By Samantha Kleinman
Coordinator of Player Engagement
On April 19th, the Player Engagement staff and club Directors of Player Engagement completed a year-long executive education program to receive their certifications as Athlete-Development Professionals. The NFL-Wharton Athlete Development Professional Certification, developed by Player Engagement and Wharton’s Aresty Institute of Executive Education, provided extensive training and education in topic areas essential to working in the field of athlete development and the sports industry in general. During four in-person modules at Wharton’s Philadelphia and San Francisco campuses, Player Engagement staff learned in-depth about topics such as critical thinking/problem solving, business negotiations, finance, building a marketing plan, relationship management, leading through influencing, and workplace compliance. This training will allow Directors of Player Engagement and League staff to more effectively contribute to the personal and professional development of athletes, work across all levels of their organizations, and meet the overall business goals of their organizations.
The certification culminated in the presentation of Action Learning Projects, which the Player Engagement staff had worked on in small groups over the course of six months. The projects required staff to work collaboratively to develop a business plan and execution model around a Player Engagement initiative and to present the plan in front of a panel of judges, which included Don Smolenski, Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Eagles; Tim McDermott, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer of the Philadelphia Eagles; Natara Holloway, Vice President of Retail Development & Consumer Products, NFL; Jaime Weston, Vice President of Brand & Creative, NFL; and Kenneth Shropshire, Faculty Director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative. The Action Learning Projects allowed staff to apply the educational training received during the certification to real-world projects and to enhance their public speaking and presentation skills.
Player Engagement is constantly looking for ways to further the professional development of its staff and athletes. The Athlete Development Professional Certification was just the most recent step in this process!