A Hokie through and through, Chad Willis has been working with JHE since the 1999 The Winston at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Virginia Tech communications major began working on the NEXTEL account with Octagon in October 2003. Shortly after, he was hired to join Jill Gregory’s team at NEXTEL and has been a loyal Sprint employee ever since.
Currently serving as manager of at-track marketing at Sprint, Willis has been in the sports world since graduation. He began as a sports journalist at the Roanoke Times and Lynchburg News & Advance, serving as Marty Smith’s (now a reporter at ESPN) predecessor at each location on the NASCAR and local motorsports beat. In 1998, he began working with RJ Reynolds’ Sports Marketing Enterprises as media relations manager for Winston’s sponsorships of the Winston Cup Series, Winston Drag Racing Series and Team Winston drivers Jimmy Spencer, Gary Scelzi and Angelle Savoie.
Q&A with Chad:
- Describe your job: I am the manager of at-track marketing for Sprint’s NASCAR entitlement which means day-to-day oversight and integration of Sprint’s marketing priorities and objectives into programs like The Sprint Unlimited Experience, Miss Sprint Cup, signage and branding, Victory Lane activation and strategic relationships with the 23 tracks that host Sprint Cup Series events.
- The best career advice you ever received: Your word should always mean more than any contract.
- Accomplishment you are most proud of: Being a part of the best sponsorship marketing team in NASCAR. Each member of the Sprint team is, in my opinion, the best at what they do.
- Biggest myth about your job: I would hope it appears to be the proverbial “duck on the water.” It should look smooth and effortless but I can assure you that we’re all paddling pretty hard beneath the water. There are so many moving and interconnected pieces to Sprint’s NASCAR sponsorship and making sure we are all in lockstep to create impactful results is something that requires a lot of attention.
- Insider secret to your job: Always consider different opinions and approaches. The final “big idea” is normally a combination of smaller concepts presented by a number of different people.
- Best part of working with JHE: Knowing that every single member of the JHE team wants to exceed expectations and deliver a best-in-class product every single time. Everyone at JHE has bought into a culture of success and it’s a part of the company’s DNA.
- What has most impressed you about JHE: JHE has a unique ability to find an answer for every crazy request or idea we throw at them. I honestly can’t remember hearing the words, “there’s no way we can pull that off.”
Eight Things About Chad You May Not Know:
- How I spend my weekends: Having a lot of fun with my 19-month-old son, Chase, and the love of my life, Samantha. I love my career but it requires a lot of weekend travel, so the weekends I get to be home with my family are very special.
- My favorite sport is… college football. I bleed orange and maroon and own more Virginia Tech clothing than any one person should have in a closet. Give me Saturday afternoons in Blacksburg, Va. and I’m one happy Hokie!
- My favorite vacation yet is… It doesn’t sound exotic but I love Charleston, S.C. It’s like the Hamptons for people in Charlotte. Samantha and I can’t get there enough.
- Product that should be invented: Time machine. Experience is the best teacher and I’d love the ability to go back and do some things better the first time around.
- My favorite quote is… “Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”
- My runner-up career would be… chairman at Augusta National Golf Club
- I don’t leave home without…my Sprint iPhone.
- Anything else interesting people should know about you: I wrote the remarks for President George W. Bush that he spoke prior to his command to start the engines at the 2002 The Winston. I’ve had the opportunity to do some cool things in my career but seeing and hearing the President of the United States recite something you wrote is pretty special.