Golden State Warriors VP says Pacific prepared her well for her role
As the Golden State Warriors battle the Dallas Mavericks for a berth in the National Basketball Association Finals, millions of viewers and attendees are seeing the behind-the-scenes work of University of the Pacific alumna Nicole Rios Barbour ’07.
Barbour is vice president of partnership development for the Warriors and has had a hand in securing partnerships with major brands in her 15-year tenure including Chase, Clorox, Oracle, Adobe, Car Max and more.
“The thing I enjoy most about my role is to be able to dream up new ideas, get a partner excited about it, get one of our sponsors excited about it, have them sign off, and then see it come to life,” Barbour said.
Barbour was hired as an intern with the Warriors shortly after she received her undergraduate degree in sport management. Over the next decade and a half, she worked her way up to her current position. She credits the real-world experiences she had at Pacific and her ability to apply what she learned as something that sets her apart.
She also credits Pacific with teaching her how to develop relationships.
“What I learned at Pacific in terms of how to connect with people, build on to relationships and establish trust really made me feel prepared going out into this business where relationships truly matter,” she said.
Barbour points to many exciting moments with the Warriors, but highlights one accomplishment that stands above the rest: Thrive City, the restaurant and retail area outside the Chase Center where the Warriors play. It was part of the construction of the arena in 2019, but it’s only now getting full use after more than two years of COVID.
“It is a space that we never thought of when I first joined the Warriors,” she said. “But as we've grown and developed into a sports and entertainment business, being able to put my signature on something that's going to be around for generations for the Bay Area to enjoy is something I'm proud of.”
In addition to partnerships she has helped build, Barbour has been a part of a team that has won three NBA championships (2015, 2017 and 2018) and is seeking its fourth.
For Barbour, that is what it’s about.
“That excitement—being part of a team, being part of something bigger than the bottom line—really drove my excitement to a degree in sports management.”