Chicago 2017 Recap

On September 21st South Asians in Sports hosted a panel discussion and networking night for the South Asian sports professional community in Chicago, IL. Our panel of industry leaders: Pooja Van Dyke, Ram Padmanabhan, Rashid Ghazi, Sahadev Sharma, Vinay Mullick and moderator Payal Patel spoke about their paths to sports, current challenges and future trends in their companies and what it takes to ‘break-in’ to the business of sports. They also shared some amusing anecdotes about working in sports as a South Asian minority.

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It was inspiring to see such accomplished professionals as well as athletes, recent grads and students come together to network in Chicago. We can’t wait to be back in Chicago for another event and to see the community grow even bigger!

Check out our event photo gallery below!

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Join us for our next event in New York City on October 5th. You can RSVP here.

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Ammad Sheikh

New York Sports Leader, Ammad Sheikh

Ammad Sheikh will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York Event.

Ammad Sheikh is the Director of Marketing at LeagueApps in New York City. LeagueApps make it easy for organizers to run local sports programs and easy for participants (and their families) to get the most out of their sports experiences. Through the LeagueApps network, sports organizations grow with marketing tools, generate new revenue streams, and connect with value and savings through marketplaces.

Prior to LeagueApps, Ammad helped build Capify from 6 employees to over 200 across 3 continents. Ammad is also the founder of South Asian Sports, a sports league, where they run softball, basketball, football, and bowling leagues. Not to mention, he organizes community events including fundraisers and charity tournaments all over NY and NJ.
 Since its inception in 2005, the South Asian Sports Network has attained over one thousand adult and youth members throughout Long Island and NYC. The South Asian Sports members routinely engage in sports leagues including basketball, softball, football and bowling.  Ammad spearheaded this effort to keep the youth active and as a form of passive networking. After recognizing that our communities youth hadn’t engaged in organized sports.  This organization branched out with fundraising endeavors through softball and bowling tournaments raising tens of thousands of dollars for the victims of Pakistan’s Earthquake as well as raising money for cancer research.
Ammad is also is one of the inaugural members of Ballin 4 Charity: an annual Basketball Tournament that brings together the leaders in startup technology, investing, and sports. Using his career experience as a marketing director, Ammad routinely consults for charitable events to further increase their membership base, attendance, and overall player experience.
Ammad’s volunteer work has been appreciated both publicly and privately and has been featured in Newsday and News12. Ammad has been recognized by Nassau County County Executive Edward Mangano and Deputy County Executive Rob Walker for his work in Nassau County for promoting sports to the South Asian youth.
Ammad is always hosting events with various sports teams. He has organized events for the youth to Nets game at the Barclays Center. Barclays Center granted a special waiver to allow Halal Food for the first time in the stadiums history for this event. Ammad has also organized numerous outings to Madison Square Garden where youth were able to go early and watch the Knicks practice and even go on the court to “high five” the players as they ran onto the court.
Recently, Ammad helped organize an event talking about bias incidents against the Muslim community in Long Island bringing county police and local politicians to discuss these incidents. Ammad further aims to build bridges with the overall community to create a better understanding each other.
In his free time you can find Ammad coaching CYO Basketball, running from one child’s baseball practice to another one’s basketball practice or playing in one of the various South Asian Sports leagues in Long Island.
Follow Ammad Sheikh on twitter @AmmadPSheikh

South Asians in Sports will be hosting a FREE networking event in midtown Thursday September 21st! Meet with a powerhouse panel of professionals in Sports & Tech. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Rashid Ghazi

Chicago Sports Leader, Rashid Ghazi

Rashid Ghazi will be a panelist at SAinSports event in Chicago on September 21st.

Rashid Ghazi is a business leader and entrepreneur with over 27 years of experience working in sponsorship marketing, media, advertising, content production and event creation. After spending the first 12 years of his career between the Leo Burnett Company, Intersport Television and Halo Sports & Entertainment, Rashid helped create Paragon Marketing Group where he has been a Partner for the past 15 years.  Paragon which has offices in Skokie and Chicago, has grown into one of the leading independent sponsorship engagement agencies in the country with over 100 employees and clients including: Gatorade, ESPN, Yokohama, PNC Bank, Johnson & Johnson, UC Health, PPG Paints, Bayer Healthcare and DICK’S Sporting Goods.  On behalf of its clients Paragon has placed over half-billion dollars into the sponsorship marketplace negotiating agreements and developing marketing platforms with a variety of NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB teams along with governing bodies such as the PGA TOUR, NCAA, USSA and USOC. In addition they have negotiated endorsement agreements with a number of athletes and celebrities including: Beyonce, Faith Hill, Drake, Cal Ripken Jr., Muhammad Ali, Joe Buck, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders and Lindsey Vonn.

