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Interview with Joao Frigerio - The CEO and Founder of iWorkinSport.

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

Roger Hampel

Welcome to this exclusive interview with Joao Frigerio, the visionary founder and CEO of iWorkinSport, a global platform dedicated to connecting talented professionals with exciting career opportunities in the sports industry. In this insightful discussion, we'll dive into three fascinating topics, each shedding light on the diverse facets of this dynamic industry, including iWorkinSport, the survey they're conducting, and the sports industry in general. Joao will tell us about his company's beginnings and how it has grown to become a global hub for recruitment, career development, and education in sports. We'll also learn about the new initiatives and projects they're working on, such as the upcoming job fair, the "We Work in Sport" LinkedIn group, and the "Most Attractive Employers in Sport" survey. Finally, we'll discuss some tips for job seekers preparing for a job fair, and Joao's advice for those interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry. The full interview is available on the "Football Business Talks" podcast.

Roger Hampel: Hi Joao. Today, I'd like to discuss three topics with you - your company iWorkinSport, the survey you're conducting, and the sports industry in general. But first, as the founder and CEO of iWorkinSport, could you tell us more about your company?

Joao Frigerio: Hi Roger, our company, iWorkinSport, started in 2017 as a job fair connecting sports management graduates with recruiters. Today, we've expanded to become a global hub for recruitment, career development, and education in sports. At iWorkinSport, we offer a job board and market places for career coaches and academic programs. Our focus is on professional growth in the sports industry, and we collaborate with academic programs like the Johan Cruyff Institute, AISTS, FIFA master program and universities such as Liverpool, Coventry, Bath, and ESBS in Spain, among others.

Roger Hampel: Which specific cities host the fairs?

Joao Frigerio: The job fair always takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland, usually at the end of May or early June. This year, the date is June 2nd. It's a great location, very central in Europe, and home to many international sports federations.

Roger Hampel: What new initiatives and projects are you working on right now to help promote career growth in the sports industry?

Joao Frigerio: We have several exciting new initiatives and projects aimed at promoting career growth in the sports industry. Our flagship event is the job fair happening on June 2nd, where we've confirmed top companies like the IOC, FIFA, UEFA, and FIBA to participate. We're also launching a new version of our LinkedIn group called "We Work in Sport," which features new services like "Office Hours," a weekly live session where professional career coaches answer career-related questions, and a new interview series called "iWorkinSport Insider," where we interview recruiters from various sports companies. In addition, we're running a survey called "Most Attractive Employers in Sport" to assess employer branding, and we're planning an Education Virtual Expo and a virtual job fair in the second semester. We're also collaborating with industry partners and publications to provide discounts and other benefits to our members.

Roger Hampel: Can you share more about your recent survey and industry response to last year's results?

Joao Frigerio: We received 1,6000 responses from a global audience, from more than 100 countries, with no country making more than 10% of the total. The results are separated into categories like football clubs, American sports teams, sports tech, sponsors, and brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Puma. This allows for easy comparison of how attractive these options are to potential employees. We also asked about what candidates are looking for in a company, including location, remote work options, salary, reputation, and leadership structure. By considering these factors, we gain a good understanding of what candidates value in a company.

Roger Hampel: Your company's study is very valuable for the sports industry and a great opportunity for young people to start fulfilling their dreams of working in sports. What advice would you give to young job seekers in terms of preparing for a job fair?

Joao Frigerio: The most important thing for job seekers to do before a job fair is to study the companies that will be present. It's important to research all the companies, even those you might not be familiar with, to better understand what they do and what they are looking for in candidates. This will give you an advantage over other candidates who might not have taken the time to prepare as thoroughly.When you go to the fair, don't waste your time or the recruiters' time by asking questions that you could easily find online. Instead, show the recruiter why you would be a good fit for their company. If you have information about the company beforehand, mention it to the recruiter and show that you've done your research. For example, you could say "I see that you do this" or "I noticed you were hiring for this position." This shows that you're serious about the job and that you've taken the time to prepare. Remember, the job fair is a chance to make a good first impression, and showing that you've done your research is a great way to start. Mentioning specific information about the company shows that you're genuinely interested in working there and have taken the time to understand what they do. In short, taking the time to research the companies before attending the job fair and then using that knowledge to engage with recruiters will help you stand out from the competition and improve your chances of landing the job you want.

Roger Hampel: I heard that 70% of job positions in the sports industry are not advertised. Do you think that's accurate?

Joao Frigerio: While I'm not sure about the exact percentage, I do know that there are many positions in the sports industry that are not advertised.

Roger Hampel: What's the first step for someone who wants to move to the sports industry, especially if they already have a career in another industry? Should they sign up for sports management studies or search for an internship in a sports company?

Joao Frigerio: There isn't one definitive answer to this question as it varies from person to person depending on their interests and capabilities. While some people may want to pursue a master's degree in sports management, they may not be able to afford it, or they may not be able to take a year off work to complete it. Additionally, their career stage also plays a significant role in determining their approach. For instance, if someone has only recently graduated and has a few years of experience in another industry, they may pursue a different path than someone who has been working for 20 years in another field. Therefore, there are many ways to enter the sports industry, and the right approach varies depending on the individual's circumstances. This is why it can be beneficial to seek the guidance of career coaches who can help guide one's decision-making process.

Roger Hampel: What advice would you give to sports management students who have invested in their studies already?

Joao Frigerio: If you are trying to apply to a larger company, reaching out directly to the HR department may not be the best strategy as they are often overwhelmed with applications. On the other hand, if you are trying to apply to a smaller company, your attitude and how you present yourself can be much more important. One approach that has worked for some people is identifying a problem that the company has and providing a solution. For example, if you are applying to work for a team or a league, consider identifying an issue that they may be facing and proposing a solution. This shows that you have taken the time to research the company and are genuinely interested in helping them succeed. Networking and reaching out to people who work in the industry can also be very helpful.

Roger Hampel: Great! Regarding the job fair topic, do you think it’s better to attend in person or virtually?

Joao Frigerio: I would definitely say attending in person is better, 100%. The experience of going to the job fair in person is great. Lausanne is a really nice place, and if you can come a few days before the event and you can explore the city. Meeting recruiters and other candidates in person is really cool. One thing that caught my attention, whether attending in person or digitally, was the networking among the candidates. I think many people go to job fairs with the intention of meeting recruiters and watching presentations, but I found that candidates also form their own groups and create relationships. It's nice to create bonds between candidates because you can learn from each other, collaborate, and form good friendships. Sometimes you may see other candidates as potential competitors, but the reality is that you have a lot in common and can learn a lot from each other.

Roger Hampel: At the World Football Summit 2022, I made a lot of valuable connections through their app.

Joao Frigerio: Yes, we will have a similar app for our upcoming event. However, this time it will be an in-person event, so only those who have registered to attend the event in person will have access to the app. Additionally, we will also be using a new platform called WeWorkinSport community, which also has an app. Everyone who is part of this group will be able to connect with each other through the app, allowing them to chat individually or in group chats.

Roger Hampel: Joao, thank you very much for taking the time to share your valuable insights and experiences with me.

Joao: Roger, it was great talking to you! Best of luck to you!


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