As Chief Commercial Officer of the Miami Dolphins, Todd Kline has reached great heights in his profession. A key piece of his winning formula? Graduating from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
Carey Marketing Alumnus Winning in Miami Dolphins C-Suite
Todd Kline still remembers the first time he picked up a copy of the Sports Business Journal in the 1990s. He read the then obscure trade publication cover-to-cover again and again in awe of what the pages contained.
“I loved sports and I loved business – so the notion of sports business and entertainment was motivating for me. I just remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, this industry exists?’ I loved it,” Kline said.
Fast forward to 2018, Kline is the Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of the Miami Dolphins; there, he oversees all sponsorship revenue, including corporate deals, media, and special events.
In the previous 18 years, he’s held other positions in sports business for the NFL Players Association and the Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), a global sports and entertainment company that operates several arenas and owns several sports franchises including the LA Kings in the NHL, the LA Galaxy, as well as some of the top arenas in the word like STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, The 02 in London, and Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
But back in the 90’s, Kline was just a kid with a sports magazine and a dream. How did he make it a reality? A piece of the winning formula included a degree from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Kline is a 2010 alumnus of the part-time MS in Marketing program. He said he enrolled because he was looking for ways to grow and develop in his career while working full-time for the NFLPA in Washington, D.C.
“When I saw Johns Hopkins University, I thought it was an amazing opportunity to get an education from one of the most globally recognized universities. The fact that it was just 10 minutes from my office was a nice bonus,” he said.
For him, an advanced degree gave him two things: valuable skills and knowledge, and what he calls “academic validation.”
“The sports industry is dominated by personality, grit, hard work, and personal will,” he said. “I knew I had those things, but I also wanted to be viewed as someone who had a mind, an intellect and a formal education. I really wanted to have that to point to.”
On the skills side, Kline said he learned a lot problem solving, leadership, and time management: “It taught me how to figure out ways to get things done; how to manage my life.”
Some of those lessons were learned hard. Like the time he was working the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii and had to spend the bulk of his free time in his hotel room finishing a class project. And while there are tradeoffs, the advantage to working while pursuing a degree, according to Kline, is how you can apply your work to your studies, and vice versa.
“I would bring my work into the classroom like real-world case studies. One time I presented on this Super Bowl commercial I was working on. I think it was beneficial to me and my classmates,” Kline said.
When asked about advice for young students looking to work in sports, Kline said it’s just like working your way up in any other industry – work hard and be the best you can be.
“It takes talent, skill, patience and perseverance. It’s about opening the door a crack and then barging your way through,” he said.
And while breaking in may be the same for all industries, sports business does stand out in other ways.
“You get paid in three ways: money, education, and experiences,” Kline said. “And when it comes to experiences, nothing beats sports.”
On October 26, 2017, Todd Kline visited the Carey Business School as part of the Executives in Residence Program. The EIR program brings executives to campus to interact with students, faculty, and staff, adding real-world business perspective to the academic environment. Kline met with several students, including members of Carey’s Sports Management Club.