On the content side, Rashid has created over 2,500 hours of sports television programming including live events, documentaries and episodic series for companies such as ESPN, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.  In 2002 Rashid identified a new content opportunity in sports entertainment – nationally televised live high school sports programming. He first produced a high school basketball game featuring LeBron James for broadcast on ESPN2 which delivered a record rating for the network. The success of that telecast launched the live nationally televised high school event genre for ESPN. The network has since televised over 500 games delivered by Paragon featuring future NBA and NFL first round draft picks such as: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Tim Tebow, Julio Jones, AJ Green and Jameis Winston.

In addition to his work with Paragon, Rashid founded his own production company, North Shore Films in 2009. North Shore’s first production was the award winning sports documentary FORDSON: Faith, Fasting, Football. The film was distributed by AMC Theaters nationwide and has since been televised in over 30 countries. In addition, FORDSON has garnered multiple industry and film festival awards including Best U.S. Documentary at the Traverse City Film Festival hosted by Michael Moore. The Film was also screened at the U.S. State Department and was honored by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rashid grew up in Skokie, Illinois and attended high school at North Shore Country Day in Winnetka.  He is a 1989 graduate of the University of Redlands in Southern California where he double majored in Business and Sociology and served as Student Body President. He received his MBA in June of 1999 from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the North Shore Country Day School and IQRA Educational Foundation.

Rashid resides in Glenview with his wife, Ruhma, their daughter, and three sons.

South Asians in Sports will be hosting it’s first networking event in downtown Chicago, Thursday September 21st! Meet with Chicago’s Sports Leaders from several areas of the industry. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Deepen Parikh

New York Sports Leader, Deepen Parikh

Deepen Parikh will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York Event.

Deepen is a Partner at Courtside Ventures, which is an early-stage VC fund, backed by Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers) and WPP. They focus on investing in technology companies across the sports, media and gaming verticals. Prior, he was a Partner at Interplay Ventures, a NY based incubator and early-stage investor. He co-founded NYVC Sports with the mission of bridging the gap between sports leagues, teams, investors, entrepreneurs, and media companies.

Prior to joining Interplay, Deepen spent time working with a family office on the potential acquisition of a professional sports franchise. Deepen started his career as an Associate at UBS and earned his BA in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Read the latest news on Deepen Parikh and Courtside Ventures:

South Asians in Sports will be hosting a FREE networking event in midtown Thursday September 21st! Meet with a powerhouse panel of professionals in Sports & Tech. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Manny Annekal

New York Sports Leader, Manny Anekal

Manny Annekal will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York event. 

Manny Anekal is currently running several companies within the eSports ecosystem: The Next Level (The Business of eSports Media), Versus Sports (Consulting), VS Sports (eSports team) and Loot Ventures (eSports Investment Fund).

Manny has over a decade of experience working at the intersection of Gaming, Marketing and Brands. His first role was with the startup Massive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft Xbox in 2006, followed by Executive roles at Electronic Arts, Zynga, Kiip and most recently with Major League Gaming.
He will also take you on in Clash Royale. Twitter: @mannyanekal
Check out some of the latest news on Esports featuring Manny Annekal:

South Asians in Sports will be hosting a FREE networking event in midtown Thursday September 21st! Meet with a powerhouse panel of professionals in Sports & Tech. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Sports and Technology Night NYC

Sports & Technology: A Powerhouse Panel

We are excited to announce our next panel and networking event in New York City! Get to know the leading disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs at the burgeoning intersection of Sports and Technology on Thursday, October 5th, 2017 from 6:30-8:30pm at WeWork Grand Central in NYC. Over the next few weeks, we will be profiling each of our panelists so you can get to know them a bit better.

Event Details:
Date: Thursday, October 5th, 2017
Time: 6:30-9:00pm (Panel starts at 6:40pm)
Location: WeWork Grand Central (450 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10017)

The event is FREE! Please RSVP here and help us get the word out by telling your friends. We can’t wait to see you there!

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Pooja Van Dyke

Chicago Sports Leader, Pooja Van Dyke

Pooja Van Dyke will be a panelist at SAinSports event in Chicago on September 21st.

