ABOUT ROB URBACH
Rob Urbach is an innovative leader who has been the driving force behind business transformations, loyal customer fan bases and value driving growth. As a leader, he is noted as a “multiplier,” making everyone around him smarter and more capable. As a result, his teams are noted for doing more with less, generating record-setting results in both good times and bad and for creating winning partnerships.
Urbach was named CEO of the Iditarod in July 2019 and has been working closely with the Iditarod’s board of directors to drive relevance, thought leadership and innovation in leading the “Last Great Race on Earth.” During 2020 as Covid was wreaking havoc, the Iditarod was the last major sporting event in the world to navigate through the Pandemic. Similarly, Urbach and his team has been highly innovative, anticipatory and strategic in developing a Covid Prevention plan for 2021.
Prior to the Iditarod, Urbach served as Chief Executive Officer of USA Triathlon for 6 and half years overseeing all day-to-day operations for the National Governing Body for triathlon—the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Olympic Movement. As the largest multisport organization in the world, USA Triathlon serves more than 500,000 members and sanctions more than 4,300 local events each year. In addition to its focus on age-group athletes, races directors, coaches, and officials at the grassroots level, USA Triathlon manages Olympic and Paralympic teams.
Under Urbach’s guidance, USA Triathlon has reached all-time highs in membership, youth participation, sanctioned events, certified coaches and official clubs, as well as many key revenue centers, including corporate sponsorship and fundraising, and led the bid that awarded the U.S. the World Championship to be held in Chicago in 2015 and the campaign for NCAA Varsity Sport status for women. He has conceived and developed several new initiatives including the Century Club; four new race series formats (Super Sprint, Retro, Splash & Dash, and Mixed Team Relay); as well as a system that is driving improvements in the race registration process (Real Time Account Verification). With a focus on hosting safe and fair events, Urbach commissioned a blue-ribbon panel of physicians to study race-related fatalities, resulting in the “Shared Responsibility” doctrine. He also introduced a platform that has since been woven into the fabric of the organization, “Sharing the Win.” This mantra captures the essence of the sport: wins on the podium, wins overcoming diabetes and obesity, wins by using triathlon to overcome drug and alcohol addictions, wins for sponsors, etc.
Urbach, who has been named Inside Triathlon magazine’s Most Influential Person, has led the development of a weekly television show, the launch of the USA Triathlon Foundation, the rollout of the NCAA program, a large-scale Youth membership driver and other initiatives designed to achieve strategic objectives. Moreover, under his leadership USA Triathlon won the women’s gold Medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and led the medal count in triathlon for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
One of the most accomplished executives in the sports industry, Urbach possesses more than 20 years of proven leadership experience. A proficient age-group triathlete, Urbach joined USA Triathlon from Cortview Capital Markets where he was a Managing Director providing mergers and acquisition, advisory and corporate financial services to sports industry clients.
Prior to Cortview, Urbach served as Executive Vice President for Octagon and led operations for one of the top global sports management and marketing firms. During his tenure at Octagon, Urbach oversaw the deployment of the firm’s resources around the world and led initiatives in diverse markets including South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Singapore and China. He also initiated, structured and negotiated numerous divestitures, acquisitions and joint ventures. Octagon owns and manages events in professional soccer, tennis, golf, athletes, motorsports, running, swimming, basketball, cricket and rugby; represents several hundred elite athletes such as Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps, and manages the sports marketing investments of major global companies such as BMW, MasterCard and Sony.
Before joining Octagon in 2005, Urbach was Executive Vice President of the SFX Sports Group, a division of Clear Channel Communications. In this role he reported to the Chairman and served on a four-person management committee that operated the company. He held sole responsibility for the marketing divisions and led all acquisitions/business development initiatives. He developed and produced internationally televised sporting events and provided sports marketing and corporate consulting services. He also created sports-related programming for this interrelated group of sports management and marketing companies that represented more than 800 professional athletes, including such stars as Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi and David Beckham. While at SFX, and its predecessor companies from 1991-2005, Urbach was instrumental in identifying, negotiating and integrating 14 acquisitions.
Urbach began his career working for legendary sports agent David Falk, who represented Jordan, Patrick Ewing and numerous other National Basketball Association (NBA) stars. During this period he negotiated more than 300 athlete endorsement, event sponsorship, licensing and media deals with companies such as Electronic Arts, Nike, Coca-Cola, Sony, IBM, General Motors, AT&T, Nabisco, Microsoft and Pfizer. Urbach also structured partnerships for elite clientele including Jordan, Agassi and Mike Krzyzewski.
Urbach, a frequent speaker at industry conferences, is an MBA recipient from The Wharton School of the Business and a graduate of Centre College in Danville, Ky., where he was a 3-sport athlete and All-American tennis player. He has completed 80 triathlons, including the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, and has numerous age groups race victories to his credit.