Archive for the ‘SPAD 4146’ Category

2017Nov 14

SPAD Graduate Profile – Jeffrey Howlett

17d3c17I had the pleasure to interview a more recent SPAD graduate, Jeffrey Howlett who earned his diploma between the years of 2010-2014.

Jeff was drawn to sports administration because of his connection with many sports, especially, his passion for snowboarding. He thought that the program would help him find a career within the snowboarding world.

Growing up in a small town just outside of London, Ontario, Jeff Howlett found his interests originally sparkedScreen Shot 2017-11-14 at 5.06.31 PM
by the thrill of playing hockey, soccer, baseball, essentially anything sporting related. Soon after Jeff discovered his love for snowboarding, and spent most of his time at the local mountain Loon. He is also an avid photographer and loves to spend his time in the outdoors whether it be fishing, camping, or mountain biking.

Eventually he found himself in Sudbury, Ontario, and enrolled in SPAD, and gained the role of Social Convener for the SPAD council, planning events such as SPAD Formal and St. Spaddies Day. Jeff said that “being a part of council was a good way to earning more connections and friends as well as the experience of meetings in a more formal matter, which he said was one of the best skills he learned during his time in the program.

whistler-blackcombAfter graduation, Jeff decided to pack up and move to Whistler, B.C, where he had previously completed an internship and started a new job as Senior Sales Coach for the Ski School which he did for two years. He than decided to follow his dreams and make a few month trip to Japan, a country known for its plentiful snowfall; otherwise known as a boarder’s paradise.

Today, Jeff spends his days working as the After Sales Service Representative for outer wear clothing giants Arcteryx, in which he handles various duties, most involve customers and their issues with warranty claims. Although having recently joined the company just a few months ago, he is making progress by remembering a few things taught in SPAD. He says that the lessons learned in SPAD and to his recollection the Championship Selling course built him a foundation of “being able to be confident in myself and thinking and building myself as a brand”. As well Jeff said that the amount of learning about resumes and cover letters as well as presentation skills, helped him land every position he has held since graduating.

UnknownBeing a part of Arcteryx, a company in which he has looked up to since his introduction to snowboarding, is a giant step for him, as it puts him into a position in which he can learn the do’s and don’ts of the industry that he wishes to be in for the remainder of his career. A future goal is to eventually run his own business, most likely within the snowboarding industry, and Jeff is poised to do so with the skills he has learned during both his studies and travels. His vision for the future is to work hard, making his way up the ladder at Arcteryx and in his words “probably do some snowboarding as well”.

Contributor: Jeffrey Howlett

2017Nov 14

Q & A with Cameron Brooks

Cameron Brooks Pic 2I was able to sit down with 2015 SPAD graduate Cameron Brooks. Cameron is a well-spoken, modest, and caring individual. He has reached tremendous success after his Laurentian school life. He played five years on the Laurentian soccer team where he made strides on the field and off. I wanted to look at what made Cameron the person he is today, and how Laurentian and SPAD shaped him.

Q1 – What expectations if any did you have coming to Laurentian and SPAD?

I was originally expected school to easy coming out of high school. After my first mid –term I soon realized this was going to be more difficult than I thought. Academically I really needed to focus after going through high school with good marks. Also, I was really looking forward to the day to day living, meeting friends, hanging out; I wanted to live the full university experience.

Q2 – Any obstacles along the way through you’re university life?

Soccer definitely made me work hard and adjust to school. Every year you need to come to school early in the summer to train, and playing away games during weekends you miss mid –terms, giving me to deal with heavily weighted finals, which was a major stressor.

Living away from home first –year was a major adjustment as well. Like everyone I was not only learning how to be successful in school but how to live by myself. I did not have my family pushing me to finish my work and be productive.

Q3 – How do you feel that this program has helped you develop as a person?

SPAD definitely helped me become more social, I was always a quiet kid but not really shy. I had my opinions but I never had the urge to express myself. I am more willing to state what I think and am not worried about anything else.

Being able to present myself to others and in a business setting was something I practised a lot that I never really worked on before and this gave me the confidence to go to my workplaces with the same ability I learned.

Q4 – In your days here you were a very talented soccer player. What has this sport given you in terms of your off field takeaways?

Cameron Brooks Pic 3

Cameron(left) with Coaches and Teammate


Communication was a major quality I used in soccer that is a great tool to use in my day to day life and my jobs. I was in a leadership role in my club and school teams in high school so it was something that I was acceptant of when I started seeing it passed on to me at Laurentian as well. I was always talking to coaches and teammates to get the best out every player including myself on the field. In every dressing room there are lots of different characters, the shy ones, the loud ones and soccer really helped me learn how to get along with all types of people and get an understanding for them.

I also had this sense of competition where I wanted to be the best I could be as myself and with the team. Obviously CIS was a tough league so I really had to work hard and try in order to do this. Like anything, my goal was to create as much success for myself and the others around me, which translates to my work goals now.

Q5 – Where was your internship and how was that experience for you

I worked my internship at XMC Sports and Entertainment, where I was a part of the sponsorship department. There were three other guys I worked with, where we became pretty close. There were no walls or barriers between us so we had to adjust to each other if we liked it or not. Everyone was pretty similar, so it was easy work setting. It was great to build meaningful projects you see put in motion. The experience really gave me a sense of accomplishment and prepared me for life after school.

Q6 – Are there any individuals that have helped guide you through this time?

Scott Rodgers was a big help for me along the way. He was one of my roommates, he happened to be SPAD President; he always took things pretty seriously which drove me to be better. There were times I wanted to slack or didn’t want to work on something, he would be the guiding light to push me to study. He balanced me out when I wanted to hang out. We would do projects together or individually where we always wanted to get the best mark, pushing each other to do the best we could.

Q7 – What jobs have you obtained after school and do you feel school fully prepared you for them?

I am currently working for CIBC bank in Sports Sponsorships. I have been here for 15 months and have enjoyed every second of it. I have a great team that I work with where I’m happy to go to work every day. My boss is a SPAD alumni and he has really took me undCameron Brooks Pic 4er his wing and has helped me a lot, and has looked out for me. He has helped me with developing contacts and with my personal brand.