Pooja Van Dyke, Associate Director at ESPN CreativeWorks has been working at ESPN for 12 years. She started as a Production Assistant in Bristol, CT- ESPN Headquarters. 3 days into working there, Pooja was cutting NBA and College Football highlights to run in SportsCenter and ESPNEWS. She developed a knack for creative highlights and won creative awards and accolades from her production team and beyond in the early years. It was then, she knew that she wanted to stay within the creative realm of storytelling. She grew up in the ESPN system and worked as a Production Assistant eventually an Associate Producer and worked behind the scenes with many critically acclaimed shows such as: SportsCenter, College GameDay, College Football Live, NFL Live, NFL Countdown, Outside The Lines, World Cup, etc. She worked alongside some of the most famous sport journalists such as the beloved Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, Dan Patrick, John Anderson, Kirk Herbstreit, Kenny Mayne, Chris Berman and beyond. As Pooja wrapped up her days in Live TV, she had an Emmy Nomination, an iron confidence and the backing of some of the biggest sports household names in the world.

Pooja had her eyes set on the big city. She shifted from Production to working in Brand Marketing and moved from ESPN HQ in Bristol to New York City. Pooja worked on several campaigns during her time with ESPN brand including This is SportsCenter, College GameDay Football, College Football on ESPN, MLB on ESPN, and World Cup. Here she picked up her second Emmy nomination working on This is SportsCenter ads featuring aerobics enthusiast Richard Simmons, ESPN MLB analyst Karl Ravech, MLB star Jose Reyes and NFL star Adrian Peterson. She traveled often to sporting events and traveling studio shows learning the ins and outs of brand representation and the importance of protecting the brand as it becomes relevant to advertisers.

With this insight and a hunger to learn more, Pooja joined a team called Co-Marketing. Within this small, but powerful team, ESPN partnered with advertisers to develop cobranded creative that helped sell advertiser objectives through an ESPN lens. Pooja and this 10 person team saw the importance of the work they were doing and quickly shifted goals to develop a stronger and bigger team. Pooja was a founding member of the team CreativeWorks at ESPN. Under this umbrella group, Pooja’s former brand team was merged with her new team to develop a stronger more efficient group- CreativeWorks. CreativeWorks was one of the first network internal creative agencies developed. Partnering with ESPN CreativeWorks allows advertisers to a full service idea center that delivers compelling creative solutions, inspiring our fans to connect with brands. Pooja has lead collaborations with multimillion dollar spenders and top-level marketers such as Apple, Beats by Dre, GM, Ford, Nissan, Home Depot, Gatorade and McDonalds. Pooja is instrumental in strategizing, creating and executing work presenting ad revenue for ESPN.

Pooja’s office is bathed in a deep shade of scarlet and gray to represent her Ohio State roots. Don’t let her College fandom fool you, Pooja is a Chicago girl who grew up rapping The SuperBowl Shuffle, watching Ryne Sandberg play and saw Michael Jordan play for $8 bucks. It’s no wonder that she ended up working in sports – she has been surrounded by some of the all-time greats.

Beyond sports, Pooja prides herself as being a mother to an awesome two year old and as a black belt in creative thinking. She lives and breathes music, recently turned in her Brooklyn membership card when she traveled back home to Chicago and may or may not have been the reason that The Cubs broke their curse and won The World Series upon her return.

South Asians in Sports will be hosting it’s first networking event in downtown Chicago, Thursday September 21st! Meet with Chicago’s Sports Leaders from several areas of the industry. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Vinay Mullick

Chicago Sports Leader, Vinay Mullick

Vinay Mullick will be a panelist at SAinSports event in Chicago on September 21st. 

Vinay Mullick just completed his first year as the Midwest Regional Executive Director for UpMetrics. UpMetrics is a socially driven technology company that provides a data analytics platform used nationally by schools and community organizations.

Prior to his current role, Vinay, a Teach For America alumnus, worked on Chicago’s Southside for 12 years as a teacher, coach, activities director, and athletic director.  From 2007 to 2016, Vinay worked as the Director of Athletics and Activities for the Perspectives Charter Schools Network. Vinay served as the founding athletic director, and built the Perspectives Charter Schools Athletic Department from its infancy.  By 2016, Vinay had grown the department by five times, and at that time the department supported approximately 700 student-athletes and 85 coaches, and fielded 55 teams.  During his time at Perspectives, Vinay oversaw the meteoric rise of NBA star, Anthony Davis, from a local prep player to the #1 ranked high school basketball player nationally, to the prized recruit of University of Kentucky 2011 recruiting class.

As an athletic director,  Vinay sat on numerous state advisory committees, served as an elected Legislative Commission member to the Illinois High School State Association, and served on the executive board of the Illinois Athletic Directors Association.  In 2013, Vinay was named Division 1 Athletic Director of the Year by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association.  He is a regular presenter at local and national conferences on topics related to urban athletics and data-driven decision making.

