Industry Profile: Sports Marketer Mary Walsh
31 Aug, 2012
Job Title: Self-Employed sports marketer, writer
Employer: Gigs with Red Bull, Oakley, and Windells
Years on snow: Since age 14
Days on snow: Counting is for iPhone apps
Currently Riding: Loon and Waterville in New Hampshire whenever I am home, a Rome Lofi Rocker and Oakley goggles and outerwear
Currently I am: in Welches, Oregon for the summer, working for Windells camp for my fourth summer
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Mary: I grew up on the coast of Maine, a place not known for its snowboarding, though a very nice place to grow up. When I was really young, my older step-brother sold his Sega Genesis and all of the games to buy a snowboard, and I resented the snowboard whenever saw it (I really loved Sonic the Hedgehog). Now, I wish I knew what model the snowboard was. After college, I moved to Vermont and was a snowboard coach for the Mount Mansfield Snowboard Club at Stowe/pizza delivery driver/other odd jobs that had nothing to do with my college degree. I started working in snowboarding when I was 20 as an intern at Rome Snowboards and have remained in the industry since then. I moved to New Hampshire a few years ago and love the salty state, its mountains, and community. I spend the winters working, traveling, and running a washed up snowboarding league called WUSR.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Mary: Snowboarding has affected my life in the very dominating way that it does for most people in similar positions. It’s been the catalyst for moves, the reason behind decisions, an inspiration, a curse, and the way that I have met almost all of my closest friends. It’s provided me with an opportunity to see stunning places, have amazing experiences, and learn things that continue to make me incredibly excited.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Mary: When I was a junior in college I blind-emailed Rome Snowboards to ask if I could be an intern. Perhaps things were less competitive back then and miraculously they let come hang out and work for them. I spent the summer living in Stowe and then, once the school year started, commuted to Vermont one day a week to continue my internship. I was 100% green at the time and Josh, Paul, Sully, and the entire Rome crew really gave me the opportunity to learn a ton. Through seeing how dedicated everyone in the company was, with their willingness to work hard for long hours, I honed my work ethic and met people who would hire me down the road. Josh Reid also told me that it doesn’t matter what you major in during college, you can do anything you would like, and honestly, to a senior in college, having someone successful actually tell you that is really inspiring and motivating. After I graduated college, through the tight-knit snowboard community in Vermont, I met Dave Rule, who worked for Red Bull at the time. He brought me into that company and that opened up a lot of opportunities for me.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Mary: I have a degree in Film, which is great for discussing movies with friends, but doesn’t have much direct correlation to my current work, except that I wrote a ton in college within that major. The best thing I did during college was the internship—it gave me experience and a realistic view of the snow industry. Working for Red Bull has provided a fantastic base for any and all marketing I have done with other brands, and I value that a ton. Red Bull is very specific about how they want the brand to look, so, although it might make me pedantic at times, I think that my experience working for such a well-marketed brand has shaped the way I look at all marketing projects for the best. Other than that, just working for all of these companies and seeing everyone pitch in and contribute, whether the task was big or small, fun or annoying, is a big part of my work philosophy.
Shay: Tell us about your freelancing and a description of the work you do?
Mary: I work freelance, which gives me the opportunity to work with a bunch of really great brands and really amazing people. In the summer, I work on the snowboard marketing side of Windells, spending equal amounts of time on the mountain, at my computer, and running around campus. I organize programming, facilitate visiting athletes, manage pr and social media, and write a lot. In the other seasons, I work for Red Bull consulting and managing snowboard events, and for Oakley coaching a women’s snowboard camp called Oakley Progression Sessions. In between those large projects, I write as much as I can and do smaller-scale event management and consulting. The variety of work provides a lot of excitement and travel, but once the snow falls I am working flat out until May. No complaints though, I love what I get to do!
Shay: If you had to make up a job title that most accurately described what you REALLY do, what would it be?
Mary: Computer + Mountains + Concrete = Freelance
Shay: Describe the craziest day/moment you’ve had at your job?
Mary: Man, I don’t know what would be the craziest moment or day. In running events, even grassroots ones, things can get pretty hectic. Murphy’s Law is prevalent in event work and things can get crazy very quickly, but that’s part of the fun, trying to troubleshoot any problem that comes up. The most exciting job recently that I have had, was working as part of the announcing crew at the 2012 US Open. Thinking on my feet and trying to be as entertaining and smooth as possible was ridiculously exciting for me—tons of adrenaline. I also got to work with a incredibly talented crew of people, which I was very thankful for, which included two awesome loudmouths, Nelson Wormstead and Jonathan Weaver. They’re so good on the mic.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Mary: There’s way too many that I have had to even attempt to list. I have had amazing powder days in new places, traveled and ridden with my best friends, stayed up all night prepping for the next day’s event and then worked until the next night, taken local riders up onto the mountain on snowmobiles to run a contest when the weather is crappy, brought a grassroots Red Bull event to a town outside Philadelphia and experienced snowboarding in a way I hadn’t before, of course being at Mount Hood in the summertime is something I would recommend to anyone. Most recently, being a part of OPS has been really rewarding, getting to meet and snowboard with women who love riding so much and helping to make their daily experiences even better…I’ve learned so much and had so much fun every day.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Mary: There’s a lot of challenges facing the industry today, especially considering the poor weather last year, but I suppose something that is important to me is the opportunities that women have, both within the industry and as consumers. Women in ads, women’s product, women’s events, I think there are some great things happening for females—I have been so impressed with Oakley’s commitment to female snowboarders (Jenny Earnshaw, Liesl Holtz, Bryan Shelton and crew are amazing!), and while I know that ladies are the minority in the snowboard community, I still look forward to the evolution of even more products and gear that women are really stoked on, getting more women in the park, and opportunities that allow women working within snowboarding to connect with one another. No offense the guys, they’re great, too, but the possibilities for women’s marketing, programming, and role in snowboarding is exciting.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Mary: Honestly, work harder than you think you can and contribute in every aspect of your job, not just the glamorous parts. Sometimes taking out the garbage or picking stickers needs to get done and it helps out your team. Pitching in is huge. If you’re in school still, internships are very valuable. And, be nice to people. That’s important.
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