Go, Cubs, Go: Alumni Work for a Winning Team

What’s it like to work for a World Championship team? As baseball season gets underway, three Driehaus College of Business alumni share insights into their winning careers with the Chicago Cubs.

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Name: Diego Chahda (BUS ’12)
Cubs Job: Premier Account Executive
Years with the Cubs:  Three

On Working with the Cubs
“I’m from Cleveland, so if anyone can understand the plight of a Cubs fan, it’s me! I started back in 2013, when the Cubs were rebuilding, and it was really hard on our season ticket waiting list. I was brought in to focus on the team’s waitlist and help with converting people to season tickets at a higher rate.

“We changed our sales process. Before, we would send a postcard reminder and then have people just wait to get a call from us to come to the ballpark and buy their seats.

“Literally, people had to come down in December when it was freezing, wait in line to buy their season tickets and they had no idea on the price or anything. Now everything is digital.

“We contact prospective season ticket holders well in advance of the season, and they get a more personalized message from the team, thanking them for their support of the team and [they] are encouraged to celebrate the opportunity to finally buy season tickets.

“We want them to feel a part of the team and its success. They don’t want to lose their opportunity to buy a seat for next season. Now we have an extremely high retention rate for our season ticket holders and convert off the waitlist at a good clip. That number is only going to get higher.”

On DePaul University
“Before I started working [with the Cubs], I had no idea what sales were all about. I couldn’t sell $15 tickets to a high school hockey game. Now, I sell $500 seats, using tactics I learned at DePaul. My classes at DePaul taught me that you are selling more than space: You’re selling experience, and service is how you do that. So that’s my emphasis: serving our customers and making sure they’re more than satisfied with us.”

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Name: Annie Begalke (BUS ’13)
Cubs Job: Human Resources Coordinator
Years with the Cubs:  Two

On Working with the Cubs
“I started as an intern for a minor league team. I literally did everything, from selling tickets to cleaning the stadium and even being the team mascot. I also had an opportunity to work for the Cubs as a client service associate in the 2013 season. After the 2013 season, I left the sports industry and went to work full time in a corporate setting. However, I began to miss the sports industry atmosphere and energy. In 2015, the Cubs had an HR opening, and I was able to find my way back. It’s a totally different culture here. Everyone is much more focused on the same goal—having a winning team and organization. We all want to win the World Series [again]. We want to support our baseball team, support Theo [Epstein, president of Baseball Operations for the Cubs], support Tom Ricketts [owner of the Cubs]. That’s our bigger goal.”

 On DePaul University
“In every class that I took at DePaul, we had some sort of huge final project that required much collaboration. The team-building and collaboration that I learned at DePaul helps me each day as I support the Cubs’ front office. We just have this mentality that we’re all in this together.”

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Name: Ashley Beirne (BUS ‘11)
Cubs Job: Development, Hickory Street Capital LLC (owned by the Ricketts Family); formerly worked in corporate partnerships with the Chicago Cubs
Years with the Ricketts: Three

On Working with the Cubs
“When I started with the Cubs, I worked in corporate partnerships’ new business and sold everything from naming rights to the Cubs Executive Clubs to outfield signage, and brought in additional revenue for two and half years. While working in corporate partnerships, I would educate clients on the 1060 Project development, which included the restoration of Wrigley Field, as well as the Ricketts’ development exterior of Wrigley Field (hotel, plaza and office building).

“In the same time span, my sister and I bought our first condo, which prompted me to become more interested in real estate. I wanted to be a part of this new story for the Ricketts, not only the story on the field, but also transforming Wrigleyville to be an event destination [not only for the] more than 81 home games, but [also] a place where people travel to at all times of the year.

“I was really inspired and began studying on nights and weekends to get my real estate license. I began working in residential real estate and then transferred to working on the $250-million development project the Ricketts started.

“It’s an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of this development. There is a small team of us who are developing this entire infrastructure outside of Wrigley Field. It’s keeping us very busy. It’s been amazing to have the ability to be a part of the design meetings, the construction meetings, launching a new hotel brand and developing community events such as farmer’s markets and movies in the plaza. This whole experience has been amazing, and it’s been incredible to see the Cubs succeed and win.”

On DePaul University
“I love DePaul. The best part is that DePaul gives you the mindset where you realize that what you’re doing now is going to impact what you’ll do in the future. As a business student at DePaul commuting to and from the Loop, your focus is on the real world right away. At DePaul, you have the opportunity to learn from business professionals who have been successful in their own careers and are teaching real-world business practices and strategies, not just from a dated textbook. You’re learning from the best, which has made it easier for me to succeed in my own career and within the Ricketts’ organization.”

This piece was edited and adapted from DePaul Business Exchange

 

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