SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Spotlight: Peter DeVita, Juma Entertainment

Peter DeVita is joining production and event management company Juma Entertainment as its new COO and will be opening the company’s new office in New York City. DeVita and Bob Horowitz, Juma president and founder, are reunited after they spent eight years working together at IMG. DeVita spoke with staff writer Brandon McClung.

Age: 43
New title: Chief operating officer, Juma Entertainment
Previous title: Senior vice president of business affairs, IMG Worldwide
First job: Caddie at the local private golf course in Stony Brook, Long Island
Education: Bachelor of arts, economics, Cornell University (1990); New York University School of Law
Resides: New York City with wife, Regina, and son, Alexander
Grew up: Centereach, N.Y.
Executive most admired: Kevin Plank, president and chief executive officer, Under Armour
Brand most admired: Disney
Favorite vacation spot: Amalfi Coast of Italy
Last book read: “You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup,” by Peter Doggett
Last movie seen: “Midnight in Paris”
Favorite movie: “Forrest Gump”
Favorite musician/band: U2


What is the biggest challenge in your new position?
Helping Juma continue to grow and distinguish itself in a really competitive television marketplace.

What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
This one for sure. I have been here for 14 years and I am not much better at transition than my 5-year-old son. It’s an interesting time for me. IMG is a behemoth, it has a vast infrastructure and resources, and Juma is not quite at that level yet, but that is what gets me so excited about this opportunity. My role will be a lot more entrepreneurial than at IMG with the stakes, success and failures much higher.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
At IMG, I have worked on a variety of big deals over the years so it’s tough to single out one project. I really think it is just being able to stay ahead of the learning curve and being effective as a business affairs executive in so many different areas. … If I had to single out one, we recently concluded a deal for IndyCar last month and I was part of the IMG team that negotiated the Indianapolis 500’s new six-year contract with ABC and ESPN. It was a very challenging negotiation with complex issues, and it was fast tracked. We did the whole deal in two weeks.

What is your biggest professional disappointment in your career?
I was never able to work extensively with Mark McCormack before he passed away. He was a real visionary and was passionate about his clients and the company. I would have loved to have had more exposure to him, especially in his prime.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into this industry?
Take 1/100th of the time you spend being a sports fan and spend it learning the sports business. Educate yourself about the industry. Everyone wants to be in the sports and entertainment business, but very few people have a clue what that means. Candidates need to distinguish themselves from the masses and be absolutely relentless in networking.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in sports today?
I am an avid tennis and golf fan, so I am interested to see how the American tennis and golf communities respond and can cultivate future talent and restore the U.S. in a prominent position in those sports. I miss having a dominant American at the top.

What is one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I think the industry is just too difficult to break into for the young people.
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