Nick Hamilton : Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn : New York, USA
“I didn’t apply myself. I was just doing it because I felt I needed to follow the crowd; not because I wanted to do it but because I thought I had to do it. I didn’t have great direction and I was a little bit all over the place…but that’s what I needed to figure things out”
As a young guy from Auckland, sitting court-side with Jay-Z at Barclays Center in Brooklyn watching an NBA team you’re employed by is the stuff dreams are made of, but that’s exactly where Nick Hamilton finds himself in 2015. And it really is a double-take situation for him, as things hadn’t started so smoothly for Nick; out of high school he found himself with little direction, working to the societal checklist, accepted a place at university, studying for a degree he had no interest in. With no tangible and meaningful goal to work towards, his focus admittedly started to diverge and the university results were inevitable. After taking some time to himself, he struck upon an idea that would prove to be the awakening that he so needed; to focus his sights on something he was genuinely passionate about.
“I needed a fresh start. So I took some time off from my studies, and realised wanted to be in New York and was like, “How are you going to get to New York without a degree?”. That’s when I went back and started nailing my papers; I studied business, marketing management… The first time around I did it because it was something to do; the second time around I knew I wanted to get into sports business and I knew New York was (both) an option and the Mecca of professional sports”
Once a clear goal was in play there was no stopping him, and Nick was determined to realise what was now an inspired, passionate dream to work in the sports industry and relocate to New York. The typical U.S visa merry-go-round was fortunately facilitated by his lineage – his father was born and bred in Brooklyn before meeting his New Zealander mother and settling in Auckland back in the late 70s – but he was still presented all of the realities that go along with relocating to NYC. And as he started to reap the rewards of the new perspective on his studies, he was already laying out a future game-plan; demonstrating the application and savvy required to break into the extremely competitive sports sector in New York.
“Three years before I left, before I finished my degree I knew I wanted to get an internship at Madison Square Garden(MSG), I came here (New York) and ended up landing one within about three months, so it was kinda full circle. You put in the effort – a lot of effort – for three years, and then finally you start reaping the rewards. It was the first time I was like, “Wow…after all that; firstly dropping out then going back and really applying myself to something, you’ve finally made it””
As an imperative launching pad to gain necessary real-world experience, internships also provide fundamental line-additions to the CV to help grease the wheels on any future employment opportunities; particularly in the US. And fundamentally, it allows you to begin developing your network from within the industry; so once Nick landed himself an engagement in one of the biggest sporting stadiums in the world, he set about hustling himself to the next stage by leveraging every opportunity presented to him.
“I did whatever was asked of me, and I did a really good job of it, however my main priority was to meet as many people as I could. By chance, I happened to be personal training someone at the time who was good friends with an ex senior executive from MSG…this was my way in. She said, “Drop this name in an email and you’ll be able to get a meeting on the book with anybody, so I introduced myself and dropped her name to all the different channels of MSG and I got about 15 -20 meetings just by myself; one on ones. A lot of them who I still work with now remember me from those days”
Jane was one of many important people in Nick’s developing network, and through these contacts he would end up with a job at the now extremely successful startup sports arm of Horizon Media (Scout Sports and Entertainment) where he would be an associate to the Managing Partner. Every day he would work to solidify his relationships with the partners and sponsors he would meet, and eventually his reputation would see an offer from within this very network to move to the Brooklyn Nets and take on a role in the partnership marketing department, which now sees Nick handling accounts into the millions of dollars. All of this he still recognises as a direct result of focussing on and developing his network; and as a lone New Zealander building from the ground-up, he had to work harder still to create this from thin air and ensure his success.
“Creating those networks; that’s the biggest thing about any job. It’s important to go out there and make sure you shake hands with everybody as you never know where a handshake’s going to go. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, especially when you’re a kid from New Zealand trying to break into an industry that’s very competitive – similar to the music or fashion industries. There’s not a lot of money involved when you’re starting out, but there’s obviously great reward and a great satisfaction in the end result. I wake up every day and I love going to work, doing what I do“
Having recently received the coveted “Rising Star” award with the Nets (an internal award recognising future leaders within the organisation) it’s obvious that Nick’s committed to the Nets’ success and, as a huge basketball fan, he savours the enviable benefits that the experience offers him. He’s also relatively young, so although it’s clear he loves his current role, it’s equally clear that his eyes are looking to eventually leverage the experience he’s gaining to take on another challenge down the road. He wants to keep exploring, expand his knowledge, and broaden his skill-set to eventually make a move into the cut-throat (albeit extremely lucrative) area of player management.
“I’ve still got a few more years to become a well-rounded sports professional and to learn another side of the business (player management). It’s a cool place to be, I’ve done a few deals with one of the guys in the industry that I would potentially like to work with. I’ve got the relationship but it’s finding the right opportunity to go to that realm and spend another few years learning from the ground up. You’ve got to gain as many experiences as you can while you’re here. Learning from this side, being in New York, there truly is no place like it; you can basically do whatever you want and, if you’re smart ,you can leverage the experience and knowledge you gain and take it home. Right now I’m still green in a lot of areas, but it’s a matter of finding the right role and spending a few years doing it. It’s like anything, to become a professional it involves hours of work”
Nick loves Brooklyn, and despite embracing an idea of eventually ending up back home in New Zealand, there’s certainly no hurry. The next few years will continue to see him investigate opportunities that only New York can afford; and why wouldn’t he? Having achieved so much already with a front-row education from some of the most influential and talented sports executives on the globe, it can only lead to greater things. Particularly given the relatively newfound awareness he has of what greatness can actually be achieved by discovering and embracing the values that excite and motivate him; passion, ambition and happiness.
“I’m exactly where I wanted to be when I decided to focus, follow a passion and actually apply myself to something. I went through school not really applying myself to anything…just breezed through; got away with a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t have, before I finally knuckling down, and now…I couldn’t be happier with where I am”
If you want to get in touch with Nick to ask him a question, visit his LinkedIn page