GVSU alum finds dream job with Cleveland Cavaliers

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

Beau Troutman

When LeBron James announced his intent to return home to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2014, Grand Valley State football alum Bob Wunderlich thought the best basketball player in the world had nixed his chances at getting a job with an organization he figured many people would want to work for.

So he thought, anyway.

Wunderlich, who holds a degree in Advertising/Public Relations, got a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers after doing an internship with Quicken Loans the same summer James made his return to Ohio. He has enjoyed immediate success, garnering two promotions in a span of about eight months to his current title as Membership Development Specialist.

Wunderlich’s responsibilities include managing a large number of clients who hold season ticket memberships with the team, and making sure they are receiving the best experience possible with the Cavaliers. He is also involved in coordinating big, community-based events with the Cavaliers.

He was named Rookie of the Year of the organization towards the end of the Cavaliers regular season, and it’s safe to say Wunderlich has found his dream job.

“It’s been a privilege and a blessing, to be honest,” Wunderlich said. “I work for such a great organization, and one who believes in growth organizationally, and not just bringing in outside people.”

GVSU football coach Matt Mitchell is not surprised to see his former player having success in the professional world.

“Not surprised at all,” Mitchell said. “We recruited him, he came in here and he wasn’t a guy that was like a top-end recruit. He was one of those guys that really embodied Grand Valley State football…with a lot of those characteristics that we saw here, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s having success with the Cavaliers.”

Wunderlich was first intrigued with the idea of working for the Cavaliers during his internship with Quicken Loans. He was enamored by the organizational culture instilled by one of the Quicken Loans founders, Dan Gilbert, who also owns the Cavaliers.

Wunderlich decided that he was going to go all in and set his sights on the Cavs, and didn’t have a Plan B.

“I had always hear of all of (Gilbert’s) places being kind of like Google,” Wunderlich said. “When you think of Google, you think of fun, you think of their atmosphere, you see all the photos…at Quicken Loans it was that same atmosphere—it was colorful, there was food, a game room. I didn’t want to just sit behind a desk, I wanted to have an environment that I could thrive in.

“That’s when I decided I needed to work for the Cavs, I needed to do it right when I got out of College. That’s why I only decided to throw my hat in with them.”

Wunderlich applied for the job he wanted during the Fall semester of 2014, his last semester at GVSU. He was previously turned down for a different position that he wasn’t expecting to get.

His first call-back from the Cavaliers was both exciting and unexpected. He applied online for the position, and got a phone call about a week later.

“I was literally in my place like ready to eat lunch, when all the sudden I’m in an interview with the Cavaliers for the job that I wanted,” Wunderlich said.

Despite being put on the spot, Wunderlich earned an in-person interview in Cleveland. He consulted with one of his former professors, Dr. Tim Penning, and his parents about the interview process and how to handle it.

However, nothing could fully prepare him for what awaited in Cleveland. Wunderlich says he and six to ten candidates were interviewed as a group by three managers for about an hour, and then had to go through the same process again with another trio of managers fir another hour.

After surviving the gauntlet in Cleveland, Wunderlich was notified he got the job shortly thereafter.

“I was going crazy,” Wunderlich said. “I’m pretty sure it was a Friday when I got offered, and I just like drove straight home to my parents just to let them know. I’m from Troy, so it was a two and a half hour drive, I was like, ‘I’m going to let them know in-person.’

“It was unbelievable. That was a great day.”

Wunderlich began with the Cavaliers in January 2015, and describes the experience as a whirlwind.

Whirlwind is an apt word for a first year that included two promotions for Wunderlich and the Cavaliers advancing to the NBA Finals, eventually falling to the Golden State Warriors 4-2 in a best of seven series.

“People work in sports their whole lives and don’t get to make it to a championship round,” Wunderlich said. “To lose it was pretty devastating, but I hadn’t really gone through a whole year, so I didn’t really know what that feeling was like.”

This past season and Wunderlich’s second season with the team saw the Cavaliers advance to the Finals again. The team faced the prospect of elimination yet again down 3-1 against the Warriors, the team that defeated them just a year ago.

This prompted Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin to send an organization-wide email.

“(Griffin) sent an email out to our entire team and to our entire family, and basically was like, ‘It will be up to us to defy history,’ and we did,” Wunderlich said. “He shot that email out and it turned everything around for us.”

The Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals, and ended the Cleveland sports championship drought that began in 1964.

Wunderlich is currently working on coordinating an event that will commence sometime around the end of August that will be a celebration of the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship exclusively for season ticket holders.

He says his job with the Cavaliers has been everything he hoped for and more, as he enjoys the family-style organizational culture that attracted him to the job in the first place.

“It’s so much about just being able to get along together, rather than just rarely talking to anyone,” Wunderlich said. “Our offices are so wide open that we have music going on all the time, if people mess up in an email, they have to do karaoke in front of everyone.

“It’s just a fun environment to be in.”

As for how he believes the Cavaliers will fare this upcoming season—which is important in Wunderlich’s job—he says he’s not going to worry about that just yet.

“I get my (championship ring) for winning at the home opener in October, I’ll be able to show my new NBA championship ring off so, I’m happy with that right now,” Wunderlich said.