SportsPro's virtual conference series
Gathering leading experts to discuss the most important topics facing the business of sports.
Attendees will get free access to SportsPro’s unrivalled network and hear first-hand how the industry’s disruptors have overcome their challenges. Each session is free to attend and will go deeper than any virtual event has before, addressing subjects such as engaging Gen-Z, sports investment, monetising consumption, diversity & inclusion, esports, matchday experience and much more.
Keep your eyes peeled for our next series of virtual events coming in 2021.
Insider Series in numbers
Diego A. Suarez
Head of Global Brand Marketing
A CPA by trade, Diego Suarez worked at Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers prior to joining Burger King’s finance department in 2010. Suarez spent five years counting Whoppers before coming to the ad side in 2015. Since then, he brought “The King” out of retirement to appear with Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, Triple Crown-winning horse trainer Bob Baffert and Cheetos spokescat “Chester Cheetah,” and he reunited Napoleon Dynamite with Pedro to help sell Cheesy Tots.
Diego is part of the team that has propelled Burger King’s marketing efforts and Burger King became Client of the Year at the D&AD in 2016, Creative Marketer of the Year in Cannes 2017, Client of the Year at the One Show 2018, Advertiser of the Year at the Clio Awards 2018 and Creative Brand of the Year in Cannes 2019. More recently Diego has worked on campaigns such as “Google Home of the Whopper”, “Bullying Jr”, “Whopper Neutrality”, “Turning Their Tweets Against them”, “Promposal” ,“Whopper Detour”, “Stevenage”, “Moldy Whopper” and “Cows’s Menu”.
Spurs Sports and Entertainment
RC Buford was named CEO of Spurs Sports and Entertainment in July of 2019, leading the business operations for each of the sports franchises owned and operated by Spurs Sports & Entertainment – the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), Austin Spurs (NBA G League) and San Antonio FC (USL Championship), as well as the operations of the AT&T Center and Toyota Field. Prior to being named CEO, Buford held the role of president of sports franchises for SS&E from 2008-19 and served as the general manager of the Spurs while overseeing the sports administration for the other three teams in the SS&E family. He has twice been named the NBA’s executive of the Year in 2014 and 2016. Buford started his professional career as an assistant coach at the University of Kansas in 1983, and during each of his five seasons at Kansas the Jayhawks participated in the NCAA Tournament. Buford was on the coaching staff for the team that won the 1988 NCAA Championship as well as the 1985–86 squad that advanced to the Final Four. He made the move to the NBA in the summer of 1988, joining the Spurs as an assistant coach on Larry Brown’s staff (other assistants on that staff included Gregg Popovich, Alvin Gentry and Ed Manning) and spent four seasons as an assistant with the Spurs. During that time San Antonio won back-to-back Midwest Division titles (1990 and 1991). Buford joined the Los Angeles Clippers in the summer of 1992 as the first assistant for Coach Brown, and then served as an assistant coach at the University of Florida during the 1993–94 season (as the team advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history). He returned to San Antonio in the summer of 1994 when Popovich hired him as the team’s head scout, and in the summer of 1997 became the Spurs director of scouting. Buford was then promoted to vice president/assistant general manager in the summer of 1999 and was named the Spurs general manager in July of 2002. Buford played collegiate basketball at Texas A&M University and Oklahoma State before receiving his degree from Friends University. He is involved in the NBA Basketball Without Borders Africa camp and in 2015 became an Advisory board member for Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics (COLE) at Duke University. He also serves on the Board of Directors of PeacePlayers International. Buford’s wife, Beth, is a former player on the LPGA Tour. Together, they are active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). They have a son, Chase, and a daughter, C.C. In 2004 they welcomed Alexis Wangmene from Cameroon to their family after meeting through the Basketball Without Borders program in Johannesburg. In 2007, Samer Jassar from Israel joined the Buford family after being introduced through PeacePlayers International.
