Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

2017Nov 14

Understanding the Sports Industry – Devon Hogan

Devon Hogan is currently the Group Sales Manager for both the Ottawa Senators and the Canadian Tire Centre. She manages and mentors a team of sales professionals that focus on establishing and maintaining long-term relationships with clients. Their main objective is to bring unique and personal experiences to loyal fans attending games.

On behalf of all SPAD students, we would like to thank Devon for taking the time out of her busy day to answer questions for the sole benefit of students. With 24 years of experience working in the sports industry here is her insight.

The following attachment holds the full phone interview with Devon. The interview contains 30 minutes of useful content provided by an individual with plenty of experience working within the sports industry. 

Q: What does a typical day at work look like for you?

My job starts from the moment I wake up. One of the first things I do is look at my phone to check what has come in overnight to see if there is anything that needs immediate attention. The only thing that would require immediate attention would be in the event that there is an upcoming game and tickets are selling very quickly. If something has come in overnight where somebody needed a few extra tickets and time is of the essence to get those tickets grabbed off of the system, we can get them for the client before somebody else grabs them.


Once I get into the office I deal with my three or four tasks that I plan to do at the very start of the day that are most important to get done first. If anything else comes up along the way as long as I have completed those tasks I know the day has become somewhat of a success. These tasks include following up with bigger groups of people that we have spoken to and they haven’t quite made a commitment to do a game with us, or following up with somebody within the marketing and graphics department where we are waiting on some piece of collateral that is integral to us being able to get something closed and sold.


Because I do manage the department I have other people that report to me. In a lot of cases, their needs take precedence over what my needs of the day are. If they have anything where they are experiencing a problem or they need a quick ‘OK’ approval on something they come to me. We have full-time people that work with us but we also have interns. A lot of the time it is giving them projects to work on so they are helping us along the way. Depending on who’s doing what, sometimes somebody has done something much quicker than you would or conversely you are waiting on something and then it is circling back to find out what is taking so long. There is a lot of internal communication in going back and forth within the office but then it is also making sure that myself along with the other account managers that I work with are finding the times to make sure that you are outbound and going to find those new contacts to keep the business coming in.

Q: When you get a chance to take a step back from work, how do you spend your time? 

Photo of Devon's family.

Photo of Devon’s family.

I am a mom of twins who are seven years old – Finn and Madigan. Between my husband and the kids, that is kind of what my free time consists of. They both play hockey for different teams and associations so they keep me busy running from rink to rink.

Q:  Would you say the sports industry is competitive when it comes to getting a job?

It is definitely competitive. If somebody is looking at getting into the sports industry the big way to get in is through ticket sales. The positions within ticket sales there is generally a lot of turn-over as it is very entry level, they are the people who are just getting started in the sports industry.

Do What Is Best For You

A bunch of people often realize “oh gosh sales is not for me” and then they move on. In some cases, they get in with sales but know they would really prefer to be in marketing or communications. They use ticket sales as a stepping stone to demonstrate their work ethic then proceed to what their true passion is. Other people just realize that the sports industry just isn’t really for them and work for a few short months in whatever capacity and just move onto something different. It is definitely difficult to get in but if you do a bunch of things right it can actually open doors pretty easily.   

Q: As a university student, did you always know what you wanted to do? How did you find your path?

I did – growing up I absolutely loved the NHL and being from Winnipeg I loved the Winnipeg Jets so that was my mission in life, to work within the Jets front office. Back in the day, we didn’t have the same sports management courses that we do now so for me I thought “what can I take in university that will show that I am interested in sport” and kind of set me up for an easier application with the Jets when the time came. I took a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Physical Activity and Sports Studies which is much similar to Human Kinetics. A lot of people that were in those courses actually wanted to be physiotherapists or chiropractors which involved taking a lot of science-oriented courses like anatomy and physiology. It let me put something on my resume that demonstrated that I really did have an affinity for sports.

Stepping Stones

At a very young age, I got on with the Winnipeg Jets on a part-time basis working as game night staff. I was a hostess in a section where I would work game nights and concerts to welcome people into the building, making sure that people got to their seats basically getting my foot in the door as far as the organization knowing who I was. I worked for them on a part-time basis in university for one summer in the ticketing department calling season ticket holders, getting their payments, and trying to relocate their seats for them if they wanted to move. It is not as if I had got my degree and then went in cold turkey to the Winnipeg Jets and applied, I had some building blocks to have the door open for me.

