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Volume 23 No. 23
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New Wasserman Media Group president: ‘Being the biggest shouldn’t be a goal by itself’

Wasserman Media Group has appointed its first president: Mike Watts, who was the fourth employee hired by Wasserman when it started 12 years ago. Watts, who had been company COO, will focus on strategy and growth. In other Wasserman
management moves, Trista Schroeder moves from general counsel to chief administrative officer and Michael Pickles has been promoted from associate counsel to general counsel. Watts spoke with SportsBusiness Journal’s Terry Lefton about Wasserman’s growth potential.

As far as the new structure, there’s enough of a blueprint for growth that you needed to focus just on that?

WATTS: Yes, we’re at a stage now where we’re seeing a lot of opportunities. There’s a lot of momentum behind us scaling, so I’m spending more of my time on business strategy and business operations, working with our six divisions.

Maintaining corporate culture is never easy as a company grows. Define yours.

WATTS: I would not define Casey [Wasserman] as a “Kumbaya” culture guy, but we are reflective of him. We’re entrepreneurial and very aggressive. It’s a place that’s business development focused — and no one here likes being bored. Certainly, it will be challenging as we continue to scale and build out geographically to do all the things we do and maintain that consistency in culture.

Let’s get to the heart of the matter. In which areas do you see growth opportunities for Wasserman?

WATTS: I’m a fundamentals guy, so start with the fundamentals of extending relationships with existing clients and hiring good people to help growth.
After that, from an acquisitions standpoint, we’ll look to fill holes in areas we’re not in already. Those could be additional service lines or specific geographies or sports we are not in today. I’m spending a lot of my time looking at those opportunities.

Golf is a big area for us; finding more players, whether that’s through acquisition, hiring or good recruiting. Growing our geographic reach in golf is another goal. We’re pretty dominant in the U.S., we have a Canadian practice and have our feet wet in Europe. But building beyond those places is key.

On the consulting front, there are a lot of services there we do a little of today, we’d like to do more of, ranging from digital to creative to hospitality and PR — all the things we eventually want to touch. Again, geographically there are opportunities. We have a small office in Asia and in Mexico, we’d like to grow them, and there’s still a lot of opportunity for us in Europe.

Some agencies talk only about their size. How much does size matter in the agency business?

WATTS: Size matters in terms of diversification of offerings and geography. We would never set a goal to be the biggest just for the sake of it. Quality work and our people are our hallmarks and they probably should be at any agency. They should always matter more than scale. Reach matters, but being the biggest shouldn’t be a goal by itself.