In the second chapter of our Black History Month Spotlight series, we sat down with Eric King our Vice President of Technology. Eric has been with our team for over seven years and he provided us with insight on where he finds inspiration, his heritage and journey.
How would you describe your role with the Sacramento Kings?
"As VP of Technology I am responsible for overseeing and managing all technology for not only the Sacramento Kings office but for Golden 1 Center, the world’s most technologically advanced and sustainable arena. My extremely talented team and I provide service to 350-plus full-time users that are housed in the Sawyer Hotel, Golden 1 Center, as well as in Stockton.
My role is to not only manage and maintain our current technology, which includes but is not limited to: a Tier 4 Data Center, Enterprise Applications, Security Postures, and everything in between but I also must be innovative and stay on top of current technologies and developments that are released frequently.
This is key in order for me to lead the Technology department and to help us maintain being the most technologically advanced arena in the world. Vetting out new technologies from inception to the design and through implementation is a major part of my role as well."
Who have been your biggest role models?
"I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have specific role models, but I would say that there are a few people I have found extremely intriguing throughout the years who influenced me to some degree like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Those are probably two people that most tech professionals mention when talking influencers and role models. But, as typical as it sounds, it’s completely true for me. These are two men that dominated the tech industry over the years, really launching us into the tech society we are today.
I was really intrigued by the inner workings of different things as a child. From as far back as I can remember, I spent countless hours taking things apart to see how they worked and then put back together. Also, I have always liked change. The idea of change and progress is something that drives me.
Gates and Jobs both had extreme drive and determination, which allowed them to continue to push the boundaries of technology and help create and shape the tech industry that I love so much today."
In what ways do you celebrate your African American heritage?
"I celebrate my African American heritage year-round. I mean after all, I am an African American executive for an NBA Team, so I have a strong platform to make a difference.
Growing up I had very limited access to books and information on black history. Now, as an adult, I have so much access to all kinds of information and history literally right at my fingertips. I really enjoy watching documentaries and segments on history, so I make a conscious effort to incorporate documentaries and history segments specifically on African American history into my list.
Of course, I’ve watched quite a few different segments on Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. but I find myself searching more for content that focus on others who inspired change around racial justice. Through continued education on black history and the men and women who inspired change, I feel like I am able to learn from the past and help us move forward into a culture where we are all one people.
I also make sure that I stay up on current events centered around diversity and race. It’s important to become educated in these current events, and it’s equally as important to look at everything from all angles.
As an African American in an executive role, I realize I have a tremendous responsibility to represent all African Americans in a positive light at all times.
I think the biggest thing I do to celebrate my African American heritage is by going through life, being me, working hard and staying true to myself. I am an African American but that’s not my only identity. I am a father. I am a mentor. I am a friend. I am an executive for an NBA franchise. I am someone people can count on. I am a high producer at work. I am a good citizen. And I am proud of all of that.
I am all of these things (and more) and I work hard to be the best me possible every single day."
What advice would you give to fellow African Americans who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?
"I want to start off by sharing a quick bio on me before I get into this question. I will say first and foremost, I am a huge supporter of continued education. I think college and trade schools are important and with the growing population. What you do during that continued education can help set you apart from all the others.
But that wasn’t my path. Continued education after high school was not for me, so I went into the military. During my time with the military I was a Field Radio Operator. It was a semi technical position you could say. I did one term with the military but decided to not re-enlist and came back to the civilian life.
As a child growing up, I was always into electronics and technical things. I was always interested on how to take something apart and put it back together. I was fascinated with what little technology was around during that time in the 80s.
So when I got out of the military, I decided I wanted to get into the technology field. And from that moment on, I never looked back. From the start, I knew this was the path for me. The inter workings of technology came so natural to me. That was it. I was hooked.
There I was, in my early 20s, fresh out of the military, no college degree. And here I am, in my mid 40s, serving as the Vice President of Technology at the Sacramento Kings & Golden 1 Center.
I didn’t get to this point in my career for any other reason than determination, integrity and hard work. I buried myself in books and tutorials and always offered to take on more work to expand my skillset and my knowledge. I did a lot of research on the things I didn’t know. I never gave up.
So, to my fellow African Americans who are striving to succeed in the Sports & Entertainment Industry, I offer you this advice:
Never stop working hard.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Your skills and competencies are transferable to different jobs and positions.
Be confident in who you are. Be confident in what you stand for.
Keep an open mind and continue to learn and grow with each organization you work in.
Don’t be afraid to speak up, step outside your comfort zone, take chances and do not be afraid of change.
Continue to grow and expand your mind (through books, conversations, documentaries, etc.) Always feed your mind. You cannot move forward and succeed if you are stuck in past.
Find mentors that share the same demographics as you, but also find mentors that have different demographics then you to help broaden your prospective on life, professionally and personally.
Never give up.
And represent our African American heritage proudly and well. Show the world how much we can greatly contribute to the sports industry, corporate America, and our communities."
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
"There are so many aspects that I enjoy about what I do that it’s really hard to narrow it down! I love working in this super-fast paced, forward-thinking environment, where the technology is constantly changing and evolving. We are constantly finding new ways to be cutting edge and I get to be part of that.
Vetting out the new technology is not the only thing I really enjoy about my job though. Being able to deploy these technologies is also something I would say I enjoy the most. Being able to find technology that makes us cutting edge is amazing but deploying the technology that makes other’s jobs easier, being able to deploy technology that streamlines processes and increases efficiencies or that can enhance the fan experience, is extremely rewarding and it definitely drives me.
The direct influence I have on the technology we use is perhaps the single most thing I enjoy the most about what I do.
Another part of my job that I really enjoy is my team. I get to work with an amazing team. I say this all the time, but we have hands down, the best Technology team in the League. My team shares my same passions and they are all determined and committed to help move the organization forward in technology.
I also get to be a part of an extremely educated and dynamite executive team. One minute you can find me sitting around a table of Kings executives and the next I am on a keyboard console working on something in the Data Center. I get the best of both worlds in my current role and that is pretty amazing to me."