Andrew Walker - CMO, WTA Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week
Andrew Walker is the Chief Marketing Officer for the Women’s Tennis Association and since joining the organization in April 2003, has played a leading role in the areas of communications, marketing, sponsorship sales and activation, sales and strategic projects in helping to drive the growth of women’s professional tennis.
Walker has been a part of and played a key role in some of the biggest accomplishments in women’s tennis, including being a key member of the revenue generating team that consummated WTA’s sponsorship deals with Sony Ericsson, Whirlpool, Dubai Duty Free, Oriflame, Jetstar, BNP Paribas, Rolex, USANA and others.
Walker began his career as a corporate lawyer at White & Case in New York, shortly after graduating from New York University Law School in 1997.  In 2000, Walker moved to Paris to work at the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller and in 2002, Larry Scott, then President of the ATP, appointed Walker as a Communications Consultant for men’s tennis.  Walker followed Scott to the WTA after Scott’s appointment as the Chairman and CEO of women’s tennis in 2003.
1. You took a couple of tennis internships before heading back to law school, did you find the experience beneficial and what is your opinion of the whole internship idea in general?
Internships are a great way to learn about the business, to gain exposure to different areas of a business, begin to establish business relationships and it’s not uncommon that an internship will directly lead to an employment opportunity.
2)      Are there any similarities between the law and sports’ industry?
I can’t think of a business that the law doesn’t touch in some meaningful way. In my own case, what I have found incredibly valuable in my non-legal sports career is the training that law provides – analytical thinking, a rigorous approach to problem solving and the ability to negotiate.
3)       Did you always know that your love for tennis would always pull you back and how important is it to do something you enjoy?
It is incredibly important to follow your dreams and to do everything in your control to try to make your dreams into reality. That applies well beyond professional life of course! Pursuing happiness in all its forms should be the goal in my view. In my own case, I worked in tennis straight out of university at ProServ in Paris. After leaving ProServ, it took me many years and a lot of hard work to get back in to tennis. This long journey has made me really appreciate how fortunate I am to work in this industry and motivates me to work as hard as I can.
4)       How critical is communication and relationships in business?
Essential. Relationships are the name of the game in my view. Mentors, trusted colleagues, clients who know you are on their team are critically important. Communication is always important to achieve results efficiently.
5)       What is the key to establishing a good relationship?
I’m not sure if there is one key factor. What is important is being honest, transparent, doing what is right and treating others the way you would like to be treated.
6)       How important of a figure is Larry Scott in your career?
Anyone who has worked for Larry Scott knows how special he is. He is incredibly inspiring, the epitome of the type of person you would want not only as your boss, but as a friend. Larry has incredible vision, unmatched business acumen and a style that is incredibly humane while at the same time being the toughest salesman and negotiator when has needs to be. I would not be where I am today in business or in my personal life if not for Larry.
7)       Tennis truly is a global sport, with around 50-odd tournaments across 30 or so countries. So how do remain on top of your responsibilities with such a busy schedule?
It’s not easy, especially when you start to think about work life balanced with a family! The key is prioritization and appropriate delegation. I am working everyday on the work-life balance!
8)       With a large number of players using social media, how important is the medium to sustain the popularity of the sport?
We are now at 26million social media fans for the WTA and our players, a number that has quadrupled in the past 18months. As a marketer, I think the medium is perfectly suited for tennis, our athletes and tournaments. It allows us to reach to a new and growing audience. It is incredibly cost efficient as a media platform and it allows us to truly engage with consumers. It’s a medium that we have successfully utilized to support our sponsors, tournaments and players businesses.
9)       Does the fact that there is no one real dominant woman tennis players at the moment make it more of a challenge to market?
Women’s tennis on the court is incredibly healthy from a marketing perspective, with a great mix of established champions and rising next generation stars. We have not only global marquee names like Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Caroline Wozniacki and the William sisters, but also fantastic national heroes like Li Na and Sam Stosur. 116million people in China alone watched Li Na’s Rolland Garros victory in 2011. We’ve got great stars to market and that’s why the WTA business is as strong as ever.
