Joyce Fu, International Business Development

Joyce Fu has spent her post-collegiate career living and breathing the world of professional sports. A dedicated young athlete who excelled on the field and in the pool, Joyce’s path into the fast-paced world of multi-million dollar contracts, collective bargaining agreements, and front page headlines began with an internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has taken her all the way to the big leagues as part of the International Business Development team at Major League Baseball (MLB) headquarters. When she’s not promoting events for the MLB across the globe, Joyce is navigating motherhood in the Big Apple and journeying back to Pittsburgh to visit family and friends. An Ellis girl from kindergarten to grade 8, Joyce shares how she got started in professional sports, what it’s like working behind the scenes, and her favorite Steel City team.
Years at Ellis:Kindergarten to Grade 8
Location:New York, NY
Occupation:International Business Development at MLB
Education:AB Studio Art, Sociology, Dartmouth College; J.D. Law, Columbia University

Tell me about what you do for a living and how you got into your line of work.
I work for the MLB on their Growth, Strategy, and International Business Development team. I’m currently working with MLB International to promote baseball in other parts of the world by organizing events in China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Mexico to boost interest. As for how I got into sports, I was always on a team growing up and played field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse at Ellis. After college, I had a rotational internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers which laid the groundwork for working with teams. When I moved to New York to go to Columbia for law school, I knew the three main leagues were based in the city— the NFL, NHL, and MLB. I applied for an internship at the NFL and ended up working in their legal department. After I graduated, I got a job as legal counsel for the New York Mets and it unfolded from there.

You’ve worked for the Steelers, the NFL, the Mets, and now the MLB—what’s it like to be involved in professional sports organizations as a lawyer?
It’s been really interesting to see the business side of how leagues work. In my roles, I’ve done everything from draft cross-examinations to smaller arbitrations. I’ve learned a lot about how negotiations and collaborations work between team management and outside parties. The thing about working for teams is they’re all so unique because they’re basically a mini-family business. Not all teams are owned by families, but a lot of them are so that can be an interesting dynamic. The thing I’ve learned about the industry is that at the end of the day, the teams and leagues are just like any other business that need counsel.

How do you balance your job at the MLB with your family?
Right now I work part-time to be a mom. I have three kids, Ludivine, Lex, and Axel. I feel incredibly lucky that I can do both, and I think a lot of that comes down to pure luck and working in a positive environment with supportive people. When I was ready to go back to the MLB, I worked on a diversity initiative and met Wendy Lewis. She was the first boss who told me “go to your kid’s first day at kindergarten!” She was really supportive in letting me know that it was okay as long as I was working hard and getting my stuff done. My kids have given me perspective and if they're happy and I'm in a good place, I know I’m doing the right thing.

What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed at typically male-dominated companies like the MLB?
I would say you really need to gauge the culture of a company when you interview. It’s okay to trust your instincts about people and personalities and follow your intuition. 

Do you have a mentor? How has that relationship benefited you professionally? Can you tell me about him or her?
My parents have been great mentors to me. I’ve learned so much from both of them. My dad works really hard but he’s always made time for family. And my mom, she worked part-time jobs while I was growing up so she could always be there to drop us off or pick us up. She was the rock of the family. Growing up, my dad traveled a lot and she kept things together at home. They both instilled in me the importance of hard work and putting family first.

How did Ellis prepare you for life after graduation?
The teachers I had at Ellis were excellent. They were career teachers who understood childhood development and how to teach girls. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Ellis’ all-girls environment was great for my self-confidence. To be surrounded by all women at that age was really powerful.

For Ellis students reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
The best advice I have is to always work hard. Early in your career, don’t be afraid to reach out to people within the company to better yourself. Use good judgment and maintain connections along the way because you never know who could end up helping you down the road.

What woman inspires you and why?
My mom. She has such patience and grace.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
High-energy. Friendly. Family-oriented.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I played rugby in college.

What is the last book you read?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I read it with my kids!

What’s your favorite baseball team? Favorite Pittsburgh team?
Pittsburgh Pirates! My favorite Pittsburgh team is the Penguins.