From Trainee to Business Development Manager at Manchester United Football Club

From Trainee to Business Development Manager at Manchester United Football Club

From Trainee to Business Development Manager at Manchester United Football Club

Former trainee Alex Pietrus, owes his traineeship at the AFL Store to get him to where he is today, working in Business Development for the biggest football club in the world, Manchester United FC.

“What the traineeship was able to do was open the first door for me, which then opened a second door and then a third door and a fourth door getting me to where I am now, sitting here in Manchester,” said Alex.

Alex’s journey to Manchester started after year 12 in 2007 when his mum saw an ad in the paper for a traineeship opportunity.

“I didn’t have any idea about the traineeship program and the possibilities it could open up for me.

In year 12, I was really unclear about what I wanted to do, as I think a lot of people are. I got into a Marketing Degree, but I wasn’t sure whether that was the path I wanted to go down. 

A lot of my friends that went on to university to do a certain degree ended up doing something completely different, so I imagine that was quite normal.”

For Alex, University wasn’t something he was ready to pursue at that point in his life and he considered taking on a gap year to work casually. However, his parents saw the potential of a traineeship and gaining a qualification while learning on the job as well as getting a taste of the workforce and the hours involved.

“I took on a traineeship to work at the AFL store in Adelaide and I was made store manager in 10 months.

The traineeship suited me because I am a practical learner and absorb much more when I am actually on the job doing the work.”

As well as gaining a Certificate in Retail Management, Alex took on many responsibilities and learnt a broad range of skills that would prepare him for a future in the sporting industry. He believes that above all else, having the right attitude is what allowed him to gain the most from his experience.

“I think that a lot of skills can be learned on the job but it’s your attitude that is the most important thing and that will see you go far in your traineeship and in your life. It’s showing up with the right attitude from day one to your workplace. It’s understanding that there will be some anxiety and nerves and that is totally natural because you have just stepped out of high school. But having that positive and determined attitude will make your colleagues and managers see the true potential in you.”

After graduating from his traineeship, Alex went on to work at the Adelaide Football Club for four years starting off as a Merchandise Manager and then moving up to Business Development in sponsorship.

“The very first door my traineeship opened for me was the AFL Store and then the second door opened up for me which was the Adelaide Crows.

The traineeship allows you to pick up important career skills learnt on the job and helps you to build your networks, which would be my biggest piece of advice, to build your networks. Those networks are the ones that will open more doors for you.”

Alex’s career then took an even more exciting turn when on a trip to the UK in 2015, Alex took it upon himself to email someone from the Manchester United Sponsorship team to pick their brains about how sponsorship works at the Club. Shortly after, the Head of Hospitality replied explaining to Alex the sponsorship team was based in London, but she would be happy to meet with him in Manchester.

“It was an amazing experience. We spoke for an hour and a half about how the Adelaide Crows work in terms of sponsorship and she told me all about Manchester United. There were lots of similarities and we got along really well. She even showed me around the stadium.”

After returning to Australia, Alex continued to contact the club to scope out any roles available. Eighteen months later, he was offered an opportunity and before he knew it, he was on the plane to Manchester and working full-time in his dream role.

“It was just that constant engagement every three or four months, I didn’t give up and said, well I am never emailing Manchester United again. I just kept my name in their mind, by emailing them. 

So, I think in this time, whilst there may not be as many employment opportunities within sport because of what’s happening with COVID, my recommendation would be start building those networks, see if you can volunteer anywhere and just keep staying in front of those people.

So then when the doors do open back up and they inevitably will, you’re there, front of mind.

At 31 Alex has had an impressive career and he aims to keep growing and one day manage a team.

His final piece of advice to young people thinking about launching a career in sports is,

“Be brave, go take the meeting, take the traineeship, take the job, try everything once, try everything twice. But just be brave. It is intimidating when you’re coming out of high school. It’s a big wide world out there. But as I said earlier, that every single person that’s in the workforce was once where you were as well. So, don’t feel like you’re alone and just enjoy it, enjoy the journey.”

Alex was a guest speaker at our first webinar as part of our, ‘How did you get that dream job’ series.
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DATE: 10th of November 2020 | Marissa Pagliarello

IMAGE: Alex Pietrus