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Game Changer: Rugby Australia Head of Partnerships role for ICMS Alumnus

Game Changer: Rugby Australia Head of Partnerships role for ICMS Alumnus

ICMS Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) alumnus Josh Kay‘s path to becoming the Head of Partnerships at Rugby Australia, after a stint with the Waratahs, is proof that ICMS alumni can succeed in their chosen industries through industry connections, passion and dedication.

After graduating in 2015, Josh worked at the Waratahs before making his move to Rugby Australia.

Now he’s working with big brands such as Cadbury, Asics, Santos, Destination NSW and Land Rover, jetting off to high profile matches – including France last year for the Rugby World Cup – all through combining his passion for rugby with his business background.

“I’m very passionate about sport and wanted to work in sport because I love the team camaraderie that it brings,” Josh said.

“While rugby has always been my passion outside of work, I’m lucky enough that working with the Waratahs, and now Rugby Australia, it’s still a passion.”

Highlights: What being Head of Partnerships at Rugby Australia is all about

In his role as Head of Partnerships, Josh is in charge of handling important partnerships with well-known brands such as Cadbury, Santos, ASICS, and Land Rover.

He leads a team of four who work hard to manage these partnerships smoothly, making sure that the partners’ rights and benefits are seamlessly integrated into programs like the  Wallabies, Wallaroos, and Australian Rugby 7s.

He highlighted how his work involves more than the usual tasks, such as arranging player appearances and planning corporate events, to offer engaging experiences for fans and partners.

“We focus on ticketing, hospitality, player appearances, signage, and other assets that improve the delivery of our game days, especially during key matches with the Wallabies, Wallaroos, and Sevens teams.

“This year, we have six Wallabies test matches and four Wallaroos test matches planned to give fans and partners an outstanding game day experience.

“The best part is celebrating a win after the game, it makes working in live sports and entertainment incredibly fulfilling.

“We are committed to taking great care of our partners by meeting their partnerships objectives, including match day branding, corporate hospitality, and ticketing.”

  • Other highlights of working in the sports industry include travelling locally and internationally.

“Working for a company like Rugby Australia offers great travel opportunities.

“You can travel within Australia for test matches and even internationally for events like the Rugby World Cup.

“Last year, I got to go to France for the Rugby World Cup.

“There, we organised events for Rugby Australia partners and foundation members during the Wallabies’ games and other special gatherings throughout the tournament weeks.”

“Golden Decade” ahead for sports in Australia

In the highly competitive Australian sports market, standing out can be a challenge.

“Rugby distinguishes itself from other codes, especially in Australia, because of its global reach,” Josh said.

“Participating in prestigious events like the Rugby World Cups, Olympics, and Commonwealth Games through our Sevens programs sets us apart from other sporting codes in the country.”

The sports scene in Australia, especially in rugby, is set for an exciting time ahead.

With key events like the British and Irish Lions tour, upcoming Rugby World Cups, and the Olympics in Brisbane, there’s a wave of opportunities to excite fans and enhance the sports experience in the country.

This significant eight-year period, known as the “golden decade,” offers a chance to spark interest in rugby and sports nationwide, following the successes of teams like the Matildas in the FIFA World Cup.

Early Entry and Industry Training = Josh’s recipe for success

Josh, from Terrigal on Central Coast, shows how taking advantage of opportunities early in life can lead to success.

“In 2013, I began my journey at ICMS right after high school.

“I applied for early entry during my HSC studies and was granted admission, even winning a Professional Scholarship and taking on a Student Ambassador role.

“The reason why ICMS early entry was so beneficial for me was because I had my future sorted while everyone else was stressing about their exams,” he said.

Balancing education with hands-on experience set the groundwork for his move into a significant position at Rugby Australia.

“I was able to do industry training at my local rugby club where I could work two days a week while studying at ICMS three days a week.”

After graduating in 2015, Josh landed a role at a small events company organising social sports competitions.

In 2019, he moved to the Waratahs in the partnerships team, managing key stakeholders and partners like Daikin, Canterbury, CMC Markets, and UNSW over three years.

“In 2022, I sought a position at Rugby Australia and was appointed as the Partnerships Manager.

“Now, two years later, I hold the position of Head of Partnerships, overseeing a team and the entire Partnerships portfolio.”

Some advice: Network, Network, Network!

“My advice for someone to get into the sports industry would be to network,” Josh said.

“Go to as many events and functions as you can, meet as many people as you can, put your name forward, put your name out there, and just meet people because the broader your network, the more opportunities and doors that will open.

“As an ICMS student ambassador and ICMS Professional Scholarship recipient, I visited schools to talk about my business and sports management studies.

“This not only helped me expand my connections but also allowed me to help future students understand the potential of a sports management degree.”

Unleash Your Potential with the ICMS Sports Management Degree

Choosing to study a degree in sports management with a business focus was part of Josh’s plan to make a career in the sports industry.

“My degree in business management, with a major in sports management, put me in good stead for a career in rugby,” Josh said.

“The reason why I love my business management degree was because I not only got to learn about what happens on the field, but I learned what happens off the field.

“Learning from industry experts across various subjects within sports management proved invaluable.

“The exposure to different leaders and experts, spanning business administration to sports management, equipped me with the knowledge and skills essential for success in rugby and sports administration.”

Josh’s journey from an ICMS student to a key figure at Rugby Australia highlights the power of taking early opportunities and staying passionate about the game, paving the way for remarkable career growth.

  • To find out more about the ICMS Bachelor of Business (Sports Management), click here.
  • Early Entry is an Alternate Entry Pathway designed for high-achieving HSC students who want to secure a place at ICMS before sitting their final exams. To find out more, click here.
  • Industry training is a professional placement/internship with one of ICMS’ Industry Partners built into every ICMS degree, guaranteeing work experience before graduation. For more information, click here.


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