Major Sports Owners’ Growth Agenda Hinges On Hiring The Right People

Posted by in Steve Moser, USA

Growth was at the top of the agenda for many owners of professional sports teams at the recent Leaders conference in New York and, as SRi’s Steve Moser reports, that growth will only be achieved through hiring the right people.

A panel at the recent Leaders conference in New York laid bare the challenges many professional sports teams around the world face when it comes to getting the right team in place to drive growth.

One key challenged identified for Owners and General Managers alike was being able to keep an eye on the present while simultaneous driving ahead towards the future – without getting bogged down.

Frank McCourt, the former owner of the LA Dodgers and current owner of France’s Olympique de Marseille football club, crystalized the feeling in the room when he said ‘you have to hire the right people and let the experts make the decisions’.

SRi’s Steve Moser spoke with McCourt and Arizona Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway after the panel and found that key staff behind the scenes can be the difference between winning and losing on the field.

SRi’s Steve Moser: You specifically mentioned the key to hiring the right people. What is the process of doing that and what are the challenges?

Frank McCourt: “I’ve learned the hard way. I bought the team (Marseille) part way through the season. Our CEO was very talented but other changes were needed. You need to have people aligned philosophically. You can have the wrong people or the wrong philosophy, but you can’t have both.”

Andrew Barroway, on the hiring of a General Manager: “Hockey is very old school. We made an internal hire who got along with the coach. It was a bold move to go with such a young guy, but it was important for us that the GM and the coach got along and allow the GM to have autonomy.”

Making key hires is critical when rebuilding a senior team that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and Chicago Cubs President, Crane Kenney, is better placed than most to comment on the turnaround the storied franchise.

Kenney said ‘When rebuilding we had to treat it like the organization was a 100 year old startup focusing on strategy, plan, people, and culture’. The result on the field certainly seem to back up his off-field strategy and ethos.

But it was perhaps McCourt who best established the need to ensure the right people are in place to lead an organization that must sink or swim in one of the competitive industries.

McCourt commented that ‘every team’s weakness is exposed when pressure is highest’.

Hiring the right talent is the best possible way to mitigate the risk when pressure is applied.


Steve Moser is based in Scottsdale, AZ and is consultant for SRi, the leading international executive search company specializing in sports.

 From offices in 14 key cities in 10 countries, SRi has worked with some of the biggest teams, sports, and leagues in the world including from Manchester United and AC Milan to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the US Ski and Snowboard Association.

 To find out more about SRi’s capability to deliver winning talent, or to schedule a meeting in Arizona, please contact Steve Moser at