Category: GEMA, GEMA Externship

Title:GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now? – Raquel Braun (L’10), EA Sports

In our series The GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?, we reconnect with past Externs to find out how their careers have progressed since graduation.

Raquel Braun (L ’10), Head of Competitive Gaming & Broadcast Strategy – Business Development at EA Sports

In our third installment, we catch up with Raquel Braun. As a law student at Georgetown Law, Raquel founded the GEMA Law chapter at the law center before going on to a career in sports and entertainment. Before joining EA this summer, she spent 10 years at Fox Sports where she was most recently Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs and helped oversee the company’s biggest sports event productions from Super Bowl LIV to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.

How did you end up at Georgetown Law?

When I was applying to law schools, I knew I wanted to work in sports and the people who had the jobs I was really interested in all happened to have law degrees. So, when selecting a school, I had the choice of going to schools with sports or entertainment law programs or attending the best possible law school—Georgetown. And, while Georgetown didn’t have anything program-wise in terms of sports, I started looking at the alumni and realized they had so many alumni in the sports and entertainment industries. So, I chose Georgetown!

What was your experience like attending Georgetown?

My experience at Georgetown was phenomenal, I loved it. That’s just not a very common response about law school, but I thought the people and the school were great. I think what sets Georgetown Law apart from so many law schools is that it encourages students to be entrepreneurial. So, if you want to start an organization, they give you all the tools to be able to do that. It’s really what made my experience.

As a law student, you co-founded the Law chapter of GEMA. How did that come about?

Early in my first semester of law school, a friend of mine asked me if I had heard of this group called GEMA. I hadn’t! They didn’t really have a presence on campus for undergrads or in DC, but he explained that the group was made up of alums with chapters in New York and LA, and he heard they were launching a DC chapter that fall.

So, I cold-emailed Rich Battista (GEMA Founder) and I said, “Hey, I’m a 1L at Georgetown Law, you don’t know me, but I hear you’re starting a DC chapter of GEMA… I’ve been thinking of what we can do more of in the law school, and if it’s okay with you, I’d like to simultaneously launch GEMA Law.” And that’s how we started. GEMA Law gave me an opportunity to do what I thought I was good at in terms of starting something and building a network and connecting with people.I also had a gut feeling as I started law school that I needed something else on my resume— something that would set me apart from other students (little did I know the market crash was just around the corner!), especially since I knew that there was a good chance I wasn’t going to be a straight-A student (law school does that to you!). I recognized that there were other things I was good at too, one of them being that I really liked and understood business and I really enjoyed talking to and connecting with people. I thought that GEMA Law would be the way to set myself apart and give me an opportunity to meet alumni and network; while also building a program at the Law Center to connect the community of alumni working in the sports and entertainment space.

What was the externship experience like for you? Did it have an influence on your career/help kickstart your career?

I applied for the externship my first year of law school, which was perfect timing for me. Having the opportunity to go on the externship and meet alumni outside of the traditional law firm space and in sports entertainment media — and not even legal alumni but just alumni generally — in those spaces was really exciting to me.

I went to New York and I had a meeting at the NBA (among many others). One thing you learn through the externship is the art of the follow up and maintaining those relationships. So, I kept in touch with this alum. I remember asking him, do you know if the NBA takes legal interns? He found out for me that they do, but it wasn’t a very established or formal program.

He told me to send him my resume and he’d pass it along. Two weeks later, I got a phone call from the NBA—amazingly, from another Georgetown alum. I went through the interview process and ended up interning at the NBA that summer. So, yes, the externship directly impacted my career trajectory!

In addition to just those initial connections, while at the NBA I had the opportunity to do some work for a lawyer (surprise, surprise, also a Hoya!) who worked on the entertainment side of the business, managing the deals for NBA TV and the NBA entertainment talent. That work opened my eyes to the idea of working in sports media, which ultimately led to me applying for an internship at Fox Sports my second summer of law school.

The externship helped me make really great connections, but it also led me to a summer internship that then led me to realize how much more I could do with my law degree in the sports and entertainment space. It really broadened my horizons.

What was your first job after graduating?

