Students learn from X Games Director

Ever wondered what it’s like to work at ESPN?

Students at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMU) no longer have to wonder.

That’s because the Director of Business Operations for ESPN X Games, Brad Florian, gave them an overview of his work at ESPN and some advice about entering the workforce when he flew from headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut to visit the Winona campus on Monday, Nov. 13.

Florian has been with ESPN for almost 20 years. He said the last six years he’s been in the X Games Business unit with managing the X Games budget as his main responsibility. Before that, he worked in the Finance Department at ESPN.
Florian said he also analyzes business and partnership opportunities and helps identify host cities for the X Games’ two annual flagship events: the summer and winter X Games.

In order to identify potential host cities, Florian said the team looks closely at the activity of action sports and fans in that area. Then, they “proactively went out and identified cities that we’d want to host the X Games,” he said. “That was a big job that my team and I had.”

When communicating with potential host cities, Florian emphasizes the global audience, the social appeal, and the economic impact that the X Games brings to host cities. “We really try to sell the economic impact to cities,” he said. “That’s one of my responsibilities.”

As evidence, he showed students that the X Games has over 2 million Instagram followers from all across the world, while he said an economic study found that the 2015 X Games brought $102.3 million into Austin, Texas. In light of that impact, Florian called the X Games “the pinnacle event in action sports.”

So, how did he get involved with such a big event?

Florian said he started working for ESPN 20 years ago as a “temp” in the travel department. He said he parlayed that experience into a job in the finance department and quickly ascended.

He said ESPN is a tough place to get a job. Since it’s the worldwide leaders in sports information, there are thousands of applicants for their openings, he said.

To get one of those elusive jobs, he advised students to put their biggest strength “front and center” on their resume. Florian also encouraged students to pursue internships and relevant work experience to prepare themselves for their dream job. “Sometimes it can be about getting your foot in the door and finding that opportunity,” he said.

Upon landing that job, Florian said it’s crucial to be a good co-worker. “To me, 50% of your job responsibility is being good at your work and 50% is working well with others,” he said.

While he works with some well-known anchors, Florian said it’s also important to maintain professionalism at all times (i.e. no asking for autographs). He recognizes that each of the 4,000 employees at ESPN’s headquarters are there to do their job.

Saint Mary’s University is planning to participate in the 2018 Minneapolis X Games Student Program. Students will have the opportunity to take a summer course focusing on sport event management with an on-site work experience at the X Games.

“Students in the course have the opportunity to gain real life experience in planning, managing, executing sport events, and more,” said Business Professor Zakary Mayo. “This is an amazing opportunity for our students.” For more information on how to apply to the student program, contact Mayo at


Alex Gowan-Nuehring and Olivia Osterbauer

Staff Writer and Senior Staff Writer, Multimedia Specialist

Author: macoll14

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