Feb. 22, 2012
BERKELEY - Ashwin Puri, who has more than a decade of marketing and sales experience at the NFL and NBA levels, will join Cal Athletics as the department's Associate Athletic Director for Sales, Marketing and Service.
In his role, Puri will manage a newly reorganized unit responsible for all ticket operations, outbound ticket sales, digital marketing, fan experience, and customer service and retention, which will include development of detailed marketing plans, advertising strategy, and the hiring of qualified and knowledgeable outbound sales team. He will also establish and supervise a program designed to improve and deliver consistently positive customer service to a wide array of department constituents through the establishment of a customer service team assigned to develop relationships and assist Cal season-ticket holders.
The staffing structure is the first initiative to be implemented by newly appointed Associate Athletic Director for Revenue and Business Strategy Matt Terwilliger. "With a new stadium opening, it was critical for us to get more aggressive with a fully integrated staffing model to enhance revenues, improve customer experience and fan engagement with our program," said Terwilliger, who previously served as Cal's Associate AD for Business Development. "Though many schools are choosing to outsource their sales efforts, we believe there is a tremendous advantage to investing internally to take advantage of the synergies with our other revenues streams and provide tremendous service to our loyal fans through personal attention, social media and technology. Our fans are investing significantly with our program and deserve a high level of service in return."
Other aspects of the new structure will focus customer relationship management systems as well as improved strategic decision-making through the use of data and analytics.
"Our plan is to create the finest experience for our fans, season-ticket holders, donors, corporate partners and our University community," Puri said. "It all starts with enhancing existing relationships and creating new relationships with our patrons. It is important to understand what is important to them, and give our existing fans or potential new fans a reason to join the Cal family. Outbound sales efforts complimented with outstanding customer service will be a priority."
Puri comes to Cal after working in the NBA office in New York since July 2010, most recently as director of team marketing and business operations for premium sales and service, where he advised NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League team owners, presidents and sales managers on ways to develop and drive sales through sponsorships and ticket sales. In addition, he consulted and guided franchise operations for five teams - the NBA D-League's Reno Bighorns, and the New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles WNBA franchises. Over the past 18 months, Reno saw its cash sponsorships double and group sales increase 43 percent, while Atlanta gained more than 700 new season-ticket holders and Chicago generated a 25 percent increase in gate receipts.
From December 2008 through July 2010, Puri spent time with the NFL's New York Jets, first as director of consumer sales and service and later as director and department manager for suite sales. Among his duties, he managed more than $43 million in multiyear suite revenue, developed a strategic sales plan, and hired and trained a group of 20 sales specialists. He also led the Jets' customer service team by proactively addressing season-ticket holder issues, questions and concerns.
Puri's first stint with the NBA national office started in January 2007 when he served as director of team business development. He consulted with WNBA teams to help increase key business initiatives, which resulted in increased attendance, sponsorship and gate receipts for the 2007 and '08 seasons. He also developed methods to enhance the customer experience in order to improve ticket and group sales revenue.
Puri, who earned his bachelor's degree in sport management from the University of Massachusetts in 2001, was the assistant director of group sales for the NBA's New Jersey Nets from 2001-06, where he trained and supervised a sales team responsible for a $3 million budget. He twice ranked No. 1 in the organization in group sales revenue generation and in the top four in sales performance by the NBA for individual groups sales from 2002-06.