Archive for the ‘Alumni’ Category

2017Aug 30

SPAD to Host Inaugural Northern Sport Industry Conference

SPAD has announced it’s first annual Northern Sports Industry Conference (NSIC) set to host over 20 sport business experts and over 100 students. The event is set to take place March 2nd to 5th 2017 and will take place both on campus and at the Holiday Inn in downtown Sudbury.

In addition to key note speakers Geoff Beattie, David Chilton, Brodie Lawson, and Ryan Benoit, speakers will be divided into three panels:

Panel #1: International Sport and Sponsorship

  • Andrew Baker – Director of Games, Canadian Olympic Committee
  • Francois Robert – Executive Director of Partnerships, Canadian Paralympic Committee
  • Andrew Greenlaw – Senior Director, Sponsorship Marketing and Strategy, CIBC
  • Jennifer Delvechhio – Senior Marketer, Coke
  • Mark Cecchetto – Business Executive Officer, Nestle

Panel #2: Leaders In Sport

  • Kyla Csumrik – Account Executive, Partnership Marketing, NHL
  • Alannah Della Vedova – Brand Specialist, Loyalty and Innovation, Rogers
  • Peter Cosentino – President, DEC Sports
  • Mark Soder – Senior Manager, Brand Marketing – Golf, RBC
  • Blaine Smith – President, Sudbury Wolves

Panel #3: Breaking Into The Industry

  • Mckenzie Young – Marketing Coordinator, Ottawa Senators
  • Stephen Tihal – Account Executive, Partnership Marketing, NHL
  • Tyler Fitch – Account Coordinator, Season Seat Services, Edmonton Oilers
  • Chris Ackroyd – Manager, In-game Communications, NHL
  • Scoot Rodgers – Manager, In-game Communications, NHL

Delegates will also have the opportunity to work in two different breakout sessions. One with Laurentian University’s Director of Digital Strategy, JP Rains and another with Joey Abrams, former Assistant General Manager of the Montreal Alouettes.

Students can take the time to learn, network, and enjoy themselves at the conference with a full weekend of planned activities, meals, and socials.

For More Information please visit:

Instagram: @NSIC_LU

Twitter: @NSIC_LU

Facebook: Northern Sports Industry Conference – NSIC


2017Aug 30

Coca-Cola & the Canadian Olympic Committee Visit SPAD

SPAD had the honour of welcoming SPAD grads Jennifer Delvecchio (SPAD ’05), Senior Manager – Strategic Marketing with Coca-Cola, and Andrew Baker (SPAD ’05), Director – Games for the Canadian Olympic Committee as guest speakers on November 21st and 22nd.

Jennifer spoke first with a group students on November 21st, teaching them about her experiences from SPAD and her journey post-grad. She shared her experiences working with athletes like Lebron James and Genie Bouchard and provided valuable advice on working with athletes and pairing them with your products for endorsement.

Growing up in a small town, Jennifer made steps towards gender equality from a young age. She was the first girl to play hockey in her hometown and emphasized the fact that she can do anything regardless of the fact that she is a girl; “I am a person or athlete first and a woman second.”

On November 22nd, Jennifer and Andrew spoke together in both sections of second year sport marketing classes. They focused on the Olympics and how their jobs intersect and work together at the Canadian Olympic Committee and Coca-Cola.

Andrew told SPAD students about his commitment to the C.O.C. and how hard he had to work to get to where he was. He started with the organization right out of SPAD and climbed the ladder by making himself indispensable no matter what role he was in. From data entry to reception he always made sure to go above and beyond.

Jennifer and Andrew ended their presentations by listing “JD and AB’s Final Thoughts”

JD’s Final Thoughts

  1. Your relationships are critical in your career
  2. Your reputation is your professional currency
  3. Self evaluate – be brutally honest
  4. This business is a lifestyle
  5. You can have it all, just not all at the same time
  6. Enjoy the ride

AB’s Final Thoughts

  1. Work hard… really hard… really, really hard
  2. Be in the right environment
  3. Use the skills of your generation
  4. Find your leadership reference guide and follow it

SPAD would like to thank Jennifer and Andrew for sharing their experiences and providing valuable advice to our students. We wish them the best on their future endeavours and hope to see them again soon.

