From sports fan to industry pro - working with the Florida Panthers


There’s nothing like a ‘shortcut’ when trying to make it big in any industry. It’s the rule of nature that everything happens in due time. Be it success to reaching a milestone; it does not happen overnight. The time required for things to grow is inevitable and requires a sheer amount of patience. The same notion applies to most professionals in the world. The majority of them start from scratch to build a career. It takes time and effort to reach a particular position.

Chris Tacopina, strategy and insight manager for the Florida Panthers, has always been a passionate sports fan. His love for sports, combined with the words of Brooklyn Net’s CEO Brett Yormark, led him to obtain an MBA in sports management from Real Madrid Graduate School. After earning his MBA, he secured an internship with the Relevant Sports Group, propelling his career to new horizons.

His undefeated passion and hunger to learn earned him a reputable place among the finest sporting brains in the world.

A Journey Worth Sharing

Now filling the shoes of a strategy and insight manager, Tacopina started his career with his undergraduate studies in business and sports. Hailing from the prestigious Hobart College, he found his way to obtain an MBA in sports management. His decision was influenced mainly by the Brooklyn Net’s CEO Brett Yormark’s advice, where he served as an intern. He remained committed to the cause showing up at 7:00 a.m., trying to adopt the art of punctuality from the CEO.

Following his academic triumphs, Tacopina found an opportunity to work as an intern at the Relevant Sports Group. He remained closely associated with the sports fraternity and looked for opportunities to shine. Tacopina found his first professional break with the New England Patriots serving as special projects coordinator. His encounters at the Patriots were cut short due to the pandemic, confining him to operate remotely. Following the pandemic, Tacopina returned to in-house operations only to wrap up his tenure at the firm. The Westport-born sports enthusiast found another career break at the Florida Panthers after searching for a career path.

With a goal to make an impactful entry into the glamorous world of sports, Tacopina’s access to the Patriots became possible through his countless endeavors on platforms like LinkedIn. Tacopina messaged nearly 40 to 50 people in his quest to find the spot he deserved. Today, Tacopina enjoys a reputation as a man of data, stats and numbers. He finds himself involved in finding the best avenues for the Florida Panthers, helping the team with statistic-driven solutions.

The Million Dollar Advice

Tacopina shared his experiences and guidance for current or aspiring sports professionals. He stressed the importance of organic connections, the adaptation of ideas, and working for different firms to build a strong portfolio and demonstrate a solid work ethic.

Tacopina stresses the need for passion and determination. He believes the only thing one needs to succeed in the polarized industry is to be determined about their goals. Tacopina vehemently refutes the common narrative about the need for prior connections to make it big in the sports sector. As a young professional, he pushes people to start building their connections. He regards LinkedIn as one of the most powerful tools in the world of networking.

One Conversation Can Open So Many Doors in This (Sports) Industry - Chris Tacopina

According to Tacopina, he relied heavily on LinkedIn to find relevant work. Now a strategy and insight manager, he claims he sent messages to at least 50 people trying to persuade them to lend him 10 minutes of their time. Tacopina believes that once you have found a place in the sports industry, there’s plenty of room to grow. He encourages the young blood never to take NO for an answer, be dismayed, or give up and continue chasing their dreams until they find success.

Tacopina About Real Madrid and their MBA Program

Yormark’s advice was nothing but a life-changing potion for young Tacopina. His independent research about the Real Madrid Graduate School MBA program deeply delved into its potential. Initially, Tacopina was held back, blaming his inability to speak or understand Spanish. However, he looked over hundreds of resources, websites, and reviews to make up his mind about the program. Following extensive research, he finally made his way into the program welcoming a new wave of career opportunities. According to Tacopina, “I just knew the power of having the Real Madrid name on my resume, and I was accurate about it. ” He also credits Real Madrid’s overall success as an organization to his belief in that name.

I just knew the power of having the Real Madrid name on my resume, and I was accurate about it.

The Learning Curve

Tacopina believes that he was always good with numbers and data. The one thing that he learned through his journey was the management aspect. A brief chance to polish his management skills allowed him to understand the art of making the most of his resources. Another thing that he capitalizes upon is the art of team building. Tacopina has always been a man who likes to communicate and talk. However, his professional interactions helped him comprehend the perks of team building. He found a new definition of teamwork during his time with Real Madrid.

Chris Tacopina remains one of the key professional figures for aspiring youth to follow. His experiences and understanding of the basics are a paradigm that young blood would wish to pursue.

Florida International University (FIU) and Real Madrid Graduate School are partnering up for a unique 17-month MBA program with a specialization in sports management. The partnership brings together the most renowned sports leaders and executives and the top faculty from across the globe to prepare you to successfully and responsibly manage the fast-changing environments of sports organizations around the world. If you want to learn more about this unique MBA in Sports Management, please visit the program page.