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Volume 20 No. 42
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Keisha Taylor, Learfield

Photo by: SAM ANISE

eisha Taylor never envisioned herself working in sports marketing. In fact, when search firm Eastman & Beaudine contacted her about a job at Learfield, she seriously thought they had the wrong person.

Keisha Taylor
Learfield // Senior vice president, integrated marketing
“I thought my sports were over after my last high school soccer match,” Taylor said.

Taylor came out of Hampton University with an internship at DDB Worldwide, a prominent New York ad agency, and she thought that was the career path she’d follow, even though her mother still wants her to anchor the evening news.

After working in the ad agency world and Turner Broadcasting, Taylor made the unexpected leap to Learfield, the college sports marketing giant.

“I had zero sports marketing experience, but it turns out that that’s exactly what they were looking for,” she said.

Andy Rawlings, Learfield’s chief revenue officer, charged Taylor with restructuring sales support, research and analytics, events and graphic design, which all operated as separate divisions, into an integrated marketing team that could assist advertising clients with their objectives.

Learfield, it seemed, had hired all of this talent, but it just wasn’t being used like it should.

Taylor took charge right away, reshaping the team into four regional teams. Each team has someone from sales, research, events and graphics, which enables them to work together more effectively for Learfield sponsors. Rawlings likens it to having an in-house ad agency capable of working on a variety of brand projects.

Not only that, but Taylor has created a new marketing program aimed at attracting more products whose consumers are women. About 40 percent of all college fans are female, but relatively few sponsors target women, she said.

College sports “should have more products that speak to women,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to break new ground.”

— Michael Smith

  • Where born: Dinwiddie, Va.
  • Education: Hampton University, B.A. in communications.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Resourcefulness, an informed point of view and a positive attitude.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Ask a colleague you know well to facilitate an introduction to the one person you most want to meet. You’re working to build relationships, not contacts.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Was from my mother: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Engaging employees in the development of new benefits that promote a thriving corporate culture.
  •  If I had it to do over again: I wouldn’t change a thing. My experiences and choices, good and bad, have taught me valuable lessons and led me to amazing opportunities.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Sheila Johnson. Not many women can tout that they’ve co-founded a cable television network AND have an ownership stake in multiple professional sports teams. I deeply admire her business acumen and philanthropic endeavors.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’s still necessary. Our workforce needs to be as diverse as our fan base.
  • Charity supported: Habitat for Humanity.