Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport! In this issue, we’re speaking to UK Marketing Manager for Umbro, Jonathan McCourt.

Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously? 

My name is Jonathan McCourt and I am proud to be a part of the global sports brand Umbro. I’m generally a sporty person and played football for many years, before all the knee injuries, which has now translated to me being a keen runner. I’ve done lots of running races from road to trail, 5K’s to half marathons’, and even 2 full marathons’, in Amsterdam & London.

My current role at Umbro is UK Marketing Manager, which in a nutshell means I am responsible for the clubs in the UK who have Umbro as their technical kit supplier, as well as working with key retail partners such as Pro Direct.

Previous roles have all been Marketing centric, but varied industries including car parts and paint! with a 3-year stint working abroad in Belgium, but more on that below…

I’m also extremely honoured to be part of The Sport Industry NextGen 2020 program along with 29 other amazingly talented individuals. The program is aimed at industry professionals aged 30 and younger, and is designed to better equip the best emerging talent for leadership roles in the future.

As a group we will benefit from a year-long Leadership Package which includes money-can’t-buy training, personal development and networking opportunities, in addition to the powerful, lifelong network us as Leaders form together.

Jonathan McCourt and Michael Owen

 

What do you do in your current role?

It’s my responsibility to manage the marketing relationships with clubs who have Umbro as their technical kit supplier. This involves delivering several key objectives such as producing bespoke kit launches and utilising key marketing inventory, as well as working with key customers such as Pro Direct and Unisport to launch the latest boots and collections.

I always tell people it’s my dream job, I could be sat with my head in excel all day, but I’m still looking at football boots, ordering new samples or reviewing the stock levels of jerseys.

Football is also always changing which is nice, the kits change, the clubs we sponsor change, teams are successful, teams struggle, new players, new managers, they all have an impact on what I do on a day-to-day basis which is exciting.

The Linfield Irish Cup

 

What does a normal week look like for you?

Well, a normal week at this time of year is pretty hectic, as we’re usually working towards new seasonal kit launches so it would mainly involve travelling around between clubs and shooting the new product. As you can imagine, the kits are very sensitive and we have to avoid any leaks so it can be quite a military operation, but it’s the best part of my job – Seeing a jersey come to life after seeing it on a CAD drawing the best part of a year earlier is amazing!

Pitch Day with Tony Bellew

 

How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

I guess subconsciously I always dreamed of working in sport, and when I did think about it, I just didn’t know how I would get there.

I began my career straight after University and obtained a graduate role at a global Automotive car parts manufacturer. I had 2 years of site rotations around the UK delivering Marketing projects before I was offered the opportunity to go and work in the EMEA Headquarters based in Belgium which I of course accepted. This is one of the best decisions I ever made in my career and allowed me to learn and excel quite quickly.

After 3 years in Belgium I moved back to Leeds, UK to begin a new career in professional coatings (Paint), and this was my foot-in-the door to sport as I was responsible for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Football tournament sponsorship. It was the 10th and final year of the sponsorship and it ended with a final at Wembley stadium.

It was one of the best experience of my life, having an access all areas pass for Wembley for a weekend and choosing the music that the players warm-up to, walk out the tunnel to and climb those famous Wembley steps after the game was surreal.

Anyway, it was an exciting time for me in my career as I was offered an internal promotion, at the same time that the opportunity at Umbro came up, so I politely declined and chose the double diamond, and headed to Manchester.

I believe that a big, if not the biggest part of where I am today has been down to the relationships I’ve built and the people skills I’ve learned and used over my relatively short career, and I don’t plan on changing that anytime soon.

The North West Football Awards

 

What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?

One thing I’m really excited about internally, which was announced recently, is the partnership with the England Rugby team (RFU) which is another big moment in the ever historic timeline for Umbro. We do actually have a history with Rugby that people might not know about, so it’s nice to be back, and to be at the very top level of an elite sport is going to be a fun journey. I’ve already seen the kits due for release later this year and I think they look great!

Outside of Umbro, and just within sport in general, eSports is fascinating and while I don’t claim to know a lot or enough about it, I’m trying to get up to speed. As a brand we are navigating it through our clubs which feels like the most sensible approach, but I do find myself watching it from time-to-time whether it’s 2 people playing FIFA, tuning into a virtual Grand Prix or Zwift Cycling League…bonkers.

Jonathan McCourt podcast appearance 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?

It doesn’t always have to be the conventional route into sport (look at my route), find opportunities that allow for skills and knowledge to be transferred to sport if your finding too many barriers. Be bold and put yourself in uncomfortable situations to learn quicker. And learn what makes the industry, sports and people tick.

(Sorry that was 3)

 

How to follow Jonathan McCourt on social media…

Instagram: jonmcc8pdt

Twitter: @JonathanMccourt

LinkedIn: Jonathan McCourt

 

Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with UK Marketing Manager for Umbro, Jonathan McCourt!