Business trips to the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Super Bowl. Clients like Red Bull, Trip Advisor, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Gillette. Meetings with the likes of Michael Phelps and Reggie Bush. Welcome to the world of Jerry Casselano ’08, Vice President of Corporate Hospitality at Alexandria, Va.-based company ProVentures.
Casselano majored in business administration and marketing at the College of Charleston and worked in the Charleston area for two years before pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University. While attending graduate school, he took an unpaid internship at ProVentures, and the rest was history. Star-studded, fast-paced, jam-packed history.
Casselano welcomes current students and alumni to reach out to him for advice. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a message to be forwarded.
Q: How would you describe your job?
A: ProVentures is a sport and entertainment agency, we work with companies that are looking to engage in a sponsorship with an athlete, team, musician or celebrity. We concentrate on four platforms: consulting, corporate hospitality, talent procurement and activation. As the vice president of corporate hospitality, I’m provided the opportunity to have my hands in all aspects of the business.
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Q: How do you execute those platforms?
A: We will first consult with the client to understand what they are looking for in a sponsorship. We’ll do market research to study what their company represents, and who best aligns with their brand. We then handle talent procurement by working directly to contract the individual or team our client wants to work with. We represent the company, basically as an agent and negotiate on their behalf.
After the talent piece is secured, we’ll design a marketing plan involving both parties and execute it. That’s the activation phase. For example, our client Red Bull wanted to work with Rickie Fowler on an event that would showcase Rickie’s talent, Red Bull’s visionary take on sporting events and the Red Bull brand.
We facilitated a sponsorship of Rickie as his official energy drink and utilized Red Bull branded golf towel and water bottle (which can be seen anytime he enters a tournament). We then worked with Red Bull to create, develop, and execute a new, innovative event.
We ultimately put together a series of “urban golf courses” throughout the country, the first of which took place in Washington, D.C. where Rickie made a hole-in-one in between two office buildings with a 130 yard blind shot.
The hospitality side of the job works separately from that process, in the sense that it isn’t dependent on a sponsorship. If one of our clients want to take their key leadership, customers, or their top sellers to an event, we will provide a tailored package including travel, accommodations, tickets, hospitality, celebrity appearances, and anything else along the way. The package is created based on their needs and budget. This is my arena, so I will often travel with the client to ensure everything runs smoothly and provide assistance on site.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: I like that no day, project, or event is the same and it’s humbling to work with people who I truly look up to. Patrick McGee, my boss and the founder of ProVentures, is a great mentor, and my clients provide a different perspective into business. It goes without saying, the athletes I work with are definitely a highlight It’s nice to get to know them in a unique setting.
I also appreciate the challenge of tailoring our services to our clients’ distinct needs. There’s no template to refer to, everything I work on with a client will have a completely original result. I enjoy the creativity.
Q: How did you get started at ProVentures?
A: My graduate program required us to intern, and my first internship was with a sports marketing company who shared office space with ProVentures. I became really interested in what ProVentures was doing and started to get to know Patrick. At that time ProVentures was beginning work with KFC, which wanted to sponsor the Association of Volleyball Professionals Tour. I offered to handle this client from start to finish as a way to prove myself. I did it, and traveled the country to make sure the sponsorship was a success. I was hired three years ago, after my graduation from Georgetown.
Q: What advice would you give to current students interested in your field?
A: Network. But don’t just spam a thousand people on LinkedIn – actually get to know people and make meaningful connections with them. You can learn a lot from experienced professionals, and you never know what kind of opportunities will arise.
I would recommend students should focus on the long term. You might get offers out of school that promise more money more quickly, but think about your future and be sure to take the job in which you can see yourself advancing down the line. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I was really focused on money when I graduated, but I knew I’d get to where I wanted to be financially with time and hard work. Cutting corners won’t get you there.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of unpaid internships – embrace them. You won’t get anywhere without experience, so sometimes you have to suck it up and eat Ramen Noodles for a few months while you gain that experience.