Installment #4 of MOAM's blog series featuring former student managers now achieving success in their professional careers.
Professional: Tom Lewand
Current Title: Team President - Detroit Lions
Student Manager Experience: Michigan Football
Career Notes: Tom Lewand is an example of a former student manager who has taken his earnestness and applied it throughout his athletic professional career. His climb from student volunteer with the University of Michigan Football program to President of the Detroit Lions truly exemplifies an individual making the most of every opportunity they have been afforded. Before being named the Team President of the Detroit Lions, Lewand served as the Lions Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Some of his top responsibilities and accomplishments have been marketing Ford Field to the city of Detroit and beyond. The venue now hosts many events yearly and has hosted many major events, including Super Bowl XL in 2006 and the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in 2009. Both events proved fruitful for the city of Detroit as they saw a combined economic growth of approximately $300 million between the two events alone. In addition to his work building the identity of Ford Field, Lewand has been an integral part of founding the new look Detroit Lions. He and General Manager Martin Mayhew have brought in Head Coach Jim Schwartz, while drafting the likes of Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh. Under his leadership the Lions made the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 1999.
Mr. Lewand worked under legendary Equipment Manager Jon Falk, volunteering for the Michigan Football program while attending college in Ann Arbor. His strong educational background includes a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan Business School in addition to a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He complemented his experience gained with Michigan Football throughout this time by also working for the Detroit Lions on a part-time basis. Mr. Lewand is active in the Detroit community acting as the Past Chairman of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau in addition to serving on the Board of Directors for several other organizations. Despite his impressive professional career, Mr. Lewand is not quick to forget his equipment manager roots, remaining actively involved with the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and even working with Michigan legislators to enact laws that provide an increase in concussion education and awareness, and a medical protocol for young athletes to return to action. Tom Lewand is a great example of how student managers use the knowledge gained through their positions to develop and move the athletic industry forward.
Mr. Lewand recently took time to answer the following questions for Managers On A Mission.
1. What advice would you offer to current student managers?
It seems cliché and obvious, but do your very best at everything you attempt and don't limit your focus and pursuits to sports. We have hired many people who demonstrated excellence in non-sports industries to apply their talents in ours.
2. How has being a student manager helped you get where you are today?
When I was hired, Bill Ford, Jr. told me that he had seen resumes of individuals with both JDs and MBAs but none with those degrees and a sports background. Being a manager can differentiate you in several ways. Significantly, you can never have the same perspective as a player does, but you can develop one that is very unique when it comes to creating a culture and an environment that allows players and coaches to focus on winning and not on the administrative things that can become disruptions.
3. What was your favorite memory from when you served as a student manager?
The people I met--players, coaches and administrators--are the greatest memories. The fact that I have continued my relationship with many of them has allowed me to build on the memories of being a manager and make new ones with those people in the roles I have had since. Also, being on the sideline for Coach Schembechler's last game ever (at the Rose Bowl) will stay with me for a long time.
4. What major differences do you see having worked at both the collegiate level and professional level?
Not as many as you would think if you keep a perspective of winning being the most important thing to a program. The means to that end are a little different when you trade recruiting, compliance, and academics for free agency, the draft and the salary cap, but it is all still about meeting whatever challenge is before you to help the team be successful.
To God Be The Glory!