2016Jan 5

SPAD Speaker Series: Joey Abrams

 montreal-que-january-28-2014-veteran-receiver-s-jOn December 14, SPAD was pleased to welcome former SPAD Grad Joey Abrams, who was the Assistant Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel for the Montreal Alouettes, had just been promoted days earlier to Assistant General Manager. Joey shared his numerous experiences in his journey to becoming a CFL Executive with some students interested in football operations. He talked about various jobs that got him to where he is today; a successful SPAD Grad. Joey Abrams has been with the Montreal Alouettes for almost 11 years, and most of his professional career.

Joey was adamant when saying that for SPAD students our vast alumni are our greatest tools; they all want to help support current and post grads, and he commented on the importance of Tom Blake’s new mentorship program that will be starting up soon. A big part of the talk we had with Joey was about how he took advantage of opportunities. When Joey graduated from SPAD he told us he took an internship with the Alouettes. moving from Sudbury to Montreal for the opportunity, even though it was unpaid and he was giving up a paid job in Sudbury. You might wonder why somebody would do that, but Joey explained it was because he had a dream, he was young, and he wanted to take advantage of the door that was opened for him. He always wanted to be a General Manager for a professional football team. Without that unpaid internship and taking that opportunity, he might not be where he is today.

IMG_2811The small intimate setting in the new SPAD Learning Lab allowed for lots of interaction between Joey and the students, as Joey answered every one question and gave some very useful pointers such as needing to recognize that failure can be a better teacher than success. He also noted that during confrontations take nothing personally – it’s just business, and finally not to be afraid to disagree. He indicated that these points have proven to being crucial to him being successful in his career and in life.

A cool story that Joey told was about a coach with the Alouettes. This story was about the first team meeting every year where they would discuss plans for the upcoming season. Everyone expecting to see his new formations and tactics to win games and every year he goes up and writes “its a people business.” I think this relates to SPAD and what Joey was trying to tell those who attended. The message is about networking and how powerful it is; the more people you know the more doors that will open for you.

As a last takeaway from our talk with Joey I think the most important aspect of what he said was to set your goals, and to set them high. He gave us 3 steps; Where do you want to be in “x” number of years; how are you going to get there; and then once you are done you need to fight for it. I believe the students who attended got some great insight on how they can improve themselves everyday, and for that, thank you Joey Abrams.

Joey Abrams (SPAD ‘04) provided the group with a unique learning experience along with some advice and knowledge that students do not have the opportunity to get every day. On behalf of SPAD, we would like to thank him for taking the time to talk to us, and wish him good luck with the Montreal Alouettes.


2015Nov 21

SPAD Speaker Series: Bruce MacDonald

bruceOn November 12, SPAD Students were treated to their first speaker of this year’s SPAD Speaker Series. SPAD was pleased to welcome SPAD Grad Bruce MacDonald, who is the President and CEO of Imagine Canada. Bruce shared his experiences throughout his schooling and various jobs that got him to where he is today – a successful SPAD Grad. Bruce has been with Imagine Canada for almost two years and before that he held high-level positions with many organizations including CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada .

Bruce had a different childhood, he talked about how he grew up with his parents working at carnivals. “I got over the fear of talking to strangers,” He talked about how he learned to sell at a very young age from working for his parents at carnival games. Bruce talked about Social Good, the field he is in. He brought up 3 key areas of social good that companies can use; social purpose, social enterprise, and social good for profit. The room was captivated by Bruce and students found it very interesting to learn about a sector that doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as professional sport.

Bruce talkFollowing Bruce’s talk “The Changing Nature of Social Good,” the class was then offered the opportunity to ask questions that allowed Bruce to give the class insight on a variety of other topics. This included advice on what he thought was one of the most important things to do in order to be successful: network. Network whenever you have the chance because it can help you in the long run. The people you network with may not get you a job, but they can help you and give you chances that you may not get any other way. More insight was given when Bruce talked about how adaptability is the new key competency. With all the trends in the world, you have to be willing to change.

Bruce MacDonald (SPAD’83) gave the group a unique learning experience and some advice and knowledge that students do not get every day. On behalf of SPAD we would like to thank him for taking the time to talk to us, and good luck at Imagine Canada!

2015Jun 26

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final: Scott Rodgers

Rodgers ProfileScott Rodgers (SPAD’14) is Manager, In-Game Communications, at the NHL. While Scott wasn’t involved in the Finals, he was able to give us some insight into his job with NHL and took the time to offer up some advice to future SPAD Grads. Scott was also recently recognized with a distinguished award. Scott was awarded the 2015 Young Achievers Initiative award by the University of Toronto Sports and Business Association.

