30 Under 30 – Avish Sood

Sponsorship account manager, Canadian National Exhibition

30-avish-sood-1The annual Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto officially opened in mid-August, but Avish Sood’s thrill ride with the organization began back in May when he joined as sponsorship manager.

In the four months leading up to the opening of “The Ex,” Sood was part of a team that successfully negotiated more than 25 new partnerships for the event, playing a key role in attracting advertising and content partners for two new programs: “CNE on the Waterfront” and the “CNE Innovation Garage.”

He was also asked to assume a key client service role following the abrupt departure of the CNE’s head of sponsorship just three weeks prior to the event. In that role, Sood was part of a team that managed and delivered on deals for more than 27 clients including Pizza Nova, Pizza Pizza, HP, Best Buy and Philips.

Joel Shields, sponsorship account manager for the CNE, describes Sood as “fearless” in his approach to tackling problems. “He doesn’t let hesitation into his work, he’s enthusiastic about what he’s involved in, and he’s ready to get out there and not let anything hold him back,” he says. “He lets his enthusiasm drive the conversation. He’s a very motivated and confident guy.”

That was particularly apparent in Sood’s involvement with the Innovation Garage. Conceived as a throwback to the CNE’s old days, when attendees would marvel at technological advancements like the phonograph and TV, the Innovation Garage also presented an opportunity for extensive sponsorship  and programming  activity.

In addition to negotiating and managing a presenting partner deal with HP Canada, Sood helped forge new alliances with numerous leaders in the innovation space including Ryerson University, Futurpreneur Canada, BDO Canada and Youth Science Canada.

“He did a really nice job of surveying what companies are in that space and used his fearless nature to go out there and make contacts and land partnerships that helped both from a monetary [standpoint] and to fill out the programming,” says Shields.

The CNE deals reflect Sood’s considerable expertise in the sponsorship space, garnered through his prior involvement with events including the Canada Cup and the Pan Am Games.

Sood, 26, was actually short-listed for Marketing’s “30 Under 30” list in 2015, largely on the basis of his standout work with the 2015 Pan Am Games – which included negotiating and managing more than $3.2 million in partnerships, while also playing a role in negotiations for an additional $24 million in partnership revenue.

He was also entrusted with managing both pricing and sales and service for more than $1.1 million in corporate suites and hospitality revenue across eight venues, working alongside 15 internal departments to ensure the appropriate delivery.

He is also the founder and managing director of The Sponsorship Space, a two-year-old digital media outlet catering to professionals in the global sports, event and partner marketing industry.

The Sponsorship Space has around 6,000 social media followers, and has forged content partnerships with Front Office Sports, The Sponsorship Collective and The Sports Business Exchange.

“People really seem to love the concept, so it’s doing really well,” says Sood, a 2015 recipient of the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce’s “Young Achiever of the Year” award, which honours individuals demonstrating high academic achievements and leadership skills while contributing to their community.

It was the latest in a series of industry accolades for Sood, who in 2014 was named one of Sports Launch magazine’s “30 Under 30” for his role in creating The Sponsorship Space and the University of Toronto Sports Industry Conference.

That same year, Partnership Activation identified him as a rising star and part of the next generation of sports business leaders, while in 2013 the University of Michigan identified him as one of 10 student professionals across North America who embody innovation, creativity and leadership within sports business.

It’s all a long way from Sood’s professional beginnings in accounting. “In university we were sort of pushed toward a certain career, and marketing wasn’t at the forefront,” he says. “But I realized pretty quickly that I was very good with personal relationships and that I loved marketing as a whole.”

Sood says he’d like his next career step to include a management role, and aspires to open his own sponsorship-marketing agency sometime within the next five-to-10 years, while also building out The Sponsorship Space.

There are insights and anecdotes aplenty in our 30 Under 30 editorial package. To get the scoop on our finalists visit 30U30.ca and read full profiles of Canada’s next set of marketing leaders.

Photography by Mike Ford
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