Q&A With Lisa Baird of the U.S. Olympic Committee

Lisa Baird has been the chief marketing officer for the USOC for nearly three years. As part of our ongoing Power Play series on females in sports business, espnW caught up with Baird to hear more about her career and day-to-day responsibilities.

espnW: You've been the chief marketing officer for the USOC since January 2009. Tell us a bit about your responsibilities.
Lisa Baird: I'm essentially in charge of all sponsorship and licensing sales of our consumer products and also our media efforts. We're building a digital media presence right now and working with some partners to start to license some footage to do original production and we're excited about that. ? What I love about it is that it allows me to really influence in a great, flexible way as opposed to think narrowly in one function. If our CEO gives us an objective, I can say, "Let's look at this kind of integrated program" or "Why don't we do this?" That's what I love about the job.

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espnW: Previously, you were the senior vice president of marketing for the NFL and then a consultant. Why did you decide to join the USOC?
LB: The draw for me was being really involved in a purpose-driven organization. The purpose of the USOC is so clear; it was a very personal draw. To be able to be part of the support team for what I feel is some of the most amazing athletes in the world, but also a mission, that's just motivating.

espnW: You've signed nine new corporate partners and renewed seven others since joining the USOC. What is it about the Olympic movement that makes it so compelling to sponsors?
LB: People want to associate with our brand. People at senior levels of companies that we deal with want to support the mission, whether it's at the global level or the domestic level with Team USA. The proposition is very compelling. But we've been fortunate enough to have the success we've had recently because we work really hard to develop the right platforms and engagement opportunities for sponsors and their business objectives. And that is something we haven't done before ? building engagement opportunities outside of the traditional 17 days of games, offering integrated sponsorship packages; working with our partners so that they use our intellectual property, our Olympic athletes and our assets to achieve their business objectives.

espnW: Can you share with us what kinds of benefits the sponsors give to the athletes that we might not know about?
LB: The sponsor-athlete relationship and connection is the most valuable thing we can give them. Let's face it, they don't really sign up to sponsor the US Olympic Committee—they sign up to sponsor the team and the Olympic movement. What we do when we get a new sponsor—or if we're going to a new set of games—we work really hard with the sponsor to take their business objectives and recommend the right athletes for them, for their brand mission, for their business mission, for their budget even for what they want to do. ? That helps a lot of athletes with some funding because not all our athletes are super-celebrities and have something through big salaries, they have to do it on their own. Some of the lesser-known athletes who still have the Olympic world behind them were happy to get funded by a great program.

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