What counts as current reality for Allen Qi, STH ’19, began with a social media post. “I still remember I posted something on social media when I was 13 that said, ‘I want to be working for the NBA by the time I’m 18.’” Now, as manager of global partnerships for NBA China, Qi plays an important role in building brand awareness, fostering corporate relations and building new business partners for the NBA in Greater China.
Daring to dream
His career trajectory started with the Philadelphia 76ers during his junior year, which quickly turned into a full-time job offer. He couldn’t accept the full-time position until after graduation.
So, in actuality it wasn’t until age 21 that Qi was working for the NBA, which, he jokingly admits, was “a little late.”
But it was still a dream come true.
Shooting for the stars
Qi is one of the first Chinese citizens to work for an NBA team in the U.S. and for the NBA league office in China.
Having grown up in China, Qi moved to the U.S. for high school and college. His return to China in the summer of 2021 was triumphant: His proudest moment came when he was able to accompany the Sixers to the NBA Global Games in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
“Who would have ever thought I would bring an NBA team back to China? And that my parents would come to see the game,” he said. “I originally thought I would bring them to Philly to see the Sixers play, but then it happened the other way around. It was pretty amazing to see that.”
His ultimate dream is to return to the U.S. as the first Chinese-born C-level NBA executive. He also hopes to pave the way for other Asians to pursue careers in the NBA. “I want to see a lot more people like me in the sports world,” he said. “There aren’t many Asian, and especially not Chinese, folks in this industry.”
Luckily, he’s already noticing a sea change. “During my first year at Temple I think there were just two of us in the sport and recreation management program, but now there are already a lot more,” he said. “I hope to stay connected, give back and contribute to this community.”
Achieving your dreams starts with knowing what your interests are, according to Qi. “You have to know what you are most passionate about and why you’re doing it. That has been leading the way for me all along,” he said.
And, it’s important to make networking a priority. Qi advises students to spend time getting to know others in your industry who share your interests. “You never know who you’re going to meet and how it will lead to another opportunity,” he said. “Always be humble and always be open to learning from whoever you meet and wherever you are.”