Life & work SkillsSports

If I Win, We All Win

Willing to work hard, while also keeping a smile on the faces of complete strangers, Ebony Armstrong

has all it takes to work in  the demanding field of sports. Now working for the Big Ten Conference, Armstrong is the Associate Director for football and basketball operations. With the opportunities she has been given, she never forgets to take a moment to catch a glimpse of the look of pure amazement on the faces of fans. Having worked for  many great sport entities she has really paved the way for the generations following in her footsteps. Never forgetting to take a moment to celebrate success she always keeps the mentality If I win, we all win as a tool in her toolbox of success.

Name:  Ebony Armstrong
Age: 29
Location:  Chicago, IL
Current Title: Associate Director of Football and Basketball Operations

Company:  Big Ten Conference
Education: Ball State University

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

A professor I had during my undergraduate career helped me get the information for an internship with Indiana Sports Corp. She had also interned there before me. This is where I learned the importance of creating genuine relationships in this industry.

What drove you to pursue a career in the field of sports?

Primarily being able to see so many facets of sports at my first internship and seeing behind the scenes. The volunteers, the officials, all the people that create the event that I had no idea would even make a difference in putting on the event. But what was so appealing to me, ultimately were the fans. They gave me the most satisfaction from my job, and currently to this day still do. The experience they get to have and what they get to take away from it is what drives me to continue to do the best job I can possibly do.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

Super Bowl XLVI (2012) was the greatest moment in my career. It was where I realized it was more than just a game. It was the most life changing experiences and one of my most proud moments. There were so many elements involved and I learned how much better we made our community outside of the game. We made our community better in a variety of ways through the economic impact, touching the lives of so many, and social change to the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis. I think I will say that’s why it was so successful because of the amount of community involvement we built in to the Super Bowl being there in Indy.

What has been the most challenging and most enjoyable part of your career?

Everyone has a piece of the pie or a lot of different types of people hold stake in sports and its most challenging trying to remember that and manage it.

The best part I would say is being able to celebrate accomplishments and champions. This makes me remember why I do what I do and it makes the job more enjoyable for the whole group. I always say when the event is underway I always find a spot and stand and watch the fans, it’s the best moment for me. Seeing the people experience the event around me is the best feeling.

What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

  • Make genuine relationships.

  • Work hard and hustle like there is no tomorrow and have a life as well. Be able to breathe because sometimes just living for the moment gets lost and I’ve been at that point of being stressed out and forgetting to take care of me. So I would say to take time to take to care for yourself, so that you can be the best you… Ebony take care of you first then you can take care of the world!

  • A life lesson I’ve learned that I would tell my younger self is to wait and be patient with God and to not try to force what backup plan I might see fit, when God has all the control.

Is there anything you wish you had known when you were first starting out?

The most important thing I think personally, I wish I would have known was how to better approach working with different types of people. Forgetting that so many people have stake in the world of sports, it is important to take note of the motivators and act accordingly. Dealing with these motivators will allow for a more successful run of an event.

What is your morning routine and how does it prepare you for a successful day in the office?

Wake up and wish I didn’t have to be up so early (jokingly). There isn’t a set morning routine for me. But I do like to wake up and watch the news to stay current especially in my community with what is going on around me, in addition to the world news. Also listening to my pastor’s periscope for encouragement, but generally wake up turn on the news and get going out the door.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about a career move or a decision you’ve made?

I am really good about not having regrets and I see everything as an opportunity and I think that there is no such thing as an opportunity failing, it just didn’t work out the way it was supposed to or it did and it worked out exactly the way it was supposed to.

I will say I have made decisions where I wish I would have thought about them more in depth before making the decisions, or at least been a little more methodical about the decision. Methodical, meaning really evaluate the options on the table and how it would’ve or could’ve affected various areas of my career and family and then made those decisions.

Sometimes in this industry we rush because everything is on a timeline or deadline and as a believer in Christ I feel that anything of God isn’t rushed it will be on time. And whatever the next move is, it was supposed to happen and if it wasn’t that as well was supposed to happen.

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?

Definitely Michelle Obama! There are so many amazing people in society and if I couldn’t have lunch with her I would have lunch with Jesus (laughing). But seriously, because in my eyes she is President Obama’s wife first, Malia and Sasha’s mother first and then a world leader in her own right. I would love to understand how she manages her marriage, being a mother, and then being a world leader. I look at anyone who can balance all of these traits as a phenomenal person, and she does it so well so that is why if I could choose anyone to have lunch with it would be her. Lastly I would most definitely ask her who does her hair (LOL) because it’s always just so beautiful.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a success and why is it important to celebrate accomplishments?

I thank God off the cuff (Like Good Looking Out Jesus {as she laughs}!!) I celebrate with my husband, my friends, my family, and my coworkers in this industry. If one of us wins we all win! We all will eat mentality is what I live by. With that cohort of friends in the industry, we all celebrate if I did something we all did something and we are all feeling good. All Smiles.

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