Meet Nick Sloman from strategic sponsorship and experiential agency, Bastion EBA.
The sports marketing industry has always been hugely competitive, both in terms of job opportunities and agency pitching. And now, post Covid, we are seeing the value in good operators out there, who stand out from the crowd.
As part of a broader re-shaping of the Bastion EBA business, led by CEO Matt McCann, Nick Sloman was recently promoted to Group Director of Strategy at the ripe old age of 26. This role entails managing the entire commercial department at Bastion EBA, leading key accounts, encouraging collaboration, cross-selling across all departments and driving new business conversations.
Nick hails from the UK and joined Bastion, operating in London, as a budding young Account Executive back in 2016, then age 21. This was his first ‘real’ job.
Bastion’s co-founder, Fergus Watts, and brother, co-founder and Global CEO Jack Watts, saw the potential in Nick early on, offering the ambitious junior an opportunity to transfer to Bastion’s original headquarters in Cremorne Street, Melbourne, in 2017, as an Account Manager.
Since landing on Australia’s sunny shores Nick has been promoted five times in the space of four years, shifting from client service to commercial strategy to an all-round business leader. Earlier this year, Nick transferred to Bastion’s Sydney office to enjoy the Coogee life, surf before work in the mornings, and take on a more senior role.
Bastion sat down with Nick to hear about his journey to date.
Nick how have you learned so much in such a short time now stepping into a leadership role?
I was lucky at Bastion EBA to have had access to mentors in leadership roles very early on in my career, including the business founder Fergus Watts in the UK and his brother Jack in Sydney along with other amazing leaders in the industry at Bastion EBA like Simon Garlick, Rod Woodford and Brett Daniher. Learning from great leaders is important but you ultimately have to put the work in yourself and continue to challenge everyone around you to deliver better outcomes.
What has been the best way to maximise the time you spend with your mentors, given how busy they are?
I believe that it’s all about being vulnerable. Being open and upfront about what your weaknesses are, having hard conversations on how to improve and discussing career ambitions openly will create an open dialogue that enables personal development.
Even if it sounds ambitious or you are aiming high so early on, if you are honest about where you want to develop, and go, and are ready to admit the areas you want to excel at and learn more about, an understanding and knowledgeable mentor will naturally want to help you to develop.
Was it daunting moving to a new country, and then stepping into a senior role so young?
I’ve always stepped into roles where traditionally I would be seen as under-qualified, but I’ve tackled every challenge with an energy and attitude that I believe creates a foundation for success. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right people and to trust yourself to make bold moves.
You might have a few failures along the way, but if you can learn from it and become a better person and businessperson, it’s all worth it.
Ultimately, you have to back yourself in.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Managing a whole host of diverse projects that we get coming through the Bastion door from sports consulting to brand and rights holder strategies, and more recently experiential briefs that I’ve been involved in.
The work is only one part for me, as I pride myself on building brilliant client relationships and invest a significant amount of time and effort to build genuine connections with the people who I work with internally and externally.
That and mentoring other people across the business; I love young, smart guns who are excited to learn, challenge our thinking, and are ready to give their best.
So, since you have leapt into the role as a Group Director at age 26, what’s next?
It is an exciting time for the sports sponsorship and entertainment industry. We face a different economic climate as well as new technologies and industries that are continually disrupting the industry.
I want to help grow the Bastion business by building great relationships and helping clients navigate the landscape to growth for their business.
I know this is the industry for me and I very much looking forward to the next 5-10 years as the industry evolves and expands. There’s another international chapter in my future career and it will be no secret to people that know me that I want to test myself in the US market!