SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Game Changers

Game Changers: Sheila McLenaghan

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CHRIS CONDON / PTA TOUR
McLenaghan’s golf ties extend to her college days, when she played on Princeton’s team.
Sheila McGlenaghan
PGA Tour
SVP, Customer Relations

The events, dinners and meetings that Sheila McLenaghan runs represent the connection that sponsors often associate with the PGA Tour. McLenaghan is the senior vice president for customer relations at the tour. On some days, she’s “Julie McCoy,” cruise director. Other days, she’s conductor of the PGA Tour philharmonic, leading a well-orchestrated series of events that keep the tour’s partners happy and engaged.

During a recent week at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, McLenaghan’s group ran the event that honored the Payne Stewart Award winner; an executive golf outing for tournament sponsors Coca-Cola and the Southern Co.; a meeting of the tour’s official marketing partners; and the Sunday night FedEx Cup after-party. Those events are intended to thank sponsors for their support, update them on the business of the tour and give them an opportunity to network.

In all, McLenaghan’s team of four in customer relations (she also manages 16 people in the travel department) coordinates more than 25 major events a year. It requires her to work closely with the tour’s marketing team to keep partners entertained and informed on the tour’s business.

“It’s a combination of things,” she said. “Sometimes we’re saying ‘Thanks’ to sponsors for their support. At some events, it’s more senior-level people from sponsors playing golf. We’re making sure there’s good interaction between their folks and our folks. A lot of it is providing the best environment possible for relationship-building.”

— Michael Smith
  • First job: Assistant at Ohlmeyer Communications in New York City.
  • Crowning professional achievement: Grand opening gala at TPC Sawgrass a week after the new clubhouse opened. I’m pretty sure the paint was still wet.
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: Never assume; it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: Collaborative.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My parents. They helped me figure out how to channel my interest in golf and business into a wonderful career. 
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: People outside the sports business have a hard time believing it’s really work.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Intelligence.
  • Ten years from now, I hope to be …: More fit and more well-read.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Sheila brings great wisdom and a wealth of experience. The PGA Tour has been rated at the very top amongst its peers at client service due in part to her hard work and dedication. She understands why companies activate PGA Tour assets and has their best interest at heart.”

  • Scott Seymour, Octagon senior vice president/managing director, golf
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