Ilitch School grad balances books for the Tampa Bay Bucs

Joe Fada, an alumnus of the Mike Ilitch School of Business and Chief Financial Officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, always knew he wanted to work in professional sports.

“Early on I worked to find opportunities in sports and develop a network of people within the industry. Many of the people I met in sports had connections across other leagues and teams, and some also had very interesting and impressive non-sports backgrounds,” Fada said.

After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1991, Fada worked as an auditor with Arthur Andersen, managing numerous auditing and consulting assignments for both public and private clients in the retail, manufacturing, technology and sports sectors. He went on to serve as CFO of the International Hockey League from 1998 to 2001 and then joined the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, where he was Executive Vice President and CFO from 2001 to 2010. His time with the Lightning was highlighted by the team’s Stanley Cup win in 2004.

Fada assumed his current position with the Buccaneers in 2010 and oversees the team’s accounting, information technology, ticket operations and purchasing departments. Chief among his responsibilities is ensuring both historical and forecasted financial information provided to the management team is accurate and reliable.  Fada adds, “You know you have a solid foundation in place when people have confidence in the numbers.” Fada feels fortunate to be able to combine the skills he’s learned as an accountant with what he enjoys. “I think it’s critical for students looking to work in their dream field to take networking seriously,” he said. “Networking is essentially what led me to the opportunities I’ve had. Talk to people and let them know what you are trying to achieve. Seek out their advice and be persistent.  Things rarely happen overnight, but over time these efforts can make a real difference.”

For students who are trying to break into the sports business, Fada said Wayne State business students have an advantage with the new sport and entertainment management MBA concentration directed by Associate Professor Scott Tainsky. “This program presents a great opportunity because Detroit is again a four-team town and Wayne State’s location makes it easy for students to collaborate directly with the clubs. It is a synergistic opportunity for everyone.”