Sunny Mehta launched a high-flying international career, working in international marketing for the National Football League (NFL), after his MBA at HEC Paris.
The child of immigrant parents from India, Sunny grew up in El Paso, Texas. His first love was football. After starting out a career in the political sphere, he decided to try and turn his childhood passion into his job.
Sunny's new career in football began with a series of side hustles. While continuing his political work, he built his profile in the sport, even flying himself out to a convention to work as a driver for NFL players.
But breaking into the industry was a challenge. “I was applying to jobs all over the sports industry, and I just wasn't getting any traction at all,” he says.
Sunny decided to enroll in the HEC Paris MBA to boost his resume and gain a global view of business. A year after graduation, he's now working in his dream role marketing the NFL internationally.
Why an MBA?
When Sunny wrapped up a bachelor’s degree in political science, he had one thing on his mind: education reform.
After graduation, he spent time teaching elementary school with AmeriCorps, a community outreach agency, before taking on various roles in politics. But that career trajectory wasn’t to be: “I just didn't enjoy the political world at all,” he explains.
Realizing the political machine was too big to make any real impact, Sunny decided to pursue football as a career.
His main ambition was to help develop the NFL’s international brand. The league has around 190 million fans in the US, while in Brazil—the second largest supporting country—the figure is around 63 million.
With a background in politics and communication, he felt an MBA would help him gain entry into the highly competitive industry. Studying abroad would also give his resume the required international edge.
After coming across HEC Paris, France’s top-ranked business school, Sunny felt he’d found the right fit. He could live in Paris while studying. The program also offered a double degree with Yale School of Management.
“I could gain international credentials and a global outlook, have a top European MBA brand on my resume, and also attend an elite American institution with clout in the American sports landscape,” he says.
The HEC Paris MBA
Choosing the dual degree meant Sunny had three semesters with HEC Paris, and two additional semesters at Yale.
All HEC Paris MBA students begin with a core period, learning business fundamentals including financial accounting, managerial economics, business analytics, operations management, and communication.
Students can later choose from a range of specializations offering courses in subjects like advanced management, digital innovation, and entrepreneurship. Sunny focused his electives on management to prepare him to lead a team.
“The curriculum was excellent and some of the professors were out of this world,” he says.
HEC Paris also provides a range of opportunities for students to gain practical experience during business simulators, company visits, and coursework. The school makes use of the cohort’s overwhelmingly international background—93% of students are international—by placing them into small working groups comprised of people from various nationalities and industries.
“Having such a diversity of classmates and different opinions, and working with different types of people was a highlight,” Sunny explains. “Another was the global mindset you gain.”
HEC Paris gave Sunny the opportunity to tailor his experience towards his goal of reaching the NFL. During his degree, Sunny was able to launch an MBA Project, an elective research project that lasts nine months, into declining interest in sports among Gen Z audiences.
The study involved working with PhD students and professors, alongside content creators in London, aiming to diversify content coverage of the NFL. The league noticed his work, and offered him a partnership deal that led to a post-graduation job offer.
“I’m really grateful that the program gave me the resources to learn exactly what I needed to learn, and the flexibility to achieve my goals following a non-traditional route,” Sunny says.
MBA to Marketing at the NFL
Now a year into his role in international marketing strategy and fan development at the NFL, Sunny is doing exactly what he set out to do: expanding the reach of the league.
His work involves directing marketing strategy across emerging markets such as France and China, while also coordinating teams across the NFL’s core non-US markets including Canada, Mexico, and the UK.
The wide remit means his focus shifts daily. One day he could be working on a YouTube series or video game targeting Brazil; the next day planning an international NFL match in the UK or Germany.
“Day to day it’s pretty different, not only in function but also where in the world my head is,” he explains. “For me all the variety is ideal.”
The intense variation requires Sunny to be adept at time management and organization. His dual role in strategy and coordination also leverages many of the skills he gained during the MBA.
“It definitely requires having a strategic mindset,” he says, “and those management accounting classes also come in quite handy.”
Being responsible for such a wide range of areas can be a challenge, but working in football makes it all worthwhile, Sunny explains. “At the end of the day, the high stress that surrounds any issue is still revolving around what is my favorite thing in the world.”
While his career has changed course in the past, Sunny feels any more career changes in future are unlikely.
“I just want to continue to grow the sport and make sure that people see what I see when I say it's the best sport in the world,” he says.
Discover more about
Paris - France