Career Conversations is a speed-networking event that provides 1-on-1 brief talks between sports industry personnel and student attendees held annually at the conference. In this informal environment, undergraduate, MBA, and other graduate students are given an opportunity to discuss various careers paths in the sports industry with a diverse group of personnel from the world’s leading organizations, including teams and league offices in the major four US sports, business partners to sporting teams and leagues, media & entertainment companies, technology companies, and many more. In a round-robin fashion, students get to meet with 3 different industry experts from diverse roles ranging from player analytics to digital strategy to business development to revenue planning to operations.
CEO of Kraft Analytics Group (KAGR)
Jessica Gelman is the CEO of Kraft Analytics Group (KAGR), a technology company focused on data management, advanced analytics and strategic marketing. During a 15-year evolution that began with the Kraft Sports Group (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, New England Revolution), Gelman built a team and technology that transformed the business through analytics and continues to power the business side of the Kraft Sports Group. KAGR was created to offer leading organizations the opportunity to collect and understand their data across all platforms, while providing the infrastructure to create their own data-driven strategies.
Since joining the Kraft Family on the business side of the sports properties in 2002, Gelman has overseen many areas for the Kraft Sports Group, including business operations (ticketing, retail, analytics and business intelligence), customer marketing (database marketing, market research, sales planning, and direct marketing), and strategy.
Gelman has received recognition for her leadership and innovation, including the 2014 Sports Business Journal “Forty under 40” which honors the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40 and in 2012 Sports Business Journal’s “Game Changers″ which honors women who are leading and innovating in sports business. Gelman has represented the New England Patriots on several NFL committees, including Customer Data Management and Fan Engagement Research Advisory. Additionally, she was selected to be part of Ticketmaster’s Sports Technology Advisors Group.
Previously, Gelman worked as a strategy consultant at the Mitchell Madison Group, a McKinsey spin-off and played professional basketball in Europe. Gelman has been inducted into both the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and The Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Gelman earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA, cum laude in psychology, from Harvard College. While at Harvard, she was honored as Harvard Female Athlete of the Year after leading Harvard to consecutive Ivy League titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. She is an elected board member of the Harvard Alumni Association. Gelman co-founded and continues to chair the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference, the first and largest analytically focused sports conference.
Gelman is married, has two sons, and resides in the greater Boston area.
General Manager, Houston Rockets
Daryl Morey enters his eighth season with the Houston Rockets and his seventh as the team’s head of all basketball operations. Morey, who officially assumed his current position on May 10, 2007, previously served as the team’s Assistant General Manager after joining the organization on Apr. 3, 2006. He was re-signed as the team’s General Manager and Managing Director of Basketball Operations on Sept. 25, 2009.
Since moving into the role of General Manager, Morey has built a Rockets team that has gone a combined 227-167 (.576) over the last five seasons and has set a number of team records. Morey, who has spearheaded an innovative integration of statistical analytics into the evaluation of NBA talent, earned selection to the SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40 Class of 2010, which honors the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40. In 2010, ESPN.com named the Rockets Basketball Operations as one of the two best management teams in all of basketball. Morey’s ability to manage and bolster the Rockets roster earned him YAHOO.com Executive of the Year accolades in 2008-09. In addition to earning votes for 2008-09 NBA Executive of the Year, Morey was named “Top 50 Most Influential in Basketball” in 2009 by HOOPSWORLD. Morey was also recognized in 2009 as one of “The 10 Most Creative People in Sports” by Fast Company magazine. His articles on sports analytics have been published in leading publications such as Harvard Business Review, The Economist and Grantland.
The Rockets have had winning seasons in each campaign under Morey, including a 34-32 mark in 2011-12 and a 43-39 record in 2010-11. Despite the loss of Yao Ming for the entire 2009-10 campaign, the Rockets maintained their winning edge with a 42-40 mark to become the only team in the previous 20 NBA seasons to finish above .500 without an All-Star. In addition, Aaron Brooks was voted the NBA’s 2009-10 Most Improved Player. From 2006-07 through 2008-09, the Rockets won more regular season games (160) than in any three-year run in the history of the franchise. Houston registered a 53-29 mark in 2008-09 to give the team a third consecutive 50-win season for the first time in team annals (52-30 in 2006-07 and 55-27 in 2007-08). In the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Rockets advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 1997, taking the eventual NBA Champion L.A. Lakers to a Game Seven despite playing without Tracy McGrady and losing the services of Yao for the final four contests of that series. In 2007-08, the Rockets won a remarkable 22 straight games, which stands as the third-longest winning streak in professional sports history.
This success has all come while Morey has transformed the Houston roster into one of the most promising young teams in the league. Morey positioned the Rockets to get three first-round selections in the 2012 NBA Draft, picking Jeremy Lamb (12th overall), Royce White (16th overall) and Terrence Jones (18th overall). Morey then went out into 2012 NBA free agency and signed restricted free agents Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. In addition to working with Owner Leslie Alexander to secure Kevin McHale as the 12th head coach in club history, Morey selected Kansas standout Marcus Morris with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He also acquired the draft rights to Lithuanian forward Donatas Motiejunas (20th overall pick) from the Minnesota Timberwolves and selected Florida forward Chandler Parsons with the 38th overall pick. Motiejunas went on to lead Asseco Prokom to the 2012 Polish League championship, while Parsons garnered 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie Second Team accolades. In 2010-11, Morey made Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson the 14th overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Morey’s bold moves over the years with the Rockets have included the acquisitions of Courtney Lee from the New Jersey Nets, Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest from the Sacramento Kings, Kyle Lowry from the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as first-round draft picks from the New York Knicks, Phoenix, Memphis and a future lottery pick from the Toronto Raptors. In the 2007 NBA Draft, Morey selected Brooks in the first round (26th overall) and traded for the draft rights to Carl Landry (31st overall). Morey then traded Vassilis Spanoulis to acquire Argentine forward Luis Scola from the San Antonio Spurs. Scola (First Team) and Landry (Second Team) each went on to earn NBA All-Rookie Team honors in 2007-08.
Morey came to Houston after serving three years as SVP Operations for the Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, his responsibilities included the development of analytical methods and technology to enhance basketball decisions, such as the draft, trades and free agency.
Prior to his time with the Celtics, Morey worked as a Principal consultant with an emphasis on sports at The Parthenon Group, a leading strategy consulting firm. Morey was also a statistical consultant with STATS, Inc., the industry pioneer in the use of sports statistics highlighted in the Michael Lewis book Moneyball.
Morey holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science with an emphasis on statistics from Northwestern University, as well as an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Morey, who currently serves as an adjunct professor in the Sport Management Program at Rice University, was also the professor for the MIT Sloan class, “Analytical Sports Management.” He continues to be a co-chair of the annual MIT Sloan Sports Conference, which is the largest annual sports conference hosted by a business school. In 2012, Fast Company actually ranked the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference third among its Most Innovative Companies in Sports, trailing only the NFL and MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM).
Morey grew up in a small town near Medina, Ohio. He and his wife have two children.