Jim Cavale, CEO and founder of INFLCR, introduced Liz Ballard as the company’s new vice president of client strategy in March 2018.
“I’m pumped to get you on board and get you into this company’s DNA and to get your DNA into the company,” Cavale told Ballard in the first #INFLCR DocuSeries Extra. “I believe you have a rare gift in being strategic and tactical. Not many people are both. There are a lot of big thinkers, but they can’t execute. A lot of people can execute but they can’t think too big. You have that unique ability to do both and from a big network mindset.”
Ballard strengthens the INFLCR brand with her 14-year career with NBC Sports Group’s Olympic Division, which spanned seven Olympic Games and included two Emmy award wins.
“I love projects and (INFLCR) is the opportunity to get in there and grow it from the bottom up. It’s a world of possibilities right now so we do have to be strategic in what is our vision, what is our goal and how are we going to grow this in a way that is sustainable,” she said.
When social media was in its infancy, Ballard was a college student living in New York City, where she parlayed the a connection from a professor into an opportunity at NBC. The same awe that hit her the first time she drove through the Lincoln Tunnel welcomed her as she entered the doors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, now known as Comcast Building, in NYC’s famed Rockefeller Center.
“I remember walking into 30 Rock and you’re walking into this building that’s legendary,” she said. “You walk through the doors, and you can feel the energy in that place.”
While an internship got her in the doors of NBC, it was the willingness to work late on a project during that internship, which led to an opportunity that launched her career.
“It was around 9 p.m. and they said, ‘We want you to come to the Olympics.’” Ballard said.
She took a semester off from NYU to work with the team before returning to school and a two-year job with NBC Sports & Olympics while completing school. She graduated in 2004 with a bachelors in sports management with a concentration in sports and entertainment marketing.
After a year in public relations at Madison Square Gardens and Radio City Music Hall, Ballard returned to NBC as a publicist for the Olympics in 2005. A native of New Orleans, Ballard was also able to help NBCUniversal with its hour-long, celebrity-driven benefit “A Concert for Hurricane Relief” on Sept. 2, 2005 after Hurricane Katrina caused massive flooding in her hometown, one of her top non-Olympics memories.
In 2007, she became the Director of Olympic Partnerships in 2007 prior to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 - possibly her favorite Olympic experience.
“It was China’s coming out party to the world. People think the Olympics is just a sporting event, but it’s so much more. Every Olympics is really storytelling of a country. It was being able to tell the story of China and Beijing and this Communist country that people didn’t know much about, and we finally got access to it,” Ballard said.
Experiencing Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals, USA Gymnastics’ 10 medals and the 5-0 run to Gold by the “Redeem Team” in men’s basketball completed the experience.
During her career at NBC, Ballard was part of seven Olympics from her first in Salt Lake City as a college intern in 2002 to the 2014 games in Sochi.
“My favorite part of my job at NBC was the opportunity to meet athletes and meet these Olympians before they were Olympians. They were really just kids with dreams, and what we did is we were storytellers telling their stories and helping build their brand,” Ballard said. “They went from no name kids to on the world stage with 30 million people watching them on NBC. Now they have a brand and vision for themselves and some have nothing to do with sports.”
That is exactly what excites Ballard about her new role at INFLCR - one she calls a perfect fit.
“INFLCR is exciting because it gives us the opportunity to help tell the story of these teams, these schools and these athletes in a growing media,” Ballard said. “It’s really listening to our clients and and trying to help them tell that story and creating a strategy where our software can do that for them.”
When she left NBCUniversal in 2015 and moved back to New Orleans for family reasons, she missed being part of a team and brainstorming ideas to create new projects. She took to Facebook this week to announce her move to Birmingham, Alabama, calling it “a plot twist for sure...but a better one than I could have ever dreamed up. Time to start my new life as an Alabama girl!!”