Spotlight: Roy Seinfeld, EVP, Learfield Sports
Learfield Sports recently named Roy Seinfeld executive vice president. He began his career as a sales planner and was instrumental in the launch of Turner Sports, Fox Sports Net, the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Enterprises, where was vice president of advertising sales. He spoke with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Anna Hrushka.
■ New title: Executive vice president, Learfield Sports.
■ Previous title: Vice president of advertising sales, Pac-12 Enterprises.
■ First job: Counselor at a day camp.
■ Education: Bachelor of arts, history/education, Queens College (1981); master’s in special education, SUNY Binghamton (1983); master’s in business administration, SUNY Albany (1986).
■ Resides: Chicago, with wife Shari, Ben (17), Zach (14), Hannah (12) and Jake (10).
■ Grew up: The Bronx, N.Y.
■ Executive most admired: Randy Freer, co-president, Fox Sports Media Group.
■ Brand most admired: Gatorade.
■ Favorite vacation site: Eagle River, Wis.
■ Last book read: “The Last Gunfight,” by Jeff Guinn.
■ Favorite movie: “The Deer Hunter.”
■ Favorite musician/band: The Rebirth Brass Band. “I’m a big New Orleans jazz fan.”
■ What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
I’ve always started these organizations from scratch. [In my four other jobs] I was there before anything was there. So here we had a successful, established business. The challenge is not to get it ramped up and get it started and do all the hiring and set up all the infrastructure — that’s already here. The challenge is to take this existing team and this existing structure and bring it to the next level. And that’s a different experience than I’ve had before.
■ What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
I think it was leaving New York. I’d been a New Yorker my entire career. My family’s from New York. I’d never left New York. It was getting outside of New York and seeing the rest of the country and moving. It’s been a blessing for me, but it has made me semi-nomadic. I’ve lived in Chicago and San Francisco and now I’m going to be moving back to Chicago. A lot of people who started with me at Turner in that sort of class have made their entire careers in New York. So there was a risk leaving New York, but it surely paid out for me both personally and professionally.
■ What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Being at the very start of these four networks [Turner Sports Division, Fox Cable Sports, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Networks] and to be able to look back and say that I was part of the success, the culture and the team. I very much value the people I’ve met along the way that have helped me and I’ve helped. It’s the personal relationships that I’ve developed and the growth of these entities that I was at the start of.
■ What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
The advice I give is to have a plan and look two steps ahead. When I started out, I was a sales planner and all I wanted to be was a salesperson. After I was a salesperson I wanted to be a manager. After I was a manager I wanted to be a VP. I had aspirations, but they were only one step ahead. I’d say that people who come into this business should have a plan, and they should have a long-term plan that’s a few steps ahead. If they’re a sales planner, they shouldn’t just think about being a salesperson. They should think about being a manager. They should really take control of their career rather than their career take control of them.
■ What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
It’s obviously what’s going on in college sports. What is going to be the structure of college sports and the major conferences when the smoke clears? That seems to be evolving every day.