Detroit native AJ Sheth is a diehard Pistons fan. But growing up in the Sheth home, watching sports wasn’t just about rooting for your home team. The sports-minded and business-oriented family would discuss marketing, sponsorships, revenue and ticket prices while enjoying a game together. For Sheth, it changed the way he looked at sports and began a lifelong dream: to lead a national sports organization.
While earning his bachelor’s degree in marketing, Sheth landed an internship with the Detroit Pistons and after graduation moved into corporate communications positions with the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite his success, Sheth kept his eye on a bigger prize: an executive vice president position.
“People aim for general manager or athletic director because that’s what they see on TV,” he says. “But I wanted to help an organization increase revenue through sponsorships, tickets and merchandise and most sports executives have an advanced degree. I’m also a big believer in creating your own opportunities, so I enrolled in SCS’s MSA ( program.”
It wasn’t long into his tenure at SCS before Sheth saw another opportunity: the chance to bring students together in the MSA program. He founded the MSA Student Board as a way to connect students socially and professionally. He began networking with local teams to arrange behind-the-scenes tours and speakers and even started a newsletter — all while completing his degree and working for the Chicago Sky. Today, the MSA Student Board plays a vital role in giving students exposure to real-life sports administration experiences with teams like the Chicago Bears, White Sox and Blackhawks, and raising the program’s visibility within the local job market.
Since graduation, Sheth’s MSA experiences have helped him transition to higher-level sports sponsorship positions. He worked at Feld Entertainment, which owns properties like Disney on Ice and Ringling Brothers, and is now Director of Corporate Partnerships and Premium Seating for the Sears Centre Arena. He oversees all corporate sponsorships for the venue’s diverse lineup — which attracts 300,000 visitors annually — and is on his way to meeting his ultimate career goal.
“The MSA program helps you position yourself for leadership and to think about the field from a business perspective, not just a fan’s perspective,” he says. “The high quality faculty — Lesa Ukman’s sponsorship class was a career-changing experience — great networking, and the Northwestern brand can help you reach the front office of a major organization.”