A Conversation with Leigh Castergine

  • Leigh Castergine, Vice President, Ticket Sales and Services, New York Mets

Vice President, Ticket Sales and Services
New York Mets

By Jared Frank, Editorial Director, ALSD

Other high-ranking executives have told this magazine that Leigh Castergine will be the next female President in the sports industry. It doesn’t take long to discover why those individuals hold that opinion. When you ask Leigh Castergine, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Services at the New York Mets, what their 60-person Ticket Sales and Services department does, it’s quite a robust list: premium sales, season ticket sales, group sales, single game sales, season ticket account services, CRM, data analytics, and ticket operations. And sometime around March 31, 2014 you can add mother to her list of responsibilities. Yes, her first child is due on Opening Day. How poetic is that?

On Breast Cancer Awareness Day this past September at Citi Field, Leigh Castergine, wearing her pink pumps, sat down with SEAT Magazine. Learn why she espouses the theory you cannot wait for opportunities; you must ask in order to receive.

SEAT:
How did you first become interested in the sports industry?
Leigh:
While attending the University of Pennsylvania, I was an economics major with a psychology minor and was intrigued by the analytics and data behind why people purchase consumer products. When it was time to graduate and actually find a job, a mentor at Penn told me she felt sales would be a better fit given my personality and competitive nature (Leigh played soccer at Penn).

SEAT:
Where was your first job in sports?
Leigh:
My first job was working for the Philadelphia 76ers as an inside sales rep making $6 per hour with no health benefits. And the job was only guaranteed for six months. Convincing my parents that after paying for four years of an Ivy League education a career in sales starting at $6 per hour was my calling proved to me that sales was my future.

SEAT:
Most of your experience comes from the arena side of the business. Was there a learning curve moving over to baseball?
Leigh:
That is a question that is asked frequently, and the answer is “not really.” On the surface, baseball has more games and more seating capacity, but at the heart of it, the basic elements of planning, selling, motivating, and strategy are the same regardless of the sport or venue.

SEAT:
Where are there still gender inequities in our industry?
Leigh:
There are still not that many [females] in revenue-generating roles at the VP level, but it is growing, albeit slowly. There are more and more females getting into the industry and performing well, so hopefully the numbers in senior level positions will continue to climb.

SEAT:
What lessons learned from your experience do you make sure to pass on to your staff members?
Leigh:
Be curious, ask questions, and always be learning. You can always learn from your co-workers, staff, bosses, fans, parents, etc. The key to being successful is to soak in all of those data points and use them to learn and improve.

SEAT:
What do you look for when you’re hiring? What makes up the character of a good employee?
Leigh
While every person has unique qualities, there are three main character traits that we focus on when hiring: personality, ability to communicate clearly, and curiosity. Curiosity is the one trait that surprises people when we mention it. From experience, we have found that people who ask questions and want to know “how” and “why” are more successful. By asking more questions on the front end and getting to know their clients, reps are better suited to provide a solution that will meet the client’s needs, and therefore, keep clients satisfied and committed for a longer term relationship with the organization.

SEAT:
What is your personal and/or the organization’s stance on brokers and the secondary market?
Leigh:
We have one person on staff that is completely dedicated to the secondary market. The thought process we took was to better understand how the secondary market works, study how [brokers] are pricing tickets and when their sales occur, and to look at it as an additional lead source for our sales team. We have all of our primary market data, all of the secondary market data because of StubHub’s relationship with MLB. We know what seats are selling, when they’re selling, who’s buying them, and who’s selling them. So we’re able to track the success of the market and learn from it. We have since used the learnings to further refine our dynamic and variable ticket pricing strategies.

SEAT:
What is one area of the industry that I need to be keeping my eye on over the next year or years?
Leigh:
We are in the “Big Data” world now. So what all of these other major online companies are able to do, we need to be able to do to get ahead of the curve in an effort to drive revenue. With the guidance of our senior management and approval from ownership at the Mets, we are looking to take the next steps and invest in business analytics/business intelligence tools and systems to help us work smarter in addition to working harder. 

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