10)   In the modern game, a lot of women tennis players are emerging from Eastern Europe, why is that? And what can other countries do to replicate the success of the somewhat smaller nations?
What is for sure is that the game has become much more global. Gone are the days when a handful of countries would dominate the sport for decades on en. Historically, stars have emerged in cycles from different nations and there is plenty to debate on the reasons why. What I do know is having great competition and players as role models who have achieved success does seem to breed further success, which is why you often see a number of players emerging at the same time from a particular country.
11)   You helped in the effort to ensure equal prize money. With the men attracting the crowds, playing more sets at a higher standard of play, is equal pay in the sport still justified?
Absolutely! From a business and marketing perspective, if you look at television, live audiences at events and sponsorship, the women’s game justifies equal pay. The argument regarding more sets is a funny one. Do you pay more to watch a 3 hour movie than a 2 hour movie? It’s about entertainment value and the women are just as entertaining.
12)   In the men’s game, a number of players have complained about the busy schedule and the possibility of a strike has been mentioned. In your opinion, what is the best way to deal with this situation?
On the WTA side, we reformed our circuit structure to lengthen to lengthen the off season, provide more in season breaks and reduce the number of events that players have to play, while directing them to play our top events. Our ‘Roadmap’ Plan has resulted in healthier players (18% decrease in injuries and withdrawals), fans being able to watch their favourite players more often (top players are playing our top events 24% more) and a 36% increase in prize money.
13) What do you think of the iSportconnect concept?
I like it! Where do I invest?!
Andrew Walker Cropped
Andrew Walker is the Chief Marketing Officer for the Women’s Tennis Association and since joining the organization in April 2003, has played a leading role in the areas of communications, marketing, sponsorship sales and activation, sales and strategic projects in helping to drive the growth of women’s professional tennis.
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Walker has been a part of and played a key role in some of the biggest accomplishments in women’s tennis, including being a key member of the revenue generating team that consummated WTA’s sponsorship deals with Sony Ericsson, Whirlpool, Dubai Duty Free, Oriflame, Jetstar, BNP Paribas, Rolex, USANA and others.
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Walker began his career as a corporate lawyer at White & Case in New York, shortly after graduating from New York University Law School in 1997.  In 2000, Walker moved to Paris to work at the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller and in 2002, Larry Scott, then President of the ATP, appointed Walker as a Communications Consultant for men’s tennis.  Walker followed Scott to the WTA after Scott’s appointment as the Chairman and CEO of women’s tennis in 2003.
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You took a couple of tennis internships before heading back to law school, did you find the experience beneficial and what is your opinion of the whole internship idea in general?
Internships are a great way to learn about the business, to gain exposure to different areas of a business, begin to establish business relationships and it’s not uncommon that an internship will directly lead to an employment opportunity.
Are there any similarities between the law and sports’ industry?
I can’t think of a business that the law doesn’t touch in some meaningful way. In my own case, what I have found incredibly valuable in my non-legal sports career is the training that law provides – analytical thinking, a rigorous approach to problem solving and the ability to negotiate.
*
Did you always know that your love for tennis would always pull you back and how important is it to do something you enjoy?
It is incredibly important to follow your dreams and to do everything in your control to try to make your dreams into reality. That applies well beyond professional life of course! Pursuing happiness in all its forms should be the goal in my view. In my own case, I worked in tennis straight out of university at ProServ in Paris. After leaving ProServ, it took me many years and a lot of hard work to get back in to tennis. This long journey has made me really appreciate how fortunate I am to work in this industry and motivates me to work as hard as I can.
*
How critical is communication and relationships in business?
Essential. Relationships are the name of the game in my view. Mentors, trusted colleagues, clients who know you are on their team are critically important. Communication is always important to achieve results efficiently.
*
What is the key to establishing a good relationship?
I’m not sure if there is one key factor. What is important is being honest, transparent, doing what is right and treating others the way you would like to be treated.
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