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Volume 23 No. 8
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Carrie Brzezinski-Hsu, ESPN

Photo: Melissa Rawlins / ESPN Images
Photo: Melissa Rawlins / ESPN Images
Photo: Melissa Rawlins / ESPN Images

Carrie Brzezinski-Hsu 

Vice President, Marketing and Head of ESPN CreativeWorks, ESPN
Born: Detroit
Education: B.A., organizational studies, University of Michigan

ESPN’s Carrie Brzezinski-Hsu was on Amtrak heading from Washington, D.C., to New York in 2011 when she started chatting with a man seated next to her who looked to be about 80 years old.

Brzezinski-Hsu did not recognize the man at the time. Shortly into the conversation, she realized she was talking to Bill Rasmussen, the person credited with launching ESPN more than 30 years earlier.

“I had no idea who he was,” she said. “As I was bragging about my current job, I realized who I was talking to.”

Brzezinski-Hsu, who is the head of ESPN’s in-house ad agency called CreativeWorks, made sure to keep in touch with Rasmussen and describes him these days as one of her mentors.

“He had the idea to have sports available 24/7, and he stated a mission that is still ESPN’s today — to serve sports fans,” Brzezinski-Hsu said. “That’s ultimately what I set out to do at CreativeWorks. We know that fans are watching ESPN programming. By default, they are experiencing the ads. Our mission with CreativeWorks is to create ads that serve them and are fun for them.”

Brzezinski-Hsu oversees an 86-person team and has earned a reputation for creativity and business acumen.

“Carrie has that rare combination of creative chops with sales and marketing insight,” said Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president of global sales and marketing. “Her uncanny ability to understand our clients’ brands — in tandem with what makes ESPN’s relationship with sports fans unique — is magical.”

— John Ourand

Getting to know...

Networking works best when: I’m not trying to find an immediate connection. Take note of the interesting facts about people you meet and sometimes you connect the dots
months, even years, later.
Proudest professional achievement: Leading a team that’s combining experience with experimentation to change the game of the sports ad agency.
Woman in sports business I’d like to meet: The first female commissioner of the NFL, because that’s when the game changes.
I wish I’d known at my career’s start: Don’t stress about landing your dream job right out of college. It’s the experience of those “odd” jobs that show you the depths of your creativity and widen your perspective.
Role of sports in social issues: Do the right thing. There is no other facet of American culture that reaches both ends of the political spectrum so deeply. We have a civic duty, as an industry, to behave responsibly and make the hard decisions.