Lesa Ukman

Lesa Ukman is a thought-leading entrepreneur, writer and speaker renowned as a pioneer in assigning value to marketing collaborations. She has propelled sponsorship from a promotional sideline to a vital discipline by creating the methodology to value and measure investments in sports, arts, entertainment and nonprofits. Her analytics have been adopted throughout the world.

While working for the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events in 1980, Lesa devised the first-ever public/private partnership programs, which still serve as the blueprint for municipal marketing.

Driven by the then-radical idea that businesses that partner with the things people love—sports, music, festivals and nonprofit causes—vastly outperform competitors, she founded IEG (sponsorship.com) in 1982. Her ideas caught the imagination of the business world, giving rise to an industry now worth more than $85 billion. In 2006 she sold IEG to WPP, the world’s largest advertising, marketing and communications services group.

Lesa is an avid champion of the industry and a keen observer of sponsorship’s broader impact on society. This includes expanding the notion of ROI to incorporate social as well as financial outcomes. For over three decades she has piloted the annual IEG Conference, which remains a must-attend event for professionals seeking to make the most of their sponsorship relationships.

She coined the term “Corporate Social Opportunity” to supplant “Corporate Social Responsibility”, reflecting her belief that value is created when “doing good” is embedded in a company’s DNA rather than limited to departments designated for philanthropy or community affairs.

Lesa is also a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, where she teaches Sponsorship, Sports & Entertainment Marketing.

In May 2016, Lesa launched a new venture, Lesa Ukman Partnerships. Its first offering is the ProSocial Valuation Service® (prosocialvaluation.com), an innovative methodology to bring social capital into partnership valuation. This situates sponsorship relationships in our current dynamic environment—a marketplace in which purpose, passion and community are in high demand. Unlike ROI analytics, which calculate financial return for the sponsor, her new service will measure the social value generated by partnership activations.

“Brands and rightsholders need to understand the social value created by their partnerships in the same way they measure profits generated. This enables employees to determine what initiatives they want to volunteer for, and for brands to understand where to invest their dollars for the biggest social impact and what to avoid as inauthentic to their customers.”

Lesa is a sought-after keynote speaker and serves on various boards.

For the second time in her career, Lesa Ukman is bringing to market an entirely new algorithm for capturing the value generated by partnerships. This time instead of calculating the commercial value for the sponsor, she and her colleagues are measuring the social capital created.