As I alluded to earlier, the one thing none of us could have expected when I first started law school was the market crash. And for me, the other hard part was that my background was so sports heavy, so law firms knew I wasn’t somebody looking to stay long-term and make partner at the firm. So, I had to think outside the box. Luckily, Georgetown Law created a program where you could be matched with a public interest externship after graduation. I had the opportunity to work as a clerk for Magistrate Judge Joan Goldfrank and assist her in the creation of the DC Family Court’s Juvenile Behavioral Diversion Program. Working for a judge was never something I had thought about, but creating a program like that, meeting with the various stakeholders, and helping develop out what that program could look like would further develop the skillset I had already built when starting GEMA Law

While I was working for the judge, I got a phone call from my former boss at Fox Sports. Like I mentioned before, keeping in touch with people and maintaining relationships are so key to this industry. He and I had stayed in touch since my internship, so when the opportunity arose to hire someone to fill in for another attorney going out on maternity leave, I was his first call. They said they could only get me a six-month contract, but they’d do everything they could to try to get me to stay and turn it into a full-time job. After my contract they ended up hiring me full-time and I ended up being at Fox for almost 10 years.

In my most recent role at FOX, I focused on FOX Sports’ major productions, managing high-profile talent negotiations, advising business clients on production operations and strategy, and overseeing production-related agreements for FOX Sports’ premier properties – FIFA World Cup, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and NASCAR. In that role, I had the opportunity to manage on-the-ground business and legal affairs matters in Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Paris and Vancouver for the 2019 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cups, respectively, and Miami for Super Bowl LIV and the 2017 MLB All-Star Game. Living for weeks abroad in those cities (even while 6 months pregnant in Paris!), and working on such huge events in my hometown of Miami, was a dream come true!

Earlier in my career at FOX, I also had the chance to work closely with FOX Sports executives in connection with FOX’s international sports businesses, including rights acquisitions for FOX Sports’ national sports networks in the US, the negotiation and acquisition of rights to major U.S.-based sports properties for FOX Sports’ international channels, and the launches and management of various international FOX Sports networks and businesses throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America. I am also really proud to have been a founding member of the Women of FOX Sports, an employee-led organization at FOX Corporation, where I had the chance to serve as its Co-Chair.

What do you do in your job now?

I’m a big believer that timing is everything. After almost a decade at FOX, I knew I was ready for a new challenge…and then the pandemic hit. I wasn’t sure what my next step would be, but I was pretty certain it would be some time before I could pivot. I knew going into law school and starting my career that I would want to transition out of the legal side of sports and into the business development and strategy space.

While managing work-from-home life with a toddler this summer, I got an email from EA. They were continuing to build out their Competitive Gaming Entertainment business and wanted somebody with a sports and media background, who understood media rights, licensing and big event production. The timing, and the type of background they were looking for, felt serendipitous. Those three things made up my entire tenure at FOX. Ultimately, the idea was that I would come in and help drive the vision for their media strategy across their competitive gaming business. So, I made the move and am now the Head of Competitive Gaming & Broadcast Strategy in the EA Sports Business Development group.I didn’t come into this job as a big eSports fan or video game player, that’s not my background. But I am a huge sports fan and have an extensive background working in football, soccer (among other sports) and media. So, I came to the place with the two biggest sports titles in the world with Madden and FIFA to help drive the strategic vision for how we take the competitive business around these titles to the next level. I spend my days working with our commissioners, broadcast teams, marketing teams and other cross-functional business units, along with our league partners like the NFL, trying to figure out how we can elevate our content, get the best possible distribution and continue to drive our eSports business. It’s a lot of fun. Plus, I just got a PS5 because of it, so I have earned extra cool points with my younger siblings!

What’s your advice for an undergraduate trying to break into your industry?

Do your homework about the part of the industry you’re interested in. Read the news AND the relevant trades (e.g., Sports Business Daily, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Sportico, etc.), know who’s important and who the players are so that you can become educated about the actual business. So many people want to work in these industries because they’re “cool” and fun, but this is real business and hard work, so you have be able to speak to the business and how you can contribute to it. And networking is critical — networking in a thoughtful way and developing those relationships, and then maintaining them. Don’t just send an email to ask for a job. Stay in touch with people, check in here and there, and then you’ll be top of mind when opportunities arise.

Also, kind of tangential to networking, but develop your leadership skills and get involved in clubs and other opportunities while in school. It will help you become a better communicator and future employee, while also opening the door for you to engage with alumni and build your network. All of these things—being knowledgeable about the business, really doing your homework and developing your leadership skills will make you stand out when you’re going through rigorous interview processes.