SPADblog: Thanks for sitting down with us Scott. Can you tell us briefly what your job entails and how you ended up where you are?

Scott Rodgers: In October of 2014, I competed a five-month internship in partnership marketing with the League and was fortunate to get on board as a Manager, In-Game Communications for the 2014-15 season.

The position is based out of Toronto in the Situation Room, which is the League’s centralized video replay room. The room is principally occupied by members of hockey operations and a Manager, In-Game Communications acts as a liaison to help deliver messaging to media and fans for video reviews, rule explanations and game operations issues.

Some other duties include providing relevant statistics and game information in editorial notes to promote positive storylines around the League, as well as utilizing the NHL Public Relations Twitter handle (@PR_NHL) as an outlet to deliver this information to fans.

NHL Tweet

NHL Tweet 2





SB: It sounds like a great job for such a recent graduate. How did you enjoy your experience?

SR: I really enjoyed my first season with the League and did my best to learn about the execution of games, as well as the real-time technology and decision-making hierarchy that accompany any given night in the NHL. It was also great to work alongside the members of hockey operations – many of whom have played in the League – as well as the in-game social media team, which includes fellow SPAD graduate Chris Ackroyd.


SB: While you weren’t involved in the Final, I know that you were very active during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Are there any experiences that stand out that you can share with us?

SR: I took away several highlights from the season, but my two most memorable ones came during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs where I covered the longest game in Chicago Blackhawks franchise history and witnessed the second-fastest three goals scored by one team in the postseason via the Anaheim Ducks.


SB: Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I’m sure that there will be a number of students reading this who are thinking that they would like to follow in your footsteps. Do you have any advice for them?

SR: The advice I give to current SPAD students is to treat every opportunity as a learning experience and a catalyst to whatever the next step in your career might be, as you have nothing to lose by working hard. While writing ability and attention to detail is crucial in any discipline, I would also strongly recommend developing familiarity with the Associated Press Stylebook for any students looking to pursue a career in the communications side of sport.


Thanks so much Scott for talking with us and I’m sure you’re an inspiration to all future SPAD Grads. Congratulations on the recent award and best wishes on the rest of what’s bound to be a successful career.

