Before he began his rise in the sports world, New England Revolution President Brian Bilello studied engineering at MIT where he played varsity soccer. Upon graduating, Bilello did not immediately turn to a career in sports as he first worked as a management consultant. It was in that world where he was first exposed to various teams and projects in the athletic universe.
“I quit my job to try and move into sports,’’ Bilello said of his early career. “I had some work in hand when I made the leap – doing analytics to helps team and general managers run their organizations and prepare for drafts.’’
From that first entrée into sports, Bilello was hired by the Kraft Group and he has served the organization in a number of roles. He started in 2003 as director of quality and operational control, where he worked to improve the fan experience across all areas of Gillette Stadium. He has also run both the concessions and retail operations, and has provided strategic advice to the Kraft family on a number of issues related to their sports ventures, in particular, MLS and the Revolution.
Bilello is in his second season as president of the New England Revolution. He previously served as chief operating officer for the team from 2006-2011. As president, Bilello oversees all aspects of the club’s operations, both the team’s business activities – including broadcasting, business development, communications, marketing, special events and ticket sales and service – and its soccer operations and on-the-field product.
Though he has a background as a soccer player and fan, Bilello said that fandom alone is not a good reason to seek out a career in sports.
“When college students ask me for advice, I tell them to look at a sports teams and consider the different types of work that have to be done,’’ he said. “If you don’t like sales, you’re not likely to like sales in the sports world, but, if you’re a sales superstar who can show results, then doing sales in sports might be a good fit.’’
Bilello will be sharing his wisdom on how to break into sports with college students at the Kraft Sports Group’s Executive Lecture and Sport Management and Entertainment Career Fair on Saturday, March 23, at Showcase Live at Patriot Place. The event begins at noon at Showcase Live, and will run until 3:30 p.m. The annual career fair offers current students and prospective employees an opportunity to network and interview with top sports-business professionals from the New England region, including representatives from professional teams and leagues; media consortiums; and entertainment and leisure businesses. Companies attending offer internships and have part-time and full-time positions to fill.
In addition to the companies attending, a panel of sports business experts will also make a one-hour presentation at 12:15 p.m., and then open the floor to questions. The panel is scheduled to include: Bilello, Boston Celtics Director of Ticket Sales Jim Davis, New England Patriots Vice President of Sales Murray Kohl, Major League Soccer Senior Director of Communications Will Kuhns, and Fenway Sports Management Managing Director Mark Lev.
Registration also includes complimentary parking and a ticket to the New England Revolution match against Sporting Kansas City at 4 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. Bilello has some advice for the students who attend both the conference and the game.
“Don’t go to the game as a fan. Go to the game and watch all the work that goes into it. Look at all the people on the field, everyone working in concessions, in parking, and at all the other things it takes to make the game happen,’’ he said. “It’s not about the subject matter – liking sports – it’s about liking the work because you’ll work nights, weekends, and many days in a row. I tell students that if you are the type of person who like to attend a party then a job in sports may not be for you, but, if you are the type of person who likes throwing a party, then, maybe you can have a career in sports.’’
Students can register for the event online at gillettestadium.com or by calling 1-877-GET-REVS. Registration is $25 (before Thursday, March 21), and $35 at the doors on the day of the event.