Collaboration and TRUE partnership, increases brand awareness, sales and overall affinity. It fascinates me to see that two logos together, can trigger an action or, importantly, a purchase.
Head of Corporate Partnerships, Sports & Entertainment
MGM Resorts International
The interview with Brette Sadler was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role as Global Head of Corporate Partnerships for MGM Resorts International. What does a typical day look like for you?
What I love about my role, is that every day brings something new. A new opportunity, challenge, or relationship. Our role is to generate revenue by integrating brands into the MGM enterprise, including the WNBA Las Vegas Aces, that increase traffic, improve our customer experience, and bring innovative solutions to our business. We research brands that complement our company values, or specific property values, and create custom programs that meet their business objectives.
Once a partner of MGM, our Activation team manages strategy, fulfillment and execution.
While a lot of our time is focused on bringing in partners, it’s equally important to respect and learn how to navigate the MGM machine and ensure that programs are communicated and implemented across several internal stakeholders and business units. Our team also leads efforts for the company’s VIP and Group Ticket Sales to over 37 venues, and more than 9,000 live events.
Tell us about this role as WISE Las Vegas President. What enticed you to get involved with WISE and how do you find balance between WISE and MGM?
Editor’s note: WISE (short for Women in Sports and Events) is the leading voice and resource for professional women in the business of sports. Our unique vision empowers WISE to celebrate and connect emerging and established women leaders, to promote one another in career growth and continue to change the face of our industry.
I was a member of WISE Atlanta (2005-2011) when I was working in the Octagon Atl office. I had a great experience with that chapter and met lifelong friends.
The networking, exposure and value I received was something I immediately wanted to bring to Las Vegas. Once I got settled in Las Vegas, a counterpart at UFC, who was previously a member of the NY Chapter, I decided it was a great opportunity to start this amazing group here.
With Las Vegas being the entertainment capital of the world, and the addition of the WNBA LV Aces, NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, MiLB Las Vegas Aviators, USL Las Vegas Lights and now the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, it was a no-brainer. Vegas has an abundance of talent and it’s a small town and close-knit industry. I have an outstanding Board of Directors and Committee Chairs that are just as passionate about sports and events, as we are about empowerment and helping other women in the industry.
The WISE Las Vegas Chapter members are the same friends and colleagues that you would want to spend time with anyway, so our events and outings have generated friendships, business opportunities and tons of networking. Almost every WISE member, across North America (25+ chapters), has the same vision and commonality… to empower women in the business of sports.
Your previous roles have mostly been connected to marketing/partnerships – Marketing Partnerships with the Florida Panthers, VP of Global Partnership Activation with the UFC and now, Global Head of Corporate Partnerships at MGM – what led you in this direction, how did you figure out this was your fit?
Early on in my career, I realized that I enjoyed developing and building relationships. When I was a student intern at University of Miami Athletics Department, I met a core group of ‘Canes Sponsors and when I landed at the Panthers, I had already cultivated relationships with many of the same partners. I was a familiar face at a team that was selling hockey in a sunbelt market. I had learned the foundation of partnership marketing in an extremely competitive market.
While it’s imperative to understand your own business (Florida Panthers, UFC, The Home Depot, and MGM), it was even more exciting to me to learn how to leverage our business to successfully drive someone else’s. I was intrigued to understand how to sell a car, or a case of beer, or a can of soda, I was able to use my tools to impact another industry. Collaboration and TRUE partnership, increases brand awareness, sales and overall affinity. It fascinates me to see that two logos together, can trigger an action or, importantly, a purchase.
I also learned very early, that being a revenue generator is vital for growth and development. Marketing Partnerships is a delicate balance of driving revenue, developing new opportunities, creativity and relationship building.
Ultimately, people do business with people they trust. Some of the clients from 1993 are still clients, friends and colleagues of mine today. At the end of the day, you are YOUR brand, and that stays with you forever.
