General Sports Worldwide recently added Kayla Lawson to its team to serve as Manager, Executive Search and Team Consulting. She’s responsible for prospecting for executive search candidates, performing interviews, providing recommendations, managing the division’s digital and social media accounts, overseeing and maintaining the applicant job board, and building and maintaining the database of clients, candidates, and prospects.
In this brief Q-and-A, she tells us a little bit about her professional journey, as well as her hopes for GSW.
You mention that a LinkedIn message changed your life. I’d love for you to share that story.
After graduating from college with a sports management degree from the University of South Alabama I was working in my hometown as an event manager but knew I wanted to work in sports and wasn’t sure how to make that dream a reality.
After some thought, I quit my job and focused on getting into San Diego State University’s Sports MBA program. After being unemployed for less than three days, a LinkedIn message from Jentry Mullins popped up asking me if I would be interested in interviewing for a position with the Phoenix Suns.
At that point I had applied for thousands of jobs at this point, and received LinkedIn messages from TONS of recruiters asking me to apply for jobs that didn’t make sense. So there was some skepticism on my part and thought it was spam and was convinced it was a bot. But as I went through the process and became closer to landing my dream job with the Phoenix Suns - I realized the power of LinkedIn and the power of how a simple message could change anyone’s life. I then accepted my first full-time position in the sports industry as an Inside Sales rep for the Phoenix Suns.
Your background includes both your work in sales for the Phoenix Suns, as well as your fundraising work with the St. Mary’s Food Bank. What can businesses learn from non-profit organizations?
Everything is based on relationships. The biggest thing I learned from working with both the Suns and with St. Mary’s is the deeper the connection and relationship is, the more likely they will trust you. And, in turn, appreciating your relationships and clients. If they don’t feel appreciated, they will donate or spend their money elsewhere. Always make sure you value and show your appreciation in relationships.
What drew you to the opportunity at GSW?
The idea of helping people who are just like me - people who are unsure of where to start their career in sports and how to continue to excel in the sports industry. I know exactly what many of these individuals are going through, and this opportunity allows me to work with them and help them find new opportunities. Plus, being able to work alongside and learn from Lou, Travis, and Jentry, who are three of the most reputable folks in the sports industry made it a no-brainer to join GSW.
In the work GSW does around recruiting and hiring, is there something you could pull from that recent LinkedIn post you shared that talks about embracing the uncomfortable. Given that recruiters often are seeking talent who might be in the comfort zone already, how can embracing the uncomfortable work in their favor?
Embracing the uncomfortable is something so difficult to do, but can be so powerful. Most of the time we stay in our comfort zone because it’s easy, familiar, and we’re afraid of change. But branching out, doing something different, stepping out of our comfort zone allows us to grow and evolve as a person. Whether that be in your personal or professional life - change is a good and necessary thing for us to become better individuals.
One year from now, what do you want to be able to look back on and say you’re most proud of accomplishing?
The future holds a lot of opportunities for networking and cultivating relationships, in addition to helping grow this division of General Sports Worldwide into a well-known brand. Plus, I want to look back and be proud of myself for taking a risk, joining this team, and making a name for ourselves in the industry.