September 18, 2021

Touring the Bases With…Juliana Paoli

May 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Juliana Paoli is Chief Marketing Officer of the San Jose Giants located in San Jose, California.  They are an Affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

Juliana Paoli

Juliana Paoli

SEAMHEADS: You spoke at the Baseball Winter Meeting in Indianapolis last year and Las Vegas in 2008. You also said you were not comfortable as a public speaker.  Do you still have a fear of public speaking?

JULIANA: I am getting better at it.  Practice helps.  In college, I was in public relations and did some writing for others to speak. But now, put a microphone or TV camera in front of me I’m lucky I can remember my name.  My mother can’t believe it.  Normally, I am very outgoing, but public speaking is not my forte.

SH: What did you speak about?

JP: There were over 600 people in the room.  I spoke at a job fair for people wanting to get into Minor League Baseball.  It was a baseball workshop before the MLB meeting started.  I was a little nervous but I love sharing my story, all the experiences I had in baseball and prior to my joining the San Jose Giants. I like sharing and inspiring other people.

SH: For a young person, male or female, would you recommend they attend the Baseball Winter Meeting?

JP: I would.  But the best way to get into baseball is an internship with a Minor League team. It’s not the way I did it but starting at the bottom, working the various jobs in baseball, is good experience.  Our current General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Jim Weyermann started as an intern twenty- five years ago.  All our staff people started as interns.  This is the best way to build your connections, and move up.  The advantage of attending the winter meeting is to network and meet many officials from both Major and Minor League teams.

SH: What college did you attend?

JP: I went to the University of Washington.    I majored in sociology so college did not prepare me for my baseball career.  That’s why I say an internship is the best.  Jump in and go for it and work your way to the top.  Get work experience and handle any job offered you.  If you had a choice of going for a Masters degree or internship, I’d say take the internship.

SH: How did you get your start in baseball?

JP: My story is far from typical. I was thrown into baseball and I started at the top!  Throughout my career, I was given opportunities that I didn’t have proper training or qualification for.  I took advantage of the opportunity, jumped in and gave it my all.  Sometimes, you just have to swing at the pitch you’re thrown.

SH: What was your first job?

JP: I started my career right out of college.  A friend worked for Ronnie Lott, the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame football star. Ronnie had an Events business. That didn’t work out but I got to be a low level assistant at a Sports Marketing, Public Relations and Event Planning firm in San Francisco.   I was twenty-two.  I had just moved to San Francisco from Seattle when I was asked to go back to Seattle and help out a company in the Special Events and Sports Marketing.

I knew the area; followed my instincts and was able to grow the company from three events to seventy-five and quickly became Vice President. In the process, I learned the PR and Sports Marketing business and had the opportunity to work with high- level national companies like Stub Hub.

SH: Did you ever own your own company?

JP: Yes.  In 2004, I moved from San Francisco to San Diego and opened my own Sports Marketing business.  I concentrated on the events side of the business and worked with many athletes coordinating their charity events.  Athletes like Barry Zito, Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia and many others.

Within a few months, an opportunity came at me from left field.  It was a curve ball I didn’t see coming.  Not even in my wildest dreams.

SH: Can you tell us about that?

JP: Jim Weyermann, my longtime friend and colleague, was the Chief Marketing Officer of an independent baseball league.  He brought me on originally to help with the PR and marketing for the launch of the league.  Soon I was asked to become General Manager of the San Diego Surf Dawgs and at first I thought they were crazy.  I had never worked on the team-side of baseball.  The first Minor League baseball game I attended was my opening day. After a few moments of doubt, I said, yes, I can do this, and I did.  That was the beginning of my career in baseball.

Most people have heard of the Surf Dawgs because our roster included the Hall of Famer Ricky Henderson, the former Oakland Athletic and New York Yankee. There was never a dull moment working with Rickey. I was lucky to coordinate national stories with Dateline and The New Yorker Magazine. One of my favorite parts of the job was walking him out to his car after the game. Rickey was one of the most incredible athletes I have ever watched despite his age.

SH: This was a new team, what else did you do?

JP: I did everything that goes with starting a new team including picking a name, a logo, designing sales materials, creating advertising and a PR campaign, inventing a game day show and implementing the team’s brand story.  It was exciting and after a great year, it was time to move to my next adventure.

SH: How and when did you connect with the San Jose Giants?

JP: About four years ago, Weyermann became President and CEO of the San Jose Giants.  He called me and said he needed my help.  It was in the middle of winter, it was difficult to imagine baseball being played there.  The team has been affiliated with the San Francisco Giants for twenty-two seasons and I believed the prospect of reorganizing something that already had a historic place in the hearts of the community would be a promising undertaking.

SH: As Chief Marketing Officer for the San Jose Giants, what do you do?

JP: It varies.  I’m in charge of marketing the team, advertising, public relations, community affairs, creating wacky promotions, buying of merchandise and customer service.