One thing weird for me to see is from being in SPAD into a political organization like CIBC from the differences we don’t see in the program. Being this young in the business world has been an eye opening experience for me. You really look at yourself and what the public views of you with all the different steps you make.

As a SPAD guy everyone wants to work for their favourite team or just in a sports field. So that’s where I want to go next. I think this is where I’ll have the most fun while working so I do not want to pass an opportunity like this up.

2017Nov 14

Q & A With SPAD Grad Ben Goodman

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standingBen Goodman recently graduated from SPAD in June 2017. Ben worked very hard while at Laurentian. He was involved with the men’s varsity hockey team, scouted for the Saginaw Spirit, and had a part-time job, all while being a successful SPAD student. In his summers he worked non-stop with the Carnevale Hockey Group which is a summer hockey league that hosts many top prospects from around Ontario. He has been consumed by hockey his whole life, and was rewarded for his hard work with an internship with the Ottawa Senators in 2016/17. He did so well in Ottawa that he secured himself a full time position with the Belleville Senators who are in their first season since moving from Binghamton. I had the chance to interview Ben and pick his brain on some of his internship, and work experiences from his young career.

DC: What was the decision making process like when choosing where to do your internship?

BG: I actually only applied for the one that I did with the Ottawa Senators. I knew since first year that I wanted to do an internship in the NHL and that I wanted to open up the possibility of working for a full season. The communications internship for the Sens is usually posted earlier than most fall internships, so I was able to submit my resume and go to Ottawa to do my interview before I even saw any other opportunities. That’s not to say that I wasn’t preparing to apply at a few other places that I had heard offered good internships, but once I was given the offer I had to say yes. Being able to work with NHL players, coaches and management on a daily basis was exactly what I was looking for, and my supervisor ended up giving me the option to stay for the full season and playoffs; it was a perfect fit.

DC: How did working with the Carnevale Hockey Group and the Laurentian men’s hockey team prepare you for your internship with the Senators?

BG: Wow—where do I even start. My experiences at both CHG and working for the Voyageurs were absolutely invaluable and I would not be where I am now without having worked at both of those places. Clay Leibel (SPAD grad and former NHL scout) got me in with the Carnevale Hockey Group during the summer after first year. It allowed me to connect with agents, scouts, coaches and GM’s in the OHL, which eventually helped get me a scouting job with the Saginaw Spirit for one season under GM Dave Drinkill (SPAD grad). It’s a crazy work environment because it’s the largest junior summer hockey league in Canada (30 teams); I needed to learn how to pay attention to detail, how to plan and prepare, and how to manage and meet expectations. Frank Carnevale (owner of CHG) had a Image result for BEN GOODMAN OTTAWA SENATORSgreat influence on me because he always expected the best, and he knew what I was capable of. He pushed me to be better every weekend, and although it was tough leaving when I got a full-time job with Belleville, he was the first to congratulate me because he wanted me to get to the professional level. My three seasons with Laurentian’s men’s team prepared me by allowing me to experience what it’s like to work and travel with a team. In USPORT there is so much opportunity as a student trying to work in hockey because there’s always something you can help with. (Head Coach) Craig Duncanson gave me more responsibility every season; from starting as a game day ops volunteer, to being the Video Coach, to taking on a team services/media relations position in third year, I was always eager to do more, and in turn I learned more. Some of the things that I did for the Voyageurs were things that I did in my internship and even my job today, too. The main thing from LU that helped me in my internship (and in my job now) was the demanding schedule; not having weekends or reading weeks off in addition to travelling every other week while being a sports administration student and juggling a part-time job at the gym provided me with a need to manage my time properly. In professional hockey you can sometimes go over two weeks without a day off, so you need to know how to get things done with limited time rest. I’m glad that my schedule was hectic and stressful sometimes, because the truth is that professional hockey is the same in that regard.



Image may contain: 1 person, suitDC: As a communications intern, what were your weekly duties with the Senators?

BG: As the Sens communications intern I was responsible for setting up morning press conferences every game/practice day, writing the team’s weekly prospect report, updating parts of the official game notes and many other media-related tasks. I also was responsible for helping with any non-Senators events at the Canadian Tire Centre. I worked various concerts/shows, a World Cup of Hockey exhibition game, the annual Capital Hoops game and a few other special events. Since I wanted to eventually work in the hockey operations side of the business, I would always offer extra help to our GM and Assistant GM with anything they needed as well.

DC: What were your responsibilities on Senators game days?

BG: On game days there were 101 things to do–I’m serious. I had to make a four page list on a word document that I’d print off every game day to make sure I didn’t miss anything. They were mostly small tasks, but they were all very important to making sure the game day ran smoothly and it only got busier throughout the playoff run. I would bring stats and game notes to our coaches and the visiting team coaches while distributing credentials to all of the media (which by the Eastern Conference Finals could be as many as 150 people) every morning. I’d meet with the visiting team’s communications representative to give them passes for their staff as well as help with any additional things they required. I was responsible for setting up the press box; anything from labelling the broadcast booths to pushingImage may contain: 1 person, suit in chairs, I had to be sure that it was ready for a hockey game. Before the game started I was in charge of running the media meal and assigning our game day media volunteers different tasks throughout the building. During the intermissions I would run stats to both coaching staffs as as well as any media at arena level. Post-game I would print the final game report booklet and distribute it to the visiting team as well as our coaches and management. The day would start early and end late, but I absolutely loved it. I was lucky enough to work 50 NHL games during my nine month internship, and I was very fortunate to work with a team that had so much success despite such adversity throughout the season.

DC: What key relationships were built within the Senators organization, and with whom?

BG: Every relationship that I made in Ottawa was and still is “key” because I’m fortunate enough to still work in the organization—from the scouts to the coaches to the players and management; a lot of people have helped me get to where I am now. I think it goes without saying that Randy Lee (Assistant GM of Ottawa and GM of Belleville) has been an integral part of my very young career in hockey. From early on in my internship I offered to do extra work for him and because of that he allowed me to be involved in the early days of making the AHL move to Belleville official. Randy not only continues to be a mentor to me after my internship, but he’s actually my boss now–which is kind of cool because it’s usually the other way around. Pierre Dorion (GM of Ottawa) and Sean McCauley (Coordinator, Hockey Operations of Ottawa) have also been terrific resources to my ongoing education of how professional hockey teams are managed, and I value my relationship with them greatly as well.

