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Celtics President Rich Gotham with Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite
Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite (left) with Celtics President Rich Gotham. Photos by Maddie Schroeder.

Boston Celtics President Rich Gotham joined Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite for a conversation about the NBA executive’s career with the Celtics — including what led him to join the professional sports franchise in 2003 and the lessons he learned along the way. Part of the university’s President’s Speaker Series, the on-campus event was attended by over 500 Bentley community members and included an open question-and-answer session that delved into the business of sports. Gotham’s visit was part of a broader strategic partnership between Bentley and the Celtics that includes opportunities for students to learn about careers in sports business from industry executives. 

Gotham, who pivoted from studying psychology to majoring in business during college, said that he never thought his first job in sales would lead to a career in sports. “We don’t always have the luxury of saying ‘my first job is going to be my dream job.’ But don’t forget what your dream is and try to stay on course to it. Even if you can’t really envision it, don’t lose touch with it because you never know when the opportunity might present itself.” 

Watch program highlights. Video by Kevin Maguire.

Gotham had a 15-year career in the technology industry before transitioning to professional sports — serving first as executive vice president and then COO of the Celtics before becoming president. He currently manages all aspects of business operations, partnerships and community engagement for the professional basketball team. His advice to students as they build their career is to foster an ability to work with people. 

“Don’t confuse a title with leadership,” Gotham said. “Having a self-awareness of your impact and your effect on others is maybe the single-most important thing, particularly when it comes to collaborating and working with others — whether it’s in the business world or on the basketball court or in the locker room.” 

Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite with Bentley Women's Basketball Captain Maggie Whitmore '24 and Celtics President Rich Gotham
Bentley Women’s Basketball Captain Maggie Whitmore ’24 (center) introduced Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite (left) and Celtics President Rich Gotham (right).

He noted that soft skills — such as having empathy, gaining trust, listening to other perspectives and bringing a positive energy to the table — are the things people will remember more than job performance. “Most of your opportunities in your career are going to come as the result of someone else saying something good about you.” 

Though he is faced with challenging business decisions, Gotham said that it’s the people aspects — cultivating a positive culture within the Celtics organization and maintaining relationships with fans and the community, for example — that are often most pressing.  

“I want the Celtics to be an organization of people who care; whatever it is you’re doing for the organization, I really want you to care about it,” Gotham said. “That is what Celtic pride is about ... and I can’t expect that of other people if they can’t see it from me.” 

Bentley Finance major Dillon Driscoll ’25, a Celtics fan who grew up north of Boston, was excited at the chance to hear from Gotham and impressed by the Celtics executive’s business philosophy. “Mr. Gotham emphasized the importance of communication, and he does this successfully by being transparent, empathetic, having the best intentions for others in mind and finding a ‘why.’ He emphasized that engaging the community and making the fans proud to represent the Celtics is not just part of the business model, but it is intertwined every step of the way.”

Bentley Students with mascot Flex the Falcon, who is wearing a commemorative Bentley-Celtics t-shirt
Bentley students with mascot Flex the Falcon, who is wearing a commemorative Bentley-Celtics partnership t-shirt that was available for attendees.

Laila Altanbour ’25, a Marketing major, was also struck by Gotham’s people-focused leadership. “When discussing advancements in his career, Mr. Gotham emphasized the importance of collaboration, relationship-building and empathy. This reaffirmed my dedication to cultivating as many meaningful relationships as I can during my time at Bentley — with a deliberate focus on leaving a positive impact on the individuals I connect with.”  

Gotham’s campus visit was just one of several opportunities for the community to engage with the Bentley-Celtics partnership. This semester, Bentley is also offering its first corporate immersion class with CLTX — the esports venture of the Boston Celtics — where students are working on promoting the first-ever Collegiate Boston NBA 2K Championship. The inaugural Celtics Career Day hosted by Bentley University was held earlier this month to give Boston-area high-school students an inside look at college education and the opportunity to learn about the pathway to a career in sports from Celtics front office staff. A newly formed Bentley Student Celtics Partnership Committee is planning additional speaker and watch party events, and the university plans to host a panel of Bentley alumni who work at the Celtics and in professional sports. 

According to Gotham, programs like Career Day define the ‘why’ of the Bentley-Celtics partnership. “Leveraging Bentley’s expertise in education and our expertise in sports, and delivering that to a bunch of people, that’s the magic to me.”

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