Q: When something didn’t go your way, how did you fix it? Can you provide an example?

Probably the biggest thing was when I had my dream job out of university working for the Winnipeg Jets and then two seasons later the team is gone and so was my dream. All I wanted to do was work in the NHL and I couldn’t do that at that point in time so I took the opportunity with the Manitoba Moose. I got sales experience where I wasn’t working within that capacity with the Jets when I first started out so having that sales experience is what opened the door for me to be able to come here to the Senators. Staying in sport was important if I wanted to get back into the NHL then working my way up from there.

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

When you are growing up you don’t hear anybody say “I want to be a salesperson”. Being in this industry now for 24, coming up to 25 years of working within sport, most of it as an actual salesperson, that is not what I set out to do and I didn’t think that would be something that I would end up doing. I honestly kind of found it by accident and realized I was really good at it. It is about selling the building, giving an experience to fans and building relationships with people which I absolutely love which allowed me to get where I am.

Q: What do you love most about your job and what would you say is the coolest part about working for the Ottawa Senators?

Fans celebrate in the first period as the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals at the Canadian Tire Centre. Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Fans celebrate in the first period as the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals at the Canadian Tire Centre. Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Love What You Do and It Will Never Feel Like Work

I think the coolness is that you work for a team that is well loved within your community, that a lot of people envy the position. What I love most about my job is the satisfaction of those nights where the building is really full and we have between three and four thousand people attending the game that are there as part of a group. There is a huge sense of accomplishment knowing that we are filling up the building. It is also the little things where you are talking with somebody and their dad is coming out to celebrate his 90th birthday and there is a whole bunch of family coming in from wherever and you are enabling them to get the best seats possible – maybe sending our mascot Spartacat over to give a high-five and a happy birthday to create some memories for our clients.

It’s About Making Memories

When I first started in the industry it was all about selling tickets and people would ask “what are the discounts” or “what are the savings”, that was good enough for people. Over the years that has really morphed into people still wanting a savings because they are a group but also what extras can they get as well as what can make it more memorable. We are always tasked with what can we do so that they aren’t just coming to watch a hockey game but having an experience over and above that.

Q: What are your major accomplishments within the organization? Any major highlights of working for the Ottawa Senators?

Below is a video of an in-game recognition for one of the large groups the Ottawa Senators attends to. 

We have been the number one group sales team in the league for the last two seasons running. Over and above that, for the last, I would say 14 to 15 seasons we’ve been in the top 5 in the NHL. We are constantly delivering on the number of tickets sold per game but also the revenue that you are driving with that. There are a number of teams in the United States that will sell a lot of tickets but they might only be selling them for six or seven dollars whereas our net value on a group ticket is around the forty dollar mark which makes it exponentially tougher to sell a lot of tickets and still try to get a good deal out of it – I’m really proud of that.


Q: How important is it for applicants to keep a level of professionalism on their social media? Is this something that your organization looks into when hiring?

For me, when I have somebody who has applied for a position the first thing that myself and members of my team will do is check out their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, basically creeping the person to see what it looks like.

Your Personal Brand

As much as you think Facebook is private it is very much public. We have had people that would go on to check someone’s social media to look at their pictures and it is all just partying. Having said that, I try to keep it in context that obviously this is their personal page and that everyone likes to have fun but I think there is a fine line. The only other thing I would say about that is there have been different people who have worked for us both interns and full-time that have made their opinions known on social media about the team but they are once again speaking personally, however, being a representative of the team whether it is during an internship or actually working for the team, you are still a part of the team and we have had people lose their positions over comments made socially so it is something that is certainly watched.

Q: What factors would separate one candidate from another? What specific things do you look for in applicants?

For us being in Ottawa, one thing that always jumps out on a resume is someone who is bilingual. The next one for me is people showing leadership, for example in different things they have done whether it be through school or extracurricular activities such as taking the lead on different projects or someone who was the captain of a team or have coached. I firmly believe that when you are in sales you need to be a leader.

Q: Finally, What advice do you have to offer to those applying for jobs within the sports industry?

Experience, Experience, Experience

Get experience whether it be through volunteering or once you have a contact be sure to keep in touch with that person. This is your foot in the door. Never be shy about asking for an introduction because if you have one contact they might know someone who can help you get to your main goal.

