SBJ/Sept. 11-17, 2017/Game Changers

Kirsten Corio, U.S. Tennis Association

Photo by: JENNIFER POTTHEISER

W
orking for 15 years at the NBA’s team marketing unit in New York City, Kirsten Corio always knew the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in the city were a big deal. But until a year and half ago when offered her current job, she had no idea just how big a deal.

Kirsten Corio
U.S. Tennis Association // Managing director,
ticket sales, premium
and digital strategy
“When I was evaluating the move, I was privy to all teams’ business information, and when I looked at the business the U.S. Open generates relative to the NBA team business across an entire regular season, I was just astonished,” she said. “I knew it was big, I didn’t know how big.

“I started looking at the comparisons and started having fun with how many teams at the bottom I would have to add up to equal the U.S. Open, and it was more than a few,” she said. “That to me is an incredible opportunity.”

Indeed, the Open generates about $300 million in revenue in two weeks, and Corio is responsible for ticketing, premium hospitality and digital. She oversees about 15 employees, and during the event itself that grows to 60.

Her leadership instincts came from watching NBA executives like Scott O’Neil and Chris Granger at the team marketing unit.

“Watching their experience and how they motivated and inspired and challenged people in a way that makes people feel like they are part of something bigger is something I aspire to,” she said. “I am not sure I am there, but that is what I am aspiring to.”

— Daniel Kaplan



  • Where born: Woodstock, N.Y.
  • Education: Boston College, B.S. in biology.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Emotional and cultural intelligence. The ability to genuinely and effectively interact with all walks of life and types of titles isn’t something that’s easily learned.
  •  Networking tip I’ve learned: Be open-minded. Relationships drive so much of our ability to be effective in our roles and to have a great time at work. And, the person you’ve just met may turn out to be a lifelong mentor or friend.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Acknowledging that all of us — men and women — have full lives, and that by encouraging and empowering people to make choices with their time that enable them to be better fathers, husbands, daughters, mothers and friends ultimately makes a more committed employee.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Take more finance classes (seriously), spend a year abroad and more proactively manage my career choices early on.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I’ve been fortunate to have met most of the top women in sports business (whether they remember me or not is a different story), so this is a tough one. But I’d love to meet some of the women who have transcended their sport — Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Ronda Rousey.
  •  Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’ll be necessary in every industry, not just sports, until women earn equal pay for equal work and make up 50 percent of senior leadership roles.
  • Charities supported: March of Dimes, ASPCA.

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