We are pleased to begin sharing our Grossman alumni spotlight series! Featuring the work and achievements of our Grossman community, these blogs will offer students a chance to see how their business degree can be applied to careers in many industries and many places around the world.
Name: Eric Little
Graduation year: 2007
Major(s) and concentration(s): Business Administration with concentration in Human Resource and Sports Management from the University of Vermont. MBA and Masters in Sports Business Management from the University of Central Florida.
Current company, and location: Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Arizona
Overview of an average day in your position: I oversee a team that focuses on tickets sales and customer service for the Phoenix Suns (NBA), Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), Arizona Rattlers (IFL) and Talking Stick Resort Arena concerts/shows. I directly oversee our retention efforts for season ticket members, while also acting as a liaison between the ticket sales department and business intelligence, ticket operations, marketing and digital.
Identifying Passion and Purpose
I knew that I wanted to make a career for myself in professional basketball from the time I could first bounce a ball. I feel fortunate that this dream has become reality and I owe a great deal of that to my time at the University of Vermont.
Connecting with Faculty
At the end of my freshman year at UVM I switched majors, transferring into the Grossman School of Business and Professor Jim Kraushaar was assigned as my adviser. I didn’t know that one could study sports business but it was during that first meeting with him that I described my passion for it. Despite his academic focus in computer information systems, he always encouraged me to follow my dreams. With his assistance we were able to get creative with my concentration, including studying abroad in London the summer between my junior and senior year while taking sports business classes and visiting stadiums across Europe.
Making it Happen
After graduating from UVM, I went to the University of Central Florida for graduate school to expand my network and to find my fit in the sports industry. I received an MBA and a Master’s in Sports Business Management from the DeVos Program where I worked in The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport doing research on gender and racial hiring practices and graduation rates in professional and college sports. A project I was part of during my last semester led to my first full-time job in sports with the Maine Red Claws, the Boston Celtics NBA G-League team. My primary job was to sell corporate sponsorships, season tickets and group outings. My results over 2.5 years with the Red Claws and a passion for helping grow the careers of others, led to a management role with the Phoenix Suns in May of 2011 and I’ve been with the organization ever since.
Sales to Success
At the beginning of college, I never would have guessed I would be in sales because I hadn’t had much exposure to it. I would encourage more students to consider sales as a path because when you can help drive and generate revenue for a company there will always be a place for you, often with growth opportunities. I was an Advocat tour guide at UVM for three years and I look back on it as some of the best sales experience I’ve ever had – walking backwards in the snow pointing at buildings and answering questions on the fly. My experiences at UVM started the path that has led to a decade in the sports industry and I can proudly say that I love what I do every day.