Tom Shepard is widely credited for being one of the most authoritative sponsor and partnership marketing executives of his time. Through his work with major properties, global travel and entertainment companies, as well as prominent retailers, he is widely regarded for innovative and profitable marketing and partnership strategies. He is also noted for his adept handling of complex negotiations.
As CMO and partner at 21 Marketing, Tom is responsible for developing the strategies involved in engaging and negotiating global properties and matching them with the needs of potential sponsors. This includes the development of activation strategies on behalf of the sponsor and the management thereof.
Previously CEO of Festival Network, the oldest and largest producer of outdoor music festivals in the world, Tom rebranded and reshaped the organization that launched the festival business in 1954 under the ownership of George Wein and his then Festival Productions.
Tom is widely known for his role as the Executive Vice President of International Marketing, Partnerships and Sponsorship for Visa International. He pioneered the business of partnership marketing across all industries, leveraging the Visa network of members via relationship management, savvy negotiating skills, and marketing expertise to secure long-term brand and financial success for Visa and its stakeholders. This earned Visa a global reputation for creating highly successful revenue and marketing models.
Tom developed global sponsorship strategies for both sport and special event sponsorships, such as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, Disney, FIFA and Rugby’s World Cup, providing a consistent and integrated brand message worldwide and created legacy programs to increase visibility at these events. He also has created innovative and important destination programs that have revolutionized the long-term visibility and profitability of the host nations through key destination partnerships and deployment.
Tom created a key Visa business unit to accommodate the globalization of merchants such as those on the internet, hotels, airlines, strategic retailers, restaurants, and important multi-regional retailers, resulting in mutually beneficial marketing and product solutions. He created numerous on and offline destination marketing, co-brand, and high-end cardholder offer programs for Visa’s members around the world.
In January 2007, Around the Rings listed Tom as the “Dean of Olympic marketing” and one of the 25 most influential Olympic Games’ executives. Tom was also named fifth most influential in the Olympic movement by SportsBusiness Journal in 2004 and received the prestigious “Partnership Marketing of the Year” award in 1998 from Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI).
Prior to joining Visa, Tom was executive vice president of Millsport, a sports marketing agency, where he provided strategic consultation concerning the development and leveraging of major event properties. He developed and integrated sponsorship strategies with the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and the National Football League, and was instrumental in creating numerous destination programs. Tom also served as the Games Director of the AAU Junior Olympics and as Senior Vice President of Operations for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, a premier ski resort in Colorado.
Tom holds a B.S. in Biological Science from the University of Connecticut, currently serves on the Board of the Student Conservation Association, USA Pentathlon and STEP (Sustainable Tourism for the Elimination of Poverty) boards. Tom also teaches a graduate course at Stanford University.