Archive for the ‘SPAD Speaks’ Category

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

2014Dec 1

SPAD Speaks #1 – NHL Expansion

By Blog Contributor Tyler Fitch

It is always interesting to see the stance that students take on issues that affect the industry that many hope to one day be a part of. In the first installment of the “SPAD Speaks” series, students were polled on whether or not they supported the NHL expanding to more than 30 teams. The results were very interesting, with the first years having a different opinion than students in second year and older.


Isolating the poll into second years and above, the result becomes almost too close to call, with 48.8% supporting expansion past 30 teams, and 51.2% against it. The second years have just completed their Sport Marketing project on the topic of NHL Expansion, potentially making them more enlightened on the topic than others. A lot of upper years elaborated on their answers, saying that they’d prefer the NHL to explore relocation from struggling markets to more attractive ones (Seattle, Quebec City), rather than through expansion. Other rationale provided by students included dilution of talent, including the process of going through an expansion draft and each team having to give up players.

On the supportive side, by far and away the most popular rationale was summed up by first year Grant Trayner, who said “NHL expansion would be good as it could add a balance to the Eastern and Western Conferences”. The first years were overwhelmingly in favour of expansion, with 69.6% in favour of having more than 30 NHL teams.

Third year Jon Nelsons took a more in-depth look with his opinion on the future of the NHL. “I think the NHL will definitely expand to 32 teams, though relocation will occur first. The NHL ranks last of the big 4 in revenues, and with studies showing Canada is capable of supporting up to 12 teams, the league must strongly consider additional expansion to the north.”

Fourth year Alex Buchanan added “there is a lot of buried talent in the AHL and juniors that are drafted and could play for weaker teams. If they have markets that can support teams once they fix markets like Florida, then I’d agree (with) it.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently downplayed the NHL and expansion saying “even if we decided tomorrow (to add teams), it wouldn’t happen for two or three years”. Even though media has fervently speculated as to where the NHL will expand, it appears that there are no changes imminent. SPAD students as a whole, however, seem to support the notion of expanding to more than 30 teams. Of course, students may just be supportive of expansion due to the hundreds of jobs it would create in the sports industry.

This is the first installment of the SPAD Speaks series. If you have any suggestions for future topics, please e-mail them to .