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Kerry Scalora: From College Athlete to Global Partnerships Director at UFC

Kerry Scalora (’17SPS, Sports Management) has always been an avid sports fan. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she played for the soccer team and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. A sports business course she took convinced her to pursue a career in the sports industry and she applied to the Master of Science in Sports Management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Since graduating, she’s taken on a new role as Director of Global Partnerships for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the premium global sports brand and the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world.

What initially attracted you to the Sports Management program at Columbia?

Once I graduated from UPenn, I started working for the Fox Sports Media Group in New York City. Within a few months, I knew that in order to excel within this highly competitive industry, I wanted to learn as much as possible. In researching several sports management and business school programs, Columbia University emerged as my personal favorite. As a fellow Ivy Leaguer, I was quite familiar with the style of rigorous coursework that would be presented, as well as the quality of teaching staff that would challenge me both in and outside of the classroom. Columbia checked all the boxes I was looking for.

What type of skills were you able to build and improve on through the program?

The curriculum takes a 360 degree approach to sports, particularly in covering all facets of the industry that one may find themselves exposed to. With my experience largely stemming from sponsorship sales and marketing, other courses I enrolled in at Columbia helped me broaden my scope. I challenged myself to learn the financial, analytical, and legal sides of the sports business through my coursework as a means to better understand other facets of the industry that didn’t necessarily affect my day-to-day.

How have these skills helped you succeed at your job?

There are several “hats” I wear throughout my business discussions on a daily basis. When speaking with top executives from blue chip brands across the country, I’m challenged to not just communicate our joint marketing vision, but also facilitate the complete execution of such partnership. In building a successful partnership with my prospective clients, I work with the appropriate internal stakeholders to effectively communicate the brands’ vision and marketing goals. Throughout my courses taken at Columbia, on top of my work experience to date, I’ve learned the appropriate skills that are needed to get the job done. My background has prepared me to successfully manage each and every conversation.