If Danny Townsend had a better knee, he probably wouldn’t be at Nielsen today. Townsend, global chief revenue officer of Nielsen Sports, started his career as a pro soccer player in Sydney, Australia. He retired at age 23 after multiple knee surgeries and then kicked off a sports business career that has taken him around the world and earned him a spot in the Leaders Under 40 Class of 2016.
The awards, created by Leaders and Aspire Academy, search out, evaluate and celebrate the best talent in the business of sport globally. Townsend is one of seven honorees in the Entrepreneurship category. He, along with his classmates, was honored at a ceremony in London on Oct. 4, 2016.
“Either playing professional sports or in business, creating a winning culture is critical to sustainable success and I think there are a lot of other similarities between sport and business,” Townsend says. “I am competitive by nature and I think one of the most rewarding elements of what the business has achieved is the way we created a business in Australia and were able to take on larger, more established agencies to ultimately dominate the space. This, coupled with the experience I gained from setting up our operations across three continents, has provided both life and business experience that I would never have achieved as a footballer.”
Townsend played a critical role building Repucom, a global leader in sports measurement, evaluation and intelligence, which Nielsen acquired in June of this year. He was the first employee of the company, which launched in Sydney, Australia, in 2004, and was responsible for expanding the business in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He now lives in the U.S., where he oversees the global revenue growth of the Nielsen Sports business practice.
“Danny is so deserving of this honor,” said Howard Appelbaum, President, Nielsen Entertainment. “He developed the global standard for sponsorship valuation and continues to innovate products and services to meet the needs of stakeholders in sports and entertainment. His energy, passion and commitment inspire those of us around him to set higher goals and to achieve them.”
Townsend was selected among more than 700 nominations across 48 countries. He joins an impressive list of honorees that includes executives from sports leagues, teams, brands and agencies.