Kelly Johnson, MBA ’02, credits her time at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center as instrumental in the development of her career at ESPN. Since 2002, the alumna has served in various market research roles at the sports media company. She recently took the time to speak with us about what she’s doing now.
Describe your current position and role.
I’m currently vice president of TV, audio, and cross-platform research at ESPN. I like to describe what we do as “business intelligence.” My team and I provide data and insights to people around the company to help them make smarter decisions. Our research provides critical insights into general media behaviors and how our fans consume ESPN across our many platforms. We are specifically responsible for TV, cross-platform, audio, multicultural, distribution, and marketing research.
How has your Warsaw Center experience shaped your professional career?
First and foremost, I got my role with ESPN by making a contact within the company during an MBA experiential trip to New York City. But beyond that, my time at the Warsaw Center and the projects that I was involved with helped me think beyond the problem in front of me and focus on the bigger picture. This allowed me to find solutions that reached beyond just the issue at hand and discover connections that would otherwise go unseen. Another invaluable skill was gaining the confidence to speak up and share my perspective. I use this skill every day. I’ve been able to advance my career at ESPN by looking beyond my specific role and seeing where needs were not being met and then raising my hand to take on the challenge of filling those gaps.
What key business trends are you following right now?
My every day is focused on the way the media landscape is changing, and trying to keep up with the consumer. I’ve been with ESPN since 2002. We were a much different business then and the pace of change was extremely slow. At ESPN our mission is to “Serve Sports Fans. Anytime. Anywhere.” To do that, we need to keep an eye on where our consumers are going, what they want, and how they are using content. In addition, we need to work with our partners to measure this consumption across all platforms.
What is your favorite social media platform for personal use and what social media platform is best for your business purposes?
I’m a light user of Facebook and Twitter. I mostly use them to see what friends and family are up to or what people are saying about the Ducks. For business purposes, one size really doesn’t fit all. Each social media platform is different, and when our fans use them, they are doing so for different reasons. We need to be sure that we are speaking to the fan in an authentic way that makes the most sense for each platform.
What do you miss most about Eugene?
Wow, where to start? I miss the people that I was in school with—both undergraduate and MBA. We may be Facebook friends, but we don’t get together often enough. I haven’t been to a football game at Autzen in years, and I’ve never been to a basketball game at Matt Court. The campus just keeps growing and improving. I actually miss the weather—I’ll never get used to the humidity in the Northeast. Oh, and Track Town BBQ chicken pizza!
—As told to Whitney Wagoner, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center