As the TEAMS Conference & Expo turns 25 years old, we want to take a look back at some of the people that have made each event go as smoothly as it does — the ambassadors that you see helping direct traffic to events and also working in the exhibit halls and seemingly everywhere you turn. For a number of those who started out attending the TEAMS Conference while still in college, those experiences have given them entry into the industry.
NAME: Brian Brantley, TEAMS ambassador in 2007.
WHERE IS HE NOW: Brantley has been the vice president for advancement at the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation for the past five years. The goal of the Foundation is to protect, preserve and enhance the Rose Bowl stadium, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. Brantley is from Philadelphia and remembers watching the Rose Bowl every year as a kid and says he knew was that it was a special place early on. He always dreamed of working at the Rose Bowl and now is grateful to be a part of the stadium’s first 100 years of history and to be ushering in the next century. Before his time in Pasadena, Brantley was the director of major gifts for the Cal Poly athletics department in San Luis Obispo, California.
WHAT HE REMEMBERS AS AN AMBASSADOR: “I remember the people. When you’re there with all the various folks in one place, there’s no better way to talk shop and to get all that information that you can take back with you to your respective organizations. It’s one stop shopping where you can pull somebody aside and have a conversation and learn things. Then take that information back to your company and say, ‘Hey, what about this product or thing that can help us get better?’ That’s why it’s a great conference — it helps you get better. It helps your organization get better and that’s part of why it’s so special. That’s all anybody can ask, is just get a little bit better every day. TEAMS helps you do that. You get to see people, to chat, to really get that one-on-one time that sometimes you don’t get at other conferences.”
THE CONNECTIONS HE MADE: “I’m still friends with a few of the folks that I met at TEAMS, like Aaron Epstein (executive senior associate athletic director at Western Kentucky University) and J.D. Wood (regional vice president of strategic development at The Sports Facilities). It really always comes down to people for me — the people that you’re with make it memorable. TEAMS is a great conference and the people are what make it a great conference. These friendships or relationships that you make have the potential to last a lifetime. Aaron and J.D. are perfect examples of that, we’ve maintained great friendships over the years and I’m proud of it.”
HOW IT CHANGED HIS CAREER PATH: “I again go back to the connections that you make at TEAMS. There’s the saying, ‘It’s not so much what you know, it’s who you know,’ and those connections that you can make at a conference like TEAMS can help you get across the finish line. There are people from all over the country, in all various aspects, so it’s not just college athletics. So the more folks you meet, the more you know that can help you. That person you just don’t know yet but you meet at TEAMS might already know the operations person at another school or another team or something, and they can help you get over the finish line. For me, having those connections at TEAMS helped me as I progressed in my career and it can definitely help you in your career choices and career down the road because you just don’t know who you’re going to meet at TEAMS.”
HIS ADVICE TO NEW AMBASSADORS: “Remember your ABCs — always be curious. Ask questions and get to know people. It’s not necessarily about you all the time, and sometimes it’s good to allow somebody else to tell you their story. You get to meet great people there who are showing off their stuff. So pull them aside and ask questions. What is this? How does this work? How does this help me get better? Ask them what’s going on with their new stuff and if there’s anything that you should know about that’s coming down the pipeline. Just be curious and be open to talking to other people, even if you’re a little bit on the shy side. You’ve got to open those doors up for yourself and talk to people. It’s a fantastic opportunity at a fantastic conference, so get to know people and then stay in contact with them. Send them a note afterwards and then keep reaching out to them and saying hello and seeing what’s going on in their world. You never know where a connection might take you.”