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William Norton, Director & Full Time Faculty Lecturer - University of Massachusetts (Interview)

An excerpt from the interview of William Norton - a passionate sports management professional with 14 years of experience across a range of dynamic thought leaders in the sports business world: STATS, Epsilon, Boston Celtics and UMass Amherst's #1 ranked Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management.

Q) UMass has put a partnership together with an Institute in India and that's fantastic for aspiring students, as well as executives who want to learn a little bit more. How did this deal come about? How did you make the decision and how's it going so far? What does the future hold with this relationship?

A) Sports is such a small world. Neel Shah is someone who has become a close friend of mine and someone who I deeply believe in, in terms of someone who understands what purposeful, intentional and meaningful sports education means.

"It's not just about connecting with someone on LinkedIn or putting a logo on your resume or claiming to have some sort of subset of skills that are marketable. It's really about growing relationships."

I think he's building that from the ground up with GISB (Global Institute of Sports Business), which is something that was very apparent to me early on. He came through a secondhand connection of a current graduate student of ours. He said, “I know this guy and he's starting something cool in India. I know that you're fairly entrepreneurial, so why don't you guys just get on a phone call?”

We started talking about his seminal moments of his career and it was just very funny and fortuitous how he had really been influenced by a lot of UMass alumni throughout his career and he said, you know, I'm really looking to just understand where your center adds value and so we started an organic conversation, and we met a couple of times.

I actually came out to Mumbai last year to teach at the program, see what their campus was like, see what kind of quality, what students they were building from with that first-year cohort and just get a sense of what their value exchange was.

I think that when we look at the McCormack Center if we're going to be thought leaders and we're going to work with institutes that are trying to further themselves, we need a sort of apples-to-apples partner that sees what we bring, but also is trying to create their own voice and is creating their own identity and is doing so from a place of strength. India on Track offers that as the parent or overseeing company within GISB and it just felt like a no-brainer to me. We had faculty who are very passionate about looking at India as a sporting market and really trying to be a value-added partner there.

We basically certify three Master's level modules within their program. We're teaching a portion of their program, but they're also doing a lot of things on their own, with their own instructors and people from the Indian sports ecosystem that are teaching, which I thought was really unique. We were excited about it. This is year one for us with them. Obviously, COVID-19 has impacted our travel out there. We were there in January, teaching a module and it's an agreement that in the next few years we're definitely enthusiastic about developing the future leaders of the Indian sports market.

The goal is not to have students trained at GISB and then go elsewhere to work. We're very passionate about creating folks who are going to stay and use the program and what we offer academically, and our network, to formulate some of the pain points of the industry. How do we fix some of those? Some of the disorganization or some of the things that need to be better managed, how do we push that ball down the field a little bit?

India is a very unique market and as a subcontinent has a ton of challenges and also a lot of opportunities that the US does not. It's something we learn from and if we look back in five years and say, we were able to train up 200 plus people, a good chunk of whom are still working and managing in India, I think that would be a win.


To watch the complete interview, please click here

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