2015Jun 24

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final: Chris Ackroyd

Acky ProfileChris Ackroyd (SPAD’12) is the In-Game Social Media Coordinator for the NHL. Many of us were undoubtedly following his tweets and posts throughout the season, as well as during the playoffs. We’re thrilled that Chris has taken some time to answer a few of our questions and to fill us in on some of the behind-the-scenes activities that took place during the Final.
SPADblog: Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell us a bit about your job with the NHL?
Chris Ackroyd: My title is In-Game Social Media Coordinator, managing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and sometimes other platforms. During the season, I spend most nights and weekends in the Situation Room in Toronto, monitoring anywhere from 1-12 games simultaneously. My job is to monitor and curate all the video, photo, and news content that is created and to then write copy and distribute through the appropriate channels. I consider myself to be a storyteller, making sure the excitement and passion that is going on in 30 arenas is shared with our fans in a way that they can relate to. The tricky part of my role, specifically during the season, is that much of what I do is reactive. We could have a 10-game night in which there are two hat tricks, three shutouts and countless highlight reel goals, or we could have two 2-1 games with a reviewed goal and a bank-in. When the content is week, I have to work harder to write strong copy that sells the highlights, because the clips and photos don’t always speak for themselves.
SB: Does your job change during the Final? If so, how?
CA: During the Final (with no s, since I have to be a stickler for grammar), there’s only one show going on, and many more events and activities to capture. As a result, I spent the last two weeks between Tampa Bay and Chicago acquiring the best footage to share. Instead of sitting in the Situation Room, I set up shop in the press box to perform my in-game duties. The rest of the days consisted of meeting with our creative team to ensure our graphics were produced, planning our editorial content with the team, and capturing as much unique footage as we could around the cities and arenas, primarily for Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
SB: As a high school student with a lot of options, what made you choose to come north to SPAD?
CA: Beyond the natural answer of combining passions and the uniqueness of the program, I realized that if I wanted to spend my life in hockey, I would have to pull the plug on the pipe dream of playing and get to work exploring other avenues as soon as possible. I decided to study my way into the game, and opened up a second avenue by focusing my on-ice efforts on officiating in the NOJHL, missing plenty of pub nights to drive to Blind River or Manitoulin Island for a single game. I knew that if Sudbury wasn’t right for me that there were other options out there, but after about a month with the program and my new friends, I knew I’d be spending four years in SPAD.
SB: You learned a lot while you were here and we’re wondering what it was that you learned that most helped you in your current job.
CA: For me specifically, having a background in social media from a sports perspective was unique and extremely beneficial.
SB: On top of working hard and taking advantage of opportunities in the program can you tell us how important networking and the SPAD network was to you getting where you are today?
CA: Through a friend, SPAD alumni, and now colleague (Jan Egert), I caught wind of a part-time opening that was a combination of PR and social media with the NHL. Not realizing it, the person I would be working alongside was someone who I had officiated with in the GTA, and so I was able to establish clout early on. I interviewed for a few weeks and was ultimately successful in landing the position. For the 2014-15 season, the in-game PR and social media duties were spilt, and I moved to primarily covering in-game social.
SB: What do you think were skills, knowledge, or experiences that you possessed that most helped you achieve career success?
CA: Being eager to get involved and meeting as many people as possible. The more successful individuals you have as friends, the more likely you are to create opportunities for yourself. Your first job may not be “the one” (and my first wasn’t), but if you truly want to be involved in any sport, you need to always be looking for new and exciting opportunities.
SB: Is there anything you’ve learned in your young career that you think could be useful to pass on to current SPAD students?
CA: So much of the professional world, and more specifically sport, has to do with relationships. It’s a fact that’s repeated over and over, and people want to work with people they know and trust, either indirectly or through others. I’ve had casual conversations with coworkers who have asked “who was your connection to get into the League?”. I’ve also been able to submit recommendations for other SPAD grads who work with the NHL.
The other key piece of advice I would give is to keep mindful of the fact that very few career paths travel in a straight line, so if you’re passionate about a sport or an industry, embed yourself in as many ways as possible. For me, the passion was officiating. While it isn’t directly tied to my work with the League, my knowledge of the game is at times a resource for Hockey Ops, while in return I have access to insight from some of the best officials in the world. The more you can bring to the table, the easier it is to help and to be helped.
SB: Chris, we’ll often hear from student about how they want to work in the sports industry because they are huge fans of the sport or a team. Is it hard to go from being a fan to a professional in the industry?
CA: Naturally, most League employees are huge hockey fans, but it’s incredibly important to separate fandom from work. I’ve been fortunate to have access to any and every corner of several facilities, and my team is in a tricky position because we’re the only people permitted to capture photos and videos with our cell phones. As a result, it’s easy to abuse the privilege, so being respectful of everyone involved in the game is important. Over time you (unfortunately) get used to seeing any and everyone, but there’s always a new cool moment that you wish you could capture beyond just making it a memory.
SB: I’m sure you had some pretty incredibly moments as a fan and professional during the Final (not Finals). Are there any that you think might be fun to share with our readers?
CA: I’ve got a cool SPAD Blog moment – I was in the media elevator prior to Game 6 in Chicago, and I saw a name that rang a bell on someone’s credential beside me — Kyle Davidson. as the elevator was going up I quickly pulled out my phone and hit to make sure it was the guy I thought it might be. I confirmed, then introduced myself quickly before we took our respective spots for the game. After Chicago won the Cup and the party was going on, I saw Kyle on the ice and was able to congratulate him on the victory while realizing that two of the youngest people that were ‘working’ as the Stanley Cup got passed around were both SPAD grads.
Winter Classic
My coolest moment beyond the Stanley Cup Final was during the Winter Classic, when I was on the roof of Nationals Park during the anthem and F-16 flyover as pyrotechnics were going off all around me. Meanwhile, I was trying to take photos and videos while not dropping my phone into the crowd below.
Naturally, the last bit would be where I remind everyone that you can follow our stories at ‘@NHL’ and ’nhl’ on all major social platforms — I’ll be covering the Draft on June 26/27 and we’ll have some cool content to share. I also have some stories about serendipitous events that led me to the Blackhawks’ Cup party the following night, but I’m not sure the internet is the place to discuss them.
Thanks so much Chris. I’m sure all our readers enjoyed hearing about your job and experiences. It’s also great to hear that the SPAD network is alive and well (and reuniting at centre ice when the Stanley Cup is being awarded). It’s great grads like you that inspire our future grads. I’m sure many of them will be reaching out to you…especially to hear about the extra-curricular fun that sounds like you were involved in. Thanks again and enjoy the Draft.


2015Jun 4

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final

2015StanleyCupFinalsLast night the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup Final. Once again this year SPAD is heavily involved with the Finals. Each of the last three Stanley Cup champions has had a SPAD Grad working in their hockey operations department. It is guaranteed to be the same again this year, as we have a rooting interest in both teams. Ryan Belec (SPAD’00) is the Director of Team Services for the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Kyle Davidson (SPAD’10) is the Coordinator, Hockey Administration and Steve DiLenardi (SPAD’98) is the Senior Manager, Group Sales and Special Projects for the Chicago Blackhawks.

While we are incredibly proud of our grads who are facing off against each other in the Final, the SPAD fingerprint is all over other aspects of the Final. We have SPAD Grads working on the broadcasting side, some in the NHL head office, while many others are heavily involved as sponsors and corporate partners. Over the length of the Final tune in to the SPAD Blog for profiles of SPAD Grads involved with the Stanley Cup Playoffs, interesting stories sent to us from the SPAD family, and even some career advice to those looking to get in to the hockey business, and maybe also reach the pinnacle of success by hoisting the Cup.

If you’re a member of the SPAD Family and  have a story that you want to share about your involvement with the Stanley Cup, please send it along to and we’ll try to include your story in the series of Stanley Cup Final blog stories. Go Lighthawks???

2015Jan 16

SPAD at the World Juniors – Jan Egert (Video Coach of Swiss National Junior Team)

By Blog Contributor David Maika

Jan Egert is a SPAD graduate and is currently the Coordinator of Central Scouting for the NHL, as well as the Video Coach & Scouting Coordinator for the Mississauga Steelheads. Jan also recently worked as the Video Coach of the Swiss National Junior team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Jan was kind enough to give SPAD Blog the time to ask him a few questions regarding his experience at the World Juniors and beyond.

DM: Thank you for giving SPAD Blog the time to ask a few questions. Before we get into the World Juniors, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

JE: I was born and raised in Switzerland. Moved to Canada in 1999 and grew up in
Westport, Ontario. I came to the Laurentian University SPAD program for five years. Completed four years of my undergrad and then the MBA in Sport Management at Laurentian. After that, I made my way down to Toronto. The sports stuff really started with my internship in SPAD in my 3rd year. I completed a four-month communications internship with the Ottawa Senators. There I met a few people who helped me out along the way; be it as mentors or as connections. I then started out as a scout for the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. Just a volunteer position and it’s really just developed from there. I made my move down here (Toronto area) and had to get a job outside of the sports industry. I worked in the travel industry for a couple years but always kept my thumb on the pulse of Mississauga. I was hired as a scout and then expanded to the Video Coach and that’s eventually where things started paying off on the video side of things. I started meeting more and more people and my network grew stronger. Then the Swiss National Team came around and I contacted a colleague that been quite successful in Switzerland. I figured I would see if there was an opportunity and the shoe fit. They added me to the coaching staff for the World Juniors.

DM: Could you give a brief description of your role as Video Coach for the Swiss
National Junior Team?

JE: My role of Video Coach essentially is to watch the games live on a laptop, through
the video stream. I mark anything and everything hockey related – from turnovers, breakouts, power plays, penalty kills, scoring chances, individual player shifts. That allows us to review in the intermission, to make an adjustment on the power play or teach a defenceman or forward to chip the puck here or make a play there for example. That was the in-game aspect. Pre-game I always analyzed the opponents’ previous game, power play, penalty kill so we could find any tendencies. It’s my job to identify tendencies for the coaching staff so we’re properly prepared for our next opponent.

DM: As a whole, how would you describe your experience at the World Junior

JE: It was pretty neat to realize the magnitude of the event I was involved in and that I
had a direct impact, basically having a horse in the race. That was a weird feeling, it was really cool, but at the same time intimidating. I learned a lot during the two and a half weeks that I was part of the coaching staff. I think I learned more in that than I would have in a year or two in other places. It was a tremendous experience; eye-opening, humbling and reassuring that maybe the method to my madness wasn’t so far fetched.


DM: You are currently the Central Scouting Coordinator for the National Hockey League
AND you also work for the Mississauga Steelheads as the Video Coordinator and
Scouting Coordinator. How do you manage to balance both positions?


JE: I don’t sleep haha. It’s not easy. It really isn’t. The good thing is there is a lot of
synergy between the two. There’s a lot of overlap but ultimately both Mississauga and the NHL are very accommodating to my schedule as well. They’re both aware of the other so I’m very grateful. I don’t take advantage of it. In terms of work, I don’t count the
hours because I think I’d just say “you’re crazy for doing what you’re doing”. I think at
age 27, I’d rather put in the hours now where I have more flexibility; not in 10 years when I may have additional priorities, be it a family or whatever else there might be at that time.

DM: So you’re a graduate from the SPAD program. What aspect from SPAD has helped
you reach the positions you are in today?

JE: For one, the internship program. It allowed me to see how things worked in the
background. As a student, you don’t really know how things all work until you see it first-hand. You have to have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn lessons along the way, so for me the internship program was tremendous. In terms of curriculum, there’s not really one thing I can pinpoint. The entire SPAD curriculum was a foundation
and after that, it’s really what you make of it. There’s no golden ticket, no golden key to
say do it this way and you’re going to be successful. I think everyone is different and
every opportunity is different. Some people get lucky along the way, some people have to work for their luck. There’s no rule of thumb or guide.

The presentations we had to do throughout our tenure, being forced out of our comfort zone, being asked to take a chance are extremely valuable as well. Those are the kind of lessons I think that differentiate SPAD from a lot of other programs. Making mistakes is acceptable, as long as it becomes a lesson, not a habit. My field trip was in San Jose and going into it completely out of my comfort zone, not knowing what to expect, not knowing the people you’re presenting to. But I believed in my group members (Steve Rachkowski, Erika Campbell, Erin Vagnini & Nicole Thebaud) & myself; and understood that “If we’re prepared, we’re going to be okay here.” It’s those fundamental lessons that are extremely valuable and it’s not so much the 4 Ps of Marketing or steps 1,2,3. I don’t really apply that, especially in my role anymore, but I think the professionalism, the dedication to what we do and the drive to do things well. I think those are all things that SPAD breeds and I think it’s those kind of traits or characteristics that differentiate us from everybody else and that’s the kind of stuff that make us successful.

DM: It seems to be working for you.

JE: So far so good. I’ve fooled them up to this point anyway haha

DM: Do you have any advice you would like to share with the current SPAD students?

JE: My advice builds on each other. One is take a chance, swing for the fence. It’s better to swing for the fence, try to hit a home run and end up with a ground-rule double than to not swing at all. Find what you’re passionate about and pursue it. Be realistic; don’t think it’s easy to get into the hockey world or the sports world for that matter. I’ve invested many, many hours, made a lot sacrifices but I’ve also enjoyed every moment along the way. Swing for the fences, put yourself in the best position you can. Take a chance, believe in yourself and when you have that opportunity, make sure you’re prepared to make the most of it. People are going to react different ways and there’s things you can’t control, so don’t try to control them. Everything you can control – look to do so, make sure you’re prepared, make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row, so that when you’re stepping up to the plate, you know it’s a fastball coming and not a knuckle. Swing away.

DM: Make sure there’s no R.A Dickey knuckleballs coming your way.

JE: As cheesy as it sounds, it’s those metaphors and those models that you can lean on. I chuckle to myself regularly thinking about it. I haven’t made it far, but I’m quite happy with where I am at this stage of my career; and that’s a pretty cool feeling.

SPAD Blog would like to thank Jan for taking the time to talk and we wish him all the
best in the New Year!

2014Dec 15

SPAD Speaker Series – Andrew Baker (Canadian Olympic Committee)

By Blog Contributor David Maika

The Olympics are a global spectacle that brings the world together every two years to marvel at world-class talent. The Olympics also require immeasurable behind the scenes preparation from Olympic Committees across the world. For 2005 SPAD Grad Andrew Baker, the passion for the Olympics has been burning for the past 9 years, as he is currently the Director of Games for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC).


SPAD students were given the opportunity to network with Baker, as he took the time out of his busy schedule to come to Sudbury. Baker has been involved with 4 Olympics and 2 Pan American Games and was adamant on how students need to “create your own luck.”  Baker knows what it takes to reach the top and he wanted to share his journey working with the COC with current SPAD students.Even during his time in SPAD, Baker was passionate about being involved with the Olympics. He expressed his interest to professors and even reached out to a former SPAD graduate for an internship opportunity. Though he did not get hired for the position, he created his own luck. He showed his passion and was offered a job with the COC upon graduating in 2005. Though it was only a five-month contract, Baker worked hard, created his own luck and was offered another contract.



Andrew Baker speaks to SPAD students from all four years about his experiences at various Olympics and PanAm games, including Vancouver 2010.

In 2006, Baker was promoted to the Team Operations Coordinator, where he coordinated the logistics for the 2007 Pan Am games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Baker talked about how these events helped him develop the skills required for the job and how he “learned to work in a pressure cooker environment.” Baker was again promoted, this time to Project Manager in 2008. His responsibilities included implementing the logistics plans for the Canadian team at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Vancouver Games was Baker’s favourite experience to this date, where he lived and worked in the Olympic village and was able to share and experience the excitement of Canada’s national pride being displayed. Baker then worked as the Manger of Logisticsfrom January 2012 to February 2013 before being promoted to Director of Games. Baker is currently working on the Pan American Games that are to be held in Toronto next summer, where he wants to help host one of the most successful Pan Am Games to date.


After laying out the timeline of his career, Baker explained his thoughts and what current SPAD students can do now to make their mark. Baker stressed the importance of networking, adding value to every task and always striving to learn. Learn by asking questions, listening, not being afraid to make mistakes and by writing your learning experiences down.


SPAD students were given a tremendous opportunity to listen to an industry professional and learn from the experiences he shared. Students were also given a question period, where Baker offered insightful answers. On behalf of all SPAD students, we would like to thank Andrew Baker for speaking to SPAD students and we wish him all the best at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games!

2014Nov 3

The Link Between Sport & Business – Mark Cecchetto

By Blog Contributor Alex Saunders

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.


Mark Cecchetto, a 1998 SPAD graduate and current Vice-President (Marketing Frozen Food/Pizza) at Nestlé Canada, stood amidst a group of eager and curious SPAD students. This was the second opportunity for many of the current SPAD students to hear from this successful alumnus, as Cecchetto had previously visited SPAD classes. In addition to providing invaluable insight into marketing for the members of the second year marketing class, the topic of the day’s second discussion focussed primarily on providing students with relatable and relevant professional advice stemming from lessons learned from Cecchetto’s professional journey.


Since graduating 16 years ago, Cecchetto has worked for Onyx Marketing Group Inc, and Weston Bakeries before joining the ranks at Nestlé Canada in 2004 as a Marketing Manager. This former SPAD student has been very successful, as demonstrated by his rise from a Marketing Manager to becoming Vice-President of Marketing for the Frozen Food/Pizza division.


While Cecchetto’s work experience and professional successes have been outside of the sport industry, the link between sport and business was a prevalent theme throughout the discussion. “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” was a tagline referred to often in the discussion as Cecchetto made the link between the competitive side of business and sport.  He pointed often to his disdain for losing and how in order to be a success in the business industry, one must have that same competitive edge that is present in the world of sport. In order to even receive the opportunity to be that competitive force in either the sport or business industry, Cecchetto made it clear that experience is crucial in gaining employment and may vary depending on what current SPAD students consider to be valuable experience.


Cecchetto, pictured here, visits 2nd Year Sports Administration students in 2013.

Every single day is an experience. Don’t confuse my definition of ‘experience’ as just job experience. You have a million experiences. You have to make the most of them and get what you can from them.” Cecchetto further explained, “If you call somebody up and ask for 30 minutes of their time to pick their brain, you will be stunned by the number of people who say that they would love to help you out. Finding the confidence to do that is difficult. It is hard and you will get rejected but you will still be stunned by the amount of people who want to help you.


Cecchetto found success through his own initiative after graduating from SPAD. Faxing hundreds of resumés and applications to potential employers resulted in only a single positive response for Cecchetto. While he was slightly deterred, he received the job because of his experience and ability to perform the job effectively and efficiently. While fax machines may not be as relevant today, the lesson in the story still rings true. Today, Cecchetto is an incredibly successful example of what current and prospective SPAD students need to do in order to find similar success down the road. Taking advantage of each and every day to move forward and accumulate new experiences is infinitely valuable.


You’re surrounded by opportunity. You just don’t always know it.”


The SPAD students of today were given an invaluable opportunity to hear from someone who knows what it takes to be successful within the business industry while also being given the chance to have their own personal questions answered by someone with an abundance of relevant experience. On behalf of all SPAD students, we would like to send our thanks and appreciation to Mark Cecchetto for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak to students who are in the same position he was in not too long ago.