Racing Toward Success

Robert Wernick went from a two-week job into a long and successful career at Ticketmaster, and he’s finding new ways to contribute and give back

Robert Wernick has always been fast. As a high school junior, he placed second in the 400-meter dash at the Wisconsin State Track & Field Championship. He entered the finals as the number one seed and led for most of the race, only to be passed with just twenty meters to go. The stinging loss motivated the young Wernick. He maintained good grades, doubled down on a strict training program, and worked overtime with his coach. Finally, in his senior year, Wernick won the 400-meter dash, and then brought his skills to the Ohio State University

Wernick says the very same characteristics that helped him excel as an athlete have helped him excel in his career. “I’m driven and determined, and I always want to push the limits of what people think I can do or accomplish,” he explains. The approach has served Wernick well. Today, just fifteen years after graduating from law school, he’s a vice president and senior counsel
at Ticketmaster.

Wernick’s journey to the top of Ticketmaster’s legal department was anything but typical. He started on a two-week temporary assignment through a legal staffing agency. Ticketmaster extended the assignment once, then twice, and then again. Each time, Wernick made a point to ingratiate himself by offering to take on extra work.

Soon, Wernick was working on major projects. He coordinated a fifty-state survey on sweepstakes and lottery laws and amassed expertise in other areas usually reserved for senior employees. Within six months, two departing lawyers created openings in the department and Wernick found his opportunity to stay with Ticketmaster full time.

More than ten years later, Wernick has helped steer Ticketmaster through several ups and downs. He’s had a front-row seat to a spin-off, a public launch, controversies and lawsuits, a major recession, and a
global pandemic.

Over his tenure, he’s taken on marketing, products, technology, procurement, charitable solicitation, SEC matters, and other major issues. He’s worked for most partners, divisions, and affiliates within Live Nation. He’s interfaced with major sports leagues like the NFL and MLB. There was a two-year period in which he ran the legal and Government Relations departments.  On a Blackberry. Without an assistant. The former track star built for stamina and competition traveled three days a week and wrote contracts in the back of a hired car. He rarely took a vacation day and would often send emails all hours of the night.

Wernick knows his incredible work ethic (which he attributes to his late father, a neurosurgeon) is a bit over the top. However, he says it’s given him a wealth of institutional knowledge he can leverage for dramatic results. “The history of this company is naturally ingrained in my everything I do,” he says.

At the start of 2020, Wernick and Ticketmaster were preparing for what they thought would be an incredible year with lots of major acts on national tours—and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing venues across the country to close. To date, Ticketmaster has refunded over $2 billion in sales. As big companies work together to weather the storm, Wernick is again leveraging his institutional knowledge to help venues and sports leagues figure out the right strategy and, ultimately,
reopen safely.

In response to the pandemic, Live Nation created Crew Nation, a global relief fund designed to assist affected music industry crew members. In response to other prominent events occurring in 2020, Ticketmaster pledged funds to nonprofits committed to ending systemic racism in the United States, and the company is actively looking to add more diverse employees, executives, and board members.

As Ticketmaster looks to make a positive impact, its veteran lawyer is also finding ways to give back. Wernick started an internship and mentoring program in 2012. Previous participants have continued on to careers in high-profile companies, and Wernick finds additional opportunities to give back by offering pro bono services to different nonprofits including Sandy Hook Promise.

In learning the value of teamwork throughout his career, Wernick excels at helping others thrive. “The door of opportunity is always open with me because it was open for me,” he says.