Ellis shared his business management and leadership expertise at the event – which was part of the Daniels College of Business’ Voices of Experience speaker series – providing the audience with a window of insight into the business enterprise of the sports industry.
“I thought that it was a good opportunity for the Broncos and those of us in the industry to kind of give business school students and other businesspeople around the community an idea of what our business is like behind the scenes,” Ellis said at the event.
Ellis’ speech was followed by a networking reception, and Broncos tickets and autographed footballs were given away through a raffle.
Ellis was the first figure from the sports industry to ever speak at a Voices of Experience event – something that Daniels College of Business Program Developer Kate Sparks said was an engaging way to bridge the gap between business leadership and innovation perspectives with a brand that is so prevalent throughout Colorado and across the country.
“It’s really exciting,” Sparks said, noting that previous speakers have included CEOs from US Bank, Visa, Home Depot, Crocs, and other companies. “We kind of want to broaden it a little bit, look into other industries to kind of hear their perspective of the business of that industry. We thought, ‘Well, we have to reach out to the Broncos because there’s nothing more fun than that.’”
“Joe was obviously our first choice to hear his perspective and get his take on the organization, leadership and the business of football,” she added.
Ellis – who is in his third season serving as President and his 19th season overall with the Broncos – has worked in the NFL for 26 seasons, developing an extensive expertise in business operations, financial management, and numerous other areas of operations involved with an NFL franchise. Ellis received his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College in 1980 and obtained his master’s degree from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 1988.
In serving atop the management structure of the Broncos and overseeing an organization with such a wide range of operations, Ellis noted that carrying out the vision and standard of excellence set by Broncos Owner and CEO Pat Bowlen remains pivotal to the organization’s success.
“He sets the standard and I think we all know what that standard is,” Ellis said. “He wants to be the best at everything and here he is in his 30th year, about to hit his 300th win. It speaks to the standard that he sets and the expectations that he has of all of us. I think everybody in our company really has a clear understanding of that and conducts themselves in a manner that allows us to be successful.”
Working in an organization like the Broncos, Ellis added, means serving as ambassador of the brand – whether in a professional setting, or in public.
“I think success in our industry is defined on the field by victories, by winning, and that’s pretty cut and dried,” Ellis said. “But I think how you conduct yourself, how you behave – whether you’re working down at the stadium in the marketing department, or whether you’re a trainer or whether you’re a player, coach or an executive – if someone finds out or knows that you work for this team, or in this organization, you’re sort of on notice.”
“That’s kind of a tall order to carry, but I think everybody understands the importance of that,” he added. “You’re representing something that’s special to the people in this community.”
And for Sparks, that relationship between the community and the Broncos made Ellis a particularly relatable speaker for those attending the event because the Broncos’ brand and product is so tightly knit within the city of Denver.
“I think it’s hard to find organizations that their culture and their brand just seeps through – not only through their internal organization, but to the customer – and everyone is living and breathing that same culture and energy,” Sparks said. “When we can find someone who represents that, who has managed to establish that sense of culture, that’s ideal for us.”
“Everybody feels so connected to (the Broncos) that you feel like you finally get a chance to come and hear someone talk about something that is so important to you in your daily life,” she added. “Definitely your Sunday.”