Leadership / 09.14.22
Ticketing Pro Wendy Brown: Still Giving It the Old College Try at Michigan State
Wendy Brown, Michigan State University’s Associate AD of Ticket Operations, has been working on-campus jobs for her entire professional career. And along the way, she has been very fortunate to work for and with so many strong mentors, many of them women who she owes a huge debt of gratitude.
As a student at the University of Colorado, she was hired by Caroline Fenton to work in the university’s ticket office. “I was fortunate to work with both Caroline and Kevin Fenton when football was on the upswing and we were hosting the West Regional NCAA Basketball Tournament,” she says. “I then became a full-time employee, and we hosted the NCAA Final Four in Denver. We were still inputting credit card transactions on terminals and balancing to the ticketing software back then. Fax machines became office staples. I remember wondering if they would affect the overnight delivery industry!”
That early exposure to “the big time” stoked Brown’s passion for the work. Subsequently, her flexibility and willingness to relocate opened up a number of job opportunities. “Craving adventure, I packed my too-old-to-drive-across-the-country car and moved to South Beach to work at the University of Miami with Pam Young. This was the early 1990s, and I was checking in Luther Campbell as well as Dwayne Johnson’s [a.k.a. The Rock’s] family and many others into games for the National Championship Hurricanes.”
For two years after that, she worked at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. It was there that Brown remembers first using email and messaging. She then returned to the University of Miami for another couple of years. Always tracking with the technology changes of the time, she says, “This was when the internet became ‘a thing,’ and I worked on the athletic department’s first web page with a student. I then went to work at The University of Maryland for Debbie Yow. I was there for two Final Four appearances, and we won the 2001 Men’s Basketball Championship. This was six busy years of implementing e-commerce solutions and opening a new arena.”
Craving adventure again, she packed her car — a much better one, she notes — and drove to Seattle to work for Barbara Hedges and with now-Athletic Director Jen Cohen at the University of Washington for two years. “I now had a cell phone,” she says, with a laugh. “But this is where I had one of my most public career mistakes when I misnumbered the manifest for the NCAA Tournament we hosted and had to have an intern named Sarah Tompkins put labels on the sections I misnumbered. Thank goodness for good-humored interns and forgiving bosses!”
Soon after, her ambitions brought her to Michigan State for what, in 2004, she thought would be another two- to three-year stint. She says, proudly, “[Almost] 19 years later, I look back on a Hockey National Championship; home-game football seasons with most games before 65,000+ fans; many bowl games, including a Rose Bowl that took years off my life; and five Final Four runs, including one in Detroit that took more years off my life!”
At Michigan State, Brown’s primary task is to coordinate and administer all aspects of ticket operations in accordance with university, NCAA and Big Ten Conference rules and regulations. She also develops and maintains timelines for the production, printing and fulfillment of all tickets. Her other duties and responsibilities range from preparing and reconciling all revenues generated by the athletic ticket office to coordinating and assisting in seat assignments and the distribution of tickets with the Spartan Fund.
So, what’s the favorite part of her job? She was quick to answer: “Looking at the large to huge crowds of fans, knowing that our office had a hand in getting every guest into that event!”
On the flipside, she acknowledges that “managing competing interests” is probably the least favorite part of her work: “Externally from the super fan, the bargain hunter, the want-to-be-seen-networker to top donors. Internally from the short-term co-worker looking to make their mark to the long-term co-worker resisting change.”
With this being the latest in our Women in Ticketing series of articles, Brown was eager to impart some wisdom to any young woman reading this who’s just starting out in ticketing and live events and hoping to achieve some of the success she has had. “Handle orders and anything else that comes across your desk as you get them, before little things become big things. Also, ticketing is often a thankless profession. So, be prepared to find your sense of accomplishment without praise or acknowledgment. And, finally, track every ticket and every dollar. If you do that, you will always have a job.”
Brown concluded by expressing optimism with regards to where live events are headed in the fourth quarter of 2022 and beyond. “Oh, I’m optimistic,” she says. “I work in sports. There is always next year!”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing