Alumni Interview - Meet this week our AMOS alumni Arnaud Sivignon, who graduated from an International masters in 2018
It is a pleasure to connect with you today, Arnaud. Can you share with us a bit of your academic background?
Likewise, it’s always a pleasure to connect with AMOS! Sure! After high school, I did a bachelor’s degree in business development at ESCEM in Orleans, France. During this programme, I had the option to get some experience abroad which I did. First, I went to Barcelona, Spain, for an internship of 4 months to increase my Spanish level. Then, I decided to do an Erasmus exchange between my second and third year which took me to Budapest, Hungary, for a year. These two experiences have proven to be great on many angles; it helped me obtain great language skills in English and Spanish, but it also helped me to become more autonomous and mature, living on my own in different countries and cultures. After graduating from my bachelor’s degree, I decided to join AMOS to specialise in the Sports industry. I did my 1st year of Masters in Bordeaux and decided to move to London for the 2nd year. It was an obvious decision to me given the fact that London is the capital of sports in Europe with so many events taking place there and institutions having their headquarters based there. It was also the opportunity to keep pushing on the international angle, improve my English and create a good network for myself.
While studying for your master’s degree at AMOS, what were the fundamental values you learned when applying your skillset into the sports industry?
The Sports industry is unique! First, it is an attracting industry to work especially when you are so passionate about sports. However, it is quite a small industry, and the competition is huge. You must fight hard to get where you want to get because there will always be more applicants than opportunities. Sport is all about competition and that is what it takes to achieve goals, you must do the extra mile, prove that you are worth it, and above all that you have that added value the others do not have.
Following your end-of-studies internship at the International Tennis Federation in London, you landed with your first job there. You have been working there for three years now; can you tell us a bit more about it?
I went through different stages within my time at the ITF. Like you are saying, I started as an intern thanks to the ITF great networking job. The ITF was looking for an intern in their Commercial department who could speak English, French and Spanish. They offered me an internship, two temporary contracts back-to-back, and finally a full-time contract. It has been a very rewarding three years’ experience. My title today is Commercial Coordinator and I oversee the Sponsorship Sales around different properties across the business, but mainly the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly called Fed Cup), which represents the World Cup of Women’s tennis. I have the chance to work in a great team which has given me a lot of responsibilities quickly and this has given me the opportunity to work across various markets around the world, increasing my skills in sponsorship and partnership sales. I have also been given some responsibilities within the TV team which lead me to go on a few trips around the world, meeting a lot of people from the tennis industry and learning some new skills in a field in which I did not have much knowledge. This also opened another opportunity: teaching. I have been lecturing Sport Broadcasting for the last 2 years now.
What does the organisation of the ITF represent, and what does the future ambition hold for the company?
The International Tennis Federation represents the international governing body for tennis and work with 210 National Associations worldwide. It includes Pro circuits, Juniors, Seniors, Wheelchair and Beach Tennis. The ambition of the ITF is to deliver tennis for future generations and to keep increasing the tennis participation around the world. The ITF is also responsible for the Women’s World Cup of Tennis (Billie Jean King Cup) and the Men’s World Cup of Tennis (Davis Cup). Both events have recently been through some changes and, especially for the Billie Jean King Cup, which we very much look forward to seeing the results of our efforts over the last couple of years. There are different pillars that represent strong areas of focus for the years to come such as Gender Equality. The Women’s World Cup of Tennis has recently been through a couple of big changes (its format and its branding) to make it the biggest and wealthiest women’s team competition in the world. It is a great competition to work on as we are promoting women’s sports and gender equality, which is a very important topic and a story I am proud to be part of. Then, the ITF is in the middle of its digital migration and is working a lot in that direction. The digital area has been taking more and more importance throughout the years and the pandemic has accelerated that migration.
You started as an intern and now you are a Commercial Coordinator and TV Broadcast, hence can you explain what were the fundamental values that influenced your sports career development?
I think it is essential to keep our eyes wide open and to be curious. In all transparency, I never thought I would work in tennis because it was never my favourite sport but look at me now… Furthermore, when you get an internship or when you are hired in a company, you have to be ready to show your hunger, your motivation to learn and you must get involved in as many projects as possible to expand your skills and knowledge. I never thought I would be involved in TV broadcasting and I found myself working with some of the best tennis players in the world such as Simona Halep and Serena Williams, working on the organisation of press conferences and player interviews. Luck has a role to play but you must spark it. Other important values and ideas to help you develop your career are: availability, accountability, creativity, ambition…
I appreciate there is no such thing as a regular day working in sport. However, could we hear about what your role looks like on a day-to-day basis as well as telling us about some of the impacts you have made?
Nowadays, my role is very much sales related. I have the responsibility to look for new partners around our competitions, and I like I said above, mainly with the Billie Jean King Cup which is our biggest competition. I take care of the sales process from A to Z: strategy, market research, company and contact sourcing, sales presentation meetings, negotiations, and contracts. I have an annual target to achieve, and this is my role to organise my day-to-day activities as I like to achieve those targets. We work very much as a team at the ITF but having the lead on the sales side is a huge responsibility that I am proud to have. I am also managing one of our global partners daily, being their main point of contact, making sure that the rights they are entitled to are respected. I am trying to maintain a great relationship with them and to be available and accountable for them. Account management is a very good experience in parallel of the sales angle.
Every aspect of sport has been affected these last months with the global health crisis. How has the pandemic impacted your business, and what positives have you taken away from this experience?
The pandemic obviously has had an enormous impact on the tennis industry and events. Most of our events were cancelled in 2020. Tennis players travel a lot from a tournament to another and it is an individual sport. I think the positives we can take from that experience is that we had to step back and adapt in order to find ways to achieve our objectives differently, and digital had a big role to play. We have always put a lot of focus on event partnerships, but this time and we had to look at wider opportunities. This is where digital started to be a strong area of focus for us in terms of partnership sales.
What does the future hold for you?
We never know what the future holds, and this is what keeps us on our toes! I am ambitious and I want to keep getting more and more experience and responsibilities. I am focused on my role at the ITF and will keep doing my best to help the team reach its objectives. One day it will be time to move to a new challenge, maybe in a new sport, maybe in a new industry, maybe in a new country as well. I am not closing any doors and it has always proven to be the right thing to do for me. I think we should always bear in mind that it is essential to get out of our comfort zone in order to progress.
Reflecting on this interview and your sports career, what advice would you give our AMOS students looking to break into the sports industry?
The first advice I would like to give to the students, and they might have heard it many times already, is to work on their network. Nowadays, having a strong network around yourself is key and AMOS is giving you that opportunity. Show the best of yourself to the different professionals of the industry you meet and keep in touch with them! LinkedIn is a great example and an amazing resource to network: make the most of it. I would also like to tell the students to keep their eyes wide open on opportunities. You may not start with the job of your dreams straight away and you might change your mind. I never thought I would work in tennis and now I am grateful for that experience and I have been enjoying it a lot so far. As explained above, there is a lot of competition in this industry and therefore students must do the extra mile to get where they want to get to, they must show that they are eager, they need to be curious and creative. As already mentioned, international experiences are key in my opinion. Reaching a good level of English and other languages is always going to be a plus and it will make a difference on their profile. They will be useful professionally but also for your professional development.
Thanks Arnaud, for taking the time to discuss with us today. Do you have a last word to share to conclude this interview?
I would like to wish good luck to all the students in these difficult times. I know that this is a hard period to find internships and to have openings in the industry but keep pushing, do not give up and opportunities will arise.