Industry Pro Talks How to Connect Sports and Philanthropy

Nubia Murray details career journey in cause marketing and tips on how to thrive

Nubia Murray (Image: Cliff Robinson Photography)
Nubia Murray (Image: Cliff Robinson Photography)

Nubia Murray used sports as a vehicle to drive her from Chicago’s South Side to managing philanthropic sports initiatives for one of the top banks in the world.

Crediting sports for opening doors to educational opportunities as well as developing her strong work ethic and competitive drive, Murray has spearheaded several initiatives for JPMorgan Chase & Co. such as the Corporate Challenge running series, which for five years, she managed in the United States, South Africa, Sydney and Singapore. In every host city, JPMorgan Chase & Co. partners with a nonprofit beneficiary, including the anti-violence initiative, Get In Chicago, in Nubia’s hometown. Since working on Strategic Initiatives in the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Nubia has transitioned to serving as a Senior Associate in Sports & Entertainment Marketing where she manages the firm’s regional partnerships with FC Dallas Soccer, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the PGA Tour. caught up with Murray to find out her motivation and advice for those interested in entering the sports industry: What is your current role at JPMorgan Chase & Co. entail?

Nubia Murray: The Sports and Entertainment Marketing group executes the firm’s sponsorships for both the Chase and J.P. Morgan brands, leveraging these partnerships to increase visibility, provide unique experiences to our clients and ultimately expand our business. Across brands, sports disciplines and venues, we strive to infuse community initiatives with national visibility and deep local impact.

For example, in conjunction with our sponsorship of the US Open, Chase partnered with City Parks Foundation’s tennis program, the Parks Department and the USTA to launch a court refurbishment initiative in communities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island. This court refurbishment not only restored one of the few public courts on the island but also allowed City Parks to expose their free programming to the next generation of tennis fans.

How have programs you were involved in as a child helped you today?

Supporting a team’s community initiatives provides the opportunity to combine my passion for competitive sports with my experience in the JPMC Foundation.  I find the most joy partnering with best-in-class organizations that have a proven track record of sustainable programming in their target communities.

My exposure to swimming as a child was because of free programs offered by the Chicago Park District. I served as lifeguard in Englewood, one of the most violent communities in Chicago. Most parents would have been apprehensive to allow their child to travel from South Shore to work in Englewood but my parents positioned it as an opportunity to expose me to a spectrum of people and gain a new perspective.  Serving a community that may not have been exposed to formal swimming instruction but still enjoyed a free park resource was a humbling experience.

By leveraging free track programs and track meets on the campus of the University of Chicago, I was able to become High Jump City Champion and later compete at Howard University. I now complete half and full marathons and am a three-time Olympic distance triathlete. I serve as a team leader for the Luna Bar brand weekly, offering free training runs for professional women, while raising funds for the Breast Cancer Fund, personal for me, as my mother is a breast cancer survivor.

I credit the skills I’ve learned by participating in free community sports programs for my personal and professional success and want to support organizations that allow other young people to do the same.

What advice you would give those looking to become involved in sports and cause-related careers?

1. Do your research: Get an understanding of the structure of the sponsorship department at the company you are targeting as the initiatives may be managed within a standalone marketing department, viewed as a communications function or even sit within a line of business. Once you understand who is driving the strategy, take a deep dive into how they are activating within the sports and entertainment space i.e. through venue partnerships, team sponsorships or standalone events.

2. Dreams get bigger and brighter, and so will you. You’re not going to get your dream job coming out of school, nor do you want to. You always need something to transition to, in order to continue to discover new learning and growth opportunities throughout your career. What I appreciate about my current role is that my colleagues have varying experiences, which makes our work environment collaborative and creative.

3. Network your network. Join trade organizations and associations that provide exposure to a broad network of contacts. For example, I have a combined passion for sports and philanthropy so it’s beneficial for me to join organizations within each industry. Secure subscriptions to trade publications or listservs as they often post information about job opportunities, transitions for industry leaders, and current trends.

Mia Hall, (@mia_halldaily) is a freelance reporter, speaker and host who focuses on the sports industry. She speaks and writes about personal development, diversity in sports business careers, community outreach, mentorship and accountability. When she’s not speaking or planning cause-marketing events in her role as a community manager at Barclays Center, she shares her stories, advice and musings on her personal blog, Mia’s Full Court Press.

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