DC: How did your internship prepare you to work with the Belleville Senators?

BG: There are plenty of reasons why my internship in Ottawa prepared me for my current job, but if I had to give you one word to describe my answer, it would be professionalism. The people who work in the NHL, no matter what they do or what their position is, they’re there because they’re professionals; being in an environment for nine months where everyone you work with is one of the best (if not the best) at what they do, you start recognizing the reasons why.  Throughout my internship I tried my best to mirror at least one thing from everyone I worked with that I thought would make me a better professional. By the time that the opportunity came up in Belleville, I believed that I could make an impact and contribute to the new AHL team due to what I learned in my internship.

DC: As Coordinator of Team Services with Belleville what are your duties and responsibilities?

BG: Team Services involves a very broad spectrum of daily and monthly tasks, especially at the AHL level. My main responsibilities include team travel; so booking hotels, flights, buses, meals etc. while working with my Head Coach to organize the team’s schedule. I’m also responsible for executing transactions to and from Belleville between Ottawa, Brampton (our ECHL development partner) and other ECHL teams. I play an integral role in the recall and re-assignment process when it comes to getting players to and from where they need to go when they are being sent to a different team. I also have signing authority for PTO’s and ATO’s (professional try out and amateur try out agreements) as well as AHL standard player’s contracts. One of my biggest tasks of the year is planning and organizing training camp at the beginning of the season. My team services colleague in Ottawa, Jordan Silmser (SPAD grad), has been a terrific help for me in learning all of the ins anImage may contain: 1 person, smilingd outs of my job—there is a lot of day-to-day stuff like player ticket requests, applying for or renewing work permits on players’ behalf, setting up call-up or try out players in hotels, and many other tasks that allow the team to function. I see my job’s main purpose as trying to do as much as I can to let the coaches coach and the players play—they shouldn’t have to worry about anything else on a game day. Aside from my main responsibilities, I also help with media availability and act as the communications contact while on the road, since I travel with the team all the time and our communications staff don’t. I also contribute to Ottawa by pro scouting using the NHL team’s RinkNet service—I write reports on players that we play against that can be used when evaluating potential trades or free agent signings by Pierre Dorion, Randy Lee and Ottawa’s pro scouting staff.

DC: You grew up in the Toronto area, so what is it like working for a rival organization?

BG: I love it. If you’re making the assumption that because I grew up 15 minutes from the Air Canada Centre that I was once a Leafs fan, you’d be right. But, the truth is that my experience in Ottawa changed my professional life, and with it, my affiliation. The day I started working for Ottawa, I became a Senators fan—the hockey operations group in Ottawa and Belleville is like a family, and it’s one that I’m proud to be a part of. With the experience that I’ve had in pro hockey already, I’ve realized very quickly that if you enjoy the people you work with and the job that you have, you want to cheer for those people and you want to cheer for yourself. For all of my childhood I was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs for no other reason than the fact that I grew up in Toronto—but when Ottawa’s season opener started against the Leafs last year, for the first time in my life I could truly say “this is my team”…and I wasn’t talking about the guys in blue and white. I have no impact on the Maple Leafs—I’ve never worked for them and they certainly don’t need me to function. I’ve already seen Nick Paul, Jack Rodewald, Ben Harpur, Thomas Chabot, Christian Jaros and Max McCormick get called up this season. I work with those guys, and I see them every day. It’s fun seeing them go to Ottawa to get a chance to play at the highest level. I am relied upon to do my job and help our team so we can develop these players into NHLers. I’m closer to the Senators than I ever was to the Leafs as a fan.

2017Nov 14

Q & A with Seth Board

By: Matt Grundy

November 14th, 2017

11021452_10203956559981446_3205494399452810208_oSeth Board, grew up living in Burlington, Ontario and Ocala, Florida and graduated from SPAD in the year of 2017.  The Majority of his childhood was spent in Burlington but spent 2 years in Ocala while his father pursued a career opportunity when Seth was 5 years old.  Seth attended high school in Burlington at Nelson High School. I had the opportunity to interview Seth to learn more about his journey through SPAD, what he is doing today, and what his plans are for the future.

The first thing I wanted to learn from Seth was why exactly he chose SPAD. His answer was not different from other people in the program. Seth was drawn towards the SPAD program mainly because of his passion for sports and the unique opportunities that the program offers. He noted that the hands-on experience through the mandatory internship and consulting trip were the key selling points for him. Seth had high aspirations for himself when first entering the program as many first year SPAD students do. His dream job was to one day be a GM of an NFL team, however had the more practical goal of getting a managerial position in ticketing for an NFL team.

I wanted to learn more about Seth’s personal experiences while in SPAD.  I asked Seth to describe some SPAD-LOGO-4of his greatest challenges and accomplishments in SPAD that helped him get to where he is today. Seth’s greatest accomplishment came during his consulting trip, which was done for the Washington Nationals. He and his group had to present a solution to the Nationals on the ROI of converting the stadium lights to LEDs. Overall, the group exceeded expectations in many ways and were given high praise from the organization. The experience gave Seth a lot of confidence on what he could accomplish in the future. As for many students, getting over stage fright was the biggest challenge for Seth. Coming into SPAD, Seth wasn’t the most outgoing and struggled somewhat as a presenter. That being said, after many presentations throughout the program, Seth was able to overcome his fears and become a quality presenter, contributing to his groups success enjoyed during the consulting trip.

17800430_10209110956278132_4748244626088474721_nNext, I wanted to know about Seth’s internship, and how exactly it came about. For his internship, Seth was a suites service intern with MLSE.  Seth explained that the process in finding and securing this internship was relatively easy. Seth was very fortunate to be very good friends with the intern in his position before him who highly recommended Seth for the position. This led right into my next question as I asked Seth what his biggest takeaways were from his internship. Seth stressed that networking is very important, as it payed off for him in securing his internship. The more people you know, the more opportunities there will be.

