With just a few weeks until the 2018 Conference, we’re gearing up for one of of our favorite aspects of SSAC: career development. We recently sat down with Megan Schroeder, Manager of Baseball Research & Development with the LA Dodgers, to hear about her firsthand experience at SSAC and how it led her to begin her career with the Dodgers. Megan is a graduate of Yale University, and received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University.
You have a doctorate in biomedical engineering, which probably isn’t the most common background with the Dodgers. What got you interested in sports analytics and the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference?
I grew up playing sports (basketball, softball, etc.) and have always been a sports fan. In graduate school, I studied biomechanics and also really enjoyed analyzing data and creating data visualizations. I was fortunate to start looking for jobs at a time when player health / injury risk was starting to come into focus from an analytics perspective, especially given the growth in the wearable technology space. The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference seemed like a great opportunity for me to learn more about the industry and start to make some connections.
Tell us about your initial experience at the conference. What was your favorite part of that first conference?
I was really excited (and nervous!) at that first conference. I had been in the process of interviewing with a few companies leading up to it, and had the opportunity to meet some folks in person while I was there.
Each day was packed with interesting panels and presentations – I enjoyed the opportunity to soak up as much as I could.
What was the most helpful aspect of the conference from a career perspective?
As a job seeker in 2015, the resume book was by far the most helpful part of the conference for me. From that, I was able to connect with several different companies / professional teams, and have in-person conversations while in Boston.
When I returned to the conference in 2016 and 2017 as part of the front office for the Dodgers, we identified a number of interesting candidates from the resume books and ultimately hired a few new team members from the pool.
What would you recommend to someone who is hoping to launch their career at this year’s conference?
The conference is a great opportunity to network with other professionals in the industry. My best advice would be to take advantage of all of the services the conference provides (resume book, Career Conversations, etc.), and keep an open mind about potential opportunities. The sports industry is truly a small world.
Last year at SSAC, Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said: “What we’ve all tried to create is a set of priorities and processes for how we make our decisions.” How does your work influence the decisions the Dodgers make as an organization?
The R&D team helps to support the larger Baseball Operations group in a variety of ways; however, we are just a piece of the larger puzzle. It has been fascinating to see how decisions are made by pulling together information from our group, the coaching staff, player development, scouts, medical staff, strength staff, etc.
Have you seen much change in the use of big data in the overall front office strategy since you’ve been with the Dodgers?
I started working for the team soon after the Dodgers brought in Andrew Friedman as the President of Baseball Operations and Farhan Zaidi as the General Manager. With that leadership change, there was definitely a push to increase the focus on analytics. Since early 2015, we’ve built one of the largest R&D teams in baseball.