Tomasz Spyra, the Data Collection Manager at IMG ARENA, blends a background in sports coaching with expertise in data management. Initially a physical education teacher and soccer coach, his career transitioned to Data Collection Manager at IMG ARENA, where he now oversees the complex and dynamic environment of live sports data collection. His role capitalises on his extensive experience in sports, emphasising precision and adaptability in managing Data Collectors across various countries and time zones. This unique combination of skills and passions makes Tomasz a key asset in IMG ARENA’s pursuit of excellence in sports data.
Can you describe your journey to becoming a Data Collection Manager? What key experiences or roles have shaped your approach to this position?
My journey to becoming a Data Collection Manager has been a unique and unexpected one, rooted in my lifelong passion for sports. Early on, I developed a keen interest in sports, which eventually led me to pursue a career as a physical education teacher and soccer coach for over a decade. During this time, I was associated with an international soccer company, where my responsibilities extended to collaborating with clubs, coaches, federations, and organizing events.
The turning point in my career came when the opportunity to work with IMG, a renowned sports and entertainment company, presented itself unexpectedly. Despite my background in education and coaching, I saw the potential to leverage my skills in a different role within such a large organization. Intrigued by the prospect of contributing to a dynamic and influential entity, I decided to take the leap and embrace the challenge. So far, I consider it a great decision.
In your role as a Data Collection Manager, what unique challenges have you faced, especially in coordinating across different cultures and time zones? How have you adapted your management style to address these challenges?
Coordinating across diverse cultures and time zones has been a significant challenge as a Data Collection Manager. Working with individuals from various backgrounds, such as Americans, Argentinians, Australians, and Europeans, has taught me the importance of understanding and respecting different approaches, expectations, and communication styles. My management style focuses on maintaining professionalism in all duties and providing unwavering support to my global team, ensuring effective collaboration despite cultural and geographical differences.
What skills do you believe are crucial for a Data Collector to develop in order to excel in their role? How do you facilitate this skill development within your team?
I believe crucial skills for a Data Collector include effective communication, a desire to learn new skills, and openness to new experiences. While data collection may seem straightforward, the ability to handle stress and unexpected situations at the stadium, and make quick and sound decisions, is vital. Our operations team in Poland and the UK is dedicated to preparing Data Collectors for such scenarios, ensuring they are not taken by surprise. We strive to create a positive working experience during sporting events, making data collection in the stadium an enjoyable task.
How do your personal interests or hobbies influence your professional approach and decision-making as a Data Collection Manager?
My interests and hobbies significantly influence my professional approach as a Data Collection Manager. My passion for the sports industry and frequenting stadiums provides me with immense satisfaction. As a side occupation and hobby, I co-founded a business in 2022 organizing trips to soccer matches, allowing me to experience the vibrant atmosphere of European stadiums frequently. For instance, in 2023, I visited Barcelona nine times. These experiences not only energize me but also enhance my ability to support Data Collectors at IMG, as I bring a first-hand understanding of the dynamics and excitement of stadium environments.
Reflecting on your career as a Data Collection Manager, what has been the most satisfying aspect of your role, and what has been the most challenging?
Reflecting on my career as a Data Collection Manager, the most challenging yet ultimately satisfying aspect has been building a network of Data Collectors in the U.S. and overseeing operations for the MLS. This task was of great significance to IMG, and time constraints added to the difficulty. I extend my gratitude to all the dedicated Data Collectors in the U.S. and my colleagues, especially Sabina, Tom, and the entire recruitment team (Daria, Kasia, Sonia, and Jacob). Together, we successfully tackled this challenge, and as we gear up for the next season starting in February, our commitment to excellence remains unwavering.
How do you approach the ongoing development of new data collectors on your team, ensuring they are well-prepared for the dynamic and fast-paced nature of live sports data collection?
In our ongoing efforts to develop new Data Collectors, the entire operations team collaborates to enhance processes, providing candidates with a clear understanding of what to expect at the stadium and our expectations. Emphasizing commitment and a willingness to learn, we acknowledge that everyone is entitled to not knowing something and making mistakes. My role is to offer support and convey to Data Collectors that assistance is available at every stage, fostering an environment where they feel confident and supported.
Which sporting event, anywhere in the world, holds a special significance for you, and if given the opportunity, why would you choose to experience it live?
An important sporting event for me was attending a Liverpool match in 2023 and experiencing the iconic anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” If I had the opportunity, I would also want to witness the Wimbledon final or a UFC event in Las Vegas, as both offer unique and diverse experiences. Privately, I cherish the daily opportunity to play sports and have fun with my children, my 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, to instil in them a passion for sports.