Seth has just finished travelling across Europe and has now started Aspire_Lifestyles_Logo_on White_CMYKhis first career job at a company called Aspire Lifestyles as a VIP customer service representative. In the future, Seth hopes to be back at MLSE in a managerial role. I ended the interview by asking Seth what advice he would give to SPAD students. His main message was to go outside your comfort zone, and to do everything that scares you or that you never thought you would do. Seth could have never envisioned himself in a leadership role, but took the chance and chose to do it anyway when he joined the SPAD council which benefitted him tremendously and helped him get to where he is today.


Contributor: Seth Board

2017Nov 14

Q&A with Erin Perez

EPerez_1I had the opportunity to chat with Erin Perez and gain a personal insight into her career path. As a recent graduate of Colorado Mesa University (CMU), Erin earned a Bachelor’s in Sports Management and a minor in Business Administration. Outside of the classroom, she also played on the indoor and beach volleyball teams. Today, she holds the position of Internal Operations and Championships Assistant with the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).


Why did you choose the sports industry as a field of study and career? Was this decision influenced by your experience of being a collegiate athlete?

Yes, I believe that a significant factor of my choice was being a student-athlete myself. Sports have been a major part of my entire life and I still very much wanted to be a part of the sports scene once my collegiate career ended. Sports have given me so much and I want to give that experience to other student-athletes.

What prior positions and internships have you held?

Previously, I worked as a manager for CMU Volleyball, an assistant volleyball coach for Palisade High School, and an administrative assistant for CMU Basketball Camps.

What experiences did you gain from these opportunities?

Initially, I thought that coaching would be the perfect fit for me; however, after my stint of coaching my passion changed. I loved coaching but was ready to step out of the “volleyball world” and pursue other opportunities. I was able to gain skills associated to leadership, administrative roles, the financial components of sport, working with other universities and most importantly communicating with different organizations, coaches, and departments (i.e. athletics, finance, housing, etc.).

How do you like your current position with the RMAC? What are you responsible for in this role?

I’m really enjoying my role and time with the RMAC. I have a variety of responsibilities that fluctuate from day-to-day. My assigned tasks include overseeing conference film exchange, reviewing film to ensure no violations are present, inputting game schedules to guarantee officials are scheduled, communicating with the administrative staff from 15 institutions for smooth conference operations, National Letter of Intents (NLI) for future student-athletes, and assisting with taking and editing pictures. The larger championship aspect includes planning and running all aspects of championships for each sport. These responsibilities consist of putting together all materials needed, overseeing practices, setting up, taking down, and assisting the director with anything throughout the tournament. Additionally, projects come in from any of the directors or commissioners; thus, tasks can change rather quickly.

 Is there a specific part of your RMAC position that is your favorite?scroll_stick_logo

I️’ve only had the opportunity to work one championship so far but I think this experience has taught me so much. During my time as a student-athlete, one of my fondest memories includes winning a championship so being able to award someone the same honor reassures my decision to pursue a career in the sports industry.

What has been the most challenging part of your role, and how have you met that challenge?

The greatest challenge thus far would be playing the “bad guy” role in a compliance issue. The RMAC has set policies that holds everyone to the same standards. While overseeing film, there are times where I have to fine people for violating these policies. At first, this was rather challenging since I have the tendency of being too nice. But, over time, I’ve been able to adapt and understand the importance of holding all institutions to the same standard. With several institutions and sports, all operate slightly different and things can change mid-season; thus, back and forth communication between the conference and institutions can get complex.

Dispute the challenges of being the “bad guy”, is the compliance side also rewarding?

Absolutely, compliance plays a major role in collegiate athletics. The many rules enforced by the conference and NCAA, play an important role in a student-athlete’s career. Through the NLIs, I’m able to see people continue not only their athletic career but also their academic career and it’s such a rewarding feeling.

Do you see yourself in this position long-term? What is your desired/dream job?
This position is a year-long, part-time internship. If I had the opportunity to stay longer, I absolutely would take it! At the moment, I’m unsure of what area of the sports industry I want to work in. I have aspirations to be a high school athletic director one day; but, I can also see myself working in a conference office (like the RMAC) in either championship or business operations.

What advice would you give to students looking to establish a career in the sports industry?

I encourage students to start gaining field experience early, know and establish relationships with administrators and leaders within the industry, always look for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

2017Nov 14



Tom-Blake Cover Photo

By: Jacob Smith
November 14th, 2017


“You’re here baby! You’re in the game!” The phrase that stuck out to a tentative class of upper year SPAD students on the first day of sales class. “You have to be ready. You have to start building relationships now, don’t wait until you’re in the real world, YOU’RE IN THE REAL WORLD. Everyone is always so eager to start their life after school, but what students don’t realize is the relationships you make now can propel you into future success. Don’t wait for something to happen, go out and make it happen.”


Tom Blake is currently the CEO of Sprout Wellness Solutions Inc. and has been for the last 6 years. He is also currently involved with the SPAD program at Laurentian teaching Championship Selling to the upper year students. Although Tom’s time is mainly occupied by Sprout and teaching, he still has a hand in Optimé, his first entrepreneurial endeavour. Optimé started in 1994 after an 18-year relationship with Proctor & Gamble ending as National Sales Manager. Optimé’s main purpose is to enhance sales tools, as well as build relationships in business, and has proved itself to be one of the top sales programs worldwide. Tom now uses those sales tools and techniques to enhance students social skills in his Championship Selling course.


Although from Sudbury, Tom did not pursue the Sports Administration program at Laurentian until spending time in Sackville, New Brunswick attending Mount Allison University for hockey. “There was a lot of shenanigans going on there and it was hard to focus on school, I was struggling academically. I forget how I found out about the program at Laurentian, but when I heard it was a Business Commerce degree that related to sports, I knew it was for me.”


Optime Logo

Tom’s undergraduate internship was with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. After running and organizing events, as well as managing people on a daily basis, Tom felt the way he handled everything was a main contributing factor to future employment. “The Executive Director of CAHA Gordon Juckes wrote a letter outlining what a remarkable job I had done throughout my internship.” This propelled Tom into a career in sales with Proctor & Gamble.