Vinay has a BS in Industrial Engineering from Northern Illinois University, a Masters in Secondary Education from Dominican University, and Masters in School Counseling from Concordia University.  A native of Chicago’s western suburbs, Vinay resides in La Grange, IL with his wife Mia, and their three children.

You can follow Vinay on twitter @VinayMullick 
Read about Anthony Davis’ meteoric rise that started from Mullick’s Perspective Charter Schools.

South Asians in Sports will be hosting it’s first networking event in downtown Chicago, Thursday September 21st! Meet with Chicago’s Sports Leaders from several areas of the industry. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Payal Patel

Chicago Sports Leader, Payal Patel

Payal Patel will be moderating the panel at SAinSports’ first Chicago Event.

Payal is an international award-winning communications professional with nearly a decade of experience. With a knack for writing and storytelling, Payal originally set out for a career in sports broadcasting upon graduating from Marquette University. Following a stint with Milwaukee’s ABC-TV affiliate, she returned to her hometown of Chicago to transition to a career in public relations.

Currently at Navy Pier, Payal manages internal and external communications and serves as the primary spokesperson for the top destination in the Midwest, which welcomes more than nine million guests each year. She played a pivotal role in developing and executing the PR strategy for Navy Pier’s centennial celebration, which includes a robust lineup of special events and programming and pier-wide redevelopment efforts to enhance the iconic landmark as it enters its next century.

As the Director of Public Relations for the NFL Players Association – Chicago Chapter, Payal oversaw all press inquiries, media outreach, event promotions, social media platforms and public relations campaigns on behalf of the organization, its charitable arm and the players involved. She was instrumental in creating and implementing the media strategy for the Chapter’s involvement in the NFL Draft in Chicago, the concussions lawsuit against the NFL, among other key events and initiatives led by the organization and its members.

Payal also managed corporate communications for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, coordinating press coverage around the Club’s corporate partnership agreements, business development announcements, marketing campaigns, community relations efforts and the Chicago Fire Foundation. She led the public relations campaigns for the 2014 FIFA World Cup viewing parties in Chicago and the Fire’s new primary and third kit launches.

Prior to that, Payal served as the Director of Public Relations for the Chicago Soul FC, a professional indoor soccer team. She oversaw all communications for the Soul organization, including media strategy, campaign development, crisis management, press announcements, game recaps and highlights, post-game interviews with players and coaches, special promotions, among other responsibilities for the then-startup organization.

In December 2016, Payal was recognized at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. for being named to the PR News Rising Stars 30 Under 30 list, which honors budding PR leaders worldwide. She is also a recipient of the MarCom Platinum Award, the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Golden Trumpet Award, and the Public Relations Society of America Chicago Skyline Award of Excellence for her collaborative work on the PR efforts around Navy Pier’s new Centennial Wheel.

​Presently, Payal sits on the local boards for Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Women In Sports and Events (WISE), and is a member of the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) and Chicago Leadership Alliance (CLA), an exclusive network of distinguished leaders in Chicago. As part of her philanthropic involvement, she volunteers regularly at Feed My Starving Children and Habitat For Humanity, while serving as an ambassador for Room to Read.

Payal resides in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago with her goldendoodle, Leo – named after her favorite soccer player, Lionel Messi. You can follow her on twitter @PayalPatelPR

South Asians in Sports will be hosting it’s first networking event in downtown Chicago, Thursday September 21st! Meet with Chicago’s Sports Leaders from several areas of the industry. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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Ram Padmanabhan

Chicago Sports Leader, Ram Padmanabhan

Ram Padmanabhan will be a panelist at SAinSports’ first Chicago Event.

Ram Padmanabhan joined the Chicago Bulls at the beginning of the 2013-14 season as the Vice President of Financial and General Counsel. He is responsible for the team’s compliance with legal, regulatory and NBA requirements and oversees the team’s financial and human resources functions.

Ram previously served as Vice President, Chief Counsel-Corporate and Company Secretary for Aon plc, where he was responsible for overseeing corporate transactional matters, and also advised Aon management and the Board of Directors on various corporate governance matters. Before joining Aon, Ram was a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where he represented the Chicago Bulls and the United Center as well as professional sports teams and corporate sponsors of professional sports teams on a variety of promotional, media, sponsorship and general corporate matters.

Prior to joining Katten, Ram practiced with the Chicago offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Pattishall, McAuliffe and served as a law clerk to Judge William J. Bauer on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McGill University in 1990, and his Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law in 1993.

South Asians in Sports will be hosting it’s first networking event in downtown Chicago, Thursday September 21st! Meet with Chicago’s Sports Leaders from several areas of the industry. The event is FREE for members so be sure to JOIN and RSVP.

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