Growing up, Malcolm Turner (BSBA ’93) learned how sweet teamwork can be. Sometimes he added items to his mother’s grocery list for one of his favorite desserts, bananas Foster. She got the ingredients. He made the treat.
Though Turner still enjoys cooking, his teamwork focus has moved from the kitchen to other arenas: basketball and tennis courts, auto racing and horse tracks, golf courses.
Turner is senior vice president of OnSport, a Raleigh-based business that develops sports and entertainment partnerships, television and naming rights and revenue strategies for clients that include Coca-Cola, Wachovia and NASCAR. OnSport recently was acquired by California-based Wasserman Media Group.
This year, OnSport helped develop the United States Golf Association’s first corporate partnership in its 112-year history, a deal with American Express.
“I love what I do. I’m grateful to have found an opportunity where I can say that,” Turner says.
He likes the variety of his work. “I’m a bit of a free agent internally — able to, on the one hand, work with Nokia in developing its music and entertainment strategy, and the next week it could be working with the USTA (United States Tennis Association),” he says.
OnSport also works with private investor groups who may want to buy a professional team or launch a sports cable network or league.
Turner, with OnSport since 1999, managed corporate accounts for years and is moving to a business development role in which he’ll work with the Pacific Ten Conference and other sports organizations and events.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s also what I love about it, the opportunity to do things that haven’t been done before,” Turner says.
SportsBusiness Journal this year named Turner a winner of its annual Forty Under 40 awards, which recognize executives younger than 40 in the sports industry. “I viewed it not so much as an award for me individually but a celebration of the team we’ve built here at OnSport,” says Turner, 36, of Raleigh.
Turner first experienced the business of sports in a summer internship with a sports marketing company as a Morehead Scholar at UNC.
The summer before his senior year, Turner worked with the PGA Tour’s minority internship program, helping with event management. That led to a similar job with the tour right after graduation. Turner deferred his acceptance to Harvard Law School.
After two years with the tour, Turner went to Harvard and earned a law degree and MBA. But he passed up a job offer with Goldman Sachs to work at OnSport.
“That was something that I felt was compelling so I changed gears,” Turner says. His law degree has helped with issues in contract negotiations.
UNC Kenan-Flagler helped him, too.
“It served me well in terms of a very general, well-rounded approach to business. I felt like I left Kenan-Flagler with a tool kit of relevant skills and awareness of certain issues to really launch my career in a good and credible way,” Turner says.
Now he’s giving back.
As a member of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s alumni council, Turner and other members advise on issues, including enhancing connections among alumni and students. “Part of what you get when you go to Kenan-Flagler is a network. It’s a real value,” Turner says.