When Tom first started working, he had many options. Job offers from the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Penguins, along with 11 other companies gave him many different opportunities. On his last interview, Tom was asked to give multiple examples of problem solving.

After already giving two examples, he was asked to give another one, as it was a big issue within the organization. Tom then looked at the interviewer and said, “I’ve already given you enough answers, when do I start.” To which they replied, “You start Monday.”


Tom touches on the importance of self-confidence quite frequently and emphasizes the truth behind demanding what you want in order to get it.



After careful consideration, Tom decided to take the Proctor & Gamble job as it would secure him financially. He also saw future growth opportunity within P&G that wasn’t as prevalent within some of the sport organizations he met with previously. He was very driven right off the bat, “I told P&G, I’m going to be a manger, I’m going to be a leader.” Tom said as he touched on the importance of having strong self-confidence.


Tom proceeded to talk about his experience with confidence early in his career. The CEO of Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment (MLSE) and owner of Knob Hill Farms at the time Steve Stavro, and Tom had an interesting encounter in one of Steve’s grocery stores.

“I told him he had a problem in his stores, and he ended up yelling at me in front of everyone. He then started pointing at me demanding for my boss, until I pointed right back and told him I was the boss.” Tom then touched on the encounter. “Respect is a big thing in business. Once Proctor & Gamble heard about it, and how I was able to stand up to the retailer seeing as how they are supposed to have all the power, it was almost as if I had a halo around me.”


He then went on to say how it was a very career-defining moment, as he was evidently more respected afterward.


Sprout LogoTom’s unique style of leadership really came to light once asked about his biggest accomplishment. “My biggest accomplishment is leading people and having tremendous people results. I promoted a lot of people at P&G because I really tried to care and listen. I challenged people and tried to get the best out of them.” It was interesting to hear Tom talk about his biggest accomplishment relating to people and not personal achievement. “It’s all about people, there’s nothing more than people. They are very difficult to manage, but you have to love working with them and I was lucky enough to be good at that.”


Tom Blake

Since being placed in the real world, Tom had some advice for students in the SPAD program.

“Develop a track record and realize you’re in the real world. None of this talk about waiting to get into the real world after school. Get results and demonstrate an ability to drive change. It doesn’t matter how minuscule, you must demonstrate success in everything you do and constantly get results. If you’re the person that’s the most proactive, you will be sure to get a great job from that. You have to be really good today. You have to show success beyond what other people are doing. It’s not all about marks, it’s about getting results. You’re in the game baby!”


Contributor: Tom Blake

2017Nov 14

An Interview with Maja Ronneberger

Today I will be introducing you to Maja Ronneberger, she is a SPAD grad from the class of 2007. Since graduating Laurentian Maja has gone on to work in marketing for Whistler Blackcomb, before moving back to The T1 agency working in special events.

Q.How did you get your first job after leaving SPAD?

A. I was planning on taking a year off before entering the working world. I had it all planned out going down to Australia for a holiday. I was just days away from booking my plane tickets, when I got a call from Mark Harrison (CEO, at the T1 agency) offering me a job . He was a guest professor for one class in our last year in SPAD, and he said from the start that he would offer a job to whoever got the best mark. So Mark hired me, and I worked with him in the Toronto office for a year and a half, then moving to the Calgary office for a change of scenery.

Q.How did you get your job at Whistler Blackcomb?

A. The T1 agency when I worked for them the first time, did a sponsorship conference at the Paralympic games when they were in Whistler. At the conference I met the senior VP of sales and marketing at Whistler Blackcomb. I didn’t really have a plan at that point, I resigned from the agency and took a year off traveling, worked some odd jobs. I didn’t really like anything that I was doing. So I decided to reach out to the guy that I met at the conference, which led to me getting a job in the sponsorship department.

Q.Since you have worked at both, what are the differences between working for a property and working for an agency?

A. The agency world is pretty full on, its go go go all the time. It is a very fast paced environment, the client wants everything yesterday, without you even knowing about it. The property world is slower, and the organization is bigger. So when you’re working on something five different people need to weigh in on it. Whereas in the agency world all you had to do was get your boss to sign off on it.


Q.What is a typical day like for you at your job?

A. I think if you are looking into marketing and sponsorship that there is no typical day on the job. I know that sounds cliche, but there is no typical day. Meetings do take up a lot of your day, it is very important to be efficient in meetings so that your not wasting people’s time. I spend a lot of time just being creative, thinking how we can make this better, easier, stand out more!


Q.Finally do you have any advice for someone going into the working world for the first time?

A. My advice would be to get to know as many people as possible. So networking is key, the more people you know the better! My other piece of advice would be to work hard, be dedicated, take things seriously, and always try to think a couple steps ahead. Don’t be afraid to do the dirty work, do it all! Working hard and getting to know as many people as you can, I believe will open the right doors for you.

2017Nov 14

SPAD Graduate Jonathan McNeil

Jjon mcneilonathan McNeil is a SPAD graduate of the 2007 graduating year. Since then he has had success at two separate companies in the security industry, and is currently closing in on his third year operating as the Regional Manager of Eastern Canada, at Lenel Systems International.

SPAD was not Jonathan’s original course of choice, he was leaning more towards chemical engineering, and due to a girlfriend, he chose SPAD and ended up really enjoying the course. During his time in SPAD he spent a lot of time working with extended family in marketing, where he thought he would originally end up. Along the way, with his internship, and the connections he made, those plans had changed.

Jon’s internship was with Exposoft, a company that creates software for registration at events, and the job that he was assigned to was to be a project coordinator. He chose this internship partially because it payed, and he also had a place to stay during the internship, so he could keep costs down. During this internship he met an acquaintance, who would eventually become his boss and now ex boss, and started hanging out together which would eventually lead to his firstHID_logo_3.5464d03d549f8 job.

