Since being founded in 2000 by the IOC and leading academic institutes, the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (AISTS) has provided the launch pad for many successful careers in sports.
In addition to an academic programme developed and delivered by people at the heart of sport, AISTS prides itself on its connectivity. Today its alumni of more than 500 former students hold key positions in sports worldwide.
SportBusiness spoke to former international sailor Marion Gebistorf about her experience at AISTS and the way it has helped shape her career.
What is your current role and what are your responsibilities?
As Commercial Operations Manager at Uefa, I have a number of responsibilities at the heart of the broadcast operations around Uefa matches. I am in charge of broadcast management for Europa League matches and work as a broadcast manager on Champions League matches. In both cases, my role focuses on ensuring that rights-holding broadcasters operate and deliver as per their agreements, and that they receive the services, access and exclusivity they bid for.
I also work on the Champions League Final. My roles are both fascinating and central to the operation. It’s my responsibility to ensure broadcasters get the access they need and they deliver coverage which reflects the quality of the competitions and meets Uefa standards.
I have been in the role for almost seven years now and it is fascinating to be at the heart of the broadcast and commercial operations.
Before joining Uefa, I spent two years at Team Marketing, having previously spent a season with Fis, the International Ski Federation.
How did AISTS equip you for your role?
Ever since High School I knew I wanted to work in events. After studying Sports Science in Australia, I looked for a course that would give me the depth of practical knowledge and experience which would equip me for that.
AISTS certainly delivered. The course gave me an amazing overview of the sports world and what it’s all about. It puts you on the inside and makes you aware of the range of different jobs that are out there, and the skills needed to do them.
The fact that it is based in Lausanne, the home of so many Federations and other sports bodies, also meant that we felt at the heart of sport, with great access to connections to these organisations and the people who work for them.
What were the highlights of your time with AISTS?
There were many and it is not really possible to pick out a handful, but what made it special was the quality and depth of the lectures and the balance between time spent in the classroom, doing projects and working on placement – I was at Fis as an intern. That all helps you get a very rounded experience.
Lectures were delivered by people from inside the business who were able to share their real-life experience and provide the sort of information you just couldn’t look up.
The other key thing was the international perspective gained from studying alongside people from all walks of life and from all around the world. People from all sorts of backgrounds are attracted by sport, and that was represented on the course.
Over the years the AISTS alumni has become huge and is spread out around the world. It’s a fantastic global network which I’m very glad to be part of.
It has certainly helped me at Uefa where we work with a lot of specialist freelancers, and the contacts with the AISTS alumni are invaluable in identifying the best people to work with.
AISTS has earned a great reputation across sport, so students graduating with a qualification which is respected benefit greatly from that reputation.
With the benefit of experience, what advice would you give to young people either considering a career in sport or advancing their careers?
The key is not to be too focused on one type of work. Studying at AISTS opened my eyes to the breadth of roles that are out there and the chance to discover new worlds. It also taught me not to be too fixated on one particular sport or on working for one of the bigger sports bodies – there are generally more opportunities to get hands-on experience in many different areas working with a smaller organisation.
It’s also a very competitive business. AISTS helps put you on the fast-track and not only opens doors to many opportunities, but gives you a truly international network of contacts which will help you in whatever role you take up.