Name: Steve Dainton
Company: International Table Tennis Federation
Position: Marketing Director
Degree: Double Degree in Business (Marketing) and Arts (International Studies)
Current home town: Singapore
Who/what inspired you to pursue a career in the sports industry?
Honestly, I never expected to end up with a serious career in sports, and especially within my beloved sport of table tennis. However, from a very early age I was always working at trying to improve the sport. In the beginning from a club level, to a national level and finally now at an international level.
I have been very fortunate to get many opportunities on what has been a wonderful path to my current role. Basically its the love of what I do and hard work that drives and motivates me to achieve greater success.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The marketing people of any company need to figure out how to bring more money to the company/organisation in order for it to grow and prosper. Successfully brokering some important large deals on behalf of the ITTF and bringing in possibilities for growth is without doubt a highlight and brings me great satisfaction.
I also get a great sense of achievement from working with smaller table tennis markets such as Africa and South America, helping the to grow the sport in those regions and helping their events to become far more commercially focused.
What does your typical day at the ITTF involve?
It depends on the time of year. In non-event times we collaborate at our head office here in Singapore, working hard to continue to look at how to improve our products while at the same time searching for new partnership opportunities and activating our existing partnerships to the highest possible level.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Seeking new sponsors is without doubt always hard work. A lot of effort needs to go into finding and then convincing new sponsors that a certain property is of value to them.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Seeing the fruits of your labor and seeing satisfied clients attending our big events, which makes all the hard work worthwhile. Also seeing that the resources that you have helped bring to the organisation are then used to assist the sport in different areas, for example development programs and competitions.
What tips would you give to students wanting to break into the sports industry?
Most importantly, love what you do. Enjoying your work makes the day-to-day grind much easier. No matter whether you work in sport or any other industry, hard work goes a very long way.
What are the most common mistakes you've seen candidates making?
In job applications I always try to look for some kind of connection back to the job and especially the sport in which they are applying. Too often I do not find this connection. In interviews, although it should be a norm I am always surprised at how little many interviewees know about the organisation in which they are taking an interview for. Research, research, research! The ones with the most knowledge about the organisation and the job always stand out.
How has elite sport changed since you first entered the industry?
It has been a relatively short period for me, but for sure it's interesting to see the ever increasing importance of having a strong commercial product in order to survive in an increasingly competitive space. No longer is participation and traditional events enough to ensure a success of an elite sport.
Favourite sports to participate in:
Golf, Tennis and of course table tennis.
Favourite sports to watch:
Australian Rules Football, and major tennis and golf events.
What in your opinion has been the sporting highlight of the past 12 months?
Without doubt the Olympic Games. Amazing. London did a great job. Usain Bolt was no doubt the highlight, but you just have to Marvel at the success of the Chinese in some sports, such as table tennis, badminton and diving.
Where did you go for your last holiday?
What piece of technology would you be lost without?
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