SBJ/Sept. 9-15, 2013/Game Changers

Game Changers: Susan Cohig

Photo: NHL
Cohig joined the NHL in 1996 after helping establish the Colorado Avalanche.
Organizational Drivers
Susan Cohig
NHL | Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing

F
or the last 17 years, Susan Cohig has been a difference-maker for the NHL in its relationships with corporate sponsors. Among her present-day responsibilities, Cohig manages the league’s U.S.-based partnership marketing, oversees the sponsorship renewal and upsell process, negotiates licensing of league and club properties, and produces the league’s annual business meetings.

Her effectiveness can be seen in the NHL’s fan-sponsor loyalty numbers, which are often among the best for the major team sports.
In addition, according to the NHL, direct partner spending with the league increased by more than 75 percent between 2009 and 2012 under Cohig’s direction.

A Colorado native, Cohig cites her start in the sports world in the early 1990s — overseeing sales and corporate service under Tim Leiweke at Ascent Entertainment, which owned the NHL Avalanche and NBA Nuggets — as crucial to her professional development. “What I learned from Tim is that it’s all about customer service and listening,” said Cohig, who has been in her current position since 2009. “It’s not just about the sale, but understanding what works for your league partners. That sustains a long-term relationship.”

It also sustains a long and successful career.

— Christopher Botta

  • Crowning professional achievement: Being a part of the management team that moved the Quebec Nordiques to Denver to launch the Colorado Avalanche, then having the team win the Stanley Cup in its inaugural season; and while working full time at the NHL, I was able to attend law school and earn my law degree. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a milestone without the support and inspiration of NHL senior management.
  • Best advice you’ve received: 1) Listen. 2) Customer service distinguishes the great organizations from the merely good ones. 3) Be a student of the business, not only your own but of your partners.
  • What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: That I would be working in sports and living in New York City.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Making sure I keep up with innovations in our business, especially digital technology.

“Susan has amazing bandwidth and tackles every project with the same positive attitude, all the while keeping a laser focus on results. Her broad understanding of our teams’ businesses makes her highly effective in assisting them with problem solving and looking for new opportunities to expand their brand.”

— Brian Jennings | Executive vice president of marketing | NHL

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