Aaron Seabron's unorthodox journey to the sport industry
By Jake Cohen
March 29, 2022
When I asked Aaron Seabron if he would trade places with a current undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, he responded with an emphatic “Yes!” referring to the importance of the journey rather than the destination. I had the pleasure of speaking with Aaron earlier this week to talk about his Michigan experience, professional experience since graduating in 2006, and his winding road into the sport industry.
Aaron grew up in Michigan, about 45 minutes northeast of Ann Arbor. After graduating from West Bloomfield High School, where he excelled playing basketball, Aaron put sports aside and attended the University of Michigan in 2002 to study Sport Management and Communications. He set out on a different path than his father, Tom Seabron, who played linebacker for the Wolverines under coach Bo Schembechler, and later in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Aaron’s passion for sport business was solidified when he was elected president of U of M’s Sports Business Association (SBA) in the club’s second year of existence. As the leader of the SBA, Aaron managed the executive board and the club’s daily operations. Aaron’s time as SBA president was the first of many leadership roles that Aaron would eventually hold, and one of the most formative in terms of understanding what it takes to be in service to others.
When I asked Aaron about the most influential speaker brought in during his tenure, he described an event he put together with Warde Manuel in the early 2000s. Manuel, the associate AD at the time, spoke to the club over a decade before becoming the current AD of Michigan Athletics. Although this was over a decade ago, Aaron set the tone for SBA and its main goal for members, bringing in well-versed professionals to share their experiences in the sport industry.
In search of a meaningful first job where he could develop hard technical skills, Seabron pursued experience in financial services. After a transformational undergraduate experience in Ann Arbor, Aaron set course for New York City to work at Lehman Brothers, where he would spend the next two and a half years. When Lehman filed bankruptcy in 2008, Aaron pivoted and found himself working for a non-profit organization called Management Leadership for Tomorrow, whose focus is building diverse leaders and equitable workspaces.
While the foundational experiences in financial services and non-profit were beneficial, Aaron came to the critical realization that he needed a better understanding of the mindset of a consumer before working in sports. Aaron decided that his best path to close that understanding gap was to go to graduate school and pursue his MBA. Aaron attended The Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, where he was elected president of the student council. Prior to turning 30 years old, Aaron gained leadership experience as the president of two student organizations at two of the most prestigious universities in the country.
After graduating from Cornell, Aaron spent four years at General Mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was able to grow his understanding of consumer marketing and gain leadership experience leading large cross-functional teams. He started as a Marketing Intern and finished his time there as a Senior Associate Marketing Manager, once again proving his willingness to learn and serve in order to build a diverse skill set.
General Mills treated Aaron well; he told me that he gained some of the most important personal and professional growth experiences during his tenure there. Despite his various professional experiences, his ultimate dream of working in sports was still unfulfilled. In the fall of 2015, Seabron was catching up with a former SM professor who had asked him why he never pursued his passion of working in sports, referencing the wide-eyed and spirited 18-year-old who was once his student.
Even on his worst days, Aaron Seabron reminds himself that his path to his current position with Adidas is a dream come true. Aaron joined Adidas in 2016, originally working with the Wholesale Strategy Group before being promoted to the Senior Business Unit Director of the Baseball and Softball department. Last year, Aaron took on his current role as Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Sports at Adidas.
Aaron has the privilege of leading a passionate and talented team of 57 people across product marketing, design, merchandising, and brand communications for Adidas football, baseball, hockey, volleyball, tennis, swimming, and cycling categories. After serving as the president of two student-run organizations, working in finance, non-profit, and brand management, Aaron fulfilled his dream of working in sports that was cultivated during his time at Michigan.
When he gets a break from work, Aaron spends his free time enjoying the beautiful outdoors of Portland, Oregon with his wife, Ashley, and his six-month old son, Lucas. As somebody who lives under the philosophy of living in the moment, Aaron appreciates the West Coast after living in Michigan, New York, and Minnesota.
When he's back in Ann Arbor, though, you can be sure to catch him at Mr. Spots eating his go-to meal, a hoagie and fries.