SBJ/April 25 - May 1, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Orridge takes international experience to CBC

Jeffrey Orridge has just started his job as executive director of CBC Sports Properties. Orridge has been surrounded by sports his entire life, from keeping score in summer league basketball as a child to becoming the head of business and legal affairs for the first U.S. Olympic basketball “Dream Team.” Before joining the CBC, he was the chief operating officer and head of global business development for the nonprofit group Right to Play. He spoke with staff writer Molly Hogan about his new position.

New title: Executive director, CBC Sports Properties
Previous title: Chief operating officer and head of global business development, Right to Play
First job: Scorekeeper for summer league basketball
College education: Amherst College, ’82, psychology; Harvard Law School, ’86
Resides: Downtown Toronto, with wife and two sons ages 6 and 1
Grew up: New York City
Executive most admired: Harvey Schiller, David Stern
Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere I am with family
Last book read: “Awakening Loving Kindness,” by Pema Chodron
Last movie seen: “Black Swan”
Favorite movie: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Favorite musician/band: Earth, Wind and Fire, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Being able to figure out innovative and creative ways to best service the Canadian marketplace for CBC Sports. We’re going to continue to build on our leadership position. We’re an iconic brand but we can’t discount the fact that there’s competition in the marketplace.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
It was both a risk and a reward where I left the private sector and went to the not-for-profit sector four years ago in joining … Right to Play. I had never worked in that industry before, the development industry. I was responsible for over 20 countries worldwide and having to develop relationships and to build confidence among people with me, people who I was working with both internally and externally in just about every different area of the world.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
[It] had to be being involved with the “Dream Team,” the first Dream Team. Because it was the first time anything like that had ever been done. So it was entirely innovative, it was fraught with risk at the inception, not knowing what players would be involved, not knowing how the owners of the franchises would react to allowing their players to participate. My biggest accomplishment was being able to learn from some of the best people in the business at NBA Properties in terms of the science and art of marketing and licensing and sponsorship.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Follow your passion. Be dedicated and committed to staying the course. If you have determined that your path should be in sports, be committed to that. Be focused. Learn from others, and be able to leverage other people’s knowledge, expertise and experience through developing those relationships.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
I’m particularly interested in the Canadian landscape where Bell Canada has acquired CTV and TSN. And there has been talk about Rogers acquiring Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Those acquisitions, how they are going to potentially change the landscape of sport globally, and not just in Canada.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I would like there to be more collaboration among partnerships in order to provide the sports community, the audience, with the best possible sports experience. I think the biggest thing is being able to provide greater access and opportunity for audiences, sports fans and enthusiasts whether it be through lowering ticket prices or putting more sports on the air.

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