Thursday, October 18, 2012

UNO MBA Student Heads to Colorado Springs For U.S. Olympic Committee's Elite F.L.A.M.E. Program

boutteUNO M.B.A. student Cristiana Boutte heads to Colorado Springs this week for U.S. Olympic Committee’s F.L.A.M.E. Program.

A University of New Orleans graduate student pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree is among 15 student leaders from colleges and universities across the U.S. who have been selected by the United States Olympic Committee to participate in the 2012 Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere (F.L.A.M.E.) Program.

The program will be held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., from Friday through Tuesday, Oct. 19-23. Christiana Boutte, 23, leaves town tomorrow as the only student leader in the program who hails from Louisiana.

“I’m going up there to network and meet a lot of people because I would like to work in sports, eventually. I want to build my resume,” said Boutte. “I’m really excited. It’s going to be so much fun – and cold.”

Now in its 19th year, the F.L.A.M.E. program is designed to allow students an in-depth look at the Olympic movement and personal exploration of the Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship and respect, according to organizers. The program also paves the road for talented student leaders to become further involved in the Olympic movement, through the USOC’s internship program or other points of entry, including volunteer opportunities. The sports leadership program is designed to help student leaders “to succeed and rise and above the ordinary.”

This year, participants represent 12 colleges and universities and hail from nine U.S. states. Boutte, who is from Prairieville, La., will be joining student leaders from the University of Pittsburgh; University of North Carolina, Georgia State, Mills College; Savannah State; Virginia State; Florida A & M; Winston-Salem State; University of California, Santa Cruz; Virginia State; Trinity University and Rice University.

Selected participants have already demonstrated leadership and excellence in their own communities, according to USOC organizers. During the five-day program, they will attend unique seminars and workshops with Olympic and Paralympic athletes, USOC and national governing body leaders and others. They will also live and eat alongside U.S. Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls at the Olympic Training Center. The program will include motivational presentations, leadership seminars and networking opportunities.

Boutte, who has focused her MBA studies on finance, is aiming for a career in sports business. The former Louisiana State University soccer player and three-year intern for the LSU athletics department believes that she has found her calling.

“I really like the environment and how it’s really fast-paced and really competitive and how it’s always changing,” she said of working in athletics. “It’s always constantly evolving. There’s always something new. Sports is also something that I like doing every day.”

Boutte is currently a student and graduate assistant at UNO, as well as a marketing intern at the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, where she is helping to address budget and finance issues for orientation sessions designed for more than 8,000 volunteers who will come from around the U.S. to help put on Super Bowl XLVII in February, 2013 at the Louisiana Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Previously, Boutte interned for ESPN in New York City, where she served on the 2010 FIFA World Cup marketing team and helped to produce a 2010 FIFA World Cup documentary “Pride and Passions Without Borders.”  During her 10-week internship at ESPN, company vice presidents advised Boutte to pursue an MBA if she wanted to get ahead in sports business.

Boutte, who attended University High School and graduated from LSU in Baton Rouge, chose UNO for her course of study because she preferred the “application-based study” she found at UNO to the “theory-based study” she explored at LSU. She also chose UNO, thinking that she could pursue next steps in her career at major sports venues featuring world-class events — including the upcoming Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four tournaments.

“Getting an MBA will get you an interview but what you have learned will get you the job,” UNO Professor of Economics Ronnie Davis once told Boutte. She has taken the advice to heart, dreaming big about an eventual role as general manager of an NFL or other professional sports team and pursuing opportunities that may help her to build the skills and network she needs to get there – or somewhere close.

“Anytime you get to go and work with the Olympics it’s a really exciting time,” said Boutte, who plans to embrace opportunity while in Colorado Springs. “…You get to see what needs to happen to put on an event that literally the whole world is watching.”