| Jan 17, 2017
The Awards return for the third edition

The Leaders Under 40 Awards is back for a third year to uncover the best global talent in sport business. The annual awards, created by Leaders and Aspire Academy, recognises the off field visionaries who are shaping the future of the sports industry. The awards ceremony celebrating those chosen for the Class of 2017, will return to the iconic Natural History Museum on the 3 October 2017.

The annual campaign involves an extensive search of all geographies, sports and job functions, to identify those individuals helping to drive the industry forward. To uncover this exceptional work and highlight outstanding potential, over 60 established international judges will seek out individuals across 5 categories: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Digital, Marketing & Communications, and Sales to form a talented Class of 2017.

Last year’s ceremony was a night of celebration for the 35 exceptional individuals who were selected to join the Leaders Under 40 Awards Class of 2016. All 35 candidates were called on stage to collect their award in front of an audience of over 400. In the room there was an eclectic mix of aspiring and established leaders from across the sport business spectrum. Herbert Hainer, former CEO at Adidas, picked up the coveted Inspirational Leader Award. André Villas-Boas, Head Coach at Shanghai SIPG also took to the stage to offer an expert insight in a one to one interview with evening host Mark Chapman.


LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Leaders Under 40 Awards at the Natural History Museum on October 4, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images for Leaders)


James Johnson, Head of Professional Football, FIFA and Class of 2016 member in the Leadership category, commented:

‘The 2016 Class is really exceptional and for me it’s a privilege to be part of this group.’

James Worrall, Founder and CEO, Leaders, commented:

‘The Awards really have gone global and established itself as the awards ceremony for the leaders under 40 in the business of sport. Aspire Academy are all about inspiring the next generation of leaders, so it was a natural fit to join forces and hopefully the sum is greater than the parts.’

Ivan Bravo, Director General, Aspire Academy and Founding Partner of the Leaders Under 40 Awards, commented:

‘The Leaders Under 40 Awards is the perfect platform for us to uncover the most talented individuals operating in sport business, and the industry recognises those who are really making the difference. For us recognising talent also provides a reference point for those aspiring to be leaders in the industry.’

Nominations for the 2017 Leaders Under 40 Awards are now open. To nominate yourself or someone you know, click here. Or to find out more about the Leaders Under 40 Awards, click here.

Leaders Under 40 Awards Class of 2016



Chris Schlosser, SVP and General Manager, MLS Digital, MLS

Alexandra Willis, Head of Communications, Content & Digital, Wimbledon

Tim Greenberg, SVP Digital, World Surf League

Diego Gigliani, SVP, Media and Innovation, City Football Group

Victor Alvarado, Chief Marketing Officer, Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación, A.C.

Nuno Moura, Global Brand Digital Director, Nike

Stephen McArdle, EVP, Digital Media & Strategic Planning, NHL



Will Dean, CEO & Founder, Tough Mudder

Sanjit Atwal, CEO & Co-Founder, Squawka

Igor Ulis, CEO & Co-Founder, Omnigon

Danny Townsend, Chief Revenue Officer, Nielsen Sports

Jason Robins, Co-Founder & CEO, Draft Kings

Nicholas Horbaczewski, Founder & CEO, Drone Racing League

Tom Vernon, Founder & Chairman, Right to Dream & FC Nordsjaelland



Rory Brown, President, Bleacher Report

Sam Hollis, Chief Operating Officer, America’s Cup Event Authority

Elkhan Mammadov, General Secretary, Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan

Omar Berrada, Chief Operating Officer, Manchester City FC

James Johnson, Head of Professional Football, FIFA

Connor Schell, SVP and Executive Producer, ESPN Films and Original Content, ESPN

Nakisa Bidarian, Chief Financial Officer, UFC


Marketing & PR

Daniel Glantz, Global Head of Sponsorship, AIG

Olivier van Lindonk, Senior Vice President, IMG Tennis, IMG

Matt McKie, Global Marketing Director for EA SPORTS FIFA, EA SPORTS

Todd Fischer, SVP, Global Sports and Entertainment Consulting, GMR Marketing

John-Olav Evans, Marketing Director, Norwegian Ski Federation

Melissa Proctor, Chief Marketing Officer, Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and Philips Arena

Scott Bowers, Group Communications Director, The Jockey Club



Matthew O’Donohoe, Head of International Sales and Business Development, CAA Sports

Cole Gahagan, Chief Revenue Officer, Ticketmaster

Nathan Lindberg, Director of eSports Sales, Twitch

Brett Clarke, Global Head of Business Development and Marketing Partnerships, Nitro Circus

Wendy Jiang Jing, Commercial Vice President, APAC, Women’s Tennis Association

Nick Baker, Senior Vice President, AEG Global Partnerships

John Younger, Senior Director Corporate Partnerships, Hulman Motorsports Corporation – IndyCar Series & Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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