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Alumni Gazette: Michael Goldstein ’01

Steps to SuccessAs told to Jim Mandelaro

A rising executive offers lessons from working with some of the leading names in the international sporting world.

As Mastercard’s vice president and head of sponsorships for North America, Michael Goldstein ’01 includes Major League Baseball and the PGA

Tour among his highest-profile partnerships. Last year, he was named to Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2019, which recognizes executives under the age of 40 who are shaping an industry.

Goldstein majored in psychology and served as sports editor for the Campus Times at Rochester before landing a production assistant’s job at ESPN out of college, working himself up to associate producer. He has 18 years of experience as a global marketing, sponsorship, and media professional in the sports and entertaining industry, joining Mastercard in 2012.

The Boston native shares five lessons of his approach to business. Build your network. You never know when you’ll run across someone again, so make sure you foster and nurture a strong network. I was on Mastercard’s agency side for three years before moving to the brand side at LG Electronics. But I stayed in touch with my former Mastercard clients, and two years later, one of them reached out about a position at Mastercard.

I’ve been here ever since.

Do your homework. Whether it’s for a presentation, pitch, meeting, or interview, show that you’ve done work upfront. Salespeople pitch me things all the time, and you can tell many don’t know what Mastercard sponsors or what’s going on with our brand. They haven’t done any background research, and it’s never a good look. Make sure you read up on who you’re meeting, be it via LinkedIn or the public domain. It will make a good impression when it becomes clear you’ve put in the time to learn about the company, person, or situation.

Find your expertise. It’s important to look at the big picture and how you can become an expert in a certain topic or build a variety of skills. Even though I knew I wanted to get into the business side of the sports and entertainment world via sponsorships, I still earned my MBA (at the University of Massachusetts) because I thought the more general business overview would be more useful moving forward. And it has been.

Think long term. What are your goals, and how will you achieve them? Ask yourself hard questions about your overall situation coming out of school or when looking for a job. Where would you move? Are family considerations at play? Is it worth taking a less-than-ideal job for a few years if it sets you up to get your dream job down the road? You can’t predict the future, but you can make good decisions based on the information you have.

Pay it forward. If you seek out mentors to help you along the way, remember that when young people are asking for a few minutes of your time. It’s easy to ignore an email, an alumni event, or a phone call. But it’s important to remember how helpful you can be to younger people in the work force. A few tips, insights, or some of your time can really help someone.