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Volume 21 No. 2
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Scott Malaga, SVP, strategic partnerships, Intersport

Malaga puts breadth of experience to work at Intersport

Scott Malaga was at Cornell University, a football player and business management major trying to figure out how to put the two together. (He, IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne, and Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett were all captains of their respective Ivy League football teams the same year.) A couple of decades later, after an impressive series of employers and titles, Malaga will work in the sponsorship and events marketing division at Intersport and focus on client services. “My career hasn’t been specific in one field,” Malaga said. “And now, since Intersport offers so much, I can fall back on each experience and apply it in some small way.” He spoke with staff writer Kristen Heimstead.

Age: 45
New title: Senior vice president of strategic partnerships, Intersport
Previous job: Vice president of corporate partnerships, Chicago Fire
First job: I was a maintenance man at a swim club … so I swept tennis courts.
Education: Bachelor’s of business management, Cornell University (1989); master’s in sports administration, Ohio University (1990)
Resides: Elmhurst, Ill., a suburb west of Chicago, with wife Beth and 8-year-old twins Sydney and Luke
Grew up: Chappaqua, N.Y., since I was 12
Executive most admired: The gentleman that helped launch my career and was my mentor for a little while, Chuck Jarvie, former Host Communications and Dr Pepper executive
Brand most admired: Under Armour. The whole story fascinates me. They’ve done a great job. I’d love to meet the founder at some point.
Favorite vacation spot: Kiawah Island, S.C. Hopefully I’ll retire there someday.
Last book read: “Blue Ocean Strategy,” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
Last movie seen: “Happy Feet Two” with my kids
Favorite movie: “Secretariat”
First concert: The Police at Shea Stadium

What is the biggest challenge in your new position?
Educating the people I now meet with of all the things that Intersport does well. In some circles Intersport is known for TV production, or they’re known for sponsorship and event marketing, or they’re known for hospitality.

What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
Definitely quitting my first job, so I would highly recommend that people don’t do that. I was working for Champion and my girlfriend (who is now my wife) was living in Chicago, so I wanted to move to Chicago. I quit my job before I had one, and that was not a good decision. … It all turned out well, though.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
I would have to say helping to launch the national sales strategy for ISP Sports and then initiating the conference relationship manager position where I oversaw our West Coast schools.

What is the biggest professional disappointment in your career?
I guess it would be when my focus changed at ISP Sports away from the West Coast schools that I worked with. … I really liked dealing with them. … And also I would say not selling the jersey deal for the Chicago Fire before I left. That was my focus at the end.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into this industry?
The most important thing is your integrity and to maintain that throughout your career because that’s the thing that you’re going to fall back on the most. Make sure people trust you, because if people trust you, then they’ll ultimately do business with you. And for me personally it’s been keeping a work-family balance, a life balance.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in sports today?
Conference realignment and all the different movements that have gone on within college football. … It seems to me it’s going in the direction of being four major conferences, and the other schools are going to be struggling to get a foothold.

What is one element that you would like to change about the sports industry?
In college sports it does seem that the money seems to dominate. I’d like to be assured that the students are really student athletes, rather than sometimes the perception that they’re not. I love college sports. I love what it represents. They just have to fight to maintain that student-athlete reputation.