DePaul Alumni See Careers Mirror Chicago Cubs Winning Trajectory

By Ovetta Sampson

It’s been more than a century since the Chicago Cubs won a World Series. Now the Cubs are winning again, and fans have high hopes they’ll go all the way this year. But what is it like to see firsthand the team’s historic transformation?

The 12 DePaul alumni – most of them from the college of business – who work the Chicago Cubs organization know.

Much like the team they work for, these alumni have experienced increasing opportunities for success at one of the most storied sports franchises in history. Three of these alumni share how their experiences at DePaul have helped them win at the game of sports management.

dsc_8383Name: 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 post card reminder and then have people just wait to get a call from us to come to the ball park 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, they get a more personalized message from the team, thanking them for their support of the team and are encouraged to celebrate their 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, which had a potential to become extinct, has been extended to 90,000 strong. 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.”

dsc_8434Name: Annie Scalise (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, 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. 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.”

dsc_8328Name: 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

“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 selling 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 with the team hopefully competing for the World Series, but also transforming Wrigleyville to be an event destination more than the 81 home games, but rather 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’re doing 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.”