Working at Sports Events in Saudi Arabia: Insights from Marina Nishitani

In the ever-evolving landscape of global sports, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is swiftly emerging as a pivotal hub, thanks to its ambitious vision and significant investments in the sports sector. During a captivating episode of the iWorkinSport LIVE series, we had the opportunity to explore the vibrant sports scene in Saudi Arabia with Marina Nishitani, an expert in planning mega-sports events.

Marina Nishitani's professional journey is a captivating tale of resilience, adaptability, and the relentless pursuit of career goals. Her story offers invaluable insights into the dynamics of working in a rapidly changing and culturally diverse environment.

Early Beginnings and the Pivot to Sports Management

Starting her career with an internship at the Pan American Games in Rio 2007, Marina's path was not initially aligned with sports management - she actually studied journalism and marketing. However, her early exposure to the logistical and operational facets of sports events sparked her interest in this field. "I never had the intention to work with sports. I always just loved football like every other Brazilian” she says. “I ended up at the Pan American games, working in transport. That was my first job... it wasn’t something I had in mind or I was looking for", she recalls.

The Challenge of Transition and the Power of Networking

Marina's transition from Brazil to Switzerland, and later her ventures into the Middle East, highlight the crucial role of networking and resilience. Facing personal and professional hurdles, she found solace and opportunity in connections fostered over years. Marina emphasizes the significance of networking, "I am always trying to network... I'm a super fan of LinkedIn... I was always looking for positions, trying to connect with people", she says. Marina continues: “everyone should try to master Linkedin, but not only that. You must network in person too. For example, don’t miss the chance to go to the iWorkinSport Job Fair.”

Embracing the Saudi Arabian Experience

Marina's work in Saudi Arabia since 2019 brought her face-to-face with the kingdom's burgeoning sports scene and its cultural intricacies. From her first major event in the country to adapting to its cultural norms, her experiences shed light on the transformative journey of Saudi Arabia's sports industry and the role expatriates play in it. She notes the evolution she witnessed, "It's a whole new world... Everything is opening up... It’s amazing how fast and quick they're growing... they are being very smart in bringing good people to do the job… Although I have to say they also have excellent professionals there too."

Navigating Work-Life Balance as a Global Professional

As a mother and a professional constantly navigating between continents, Marina shares her approach to balancing work and personal life. She shares, "Thankfully my family gives me great support. All the traveling makes it very hard, but I try to give her an example... one needs to know what she truly wants in life."

Advice for Aspiring Sports Professionals Looking Towards Saudi Arabia

Marina offers practical advice for those interested in exploring career opportunities in Saudi Arabia's expanding sports sector. Highlighting the importance of flexibility, cultural sensitivity, and realistic expectations, she provides a roadmap for navigating this promising but challenging landscape. Marina advises, "Try to figure out who the companies are... try to maybe have a chat with the recruiters... they need people right now... be flexible, be open to start and have a chance in the market."

Marina Nishitani's journey is more than a personal success story; it's a guidepost for professionals aspiring to make their mark in the global sports industry. Her insights into Saudi Arabia's evolving sports scene, underscored by her own experiences, illuminate the path for others to follow.

If you missed the live interview, you can watch it here.