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Policarpo Rodriguez spent his high school and college years on soccer fields. So, you can only imagine the full-circle-moment he experienced when he stepped into his role as an associate manager in programming and acquisitions at ESPN, where he manages all soccer contracts and coordinates across departments to maximize profit and engagement. In his role, he’s leveraged his love for the sport to understand the stakeholders he works with, from his business partners at ESPN to the fans cheering from home and in stadiums.
What do you do today?
I am responsible for managing all soccer contracts for ESPN. This entails ensuring LaLiga and Bundesliga contract terms are honored while coordinating across all departments to maximize profitability and audience engagement. My focus is to identify opportunities to increase direct-to-consumer subscribers, identify program content to increase engagement of current and new subscribers, and acquire soccer content to keep subscriber interest in our direct-to-consumer platform.
What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment has been to solidify ESPN+ and LaLiga as a unified brand in the US Market and we will continue building on the great success we have had so far. The agreement between ESPN and LaLiga was a ground-breaking deal, as two major sports brands agreed to distribute a marquee property in a solely direct to consumer product.
What is your greatest personal accomplishment to date?
My greatest personal accomplishment is to be able to use my love for sports as a career path. Working on a subject that happens to be my personal passion enables me to approach the business from the perspective of all relevant stakeholders. From the ESPN business side, also from our audience perspective, and finally from the point of view of our league partners priorities.
How do you tackle problems and overcome challenges?
Understanding the problem and working with relevant stakeholders focusing on finding solutions rather than getting stuck on the problem or what caused it. Nurturing solid relationships is vital to overcome challenges and finding win-win solutions for all parties.
What do you do today to impact your community?
I’m an active volunteer in several organizations. Each year, I volunteer as a hole marshal in the PGA Tour Travelers Championship and donate the proceeds to the Bristol Soccer Club. I also work alongside my soccer mentor, buying and shipping soccer supplies to impoverished kids in Venezuela. I’m a member of the Enabled and SOMOS Hispanic/Latino ESPN resource groups and serves as a peer mentor for incoming production assistants in the ESPN Next Program.
Describe yourself in five words.
Pragmatic, passionate, accountable, goal-driven, and positive.
What are your future goals?
Focus on the USA soccer landscape in the next four years. With the Copa America, Club World Cup and FIFA World Cup being played in the USA, it is a golden opportunity to cement soccer as a marquee sport in this country.
What is your favorite form of self-care?
Participating in sports, playing soccer, working out, playing golf, skiing, hiking, and playing pickleball, among others.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
Going out with friends, meeting up with family, taking care of my dog, traveling, playing dominos and of course playing sports.
What does making NextGen Collective’s 30 Under 30 list mean to you?
It is an honor and testament that consistently working hard pays off. Additionally, in a country where immigration could be a sensitive topic, making the 30 Under 30 reinforces my belief that focusing on the opportunity rather than the obstacles or limitations will allow you to achieve you life and career goals. Believe in yourself.
What is your personal theme song?
“Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony
What is your Latino background?
I was born in South Bend, Indiana. My parents are Venezuelan, and I moved to Venezuela when I was two months old. I was raised in Caracas until I was twelve years old, when my family moved to Houston, Texas.
Editor‘s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity.