We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor behind my personal career success and that of our agency, Position Sports, is our reputation of over delivering. As I entered the world of sports business as an undergraduate student intern and volunteer, it seemed every experience and job well done would lead to another. It was a continuous snowball effect of experience, networking and an earned reputation as someone who can deliver beyond expectations. Position Sports, where I lead the team’s communication efforts with clients such as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has been in existence since 2005 and continues to grow in a similar manner. The majority of our clients, including Nike, Red Bull, and USA Basketball, joined our roster through relationships and proven performance, not a traditional RFP pitch.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While I always knew I wanted to work in sports (specifically basketball), I wasn’t sure in what capacity. As an undergrad, I worked as a manager for Arizona State basketball and interned in marketing, sponsorships, activation and events. Upon graduation, I moved to New York City to work for the NBA League Office as an Associate, further allowing me to explore departments through a one year rotational program. I landed in Events full-time and had the privilege of working on high profile events like the NBA Finals and NBA Games in London and China. The job was an absolute dream, especially as a recent college grad, but eventually I figured out it wouldn’t be sustainable for the life and family I’d like to have on the west coast, which had always been home. I returned to Phoenix to work in partnership activation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, managing a small team and delivering contractual assets for multi-million dollar partners. I truly enjoyed my job and being at nearly every home game, as well as community events. Every day brought something new and there’s an unmatched energy of working in arena. But when my first daughter was born, it was time to pivot again.
Enter Position Sports, a relatively small sports marketing firm based in the Phoenix area that does big things on a national and global scale. I joined the team as a communications manager and quickly found the balance my family needed. Office hours were shorter and more flexible, and more than half the staff had young children and could relate to my circumstances. I still get the thrill of being at a major event, like the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, but I’m no longer working dozens of games on nights and weekends.
Simply put, there’s no one job in sports or any industry that’s perfect for every season of life. I’ve learned to take my skills acquired and network of contacts to find the right fit that works for me professionally and personally. As I mentor students and young professionals, I’m cognizant of passing along this message. Not everyone will be a GM or sell tickets and there’s certainly more than one avenue to work in sports.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I always suggest a visit in the spring, especially as our temps warm up and most of the country is still frigid. That being said, a spring training game would be mandatory, as well as a visit to the beautifully renovated arena downtown for a Suns game.
Of course everyone likes to head to Scottsdale, but Downtown Phoenix is really on the rise. There are so many new fun restaurants and bars, in addition to old reliables like Arrogant Butcher and the rooftop at Hotel Palomar.
For kids and a chance to get outside, we love the Phoenix Zoo and any of the splash pads available in the Valley, including the amazing one accompanied by a sand-free playground at Mesa Riverview.
As long as my friend is here for a week, a trip up north to see the Grand Canyon, some breweries in Flagstaff and the red rocks of Sedona sounds like a good idea too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As a student at Arizona State University, I helped to found the Sports Business Association, which led to several experiences and internships that prepared me for my professional career. Now affiliated with the W.P. Carey school of business, the club is regularly recognized as one of the best on campus. Just as the club was a pathway for me to a career in sports business, it continues to open doors for today’s students. I am proud to continue to serve as a mentor and member of the executive board.
From a professional standpoint, I must recognize my mentor, Devney Preuss, President & CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. She is a celebrated woman in business who has played a large part in several mega events held in the state of Arizona over the years. With a background in social work before her career in sports, she has the ability to view things from a variety of lenses whether is be community impact or ROI. As my manager at the Phoenix Suns & Mercury, she willing shared her knowledge and network to the benefit of myself and others.
Personally, none of my career success happens without the support of my husband and mom. A job in sports requires nights, weekends, holidays and travel – none of which is easy with two little kids at home. My husband EJ, who works full-time as an accountant, takes an active role in our household when it comes to chores and the needs of our kids. My mom Trudy has also gone above and beyond to assist with childcare over the years, especially during my business travel. I’m not sure I’d be willing or able to have the career I do, if I didn’t have the peace of mind that my daughters are always being well taken care of.
Basketball Hall of Fame, Nike, Jordan, MLB