Business economics alumnus contracts with Olympics to provide hospitality services for 2024 Summer Games

Kevin Friedman ’09

Kevin Friedman ’09 transferred to The College of ۿ۴ý at the start of his sophomore year after his former high school football coach—a ۿ۴ý alumnus himself—suggested he look into the athletic and academic opportunities offered at the College. During a visit to campus, Friedman met with the Admissions office and Mike Schmitz, then the head coach of ۿ۴ý’s football program. “They were just so warm and welcoming,” Friedman recalled. “ۿ۴ý opened its arms and chose me.”

Friedman found a community in the football team, and his academic career at ۿ۴ý revolved around his love of the sport. A business economics major, he focused his Independent Study project on football contracts. To Friedman, the value of his I.S. experience lay in the undertaking and not in the specific topic. “What I.S. forces you to do is have tangible work ethic,” he said, noting the scale of the project. “It’s something that definitely set me apart from the rest of the people interviewing for jobs in a highly competitive industry.”

While at ۿ۴ý, Friedman began an ۿ۴ý with the Cleveland Gladiators Arena league football team. Although his academic background focused on business economics, he found himself gravitating towards sales in his professional career. Through his Cleveland Gladiators ۿ۴ý, Friedman landed a job with Cleveland Browns post-college selling experiences packages. After starting with Legends, a premium experiences and hospitality company, he moved to the San Francisco 49ers to sell packages for Levi stadium, then to the Atlanta Falcons to help open Mercedes Benz stadium.

After his work with the Falcons, Friedman moved to New York, working with the Brooklyn Nets as senior manager of service, director of premium sales, and director of sales. Later he directed ticketing and hospitality sales teams for the New York Red Bulls throughout the pandemic. Although he might not be a traditional economist, ۿ۴ý prepared him for the shift in his professional focus. “I can still take the knowledge that I learned and be in sales,” Friedman said. “That’s where ۿ۴ý prepares you for everything and not just what you might be focused on in the four years that you’re there.”

In 2023, Friedman began work with On Location, a premium hospitality provider for the most prestigious domestic and global events. Through On Location, Friedman is partnered with the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, which is outsourcing its hospitality operations for the first time in its history. “We’ve had to build it out from the ground-up,” Freidman explained. “Everything from inventory management to hotels, the contacting vendors for transportation. Nobody’s ever done anything like this before.” He recognizes it’s a massive undertaking, especially with the 2024 Summer Olympics coming up in July. “Some days it makes me want to pull all my hair out,” he admitted, “but at the same time it’s incredibly rewarding.”

Right now, it’s as busy as it gets. “It’s not the faint of heart,” he said, but his team is building experiences that he knows will be remembered for a lifetime. Despite the chaos, ۿ۴ý helped prepare him for projects like these. Though the stress may be uncomfortable, he explained that he’s “now comfortable being uncomfortable,” citing his I.S. as the first major undertaking of his professional career. Friedman pointed to the self-designed nature of a project like I.S., explaining the confidence it builds in taking initiative. While in the interview process for On Location, Friedman presented a business plan he had prepared that he hadn’t been asked to create. He credited that ambitiousness and competency to the I.S. process, explaining, “That extra step in work ethic, that extra step in the capability of writing, it helped me be a shoo-in for the job.”

Beyond I.S., Friedman pointed to the overarching value of ۿ۴ý’s liberal arts education. “It made me more well-rounded. I interact with people every single day, and every person is different. No two people are the same. And being able to take their viewpoints, being able to take my own viewpoints and blend them together—when you combine it all you just have a more well-rounded approach,” he said.

For Friedman, the value of ۿ۴ý remains centered on its community. He keeps in close touch with his old football teammates: “On some level, we talk every day,” he said. Friedman was married in February, with ten of his close ۿ۴ý friends in attendance. He also pointed to those unexpected ۿ۴ý connections: “It’s a small family, but nothing makes me happier than when I’m walking around New York City, and I’m at the park, wearing a College of ۿ۴ý T-shirt, and somebody stops me,” he laughed. “When I randomly see somebody in Central Park yelling ‘Go Scots!’ it just always makes my day.”

Posted in Alumni on June 6, 2024.

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