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SBJ/March 3 - 9, 2008/Forty Under 40
Published March 3, 2008
Sarah Hirshland's office is located 30,000 miles in the air between North Carolina and Ohio, or at least it seems that way.
As Wasserman Media Group's lead on the Nationwide account, she spent a significant amount of time last fall on an airplane between her Raleigh office and the insurance firm's headquarters in Columbus, with a quick stopover in Manhattan to sign a seven-year, $70 million deal with NASCAR as the new title sponsor of its No. 2 series.
An interesting turn of events for someone who hoped to parlay her Duke University biology degree into a position as a doctor for her hometown Denver Broncos.
Hirshland's professional career began in 1997 with Total Sports, a now defunct digital media company, where she met industry veteran Gary Stevenson. When Total Sports closed its doors in 2001, she became the third employee for his widely respected sports consultancy, OnSport, joining previous Forty Under 40 winner Malcolm Turner. OnSport was acquired by WMG last year.
Hirshland's fingerprints are all over the agency's work, including the development of the USTA's U.S. Open Series and Wachovia's PGA Tour title sponsorship in Charlotte.
She spent the last five years building Nationwide's sponsorship portfolio. The company is in its second five-year term sponsoring the PGA Tour's developmental circuit, and its first year as title sponsor of NASCAR's former Busch Series. Nationwide also has a track relationship with Speedway Motorsports Inc.
"She commands the respect of people that are much older and have much more experience than she does because of how she thinks, reasons and articulates," said John Aman, Nationwide brand manager.