This new friend asked him one night “would you ever do sales” and he answered with “everything you do is sales”, which lead to his first job at HID Global, who mainly deals with card readers like the ones around Laurentian University that deal with your student card. Jon places a lot of his success today with his now ex boss because he pushed his resume along to his bosses to get Jon this first job which lead to a whole new network of people and connections in the security industry. He was the youngest hire at the time, and may be still to this day, at 23 years old. Within HID he started as a regional account manager in the integration channel that dealt with system integrators or installers. His then boss got promoted, and he moved up to what was basically his bosses old job, just without the title. Which was essentially the regional manager of Canada.

During his seven years spent at HID Global, Jon gained some footing in the security industry, which would lead to his next position at Lenel Systems International, where he is today. Lenel sells software for security systems from access control, which is basically monitoring door entry, to using the Lenelsoftware for integration that can link that access control to video and audio. So, if someone opens door without access it could trigger a camera and audio device to get more information. In October 2014 a recruiter from Lenel contacted Jon and within the next four months he got his current position at Lenel as Regional Manager for Eastern Canada. This move gave him a better salary, so the move was very welcomed. This new job deals with more selling to dealers rather than before where he dealt with end users and installers.

This new job has provided him with more flexibility in terms of getting to work from home, but it does take him out town very frequently. He usually gets to be home for the weekends to spend time with his wife. Jon is really enjoying his current job and is always looking for opportunities to grow.

2017Nov 13

From Air Canada to The Air Canada Centre

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I was lucky enough to get an interview with Michael Friisdahl, which may be better known to the readers of this article as the Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. This interview was a huge experience for me, and a great chance to see what it was like to be at the top of the largest and most successful sports company in Canada. Michael was born in Denmark and moved to Canada with his parents when he was a young teenager in 1976. When he arrived in the country, he knew very little English. Since then, he has grown into a very successful businessman.
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To start the interview, I first asked him why he chose to pursue a career in the sports industry. He responded by saying, “As a matter of fact, I am relatively new to the sports and entertainment industry. I joined MLSE as President and CEO two years ago after many years in the travel industry, most recently as President and CEO of Air Canada’s Leisure Group.” Michael was actually headhunted and offered his position in MLSE.

In his short time as CEO, MLSE has hosted a number of very prominent events, including, the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend and the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic. These events have given Michael the opportunity to learn about the organization, the sports industry, and how to properly lead his company to continued success. He’s also been given the chance to work closely with many of the company’s partners, along with figuring out what he needed to do to keep the fans happy. Michael stated his feelings towards the fans, saying “One of our most important supporters is our fans and in some ways I see many similarities between my roles in the travel industry and my current role. Delivering the best experience possible for our fans is similar to my priorities for our customers when I was in the travel industry. We are proud to have some of the best fans in sports and entertainment and delivering winning teams, and the best experience possible for them, is one of our top priorities.”
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When I asked him to describe his role as CEO of the company, Michael described it by saying, “I oversee all of the different arms and business operations of the company including the teams that make up MLSE, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and our Live music business.” Working in the Air Canada Centre, as one of the busiest venues in the world, means every day brings new challenges that Michael and his team have to deal with. He continued by saying, “In my role I work to ensure that our very talented team at MLSE delivers our teams the tools they need to be successful as we work towards our goal of bringing championships to our city and our fans.” Each team, whether it be the marketing, ticketing, global partnerships or venue operations, is operated in a very sophisticated manner, run by the most talented members in the industry. Ending his response, he said, “I’m very fortunate in my role to have such a strong team and it is a privilege to lead our team and this company.”

I asked Michael to highlight a few of his accomplishments in the two years he has been in the industry, and he responded with, “Every day at MLSE sees our team accomplish some incredible things that continues to show why MLSE is one of the leaders in the industry, but one of the things that I am most proud of is our work to give back to the community and the impact it has on so many people, especially young people.” In terms of accomplishments from the teams that make up MLSE, he stated, “The Leafs, Raptors and TFC are building each season to reach contender status and TFC has enjoyed a record breaking season in 2017. We all know there is much work still to do there but that success is the reason we are all here and we’re excited about their direction.” One more accomplishment in Michael’s career, is the announcement of a new naming rights partnership with Scotiabank. “It is the largest naming rights partnership deal in sports anywhere in the world to date and it demonstrates the size, scale and importance of Toronto as a market and MLSE as a company.”

Michael Friisdahl’s early years in his career at MLSE have proven to be successful ones. For someone who could not speak english until he moved to Canada as a teenager, Michael has done amazing things and lead multiple companies to great successes in his life. Although he had minimal education, and nothing close to the experience he may have needed to run a sports company, he has done well with the career that was offered to him, that many of the people reading this now are working hard to one day achieve.

2017Nov 13

Q&A with Jamie Saull

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Jamie is currently the Sr. Manager, Brand Solutions – Sports at Bell Media which is part of the larger Bell Media Strategic Sales Team. As Jamie puts it, “It’s a fancy way of saying I work in sport brand partnerships looking through a marketing / brand lens vs. a strictly sales-related mindset as we work with clients, agencies and partners across all brands, categories and sports”. His team’s goals and responsibilities are to make meaningful, impactful, and results-driven programs that benefit all brands involved, including TSN’s. They deal with both reactive and proactive projects – reacting to client asks and needs, while also proactively developing programs and brand strategies with the intent of driving future revenue.


EJ: What made you decide to choose SPAD over other programs?

JS: It was the only one I was accepted to (that’s a joke, though some of my profs and classmates may disagree). I always new I was going to work in sports – I just didn’t know how. First I was set on sports medicine (more laughter from the aforementioned group) and then I turned my sights towards Sport Law (again, see Medicine comment). Finally once I realized that not only would that take forever, but that I was actually pretty good at the creativity part, combined with the numbers element, I shifted focus. SPAD was the only program that offered exactly what I wanted – a Commerce-driven degree, with a focus specifically on sports. Couldn’t get any better. Believe it or not, but the fact the program was based in Sudbury wasn’t a deterrent for me. My grand-parents grew up here, and in fact, my grandfather’s family owned a small bakery across the street from the Beef ’N Bird – I think it’s now a Westons distribution center, but it used to be called Cecutti’s – which was my grandfather’s family. So aside from the program that aligned exactly where I wanted to be, I knew they also had good bread up there. Kinda checked all boxes.

