The following “Six Questions” short interview with Maik Gehrmann, Player Consultant/Head of Scouting for TWENTYFOUR Management, was conducted by Belmont University Law School student and aspiring sports/entertainment agent Mark J. Burns.
1. When did you realize you wanted to work in sports? As a follow-up, why did you initially want to work in the sports agency world?
My whole life I have been interested for sports. I have played soccer and ice hockey. Unfortunately I had to stop because of an injury. My interest for the sports management began when I was young, and it made me very curious how the whole management business works. My greatest desire has always been to work in a club as a manager or scout, but unfortunately I haven’t received that change yet. I had to decide what I wanted to do after my Sports Management studies — either wait for a positive reply from my applications or start something on my own; I decided for the latter. At the beginning, I researched the sports agent business and found that many player agents in this business weren’t honest. I wanted to do everything in a different way. Before I came to TWENTYFOUR Management in May 2013, I had previously worked as an independent player consultant (six years) and as an ice hockey coach (Germany, Russia, Finland, Sweden and another countries). I love working in the sports agency business because I have received the chance to meet a lot of interesting people, travel a lot, and to give something back to younger people.
2. What are your current day-to-day responsibilities with TWENTYFOUR Management?
My main tasks are that I am looking for new players for our agency. I watch a lot of games and training sessions of potential players. I’m also working on making our network stronger in the German-speaking area. Another important point is to take care of our players’ affairs and keep in constant contact with our headquarters in Helsinki.
3. What are 3 to 5 essential and tangible skills necessary to work in the sports agency industry?
Honesty — Dishonest player agents quickly get a bad reputation!
Passion — Without passion for the work, you will not achieve much and it is unfair to the athletes that you care about.
Focus —Without a clear focus on your goals, you will stay in the same place and not move forward with your personal development.
Expertise — Expertise is really important in this job. You should not only know the sporting area in which you work but also have people skills.
Respect — Respect, in my opinion, is the most important. Without respect for people, it’s really difficult to work together.
4. What was the most difficult part of breaking into the sports industry space?
I started at the age of 23 to work in the sports agency business. Since I am a very communicative person, it was never hard for me to build contacts. At the beginning you rarely get respect from club managers. So I would say that my young age was the biggest problem at the beginning of my career. I was often viewed by many club managers with strange eyes.
The sports agency business doesn’t have a good reputation, and I was often stuck with some unscrupulous agents in a drawer. Many people want to work in this business because of the “big money” but money was never my main priority!
5. How have you utilized social media/digital space to advance your career?
I have met many people through the digital space and made good contacts. It helps you make a good name for yourself in this globalized world, but I am not a big fan of social networks. However, in this business, social networks and digital space are for sure needed.
6. In 140 characters or less, what advice would you give to aspiring sports/entertainment business professionals who want to work in the agency industry?
Have passion and a focus for what you are doing. Treat people honestly and with respect. Never give up even if you sometimes fail.