SBJ/Oct. 14-20, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Lisa Cotter, VP of marketing, Orlando Magic

From Magic Kingdom to Magic, Cotter achieves her dream

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Lisa Cotter has spent her career with well-known companies such as Hershey and Walt Disney, and most recently with the Pebble Beach Co. as vice president of marketing, but it has been her lifelong professional pursuit to break into the sports industry. Cotter is now the vice president of marketing for the Orlando Magic and she “couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity, and I would just tell everybody that it is possible to achieve your dreams.”

Age: 49
New title: Vice president of marketing, Orlando Magic
Previous title: Vice president of marketing, Pebble Beach Co.
First job: Salesperson for a department store in the children’s department
Education: Undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Southern California, 1985; master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan, 1989.
Resides: Orlando
Grew up: Las Vegas
Executive most admired: Matt Ouimet, president and CEO of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. When I worked with him, he was the president of Disneyland
Brand most admired: Google
Favorite vacation spot: Any wine region around the world
Last book read: “A Wanted Man,” by Lee Child
Last movie seen: “Despicable Me 2”
Favorite movie: “101 Dalmatians” — the movie inspired me to get Dalmatians and I’ve had them for the past 20 years
Favorite musician/band: Coldplay


What is the biggest challenge in your new position?
Attracting casual fans to attend games when there are just so many other entertainment options in our area. We happen to be in a destination that’s got a lot of other entertainment.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
I left an executive-level position with a Fortune 500 company to become an independent consultant and be on my own. I really wanted to apply my entrepreneurial spirit and see where I could take the experience and lessons that I had learned throughout my career and put them in a different stage.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
I was integrally involved with the 50th anniversary at Disneyland, so I would say my biggest accomplishment was inspiring millions of people around the world to come and celebrate the 50th anniversary with us.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Getting into the sports industry has been a lifelong dream of mine, and in 2010 I interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers to be their head of marketing and I did not get the job. I was very disappointed by that.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Don’t give up. Keep applying, keep building your résumé in your field, even if it’s not in sports, and one day a team will give you a chance.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
I’m a big Dodger fan, so I’m following Yasiel Puig and how he’s doing because I really want him to be the National League Rookie of the Year.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I would encourage the industry to be more open to hiring sales and marketing talent from outside of the industry. Sports are what I’m passionate about, so for me being a marketing professional and getting into the sports industry is the perfect intersection of my experience and professional interests with my personal passion.

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