Laura Oskam followed her passion for sport and was given the opportunity to develop her career in that sector through the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute. She now supports the commercial management of Team DSM
Laura Oskam worked as a project manager at ING and although she enjoyed her work, the sports sector continued to appeal to her. So she decided to do the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute. “Luckily, thanks to the master, I had the opportunity to find a job in sport and I was able to make the switch,” says Laura. She now works in a commercial position at Team DSM.
Why did you decide to make the switch to the sports industry?
I have always enjoyed playing tennis myself, but my true passion for sport actually lies in following it. From an early age, I have always followed many different sports and I try to watch as many games as possible. I find it intriguing to see how sport connects people and what emotions it can evoke. It is also inspiring to see top athletes perform at the moment they have to peak. And it gives me energy to know that with what I do, I can contribute to the performance of these athletes and the experience of fans, or the development of the sports world in general.
You can find me often in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, but I also like to watch field hockey matches, and when the Olympics are on, I am constantly glued to the TV, just like during the major cycling competitions and sport tournaments of, for example, athletics, volleyball, handball, and of course football. In addition, by doing volunteer work—such as for Euro 2020—I have experienced how nice it is to work with people who have the same passion and to work towards something together.
Although I really liked my job at ING, I felt no passion for the financial world and my interest in sport did not resonate with my colleagues. That is why I decided to do the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute and soon I noticed how inspiring it is to work with people who share the same passion and to learn from each other in the field of sport. And I think that is also one of the great advantages at my current work for Team DSM.
“When I did the Master in Sport Management, I quickly noticed how inspiring it is to work with people who share the same passion”
By doing the Master in Sport Management, I hoped to gain more knowledge and develop myself, but also build a network, to be able to make the switch. And I succeeded!
Can you explain how you started at Team DSM during your master’s?
The program manager of the Master in Sport Management knew that I was looking for a job in the sports industry and that I was open to different positions and sports. Because I already knew the HR world well, I preferred to do something different, in order to learn new things.
“I probably wouldn’t have had this opportunity without Johan Cruyff Institute, because positions with a professional cycling team are very popular and are usually filled before they go outside”
Johan Cruyff Institute has many contacts in the world of sport of course, so when they heard that Team DSM was looking for somebody for their commercial department, they asked me immediately if I was interested. I seized that opportunity and that same evening I sent them my motivation letter and CV. I was invited for an online interview and a little later I received the news that they wanted to hire me.
Without Johan Cruyff Institute this probably would not have happened, because job openings for a professional cycling team are very popular and are usually filled before they go external.
What does your job at Team DSM entail?
Team DSM has two commercial managers, who together are responsible for more than 80 different partners, who are involved in Team DSM. I support them by helping develop these collaboration, which are not only about the day-to-day business, but also about the longer term, so more strategic.
We keep these partners informed of the sporting achievements and developments within the team and together we also look, for example, at possible ways to bring the partners to the attention of the followers of Team DSM.
We talk about partners—not sponsors—because we see it as a relationship, in which we mutually help each other and we make sure that our riders can perform well together, looking at the possibilities to help the partners. This can of course be done through exposure, but also, for example, by giving them the opportunity to test their innovations at the highest level in sport. This is an important reason for the partnership with title partner DSM, for example
How does it feel to work where your passion lies?
I really like it that basically everything I do has to do with sport. I only really came into contact with sport marketing during the Master in Sport Management, and during the first week at Team DSM I was already allowed to contribute with ideas about our plans for the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. Although I am not often in direct touch with the riders themselves, my work is always related to their jobs and performances. So, for my work I also ‘have to’ follow the race—and certainly the important tours—and that is great of course, because I already did that anyway because of my passion for sport and now it is ‘all of a sudden’ part of my job
“I ‘must’ now also follow the cycling rounds and that is of course great! Something that I already did myself has ‘all of a sudden’ become part of my work”
What other benefits have you gained from the Master in Sport Management?
Although I had already completed two master’s degrees and gained three years of full-time work experience, I was able to develop myself even further thanks to the Master in Sport Management. Above all, because many sport-related subjects were new to me. For example, during the marketing and finance lessons, I learned a lot about the revenue model of sports organizations and what role sponsorship can play in this. I lacked this professional knowledge and, with the master’s, I am confident that I have a solid base in many different areas of the sports industry, from sport marketing to finance and strategic management in sport.
“With the master, I feel confident that I have a solid foundation in many different areas of the sports industry, from sport marketing to finance and strategic management in sport”
Moreover, during the Master in Sport Management, a lot of attention is paid to your personal development and leadership. The Applied Sports Performance Skills training, for example, have helped me to become even sharper about my strengths and what gives me energy. Thanks to these insights, I know better what I’m looking for in a job.
Finally, during the Master in Sport Management, a lot of attention is paid to working in teams, for example, thanks to the final master plan assignment, which you do together with fellow students. It is extra instructive because you do not choose the group yourself, but are classified on the basis of your management drive, background and experience. This allows you to learn to work with people who have a completely different profile and you can learn a lot from each other.
In addition to the fact that the Master in Sport Management helped me find a job, it has also ensured that I have been able to develop myself further as a person and that I have been able to gain the necessary knowledge to actually get started in the world of sport.
How would you recommend the Master in Sport Management to others?
I would say: ‘It is right for you if you are looking for a new challenge in sport and are curious to learn! The year has flown by, I have learned a lot and built beautiful friendships. Of course, it is sometimes quite challenging to finish all the assignments on time, but in general it is very nice to delve into the different parts of the sports industry and I really believe that doing the Master in Sport Management was the perfect opportunity for me to start a career in the sports sector!