'Women in Sports' Profile: Trail Blazers' Shawana Lee
In a brief period with the club, Shawana Lee has worked her way up to corporate sales manager with the NBA's lone Pacific Northwest franchise.
In a brief period with the club, Shawana Lee has worked her way up to corporate sales manager with the NBA's lone Pacific Northwest franchise.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tenth in a series

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. In addition, the seminar will include a "professional development segment" and networking reception presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event. 

Shawana Lee, Portland Trail Blazers
Corporate Sales Manager 

College attended: University of Washington

College major: Communication

Current position: Corporate Sales Manager

Years in current position: 6 months

Primary job responsibilities: I am responsible for bringing in new business for the Portland Trail Blazers’ sales department through season tickets and other entertainment packages. My main focus is to set up business meetings with corporate leaders and decisions makers in the local Portland/Vancouver area to provide season tickets as a business tool for their company.

Things I enjoy most about my job: I love my job because it's fun! I get to meet with all kinds of people to talk about a fun product. I'm passionate about the sport and it's even more gratifying when the companies and individuals I work with see the value and importance of bringing that entertainment into their lives.

First job in the sports industry: I took on an unpaid internship with the Portland Timbers during my senior year of college. I ran the Little Timbers Fan Club.

Previous jobs in the sports industry: The internship with the Portland Timbers was my first, then I made the transition to the front office of the Portland Trail Blazers.  My initial position with the Blazers was as a part-time inside sales rep. I was promoted to a full-time representation within six months. Then, I was promoted to corporate sales a year after that.

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: One of my previous managers at the Trail Blazers was extremely helpful in giving advice and coaching me to be better at my job. He had worked his way up the corporate ladder and knew what it was like to start off in an entry level position and what it took to advance in the company so I valued his feedback a lot.

Most influential person in my early professional development: My area manager at the retail job I worked at before leaving for the Trail Blazers. I learned a lot from her on how to manage people and work with passion. I had communicated with her that I didn't see a future in retail, but rather in sports. Instead of ignoring my goals, she encouraged me and supported me to go after what I truly wanted to do.

How I got involved in my professional career: I attended the annual Trail Blazers career fair during my senior year of college. I met with a variety of sports teams in the Pacific Northwest and other sports-related industry professionals. That event let me to get the internship with the Portland Timbers and get in contact with the Trail Blazers representative who eventually hired me a year and a half later.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: It wasn't an easy transition going from the internship with the Timbers straight to the Portland Trail Blazers. There was a couple in between jobs, months of applying to sports organizations, waiting to hear (or not hear back) from various companies and sports teams. The biggest struggle was playing the waiting game and having the patience to get the job you want.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: Hard work, passion, patience, being a team player, persistence and good work ethics.

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: Getting to know my professors on a personal level -- they are good resources for networking and/or letters of recommendation.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: Work hard for what you want. Your dream job won't come easy and it won't come quickly but all the time and effort spent on achieving your goal is worth it.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be? Shaq or Charles Barkley. I feel like either one of them would be the most entertaining.

Favorite sports team: Portland Trail Blazers

Favorite athlete: Too many to name!

Most memorable sports-related moment: Watching Damian Lillard hit the last-second shot with .09 seconds left during Game 6 of the playoff series vs. the Houston Rockets in 2014.