The Rising 25 Class of 2019, presented by AB InBev, represents some of the brightest young professionals in the sports industry. Over the next several weeks, we’re proud to introduce you to this year’s winners and highlight some of their achievements to date.
Today, meet Ryan Olli: Coordinator of Licensing and Business Development for the NFL Players Association and REP Worldwide. Olli is a graduate of North Carolina State University and of Georgetown University’s Sport Industry Management Master’s program.
From a very young age, Olli hoped to one day build a career in sports and support the efforts of professional athletes. Recently, Olli took the next step in this career path with being able to join REP Worldwide: a full-service representation business founded by NFL Players Inc. that provides group licensing services for organizations like the United States Rugby Players Association, the United States Women’s National Team Players, and the WNBPA.
Working in close quarters with many of the world’s most successful athletes has taught Olli that a successful career in sports must be a balance of professionalism and fun.
“I think the biggest misconception about working in sports is that athletes are ‘larger than life.’ Yes, athletes have incredibly unique talents that have led them to a career boys and girls across the world dream for. But even if they’re role models for you, you can’t stan over them, they are real people – just like you and me.”
READ MORE: Meet the Rising 25: Olivia Witherite of MASN
A strong work ethic has helped Olli get to this point in his career. He credits his mother for instilling this in him at an early age.
“My mother is a lawyer and just her seeing her work ethic throughout my life, how she was able to balance work and family just continuously pushed me to follow my desire to work in sports,” he says. “There was a period where I had a tough time finding a full-time job. I also know a lot of people I started with in college and grad school who are no longer working in sports. If I didn’t have the support, I may not have continued to pursue my passion.”
Something else that has helped Olli along in his young career to date is understanding the importance of proper networking. As he puts it, networking is all about establishing more than strong bonds with people.
“Build those authentic relationships. Good relationships don’t start when someone needs something from the other. It has to go both ways. Get to know them and their career and always follow up. Then don’t be afraid to stay in touch – whether it is about an article you read, success of their favorite team, or a career update.”
Proper networking can prepare young sports professionals for the future in more ways than one. Learning as much as possible about what’s to come is Olli’s biggest piece of advice to up and comers.
“Understand the industry you’re getting into. No one is going to hand you a job in sports, particularly one that makes money. If you want it, you have to go get it. Continue to work and network until you get your foot in the door – then don’t let it shut.”
Meet the full class of 2019 here.