Rheann Engelke

Credentials: Sports International Group

Position title: Director of Marketing

Woman with blond hair smiling at the camera wearing a black coat

Major: Marketing

Certificates: Digital Studies

Graduation Date: May 2018

How did you end up working at the Sports International Group?

I owe my entire career direction to Wisconsin. I started as an intern for Wisconsin Athletics at the end of my freshman year working primarily for Women’s Basketball and I was sold from there. By the end of sophomore year, I was promoted to marketing assistant and became the head of marketing for Women’s Soccer. Then I made a trip to Baltimore to intern for Under Armour in women’s brand management. I returned for my senior year and took on marketing assistant roles for Men’s Basketball & Football.

When I graduated, I moved to New York to work as a receptionist, yes receptionist, for Creative Artists Agency. A couple months later I was moved up to the Mail Room at CAA and during that time I was also interviewing to be the assistant to the Head of NBA Marketing at the agency – who was also a UW alum. Four months of interviewing later, I got the job!

I worked on the endorsement side supporting nearly 100 NBA players and nine months later a top NBA Agent at CAA asked me to move to Chicago and become his new assistant. For two years, I supported that agent and his roster of athletes.

Then I was contacted by someone at Sports International Group (SIG) who was ooking to bring someone on to launch their first internal marketing department. SIG is the world’s largest women’s basketball agency, which I loved, in addition to repping NBA, NCAA, and Coaching talent. Soon enough, I was their Marketing Director and a year and a half later we’ve been able to really move the needle in the women’s endorsement space, sign top-tier NCAA talent, and hire an incredible marketing team.

What does a typical day in the office look like for you?

I oversee the endorsement deals, media opportunities, social impact efforts, and social media strategy of around 100 WNBA, NBA, and NCAA athletes. On a daily basis I could be negotiating a partnership opportunity, arranging press interviews, organizing basketball clinics, and creating graphics for our agency’s social platforms. In between all that, I keep track of all our athlete’s payments, compile itineraries or execution plans, and keep in constant communication with our athlete’s regarding potential/upcoming/ongoing opportunities.

As the Director of the marketing department, I also oversee our department’s strategy and manage our employees. Some days look like me working remotely at home all day, other days I’m on a commercial set with a player or serving as a player’s manager as they walk in New York Fashion Week. I wear many many hats in my role, but it can all be summed up as – I manage all things off-court for our athletes while overseeing the direction of the agency’s marketing department.

How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?

In every long interview process I’ve had, my Digital Studies Certificate has always been what provided me a leg-up among other applicants. I was able to pitch myself to take over CAA Basketball’s social media account and grew their Instagram from 8,000 to 25,000+ followers today. I was also able to offer athletes something additional by being able to create graphics or logos for them.

When coming on as SIG’s Marketing Director, my experience in Digital Studies has been vital for not only running our agency’s account and creating graphics, but also being able to expertly advise our athletes on how to help with their own social media. Anyone I talk to now asking what they can do to stand out in such a competitive industry of sports, I always tell them to learn social, photoshop, or website building really well and they’ll have something additional, and highly needed, to offer.

Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class or professor when you were a student?

I’d say it was Library & Information Studies 351: Introduction to Digital Information because we learned how to code websites from scratch. This was so memorable because it was incredibly challenging, but so eye-opening. It was like learning a new language and gave me so much appreciation for the process, and a little insight of how to do it as well.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Take advantage of all the extras. Wisconsin is such an incredible campus and has so much to offer. If you’re looking to get into sports, look at the job listings in the Athletic Department, one of the best collegiate sports programs in the country. If you’re interested in event planning like I was, interview for the Homecoming Committee. If there is a cause that you really care about, use the campus resources to do something about it. Whatever you’re interested in/want to learn more about – there is an organization at UW for you. And the skills you take away from those experiences are by-far what is going to set you apart in a job setting.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?

Fighting for women’s visibility and fair wages in the endorsement space. It has a chain reaction of not only giving that female athlete a greater chance of creating generational wealth for their family, but it also means more young girls will get to see someone that looks like them being celebrated on a large scale, and the positive impact of something like that is endless.