EJ: If you had to pick one, what’s your most memorable moment from your time in the SPAD program?

JS: That I can repeat? Probably failing my first test – it was a kick in the nuts, that I can now say, was much needed. It provided that reality check that you need early (I got my first failure out of the way, very, very early). You learn a lot about yourself over those 4 years – a lot of which is how you handle, react and learn from (or don’t), various situations. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid if you do it over, and over and over. Non-educational? I got to emcee the Trailer Park Boys live show when they came to Sudbury in the Fraser Auditorium. I had to stand on stage in front of the entire building and try to be moderately funny as I introduced Ricky, Julian and Bubbles. I drank a lot. They drank more… it went alright.

EJ: I was reading the SPAD Alumni Profile back from 2012 and you said that after meeting Scott Moore he gave you some of the best advice you’d ever received. What advice was that? And how did it change your outlook?

JS: I used to make it a point (and still do) to be in the office before my boss every day – no real reason, it’s just something I’ve always done. I was always the first person in the room. I sat right in front of Scott. He came in one morning (he was usually in before everyone else as well) and he called me into his office. I had half my things packed and was ready to turn in my security card – no idea why, but figured why else would I be called in before anyone else got there. We spoke for a little bit, and he then said “I came across a guy early in my career who gave me great advice, that I still use to this day… he said, in his thick Scottish accent… ‘Scott… there are 3 things you should look for in people when hiring and building a team…. Attitude… attitude… and attitude’.” We spoke a little bit more about work ethic and attitude towards things, and he ended the conversation asking what my favourite sport was. I quickly said hockey and he opened a literal binder full of tickets – Raptors, Argos, TFC, Leafs… anything, and he flipped through to a page that had a pair of Leafs/Capitals tickets. He gave me the pair and said ‘attitude goes a lot further than people will likely ever acknowledge’. I got to see Alexander Ovechkin for the first time with those tickets. I took my boss because I was a kiss ass and also thought it was a test. She wound up taking us back to CBC headquarters after the Leaf game to the Hockey Night in Canada studio where we watched Game 2 of the double-header and I got to see how the magic was made. Kissing ass worked that night.

To this day, I remember that discussion. Whether I am hiring members of my own team, or working with people internally or externally, the focus is always on attitude. If you can get a sense of how someone else carries them-self, you can get a pretty good idea of how they’re going to work with you, with others and within the scope you need them to. The reality of our world is, to borrow a line from comedian Tom Segura, ‘some people suck’… it’s just the way life goes – so the attitude that you carry can help in both personal and professional settings. Attitude isn’t how you act, it’s how you approach things – different scenarios call for different tactics, but the attitude you have going in will shape that outcome.

EJ: Where did you do your internship? What was that experience like?

JS: I interned at CBC in the Media Sales & Marketing department. The experience was incredible. It was an industry and field I knew absolutely nothing about. Media is one of the more unique areas I’ve worked w263716_100530676782966_1373089684_nith and within. It changes every single day – new competitors crop up out of nowhere – some stick around, and others don’t. CBC taught me a lot about process, politics and practice. There was so much on-the-job learning that forced me to become nimble in how I approached things. There was a lot of red tape within everything we did so it taught patience and internal politicking and lobbying. There were approvals on top of approvals everywhere you looked. It was also a place that was steeped in tradition and success (Hockey Night in Canada) but it was also a place that was forced to innovate with very limited budgets and freedom to take risks given the government implications. The people there were incredible – that’s something I’ll never forget. The people make the place, the business and the brand. Whether that’s an employee or a consumer, it’s all about the people you deal with, market to, interact with, argue with, etc.

EJ: How did your internship lead to a future position?

JS: Someone had just left on the B2B Marketing team and they had an opening. Instead of posting and filling it, they gave it to me as an internship (much cheaper that way!). Once the internship ended, they still needed the body and since I’d basically just completed a 4-month interview, they offered it to be full-time. I like to think that my attitude and work ethic contributed to why they wanted me to stay. I was young, had no responsibilities, and nothing to lose. I had no excuse not to bust my ass. If after 4 months doing the job they felt I wasn’t right for it, it would have been a failure in so many ways… and as I mentioned earlier, I did my best to get my failures out of the way early in my university career.

EJ: What are some of the best experiences/moments you had at CBC?

JS: Watching Hockey Night in Canada from the studio and control room was pretty surreal. I’m constantly guilty of forgetting how lucky I am to work in the industry that I do. What we do for ‘work’ is what many people do for entertainment and leisure. Most people put their time in 9-5 and then go home to watch their Leafs, or Raptors, or TFC, or whatever it is they watch. I get to work on that stuff for a living – they pay me to do it. I feel like I shouldn’t mention it because they’ll take it away from me. Anytime I give a tour of the TSN studios, or would take people up to see where Hockey Night in Canada was shot, the look on their face says it all.


I was also in an elevator during one of the network’s most high-profile events (called the Upfront – each network does it, to release the upcoming year’s schedule), and Don Cherry walked in. This wasn’t Hockey Night in Canada Don Cherry, this was “I’m tired and going home” Don Cherry (looking back, they’re pretty similar). He was in the elevator with just his publicist and me. He called Scott Moore in the elevator and was complaining that he saw no Rock’em Sock’em DVDs in the CBC Shop – he gave the impression he thought nobody cared enough to stock it, and wanted the Head of CBC Sports to do something about it. I could hear the phone call, because both are loud men, and Scott had told him it was because they were sold out – it was a good thing. Don wasn’t having it – he didn’t want people to be disappointed if they came in looking for it, and weren’t able to find it. His name was on it and he didn’t want to let anyone down. It was pretty cool. 

EJ: What advice do you have for current SPAD students looking for internships?

