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Volume 20 No. 42
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Forty Under 40

Photo by: OCTAGON
When Derek Aframe joined Octagon in 2003 to work on MasterCard’s marketing of the FIFA World Cup in Germany, he was fulfilling a lifelong dream. The Brown University soccer player always wanted to work on a World Cup. The problem was, he landed on the MasterCard account in the twilight of its World Cup years.

MasterCard had been the exclusive payment services partner of FIFA since 1994 but lost its sponsorship to Visa ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Its stake in global soccer shrank in subsequent years.

Last year, Aframe helped reverse that.

He engineered a global sponsorship deal between MasterCard and the Brazilian national team. The partnership, which Aframe helped sell internally at MasterCard and worked with Octagon staff in Brazil to secure, gives the credit card company rights to market through the club, one of the world’s best-known teams and a key asset in a fast-growing market, Brazil. To top it off, MasterCard beat out Visa in landing the deal.

“A lot of people would think, ‘Brazil and football. Of course! How hard could that be,’” said Michael Robichaud, MasterCard’s vice president of global sponsorships. “But at a company where not everyone understands marketing and what a partnership should look like and what a deal needs to be and what activities we should be doing, selling that idea internally isn’t easy. Derek’s great at helping us as a client with that.”

That skill is a major reason Aframe has risen to senior vice president at Octagon Worldwide. He joined the agency after time at Harvard Business School and the New England Revolution. He now oversees 60 consultants in 17 offices on six continents and manages total client spends of more than $400 million.

The highlight of it all is the chance he has to continue to work in soccer. He loves the game and still considers one of his favorite sporting events to be a 1997 World Cup qualifier between Mexico and the United States in Boston. He was working with the Revolution and was struck by the sight of middle-income Mexican-American families seated alongside suburban soccer dads and their sons.

“There’s a universal denominator [to the sport] that cuts across socioeconomic and cultural boundaries,” Aframe said. “That’s what I love about sports and working in sports.”

— Tripp Mickle

Age: 38
TITLE: Senior vice president
COMPANY: Octagon Worldwide
EDUCATION: A.B., American history and English literature, Brown University; MBA, Harvard Business School
FAMILY: Wife, Jessica; son, Aiden (2)
CAREER: Rhode Island state manager, AP/Voter News Service, 1996 general election; vice president, New England Revolution; at Octagon since 2003

FIRST JOB: Soccer referee
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?: The plan of attack for the next day
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: “Most deals collapse over who gets the credit.” — Robert Kraft

WORST ADVICE RECEIVED: “Stay away from the sports business” — Numerous!
FAVORITE IPAD APPS: Ultimate Guitar Tabs, RunKeeper, GateGuru, AP and WSJ Mobile
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: ENTP. Strives for grace under pressure #Hemingway. If #Kipling hits home. Seeks to lead like Hannibal@Carthage and write as #Grantland Rice.
STRESS RELEASE: Playing catch with my son and golden retriever; strumming my Telecaster
GUILTY PLEASURE: Opening a pack of baseball cards
FANTASY JOB: Astronaut
FAVORITE MOVIE LINE: “It’s not the years. … It’s the mileage.” (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)