Hosting 13 MBA Sports Management students at partner institution, Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea for the two-week exchange experience, lecturer Darren Adamson protests, “This could be the best outdoor classroom on the planet!”.
I completed my MBA in 2007 while working full-time at Port Adelaide Football Club, and it was a great experience to be learning new strategies and applying them directly to my role at the club. It is now very rewarding to be teaching the Master of Business Administration (Sports Management) at Torrens University and helping students to make that link between theory and practice.
Currently in Spain, hosting 13 of our MBA (Sports Management) students at partner institution, Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea, for two weeks – this experience is one-of-a-kind for students, in their career. Real Madrid FC have created an outdoor stage overlooking the pitch at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, hosting over 300 students from across the globe. Our students in attendance complete 5 days at Real Madrid FC (the best Football club in the world!), and another 5 days of tours and lecturers. Studying Facility Operations, the students will explore the Real Madrid FC and Aletico Madrid FC stadiums, the Madrid Tennis Open at Caja Magica, and purpose-built facilities for basketball, cycling and fencing. We are fortunate that Torrens University is part of the global Laureate network and this experience will be invaluable.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PROSPECTIVE MBA STUDENTS?
Many students who are working full-time and have family or sport commitments think that they cannot find the time for study but it is possible and very achievable. I completed one subject per trimester and then one intensive subject each summer and the three years went very quickly. Once you have found that time, the benefits of learning tend to stay with you, and you keep learning throughout your career.
I also think it is important to step outside your own work environment and learn from similar professionals. I always enjoy the conversations I have with other sporting bodies in Adelaide to find out what they are focused on and where the challenges are.
“I also think it is important to step outside your own environment and learn from similar professionals. I always enjoy the conversations I have with other sporting bodies in Adelaide, to find out what they are focused on and where the challenges are.”
HOW DO YOU STAY AHEAD OF THE TREND IN BUSINESS AND SPORTS?
I am always engaged in sport in some way – reading, attending live sporting events or watching from home. The industry evolves very quickly and we are fortunate that we have great access. I try to attend new initiatives like day/night test matches or AFLX and make my own assessments, and then absorb the media commentary and analysis. These observations and learnings certainly assist my teaching and allow me to provide relevant, balanced and timely case studies for students. I also regularly attend workshops and training sessions where possible – often representing Torrens at events such as Open Day, a great opportunity for future students to come meet the Academics and tour the campus, and MBA Masterclass series.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR GRADUATES AROUND NETWORKING, MANAGEMENT-STYLES AND ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE?
i. The MBA program encourages self-reflection, that is the starting point for any new student, and I would hope that graduates continue to allocate time to this. Once students understand their own strengths and emotions, they can start to think about their management styles and relationships with others.
ii. Networking is a critical skill and we discuss both digital networking and face-to-face networking, and the benefits of both. If graduates can expand their networks and collaborate with others, they will identify ways to embrace change and move forward.
“I have been involved in some significant change in the sports industry – some days can be very challenging – but I have always found solutions, and usually that comes from working with others.”
WHAT ARE SOME PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?
At Port Adelaide Football Club I was responsible for our community development programs, and in 2009 I visited four of the football clubs in London – Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea and Watford. The clubs had exceptional community programs and created community trusts to deliver these programs. We came back to Adelaide and created Power Community Ltd, a separate entity to deliver Port Adelaide’s community programs. The organisation is still strong today with a great team of people and significant community programs in SA and NT. Some of our programs for the Aboriginal and multi-cultural communities have been progressive and provide amazing opportunities for young people.
I have also had the opportunity at various times to write new subjects for the University sector – Sport and Event Management, Sports Tourism and Sports Law. I enjoy the process of writing but also exploring the globe for content and case studies that will engage students.
WHAT IS YOUR PASSION OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I have discovered a love for running and surfing and I have found that the more I run the longer I can surf! I have a daughter who enjoys surfing, ballet and netball but will also play AFL and Touch Rugby this year. Watching her play with friends and experience the highs and lows of sport is very rewarding and reminds me how great the sports industry is.
I have previously coached and volunteered at the community club level and these experiences are critical for anyone looking to work in sport. I am ready to join another voluntary board and I have started to prepare for a PhD. I am fortunate that my study, my work and my passions are aligned, and the family is very obliging.
WHAT WAS THE BEST LIFE AND CAREER ADVICE YOU RECEIVED?
I have certainly been exposed to some great mentors in Adelaide over the last 25 years and I think the Sport and Recreation industry attracts those people who are community-minded and like to see people develop. One mentor told me that I was too intense, and my enthusiasm to achieve an outcome meant that others would not speak up. I was a young administrator at the time and surprised by the feedback but I still remember the moment and I have adjusted my management style. I now try to listen more and when I do speak it is hopefully more considered and less confrontational. The ability to give and receive feedback is one of the topics I teach and I think we can always get better at communication – the process is never complete.
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