I’d imagine working at MGM Resorts International is different than the previous organizations you’ve worked for – how does it differ from those other environments?
MGM Resorts International is vastly different from my previous organizations. The Florida Panthers and UFC were small teams and most of us lived, day in, day out, to the event schedule. Long hours, travel, tight deadlines, quick pivots and reacting to “field of play” and athlete ebbs and flows was the norm.
While at Octagon, ‘agency-life’ life provided me with invaluable experience on strategy, research, insights and evaluating opportunities from a third-party point of view. Working on The Home Depot business exposed me to a new side of “why partnership marketing”. I missed the adrenaline of being part of a live event, but without this perspective, I know my journey would be different.
UFC’s global footprint really prepared me for MGM and being a part of a massive company with so many moving parts. While the Marketing Partnerships function is the same throughout my career, the challenge is to share that vision, integrate into existing business models and adjust to new cultures. This is why I love what I do. It’s never the same and there’s always something to learn.
What are some tools that you and your team use to identify and develop new business opportunities for MGM?
MGM is one of the largest customers for so many companies, so we are working closely with internal business units to grow with brands that we already do business with. Additionally, Las Vegas, and MGM specifically, provides a smart alternative to top DMAs markets for product launches, stunts and takeovers, so we work closely with agencies and their clients looking to sample, test or introduce a product or experience to thousands of people in a relatively small footprint.
We have an innovative team and an ideal platform to create unique, one of kind experiences. We have an infinite number of assets and touchpoints, globally, so that provides us with a great deal of flexibility.
How do you measure the success of a partnership? Additionally, how do you ensure the partnership will have payoff for all parties involved?
It’s imperative to have clear objectives and metrics to guide the partnership. Not only in the proposal stage but especially in the strategy and execution of the programming. Day-to-day touch points, timelines and open communication channels are keys to success for all parties. Success if defined in many ways, so alignment, across all parties must be openly shared and understood.
Adjustments to assets throughout a partnership, in an effort to hit key markers or milestones, is essential. We have to be vested in our partner’s business, understand it and in turn, propose solutions to meet their goals. Input and buy-in from internal stakeholders truly makes the partnership exceed goals and expectations. Inclusion from other stakeholders is another key factor. When all spokes in the wheel are turning, from ops to security, to finance and legal, retail to marketing, it takes a team to successfully deliver on an integrated partner.
Finally, what advice do you have for people out there to help them find their passion and pursue it with everything they have, particularly angled towards the sport industry?
Finding what you are most passionate about is critical. So much of your time is spent working, you must love what you are doing and who is by your side.
Be true to you, your brand, your beliefs and your ethics. If something doesn’t feel right in your gut, it’s not. Surround yourself with others that lead with similar values.
Look for something that continues to challenge you. Learn from others: executives, interns, managers, counterparts; as well as, legal, operations, technology, the experts in their field.
As you continue on your journey, note the good and the bad, how those actions make you feel and then take those lessons with you as you grow.
SHOW UP! BE SEEN! Go the extra mile. People will notice. Executives will notice. In turn, they will reach out to those who are reliable and eager to lend a hand, come in early and stay late. Offer to help on projects that might not be in your wheelhouse. Grow your arsenal of tools.
Network and nurture relationships. You will find people along the way that will influence you for years to come. Keep in touch…birthdays, work anniversaries, milestones and successes
Create your personal Board of Directors: people in your circle of trust that serve and challenge you.
Hayley's Final Thoughts
Brette Sadler’s career growth has had many different facets. From the University of Miami to the Florida Panthers to the Octagon to the UFC to MGM Resorts International, Brette has accomplished and been a part of many great things, including one of my favorites – her advocacy for women in sport. Currently, she is the Women in Sports and Events, Inc (WISE) Las Vegas President where she empowers women within the business of sports. As a woman in sport myself, I admire this initiative. Women like Brette help other women succeed in the sports industry. With her vision and drive, I know she’ll continue to not only be an amazing role model for women in sports but also an advocate for change.