JS: Stop writing “Proficient in Microsoft Office” – for the love of God, if in 2017 you aren’t, you shouldn’t have a University degree. But as someone who went through the process, and who is now leading a team who also brings interns on (SPAD student Tanner Keelan is working on my team right now… I think I have terrified him), the biggest thing I can say is to find a way to stand apart. It’s so cliché, but it’s true – and that doesn’t mean add colour to your resume. It means understand your audience – your resume is the first step to get you in the door, but it’s not the only one. Pick up the phone, work some connections and don’t just apply for every job or posting because you need to find an internship. Passion comes through, and lack of it comes through thicker. One thing I’ve learned is that people on the other side of the table are much smarter than you, in that they’ve seen applications, resumes and interviewees from all over. Personally, I hate template resumes. I work in a creative-driven field and I still get the generic Google Search Result kind of resume / cover letter – make me laugh, make me think, make me realize you actually took time to apply to this, and that you care, and even more so, that you really want it, and you’re better than everyone else out there – and don’t just say it… show it. I don’t know how, and I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but you need to find a point of difference. Again… this is only my perspective. There are some places that will love the standard Times New Roman, Resume Objective-filled applications, and that’s fine, I just want no part of it.


Also (I tend to ramble), don’t be afraid. If you know nothing about an industry or a property, but you have a genuine interest, go for it, what’s the worst that could happen? At the end of the day, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a student and you’re up against other students. Nobody has 10 years marketing experience that will blow you out of the water. Transcripts aren’t shared with employers (thank the lord in my case) – you all have one first impression and there’s no reason yours shouldn’t be better than the next person’s. Skills can be taught, talent and attitude cannot be. Use it. 

EJ: For your SPAD Field Trip, you traveled to Dallas to work with the Mavericks. How did that experience help you in your career?

JS: It makes for a really cool story to tell people when you talk about where you went to school and the types of things you’ve done. It’s a real-world experience and your experience will really depend on the people you’re working with / for. For my project specifically, the team at the Mavericks in the room that we were presenting to, weren’t that engaged, if I’m being honest. They heard us out, but they didn’t really talk to us about what we were presenting (maybe they were being526733_100530250116342_1527613181_n polite). What I did take from the whole experience actually took place before the presentation. I can’t speak on behalf of my whole group, but I think we all took some learning from it. Throughout the entire process – months before we actually went to Dallas – the Mav’s were very slow to get back to us and to provide info and even a topic for us to work on. When we finally got it, we started working on it. When we got to Dallas we were told we were on the last day, so we had a few more days to perfect it. On Day 1 in Dallas, they called our prof at the time, the late Steve Harrington, and changed the topic – we were 3 days away. So we had to scrap everything, start over and really buckle down. Remember, we were in our early 20s with the ENTIRE class, on this massive field trip. Teams were coming back from their presentations with Torpedo kegs, unwinding and celebrating (deservedly so) their completion of the project. We had to lock ourselves in a boardroom and get it done. It was the most realistic part of the entire process (looking back). There’s a lot of “Life Comes At You Fast” memes out there – this was a real version of all of them combined. We finished, did our presentation, and then got wrecked like everyone else (we presented on St. Pattys Day… the Gods were looking down on us). It was, and still remains, one of the most unique, real, emotional, unfair, infuriating and intoxicating (on many levels) moments of my young career. It was awesome.

EJ: I’ve heard that at one-point Tie Domi almost killed you! I’d love to hear that story.

JS: I worked on a show called Battle of the Blades where former NHL players were paired with Figure Skaters in a reality / fan-vote kind of show – he was one of the contestants on the show. The show took place at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in that first season (it eventually moved). Part of my job was ensuring our sponsors were not only taken care of, but we had a VIP reception afterwards in the Hot Stove Lounge where our clients would mingle, drink and interact with the skaters. Before getting to the party, I had to personally give a behind-the-scenes tour of Maple Leaf Gardens (poor me…) from a production and historical perspective. One of the fun facts was that Tie Domi refused to park his Mercedes Benz in the VIP parking lot outside with everyone else, but instead requested (demanded) that he have a personal security guard for his car (this was the CBC… those budget asks were not getting approved) or he park it inside in the Zamboni bay. So, naturally, he parked in the building. One night after the show had finished, the party had wrapped up and everyone had left, I was walking back to our production office when I saw his car. He and his girlfriend were walking towards it, heading home for the night. They got in, fired it up and instead of peeling out, he threw it in reverse and floored it (likely doing one of those cool, reverse-and-peel-out kind of things) – the problem, was that I was behind the car and it came straight at me. It would have been a cool way to go – hit by Tie Domi in the bowels of Maple Leaf Gardens, but I managed to get out of the way, and lived to tell the story.

EJ: You started at TSN in 2010, how has your role changed since you started to now?logo-5127942d986fa88da595d549cb899f32

JS: How much time do you have? I started in the marketing department responsible for the promotion of our programming. It was a really cool entry-level job to get your feet wet at the broadcaster. You dealt with every single department and got to know all the show producers. At the time, “Social Media” was still a new shiny tool – nobody at TSN was really responsible for it, or was taking it on, so I just decided to do it. Some of our personalities were already on it (Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger), but that aside, it was kind of mediocre, as it was always someone’s other duties as assigned (i.e. not in their job description). Everyone just kind of let me do it, which was awesome – or so I thought. Since I was the guy who was the ‘voice’ of TSN, it also meant I had to always be on. I was tweeting from SportsCentre, pushing news out from one of the top sports news brands in Canada; I was sending out programming information if live events were going late; I had to deal with angry viewers complaining about us being the Toronto Sports Network – the day started at 6am and ended around 1am. Eventually, a new team was created called Integrated Solutions that took a few people from various departments (Digital, Sales, Production and Marketing – in my case) to form a sales-driven team that was focused on developing programs and projects that weren’t traditional sales ideas (contests, features made with client taglines, etc.) and we weren’t tied to a specific platform. We were charged with coming up with multi-platform solutions to client problems – by any means necessary. As our group grew, and we saw internal and external success (if you’re an avid SportsCentre viewer, we created the RAM 1V1 segment – which has been on-air, and sponsored, for 4 straight years – the only ever sponsored program that runs every single day, for the entire year), our team expanded and eventually took over the Brand Partnerships team. Today, as I mentioned at the start, my team is responsible for all programs and pitches that go to clients – either re actively or proactively – we also have an execution team, that brings our ideas to life once they sell, and we have our production team that produces commercials, content and more, depending what we develop.