SBJ/Sept. 23-29, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Spotlight: Monisha Longacre, chief product officer, Play On! Sports

‘Big plunge’ on the IT side helps Longacre advance career



After a 13-year career with The Weather Channel, Monisha Longacre is trying her hand in sports as chief product officer for high school sports media company PlayOn! Sports. As the mother of fifth- and ninth-grade athletes, Longacre can personally relate with the product PlayOn! Sports offers. “My husband is a partner with Ernst & Young, so he travels a lot and has to miss games,” she said. “I always said, ‘What he wouldn’t pay to travel and still feel like he is not missing out.’” Longacre spoke with staff writer Stephanie Brown.

Age: 42
New title: Chief product officer, PlayOn! Sports.
Previous title: Vice president of portfolio management and strategy, The Weather Channel.
First job: PR coordinator and assistant to a magician in Boston when I was in grad school to raise drug and alcohol abuse awareness in schools.
College education: Undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Virginia, 1992. Master’s in corporate public relations from Boston University, 1993.
Resides: Atlanta.
Grew up: Born in England, grew up in Northern Virginia — Fairfax County.
Executive most admired: Jeff Bezos at Amazon.
Brand most admired: Apple.
Favorite vacation spot: Destin, Fla.
Last book read: “Netflixed,” by Gina Keating.
Last movie seen: “42.”
Favorite movie: “The Blind Side.”
Favorite musician/band: The Script.

What’s the biggest challenge in your new position?
There is so much opportunity here and so many great ideas and angles that we can take this business in. The challenge is going to be first coming up with what are the right things to prioritize. It’s so easy to get distracted and try to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
At The Weather Channel I was on the digital product side for 10 years and literally worked with customers, marketing, the business side, and three years ago I decided to take a big plunge and go to the IT side. It was really frightening because I wasn’t an IT person and had no background in it, but I felt if I was ever going to be a strong business product person I needed to understand it. If everything is driven by technology, I needed to have that experience.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
The Weather Channel asked a small group of us to start up our own desktop app within six months, and we built this software application and grew it into a profitable business.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
For grad school I applied to Boston University, Cornell, Syracuse and the University of Pennsylvania. I got into all of them except the University of Pennsylvania, which is where I really wanted to go. So it was my first real dose of rejection and I had a really hard time with it, because you never get an answer of why. But it taught me you have to leave those things behind and build on the opportunities that are in front of you.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
That kids get to enjoy the sport for the sport itself. I’ve been a huge advocate for my kids to play multiple sports and to just have fun, build teamwork and not worry about “Where is this going to take me?” It is sad to see recruiting activities start at ninth and 10th grade, where they are already looking into those collegiate and professional opportunities, because that is not the core of what high school sports are for 99 percent of the kids.

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