SBJ/March 10-16, 2014/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: Kelly Cheeseman


ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Kelly
Cheeseman

Company: AEG Sports (LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Kings, Manchester Monarchs, Berlin Eisbaren, Hamburg Freezers)
Title: COO
Age: 37
Where born: Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Education: Northwood University (bachelor’s, marketing management; minors, advertising and MIS)
Career background: Marketing manager for Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 2000; AEG/LA Kings/AEG Sports, 2001-present
Family: Wife, Andrea

Favorite apps: QuizUp, GolfLogix, Uber, Nike+ Running, Flipboard, Los Angeles Times.
Guilty pleasure: Emerald Sweet & Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Mixed Nuts.
Worst habit: Mentally replying to a text but not actually hitting send.
Cause supported: Kings Care Foundation.
Person in the industry I'd most like to meet: Tim Finchem.
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Jump off a cliff into the ocean in Jamaica.
2014 will be a good year if … : The Kings and Galaxy return to championships.

Kelly Cheeseman started with AEG as a ticket sales account executive for the Los Angeles Kings in 2001. A year ago, after climbing the ranks in sales and service departments throughout the company, he was named chief operating officer of AEG Sports.
“Kelly sets a great example for the rest of the staff at AEG,” said AEG President and CEO Dan Beckerman. “He got his foot in the door with the Kings, learned the AEG culture, and has really developed over his career here.”

Cheeseman now oversees AEG’s hockey and soccer team interests, as well as the Amgen Tour of California. With the Kings, he has increased ticket revenue by 67 percent and sponsorship revenue by 18 percent over the last two seasons. According to AEG, Cheeseman has been responsible for $385 million in sales revenue for the company since 2005.

Asked for the keys to his success, Cheeseman said, “Hard work never fails. And over time, I’ve learned that what’s good for the customers first is what’s right for the company.”

Cheeseman is proud of being viewed as a role model by his younger colleagues at AEG. He points out that he interviewed for his first position with the Kings with Chris McGowan, who was his predecessor as COO (and mentor) before becoming president and CEO of the Portland Trail Blazers. Many of the young

SBJ Podcast:
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.

employees that Cheeseman hired as account executives are now moving up the AEG ladder as he did.

“AEG started with 200 employees, and all we had were the Kings and Staples Center,” Cheeseman said. “Now we have 25,000 employees and we’re one of the biggest sports organizations in the world. There has been some drastic changeover recently with executives, but there’s been a lot of promotion from within, so we have stability.”

He added that he never considers himself “the smartest guy in the room” and never would have advanced so rapidly without his colleagues at the Kings and AEG. “Any time you struggle, you get great counsel by reaching out to any one of hundreds of co-workers,” Cheeseman said. “You’re never alone, that’s for sure.”

— Christopher Botta

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