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

Shauna Smith, Aquarius Sports and Entertainment

Smith with fiancé Leu Gillem and their dog, Kymba.
Photo by: PROCOPIO PHOTOGRAPHY.

W
hen discussing his colleague Shauna Smith, Marc Bluestein likes to tell the story of how he wound up promoting her to her current role.

Shauna Smith
Aquarius Sports and Entertainment // Vice president, client services
Bluestein is president and CEO of Maryland-based agency Aquarius Sports and Entertainment, where Smith serves as vice president of client services. The firm’s core client base includes AAA Mid-Atlantic, Florida Hospital and Baltimore Ravens stadium naming-rights sponsor M&T Bank.

When the previous executive to fill that role left the agency a few years ago, Smith walked into Bluestein’s office the next day and asked, “What do I need to do to be the next vice president of client services?” Bluestein laid out what he referred to as “A, B and C” assignments that he gave to her to accomplish over the next three months.

“In more like 60 days, not only had she done A, B and C — but on her own she had done D, E, F and G,” Bluestein said. “That was well beyond my expectations and really kind of demonstrated to me that she had the ability to lead.”

At Aquarius, Smith works closely with not just the agency’s clients but also the properties the clients sponsor, as well as vendors and the employees she oversees.

“I think for us one of the things that benefits us as a small agency is just being able to be very nimble, responsive and in tune with our clients’ needs,” Smith said. “We’re able to quickly adapt and respond or proactively make recommendations of things that should be done based on what we’re seeing in the agency world and kind of trends in the industry overall.”

— Adam Stern



  • Where born: Newport, R.I.
  • Education: George Washington University, dual B.B.A. in finance and sports management.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Proactive, self-starter.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Be a generous listener.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Take risks.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Encouraging employees to truly disconnect on vacation days.
  •  If I had it to do over again: Make a greater effort to keep in touch with former colleagues.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Val Ackerman, to say thank you. I served on the WNBA Teen Advisory Board … and she once joined a call to talk to us about careers in sports outside of the lines. The call opened my eyes to all of the possibilities and led me to seek out a college education in sports management.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? We’ve made great strides, but there’s still work left to do.
  • Cause supported: My alma mater, George Washington University, as a volunteer interviewer for admissions.

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