Matthew Setlik experience: From EADA to the Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles 2015
The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games will open July 25 in Los Angeles, California. American EADA’s International Master in Finance Matthew Setlik is Sport Services Director for the Games. Matthew maintains a strong relationship with EADA through the Alumni community as well as his current position as associate professor and researcher. He is responsible for researching, developing and designing EADA’s 20-hour ‘Careers in Global Sport Management’ course. According to Matthew, his tenacity and perseverance have been the key to his success. In the following interview, he explains the steps taken to reach this point and reveals his unique take on sports management.
Why did you decide to study an International Master in Finance at EADA?
I decided to pursue a Master’s degree almost a year after I graduated from my undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas. After looking at options in the United States, I decided to expand my search area and started exploring options in Spain, as I also wanted to improve my Spanish. I then discovered EADA and liked the location, profile and the fact that it was well ranked internationally. I chose finance as I felt that no matter what field I settled after my studies, a Master in Finance would translate well and also add value to my professional profile.
How has the Master’s degree from EADA contributed to your professional career and to the development of competencies and skills?
In addition to gaining advanced knowledge in finance, EADA helped to round me out as an individual. I found that being a constantly collaborative environment with so many perspectives helped me to realize the importance of being diplomatic and to have a deeper respect for other people’s opinions. This helped me to become a good manager of personalities, which is definitely helpful in the workplace. Apart from this, the international mix of students at EADA helped me to gain a deeper appreciation of how we are all products of where we grow up and how that influences our perspectives both personally and professionally.
The EADA collaborative environment helped me to become a good manager of personalities, which is definitely helpful in the workplace
In what moment and for what reasons did you decide to get into sport management?
I grew up around sports, as my father owned a boutique agency, Prospex Sports Management, Inc. in Chicago. As a child, I would often travel with him to visit clients and I loved the idea of attending a sporting match as part of a job. As I got older, I started to appreciate the global nature of the industry and how universal sports are across all cultures. Aside from religion and politics, there are very few things that bring people together as sports do; this is very impressive to me.
Tell me about your work at Prospex Sports Management Inc.: How did you get it? What tasks and mission did you develop there? What did you learn at EADA that helped you at Prospex?
Connections are everything in business, and I definitely took advantage of the relationship with my father to get a job at Prospex. Before going away for my undergraduate studies, my father made it clear that if I wanted to join Prospex I would have to learn Spanish. As about 25% of his clients were from Spanish-speaking countries (Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela) he realized the importance of speaking a second language. During my time at Prospex, there was a 50% increase in clients from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. I can attribute part of this increase to skills that I learned at EADA with regards to dealing with an international audience. Collaborating with students from so many countries taught me how to forge strong bonds with people from various walks of life.
Collaborating at EADA with students from so many countries taught me how to forge strong bonds with people from various walks of life
After that, how did you get the current role as director Sport Services for the Special Olympic World Games Los Angeles 2015?
Starting in 2009, I started to do some volunteering with the Special Olympics, as it was a movement that I believed in. After volunteering at various events, I thought about how fulfilling it would be to actually work for this cause and how natural it would be for me considering my background in sport. I found my job listed on the organization’s website and realized it would be a perfect fit. After applying for the job and hearing nothing back at first, I decided to send the Director of Human Resources an email that outlined 10 reasons why I should be hired for the job. Less than a day after sending that, I was in touch and they wanted to set up an interview. This is a perfect example of the need to be creative when applying for jobs so you don’t get lost in the mix with all of the other applicants!
What is your daily work here?
As we get closer and closer to the start of our event –the opening ceremony is July 25– things are getting busier and busier. I oversee a division of the Sport Department, which is one of the centrepieces of our organization. I’m directly in charge of overseeing the strategy relative to recruitment of all 800+ technical officials that will come to the World Games. I also help to establish policies and procedures that will used to make sure that our event goes off as smoothly as possible. Due to my education and experience in finance, I also provide guidance on the Sport Department budget, which is in constant evolution.
What does your role with the Special Olympics World Games represent in your career?
Working at the Special Olympics World Games is a massive step up in responsibility for me. I am acutely aware that almost every decision I make, will greatly affect the experience of the 7,000 athletes from 177 countries that are coming to the World Games. The sheer scope of the project can at times be daunting but I also know that in the end the World Games will have an incredibly positive impact on many people’s lives.
I am acutely aware that almost every decision I make, will greatly affect the experience of the 7,000 athletes from 177 countries that are coming to the World Games
What doors may it open you up?
Working at the Special Olympics World Games has undoubtedly opened quite a few doors for me. Not only have I made many professional connections with co-workers that have incredibly diverse profiles but I have also gained experience in a global non-profit and large events.
Apart from this, in 2013 you became an associate professor at EADA by teaching ‘Careers in Global Sport Management’. What is the most important message or advice you give to your students?
I stress to my students that while working in the sporting industry may appear to be just fun and games, it is much more than that. It is a fast-pasted industry that is rapidly evolving to become big money business. Additionally, I encourage them to try to think outside of the box when it comes to getting a job in the sport business. While the big players (Nike and Adidas in apparel and F.C. Barcelona and Manchester United in teams) are good options, there are other ways to break into the industry (small companies, non-profits, local organizations etc.). I also emphasize the fact that it’s not an easy industry to break into, so they have to be patient if it’s something they really want.
In my classes at EADA I encourage the participants to try to think outside of the box when it comes to getting a job in the sport business
Despite your youth, you have achieved a lot of things in your career. What are your main goals that you have not yet achieved?
Relative to my professional career in the sporting industry, I have two main goals. On one hand, I would love to work for a team that I personally am a fan of. I believe it would give me a whole new perspective on one of my favourite teams and as I know from my job at the Special Olympics, it’s amazing to work for an organization that you believe in 100%! On the other hand, I also really like the idea of permanently joining the higher education sector in an administrative capacity or as a professor. I would love to oversee a sport management program (undergraduate or graduate) and/or teach in a more full-time capacity. Overall, I’d just like to continue challenging myself professionally and learning more everyday.