Black History Month Employee Feature: Meet Ade Ayodele

by Quinton Wash

Throughout the month of February, Hornets.com will be featuring different employees across the organization’s multiple departments in conjunction with Black History Month.

Describe what you do with the Charlotte Hornets organization.

“I am the Manager of Suite Sales for Hornets Sports and Entertainment. In my role, I sell annual suite leases and night suite rentals to C Level executives in the area and decision-makers of corporations. My goal is to build relationships with the customers, but doing it here in our arena. We’re still a full-service team where we sell season tickets, group tickets and provide customer service to all of our season ticket holders. However, my main goal is to make sure we identify business opportunities out in the marketplace, do our research, collect data and make sure they’re using us as a business tool in one of our suites. At the end of the day, I see myself as business tool, in order for companies to reach their goals and objectives.”

What experience(s) have had the most significant impact on your career in sports?

“I knew I wanted to always be in the business of sports. Growing up in Nigeria and England, I began playing sports at a very young age like soccer, rugby, cricket and swimming. I never felt like, ‘Yes, I’m going to be an athlete,’ because I had a lot of different injuries. When I enrolled at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, that was where it fortified my interest. I was a double major in Business and Management in Society and a minor in Exercise in Sports Science. With that, I had a couple of different internships because back then I thought maybe I should do the finance route. I did an internship with Morgan Stanley and that wasn’t for me.”

“I then did an internship with the Charlotte Bobcats, where I built relationships with this guy named Nic Barlage. He took me under his wing. He was one of the managers of our sales department. By the time it came to graduation, I ended up getting my first job with the Cleveland Cavaliers under him while he was a VP. That’s pretty much how I began my sales career in the sports industry. After about three years, I wanted to be back in Charlotte and closer to where I consider home. I’m still growing, still learning and still trying to build strong, authentic relationships with the decision-makers we’re trying to get into the building.”

What does Black History Month mean to you?

“Black History Month to me is a time of reflection. My heritage is like a Nigerian-American. I moved to America in 2007 and met and interacted with people. I learned a lot at UNC, but back in England and Nigeria, you don’t necessarily learn that much about Black History Month. But coming here, you do learn, meet people, have friends who share stories. I come into work every day to learn from a diverse group of people and be surrounded amongst some great African-American leaders in the community, who have paved the way for the likes of myself. It’s also a reminder in the great pride of what was overcome, which allowed us to have different opportunities today.”

How do you see yourself as a role model in the African-American community?

“I see myself as a mentor for especially young Africans and African-Americans through my involvement with Rotary Club and Boys and Girls Club. I was part of the former in Nigeria, England and then I joined the one in Charlotte a couple of years ago. We do a couple of one on one coaching, speaking engagements and panels. I just try to ensure there’s a future out there for these youths and make sure they have the right mindset and positive attitude. Just telling them different stories and that they can always achieve their dreams if they put their minds to it. It’s always important to have that positive impact in someone’s life and to set a great example through different things, especially with the environment we’re in right now.”

Are there any influential African-American or Black role models in your life?

“Nelson Mandela. Everyone knows his role through the South African independence, his life philosophy and his intelligent way of thinking about different attitudes towards human beings. He adopted these attributes towards many issues affecting Africa and even the entire world. He also embraced all the races and didn’t avenge injustice, even though he was imprisoned for 27 years. He embraced everyone and set South Africa on a path to reconciliation.”

“I also consider every member of my family a role model. Being the youngest of four siblings in a family where everyone is a doctor, lawyer, investment banker or entrepreneur, I was the one who did the sports route. Just looking up to them, seeing all the things they’ve done and hearing their stories – the bad things, the good things – I’ve learned from them. Anyone that has a successful story, I just try and implement that in myself and learn from it.”

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