Season 2, Episode 7: Andrew Messick ’91, CEO of Ironman Group, with Reeve Harde ’20
Andrew Messick ’91 is the CEO of IRONMAN Group which runs the iconic IRONMAN® series of events, the largest participation sports platform in the world. IRONMAN Group is part of Wanda Sports Group, a leading global sports events, media, and marketing platform. He is interviewed by Reeve Harde ’20.
About andrew messick
Andrew is the chief executive officer of the IRONMAN Group which runs the iconic IRONMAN® series of events, the largest participation sports platform in the world. IRONMAN Group is part of Wanda Sports Group, a leading global sports events, media, and marketing platform. As part of Wanda Sports Group, The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, IRONKIDS®, the Epic Mountain Bike Series, and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Andrew joined IRONMAN in 2011 from AEG, where he served as president of AEG Sports from 2007.
He previously served as senior vice president, international, at the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 2000 to 2007. Andrew joined the NBA from Sara Lee Corporation, where he held a range of business development, marketing, and general management positions in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Prior to Sara Lee Corporation, Andrew worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. in Chicago and Amsterdam. Andrew earned dual BAs in economics and psychology from the University of California, Davis, and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Andrew is an experienced road cyclist, mountain biker, and marathoner. He is also a three-time Ironman finisher who also qualified for, and raced in, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Andrew Messick: (28:50) Everything comes down to the same things, which is perseverance and effort and a willingness to work—that’s what you need to get an MBA, that’s what you need to complete any type of really meaningful endurance event like an Ironman. These are all things that reinforce fundamental behaviors that are important to be successful, and it’s the kind of stuff we want to teach our children. Effort’s the thing that matters, and commitment and perseverance, and over the course of time if you do those things you succeed. Even if you lose a hockey game, if you continue to work and persevere over time, you do prevail. So those are the meta lessons for our kids. Again, that’s a rewarding part of the job I’m in.
Andrew Messick: (31:33): What you do at the races is only a relatively small part of your job, or at least a small part of my job; the core of what I do is I run an organization that has 26 offices in 16 countries around the world. We have close to 250 events every year in more than 50 countries around the world, and there’s a lot of basic blocking and tackling around working with the people on your team. We’ve got—depending on how you measure employees—we’ve got between 600 and 1,300 full-time employees that work for us at these 26 offices, and we are always focused on growth, so we’re adding new events, we’re adding new businesses, we’re trying to expand the scale and scope of what we do, and so a lot of what I spend my time doing and to the extent there is a typical day, it’s interacting with my operating team, my financial team, my sales and marketing group, and we’re addressing opportunities and trying to solve problems and really thinking about how do we continue the momentum and the growth of the major brands that we manage, because we manage the Ironman brand, but we also own and manage the Rock and Roll Marathon series.
Andrew Messick: (38:40) I came to SOM because I wanted to be in an environment that’s challenged me. I wanted to be with smart and capable people who were different from me and, as I said earlier, who viewed the world through a different lens. I wish I’d done more of that and I think that a lot of us, you get into a rhythm and the rhythm arcs you toward the familiar, and as I think of my time at SOM and many of the decisions that I made over the course of my career, I think that I wish I’d done more that was a little off the beaten path and had spent more time with people whose worldview is different from me because, as I reflect back over a career of what is now decades, those were the interactions that were most significant and influential, that changed me the most, that opened my eyes to different things, and if I had to do it again maybe I’d do a little bit more of that.
About Career Conversations
In this podcast series, SOM students sit down with alumni for a series of candid conversations about career paths, industries, opportunities for MBAs, and discussions on various career topics including work-life balance and creating a meaningful impact in business and society. This series is produced by and recorded at the Yale School of Management.