Washington Sports & Entertainment President Susan O'Malley
A respected leader and motivator, O’Malley has risen through the ranks to the top of Washington Sports and Entertainment. Once an intern with the Bullets and Capitals, O’Malley joined the organization full-time in 1986 as Director of Advertising. Since that time, her ground breaking business ideas and proactive approach to customer service has brought her, and Washington Sports and Entertainment, to the top of the sports business world.
After being named President, O’Malley took an organization ranked last to its counterparts in close to every category, and initiated policies and procedures that have formed positive relationships with ticket holders, corporate sponsors, and the media.
In her first season handling off-court activities, the team experienced the largest ticket revenue increase in the history of an NBA franchise to date. In addition, that year, the club achieved the highest renewal rate of season tickets ever by the franchise, including the year following the 1977-78 Championship season.
As President, O’Malley oversees all business operations for the Washington Wizards. In addition, she is responsible for overseeing operations in the Abe Pollin owned Verizon Center, Entertainment and New Business Development, Finance, Human Resources/Payroll Services, Marketing, Team Operations, and TicketMaster.
“The city of Washington is extremely fortunate to have a man like Abe Pollin spend over $200 million of his own money to build a world-class sports and entertainment facility in the heart of the city at no expense to the taxpayers,” said O’Malley. “It’s my job to make sure that Verizon Center continues to provide outstanding entertainment for this city as often as possible. Since we opened in 1997, we have been among the ‘busiest’ arenas in the country, and we will continue to be for years to come.”
O’Malley’s magic has helped attract over 21.2 million patrons through the turnstiles of the Washington, D.C.-based facility through August of 2006 to witness professional basketball at its finest, as well as spectacular events and concerts. In the eight and a half year history of Verizon Center, the arena has been host to more then 1,788 concerts and sporting events. The 2005-06 Wizards season saw the franchise tally 14 sellouts, averaging over 17,000 fans per game en route to their second consecutive trip to the NBA playoffs.
From a young age, O’Malley always knew her path in life. As a grade school student, she wrote a paper declaring her goal was to run a sports franchise. Her teacher deemed the goal “unrealistic,” but O’Malley was not swayed. After graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business and finance from Mt. St. Mary’s College, O’Malley worked for the Earle Palmer Brown Advertising firm for three years before joining the Bullets in 1986. She worked for two seasons in the advertising department before being promoted to Executive Vice President and took control of the business operations of the franchise.
A skilled motivator, O’Malley created a spirited, results-oriented work environment that has been emulated throughout professional sports. While she demands hard work and determination from her staff, she has been rewarded with loyalty — her core management team, assembled by O’Malley when she assumed control of Washington Sports, remains intact nearly 16-years later. Her motivational methods are much sought-after, as she has become an often-requested speaker for civic, academic, and corporate groups.
“I think motivation and drive always comes from within,” said O’Malley. “There are people that I greatly admire and respect. [Former chairman of the Washington Post] Katherine Graham was one of my great heroes. People like that inspire me. It’s easy to point to someone like Sandra Day O’Connor, who became the Supreme Court’s first female member over twenty years ago. People who keep trying to move forward, that’s important to me, that’s what inspires me.”
For two years, O’Malley taught a Sports Business Marketing class at the Georgetown University Business School. Sharing her invaluable experience with the senior students, O’Malley lectured on what she knows best: how to run a successful sports franchise. Along with guest celebrities and seasoned veteran sports marketers, Georgetown students were exposed to a first hand experience in sports business without ever leaving the classroom. In 2002, Georgetown awarded O’Malley with the Adjunct Professor of the Year Award. Currently she is pursuing her law degree from Georgetown.
O’Malley is a strong advocate of community service, a quality that is emulated by Washington Sports and Entertainment. She works tirelessly in countless fundraising capacities for worthy causes. For her commitment to youth, O’Malley was the recipient of the Americanism Award from the Alexandria-Olympic Boys and Girls Club in 1997. On the lighter side, in 2006 O’Malley paid homage to her Irish heritage when she served as the Grand Marshall for the Washington, D.C. St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
O’Malley resides in Alexandria, VA