UCFB’s Ben Friend secures in-demand role at The FA Group
Within weeks of completing his final exams, UCFB Burnley BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student, Ben Friend, has secured a dream start to his career as the Events Support Coordinator for the world-renowned governing body, The Football Association (The FA).
Based at Wembley Stadium, the second largest stadium in Europe with 90,000 seats and home to UCFB Wembley, Ben is the point of contact between the Events Team, the external promoters using the stadium and the IT department. He will be involved with global projects as diverse as conferences and banqueting events to large scale music concerts and festivals, football games including The FA Cup Final, and other sporting events such as the three annual NFL games at Wembley.
With over 100 applicants to his highly sought-after position, many of whom had a wealth of experience, Ben puts his appointment down to his CV and the fantastic work experience opportunities UCFB opened up for him. Not unfamiliar with Wembley Stadium, during his first year Ben successfully applied to volunteer as Music and Events Assistant at the stadium and was asked back the following year to take up a paid position as Partnership Development Assistant. These experiences, along with working within the Marketing and Sales team at Burnley FC for two years, coupled with an excellent marketing internship with Orlando City Soccer Club set up by UCFB, left Ben feeling well equipped to dive straight into his new role.
UCFB Chief Executive, Professor Philip Wilson, commented on the appointment:
“The close integration of UCFB within the sports industry allows us to facilitate unparalleled work experience placements for dedicated students throughout their education. Ben has embraced these opportunities and has embodied the UCFB ethos throughout his academic journey. By doing so he has invested in himself both professionally and personally, which has enabled his successful progression. I would like to congratulate Ben and thank our valued partner, The Football Association, on this exciting appointment.”
When speaking about the position, Ben stated:
“It is a lot of pressure, but I was prepared well by UCFB and the work placements that they arranged. Through UCFB I’ve learned how to think on my feet which is vital for my new role. We have so many issues that crop up last minute that we have to fix. With 90,000 people attending an event if the turnstiles don’t open – that falls on us. UCFB have definitely helped me deal with the pressure of such a fast-paced environment.”
A keen footballer, Ben was set to play professional football until the age of 16 when, as with many young players, his dream didn’t quite come to fruition. Once he fell out of playing it never occurred to him that he could be involved in football again. After attending one of UCFB’s open days he was sold by the degree programme and he’s adamant that it’s one of the greatest decisions he’s ever made.
Talking about finding a career in the football industry, Ben stated:
“Football has been my number one passion since I was a kid. Working with the Events team at Wembley Stadium is rewarding because I can see how my input has an impact on the events. If we don’t do our job properly then the event simply cannot go ahead. This is another motivating factor that makes me excited about going to work every day.”
Although Ben is proud that the impressive CV and reputation that he created for himself over his two summers at Wembley Stadium led to his new job offer, he is keen to point out how UCFB has been, and will continue to be, a huge contributing factor to his success. Ben refers to the broad content of the degree programme and unrivalled guest speaker series which introduced him to all of the areas within the industry from performance analysis to digital marketing to the Customer Relations Management software.
Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) Chief Executive Neil Doncaster’s introduction to his Strategic Leadership & Management programme was invaluable to Ben’s development, preparing him for the intense yet professional environment of the sports industry.
Outgoing UCFB third year student Ben concluded:
“I’d certainly recommend for everybody to apply to UCFB as there is no finer way into the sports industry. For those fortunate enough to study at UCFB, work hard and keep getting involved with everything that UCFB offers you as part of the Complementary Curriculum. It is hard work and a big commitment but it’s worth it when you land your dream role within a global sporting institution.”