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Volume 20 No. 42
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Kim Smither, SVP, Wasserman Media Group

Smither proud of relationships she’s built in sports marketing

With more that 20 years in sports marketing, Kim Smither has worked in everything from the Olympics and Paralympics to the NBA and MLB. Having worked in Toronto and now in London as senior vice president of major games for Octagon, Smither is making the move to Los Angeles in September as senior vice president for Wasserman Media Group. She spoke about the change with staff writer Stephanie Brown.

Smither won’t win at Wimbledon, but she can dream, can’t she?
Age: Old enough to know not to tell — a girl never tells her age.
New title: Senior vice president, Wasserman Media Group
Previous title: Senior vice president of major games, Octagon
First job: Selling apples from my backyard in a street stall outside my house.
College education: Undergraduate from the University of Toronto in physical and health education, 1988. Postgraduate degree in sports marketing from George Brown College in Toronto, 1995.
Grew up: Welland, Ontario.
Executive most admired: Michael Woodford, the guy who blew the lid off the corruption in Olympus. Proved you can have some morals and still be successful.
Last movie seen: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but “Fast and Furious 6” — and it wasn’t my choice. I lost a bet.
Favorite movie: Probably not one most people know: “Best in Show.” It’s a comedy about a dog show, a lot of Canadian actors, very funny.
Favorite musician/band: Anything disco. Love disco music. It’s just happy music. You can’t help but to just move your feet and dance.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
I think the biggest challenge, quite honestly, is that they have so much talent and expertise across different specialties, [so] making sure that I work across all areas. Just integrating all the great talent.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
Breaking out on my own, definitely. And that was when I started my own business in 2000. And then I figured I would take another leap and it was coming over to London with no guarantee of a job, just relocating on my own.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Maintaining my integrity and relationships throughout my career. I’ve been in the business a long time, 20-plus years, and some of my former staff and colleagues I’m still very good friends with. And whether I work for the company, there are always people I can call.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
That I never played in a World Cup or Wimbledon final. I wanted to be an athlete. I don’t think professionally I can say that I have a real big disappointment, to be honest with you. I would’ve just preferred to be on the field than in the boardroom.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Very, very simple: Pay attention to the people who are around you, because the people you pass on the way up could be your boss or your client one day.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
I think probably something that everyone is watching is digital technology and social media. It’s totally changing everything. How it’s consumed, how it’s programmed, how it’s marketed: It’s basically changing our world.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
For RFPs and regular pitches, we’re often asked to provide spec work. I’d like to see clients do away with it. While I appreciate they’d like us to demonstrate our capabilities, I think our credentials, case studies and references can provide the same reassurances. Spec work is expensive, time consuming, and it’s challenging to do on an ongoing basis — particularly when there’s no guarantee of getting the business.