Chief Transformation Officer
Michael Sutherland is the Chief Transformation Officer at Real Madrid, which is consistently ranked as the highest earning european football club and is one of the most valuable sports brands in the world. Prior to Real Madrid, Michael was the Director of Virtual Reality and Director of Product and Design for Emerging Technologies at HP Inc in Silicon Valley. He has been an active angel investor, founder and advisor in early stage companies and has led the growth and commercialization of technology startups in Silicon Valley. He is a global technology leader and expert in corporate innovation and commercialization of new technology products.
National Women's Soccer League
Lisa Baird, Commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), oversees all operations for the NWSL with a focus on growing revenues and audience while elevating the profile of the league globally. Baird joined the NWSL in March 2020 from New York Public Radio (NYPR), where she served as the Chief Marketing Officer for more than a year. Prior to NYPR, Baird spent a decade as the Chief Marketing Officer at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. During her tenure with the USOPC, Baird played the leading role securing broadcast, sponsorship and licensing deals and launched the iconic Team USA brand. She became the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Licensing for the National Football League (NFL) in 2005 and continued to grow the most commercially successful sports league in the United States, directing the NFL’s consumer products, entertainment marketing and advertising programs. She was named the 2011 WISE Woman of the Year for making a significant impact on the business of sports and was recognized in the 2011 Sports Business Journal’s inaugural class of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.” More recently, she was named to the 2016 Business Insider TOP 50 Most Innovative Global CMO’s and most recently in 2019 as an OpCon Top 50 Marketer.
Founder and owner of SweetSpot and formally in charge of Investor and Corporate relations at Carphone Warehouse. SweetSpot are a sports events, marketing and media company specialising in the creation and execution of high-quality, annual sporting events headlines by the Tour of Britain – the UK’s most prestigious men’s cycle race – and The Women’s Tour, part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour.
Hugh is committed to showcasing Britain as a country that supports equal opportunities for investment and growth in professional road cycling.
Denise Lewis OBE
Commonwealth Games England
Denise Lewis OBE is an accomplished presenter, broadcaster, former athlete and President of Commonwealth Games England. The former Gold Medal winning heptathlete, who holds the second highest number of points scored by a British Heptathlete, has gone on to secure a successful broadcast career. Since her retirement from Athletics, Denise has undertaken an array of television work including commentating on high profile athletics events and fronting shows such as BBC’s Secret Britain and Right on the Money.
Denise is one of the “golden girls” of British athletics, winning gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and subsequently being inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011. Denise has twice been runner-up in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards (in 1998 and 2000) and was also honoured with an OBE in the 2000 New Year Honours.
Call of Duty League
Johanna Faries serves as Commissioner of Call of Duty League for Activision Blizzard, Inc., overseeing league and business operations across Call of Duty’s global esports presence. In addition, Faries is a senior leader advisor to Activision’s African-American, Black & Friends Employee Network.
A veteran of the sports world, Faries was previously at the National Football League for 12 years in New York City, prior to joining Activision Blizzard Inc. in 2018. Faries is a trailblazer in the sports community and has been recognized on Adweek’s Most Powerful Women in Sports list and Fortune’s most influential young business leaders on the annual 40 Under 40.
A graduate of Harvard University, she was a recipient of a Senior Leadership Award for being a “face of excellence at Harvard”. Faries grew up a multi-sport athlete in Potomac, Maryland, has lived abroad in both Israel and the Dominican Republic, and is also a professional singer-songwriter. She resides with her husband and two sons in Palos Verdes Estates, CA.
Chief Brand Officer
Stephanie McMahon is Chief Brand Officer of WWE, a publicly-traded (NYSE: WWE) global media company. In this role, she is responsible for WWE’s Brand, Community Relations, and Pop Culture strategy, which includes celebrity integrations and partnerships within the entertainment industry. Stephanie represents the company as its global brand ambassador, and also plays a character who appears regularly on WWE programming.
Among her many contributions, Stephanie has been the driving force behind WWE’s women’s evolution, which has given female performers an equal share of the spotlight both in and out of the ring. Prior to being named Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie was Executive Vice President, Creative and was responsible for overseeing the Digital and Creative Departments. She was also the first woman to lead WWE’s Talent Relations, Talent Brand Management and Live Events businesses.
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