Standing at a towering six feet six inches, Bobby Graham ’09 was a force to be reckoned with on the court for the Panthers. Now, Bobby uses what he learned on and off the court to help him navigate the ever-changing world of ticket sales.
Bobby graduated from Chapman with a degree in Business Administration before moving on to the University of Rochester Simon School of Business where he got his MBA. From there, Bobby started his career at American Express in the global payment strategy division. A promotion got him running the Global Client Group, heading portfolios for big-name companies like eBay, PayPal, StubHub and Ticketmaster.
That’s when Bobby got a call from StubHub to be the company’s Head of Sports Inventory. His job was to help strategize how to get the most tickets on their site at the lowest price possible. As online ticket sales became the norm for purchasing tickets, more players entered the field. That’s when Bobby got a call from the founders of SeatGeek, another online ticketing platform. They wanted Bobby to come run their entire marketplace. An easy yes, Bobby’s journey up the corporate ladder has landed him the current position of VP of Marketplace at SeatGeek, the largest competitor to StubHub and Ticketmaster.
One can only imagine how COVID-19 has impacted the VP of a ticket sales company. “My job is completely upside down thanks to COVID,” Bobby said. “I am very thankful I have one if I’m being honest. COVID-19 and government restrictions have forced us all to sacrifice large gatherings, especially in enclosed spaces. That means no large scale anything and reduced capacity everything – if we’re lucky.”
Ticket sales were booming prior to the pandemic and SeatGeek was finally coming into their own as a dominant force in the market. Then, everything changed. “With everything grinding to a halt we are now competing with the big guys for pieces of a significantly smaller pie.”
The silver lining – SeatGeek now has time to work on different areas that needed improvement but that were being pushed away to focus on ticket sales. “We have used this time to work on our internal ‘engine’ and we are betting it will pay off coming out of the pandemic,” Bobby said. “We now have the time to focus on making our website faster, making our suppliers happier, and delivering for our customers in new and innovative ways.”
Bobby credits his time as a student-athlete to, well, his entire career. “I honestly cannot count the ways that being a student-athlete prepared me for the real world – the parallels are endless,” he said.
“There is nothing more valuable in today’s professional world than the ability to manage a team…that’s what a college sports team is at its core; an exercise on patience, tolerance, acceptance, accountability, and knowing your role on the team. Those are the things that you need to learn in order to be a future leader in your company.”
Bobby sums up everything he has done in his entire career in none other than a Coach Bokosky quote. A man of many talents, Coach Bo has been at the helm of the men’s basketball team for 28 seasons. He might be best known for his impressive winning record, but anyone who has had the pleasure of interacting with him (especially his players) knows he gives just about the best life lessons out there. Bobby has used one quote in particular to help propel him throughout his extremely successful career.
“Just be even keel. Never too high, never too low. You win, you act like you’ve been there before. You lose, no problem, but you won’t get me a second time.”