that was exciting to me," Turner said.

Stevenson and Turner have built OnSport into a major sports agency. What began with just two employees and two clients has grown into a firm with more than 40 employees and 18 clients, including premiere properties such as the NBA and USTA and global brands such as American Express and Nokia.

Turner has been critical to that expansion. A Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina, clients and co-workers say he possesses a rare mix of skills stemming from a background in the marketing, media and legal aspects of sports.

He began to develop those assets during his first job in sports when he was selected for the PGA Tour's inaugural minority internship program as a rising senior at UNC. He was asked to return full time after graduation.

He spent the next two years managing all sponsor, scoring and player programs for tour events, working with sponsors and trying to ensure they got the most out of their relationship with the tour. He also consulted on intellectual property and marketing rights issues with the general counsel's office.

He continues to do both those jobs at OnSport, advising corporate clients such as Nokia on partnerships and activation and working on TV rights negotiations for Conference USA, the Mountain West Conference and the Pac-10. He also applies the legal expertise that he started to develop with the tour and cemented with a degree from Harvard.

He reviews almost every client's contractual agreements, often coming up with scenarios that clients say they overlook. He then restructures the language to improve their protection under those contracts.

"It's always minor," said Rich Lehrfeld with American Express, "but very important."

Turner's greatest skill, however, is his ability to listen to all parties involved in a negotiation and find a solution that works for them. That was critical during the creation of the Wachovia Championship, now entering its fifth year on the PGA Tour. It was Turner who designed the contract that worked for the four major players: Wachovia, the tour, the nonprofit organization that runs the event and Quail Hollow Country Club, where it's held.

"He had that innate ability to recognize the respective needs of Wachovia and the collective benefit for those three parties," said Dan Fleishman, Wachovia's director of sponsorships. "He took us from a piece of paper to fulfilling the vision that we shared over a short period of time."

— Tripp Mickle

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