My first season with the Giants consisted of creating many new templates involving everything from proposals and contracts to press releases; advertising; merchandise and the community affairs department.

SH: Can you tell me about some of the wacky promotions?

JP: Our most famous is the beer batter.  We take a select player on the opposing team and when he strikes out, beer is sold two for one for the next fifteen minutes. We give out T-shirts that say “beer batter” and we gave out whistles. The fans get very excited about this promotion.

We also have done smash for cash.  We drive out an old milk truck onto the field. Three players are teamed up with three contestants.  The player is given two balls and throws for the contestant. If he shatters the headlights on the truck, the player wins cash and the contestant wins a gift certificate in our merchandise stores.

SH: Have you promoted theme nights?

JP: I would have to say that the theme nights are one of the things I am most proud of over the last four years. We have introduced cultural heritage nights including Italian Night, Hawaiian Night, Japanese Heritage Night and others.  I love these nights because they are truly authentic and definitely not the typical theme night.  The events are intended to create a festive environment where fans have a new experience and get to enjoy the enhanced feel of the ballpark.

They are a perfect opportunity for local businesses and organizations to come out to the ballpark and celebrate their traditions and customs. We transform Municipal Stadium and the players wear special jerseys.  Each evening is a celebration of the culture and a perfect way for people to attend a game that wouldn’t otherwise come to a San Jose Giants game

SH: What is it about your work you love?

JP: The majority of people have no idea of what goes on behind the scenes.  It is the hardest work of my life but it is so rewarding.  Fans bring me scrapbook pages or email me photos of their kids. The job is challenging at times but it is also part of the fun.  I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from how much of a family the front office has become for me.

We get to create fun, affordable entertainment for the entire family. Lifetime memories are created at the ballpark and we become part of people’s traditions.  I love watching a child say play ball or watch their faces light up when they get a players autograph. How many people get to see that everyday?  This is why I love what I do.

I still get excited when we have a big story in the paper or we have a sellout crowd. I work extremely hard and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. I love my job and I appreciate the opportunities I have been given. I love sharing my experiences with other people. Each year is better than the last and that is a thrill for me.

SH: What are you most proud of since becoming part of the Giants?

JP: Definitely this past season.  It was an incredible, magical year both on and off the field.  We won the California League Championship and took the organization from an annual attendance of 150,000 to well over 200,000.  This is an incredible accomplishment considering the economy.  The team had six first round draft picks, we had a media circus and fan frenzy over a fabulous and future star named Buster Posey, a catcher sure to catch on with the big league Giants.

Of all the amazing highlights, there are two accomplishments that stand out.  Winning Minor League baseballs coveted John H. Johnson President’s trophy for the first time in club history.  The second was winning Baseball America’s Bob Freitas Award making us the only Class A team to win the award twice.  These two awards honor the hard work our entire staff has done.

SH: Are you married?  Have any children?

JP: No, I am not married and have no children. Not married, yet.

SH: Aside from Rickey Henderson, have you met any celebrities?

JP: I met Barry Zito and helped him with his charity events.  I helped Eric Chavez and also Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres with his charity event and we did a rock ‘n roll charity event for Zito.

SH: Do the Giants have a team mascot?

JP: Yes, for the first team the team has a mascot named Gigante.

SH: Who was your mentor in baseball?

JP: Outside of baseball, it would be my mom, Marilyn Lewis.  My father died when I was young. She was a top agent for State Farm Insurance and she traveled all over the country.  She had a strong work ethic and taught me to put my all into whatever I did. She told my sister and I we could accomplish whatever we wanted to do.

Kathy Jacobson who used to be with the Oakland A’s. She helped guide me and advised me on what to expect as a woman in business.

SH: What’s it like being a woman in the male dominated world of baseball?

JP: When I first started, my title was General Manager so people got very confused.  People would try to stump me by throwing baseball trivia at me, to see if I knew many baseball facts.  I didn’t. That was not part of my job.   This was a rude awakening for me because I had always worked in PR and Events.  No one questioned my decisions.

In baseball, sitting at a table in a press conference, people questioned why I was there. Change is difficult and people resist change.  I had to show by my actions, I knew what I was doing, given the opportunity.  People would see what I wanted to do would work, so, as they say, action speaks louder than words and I showed I know what I am doing.

SH: Do you think a time will come when a woman could be General Manager of a Major League club?

JP: I hope so.  If there is someone qualified, I hope she will be given the opportunity to do it.

SH: What advice would you give a young person considering a career in baseball?

JP: Internship would be where to start.  Take every opportunity that you are given and give it 100%. You never know where it might take you.  Who cares if you don’t have the training; Minor League Baseball is on the job training. I tell the interns that work with me, you’re going to learn more than I can tell you. You will run programs you didn’t think you could.  You’ll deal with crisis and learn how to multitask. You have to wear many hats. You never know what job you might get.

Norm Coleman is an actor, writer and professional photographer living in Half Moon Bay, California.

Photo:  Barry Colla

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