Ironwood's priority is to create industry-ready professionals with sports business knowledge


BELA DESAI is a Promoter Director at Greycells Education Ltd, an organization focusing on vocational training for youth in multiple professional fields. An initial foray in sports management with other partners ended few years ago with Greycells deciding to go on their own. They have now launched the Ironwood Sports Management Global Academy with an aim to be part of the burgeoning sports industry. Bela, who mentors the company's growth into new areas, speaks to SportzPower on the need for 'industry-ready' professionals and Ironwood's strengths.

Greycells had a sports management course, which has been discontinued for a few years now. What is the reason for that?
Greycells has always maintained the need for industry relevant courses which are applicable in the real world scenario so that candidates are employable during and after completing the course. Our earlier partners were of a different view. For them a degree took precedence over delivering a course which fulfilled the industry needs. This did not fit into our strategy and we decided it was best for both parties to part ways.

What made you enter this domain again?
For a decade and a half, our courses have focused on fulfilling the industry requirement for professionals across different streams. With the sports industry in India booming, through industry interactions we sensed the need for professionals who understand the business of sports across all areas of the industry -- ones that understand the sports industry and not just event management professionals.

What benefits will students get out of pursuing this course?
The Sports Management course at Ironwood has many firsts. It is the only course in India where the Advisory Board comprises of stalwarts from the field of sports management globally. The curriculum has been designed in conjunction with senior-level sports professionals who are active in the industry and hence have the best knowledge about the professionals that they require.

Why is it called 'global' management course?
The course has been designed to provide students with an overview of the sporting landscape across the world, with special emphasis on India. This will help them to relate to the happenings in various sports ecosystems, even in the developed world, and adapt to it quicker while taking up a professional assignment. Moreover, Promoseven Sports Marketing, one of UAE’s leading sports management companies that works on global sporting events, has agreed to train students in realtime situations and sporting events in Dubai. Students enrolling for the Global Program will have an opportunity to go for a 2-month internship in Dubai and gain invaluable experience. The internship will also help them to understand the global scenario within sports and media & entertainment at large.

Compared to other courses in the market, what are the key differentiators of this course?
We have made a conscious effort to ensure that the students learn and gain an understanding of the evolution of the business of sports in India as well as get hands-on experience of various aspects of the sports industry and not just sporting events. Students will gain from knowledge sharing by industry stalwarts much beyond just getting a selfie opportunity with them!

When you say the course will make students 'industry-ready', what attributes will they come out with?
Post completion of this course, students will be able to understand the business of sports and not just sports management. With modules focused on multiple aspects such as Sports Policy, Sports Broadcast, Sports Marketing, Sports Communication, Business of Top Sports, Sports Leagues, Athlete Management and others, students graduating out of Ironwood will be much better poised to take on work profiles with larger responsibilities and delivery, and meet the expectations set by their organizations.

Though the sports industry is growing, isn't it still too cricket-centric?
Yes, cricket in India continues to be the number one sport and the business associated with it is in a different league itself. But the important fact to note is that other sports such as football, badminton, hockey, kabaddi, tennis, golf are growing rapidly and making a mark of their own. As we all know, the Indian Premier League was a game-changer for cricket and BCCI, but it also helped other associations realise that they can also monetize their sport better. All this has opened up opportunities for professionals at various levels in different regions across the country. Ironwood will try to ensure that we are at the forefront in fulfilling a good part of the need for industry-ready professionals.

Have you forged partnerships within the industry which would help the students?
We have an Advisory Board which consist of eminent professionals from the industry. These stalwarts and their organisations work closely with us with an aim to create a course which is useful for the industry. SportzPower, India's only sports business media company, is directly involved with creating and curriculum and conducting the course. Apart from this, our other partners in Dubai and India are actively associated with making Ironwood the premier sports management academy in the country.