Build Relationships

Asking for their advice and really trying to make connections within the sports industry is important. Use those connections to help you along the way because that is really what is going to differentiate yourself from anyone else.

Keep in Touch

Follow-ups are really important as well especially when somebody has interviewed you and following up whether it be later on that day or at the very latest the next morning just thanking the person for their time, opening up that door to having any other questions, I always appreciate that.

Once again, we would like to thank Devon for her time in giving some helpful advice to our students. We wish Devon and her team all the best in the 2017-18 season, Go Sens Go!

2017Nov 14

Matthew Wilkes Profile

By: Zef Kraja | November 14, 2017

For this profile I was lucky enough to interview a recent SPAD graduate and close friend of mine, Matthew Wilkes, who I had the pleasure of playing alongside for the Laurentian Men’s Soccer team. Matt WilkesBelow, Matthew tells us a little bit about himself, his experience in SPAD, his life after graduating, and leaves us with some important advice for the future. I’d like to thank Matt for taking time out of his day to help me with this profile as well as letting me share it with the class. He made it a very easy and enjoyable process.

Q&A with Matthew Wilkes:

ZK: Tell me a little about yourself, where you’re from, and where you grew up, hobbies of yours etc.

MW: I was born in Ottawa before moving to Whitby at a young age where I currently live now. I grew up playing every sport but primarily excelling at soccer and hockey. Hobbies include traveling, being outdoors, hanging out with friends and playing sports. I love being active and being in a team environment as much as possible.

ZK: How did you hear about SPAD and why did you choose it as a program?

MW: My guidance counsellor and high school soccer coach Tom Plommer was the one to notify me about the school and program. Mr. Plommer is a Laurentian Alumni of Human Kinetics and played four year of soccer at Laurentian. I chose SPAD because of my love for sport and the opportunity to receive a business degree. With my dream to work for a professional sport organization, I believed SPAD would create the most opportunities for me to achieve this goal. Knowing SPAD was a co-op program I knew this would be a great opportunity to receive valuable industry experience.

ZK: What were your aspirations first coming into the program and how did they change throughout the years?

MW: Coming into Laurentian I was extremely driven to focus heavily on sport management and operations with the hope of one day working in hockey operations and promotions for the Toronto Maple Leafs. As time when on and I completed Sports Marketing and Tom Blake’s Sales course, I was sold. I knew right there and then that Sales was the direction I wanted to focus on and it was the right position for me.

ZK: How did you spend your time at Laurentian (extracurricular), as well as some of
your favourite memories?Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 4.07.14 PM

MW: I spent majority of my time playing soccer for the university team, hanging out with friends and playing as many intermural sports as possible. My favourite university memories were (1) in my second year playing number one ranked Carleton at home and beating them 2-1 in a thrilling fast paced match. (2) Scoring my first OUA goal at home against Trent University. (3) Presenting my industry consulting project to the Vice President of Business Development at the Baltimore Ravens organization.

ZK: Who do you work for now and what’s your position there?

MW: I work for IMG (International Management Group), I am a Sales Executive for the North American Arts & Entertainment and Culinary division.

ZK: Take me through the process of getting the job. What internships or opportunities lead to this?

MW: I obtained the position from networking throughout the office and completing two internships with the organization. First internship as the Operations and Client Services Intern for Taste of Toronto and Professional Bull Riding. My second internship was the Operations Intern for The Big Feastival. Sitting down with higher up executives and directors at IMG, helped me gain an understanding on what it takes in the entertainment industry and acquired knowledge on tips and tricks from there experience.1200px-IMG_(business).svg

ZK: What lessons from SPAD have you learned that are helping you in this job or helped you in the job search process?

MW: SPAD has equipped me with the knowledge and experience to succeed in the business world. With constant presentations dating back to first year, it had prepped me to control a room and present ideas and findings to higher up executives in my organization. Having the confidence to own the room and present ideas has helped me excel in my current position.

ZK: What are your aspirations for the future?

MW: My aspirations for the future are to get into Strategic Partnerships. Whether it be for a sport organization or consumer goods company such as PepsiCo or Procter & Gamble. I want to work on the sponsorship side to create memorable and exciting partnerships and activations in years to come.SPAD-LOGO-4

ZK: Any advice you could give to current SPAD students?

MW: Don’t be afraid to take an unpaid internship, experience is extremely valuable in the sport and entertainment industry. Continue to work hard and always look to improve.
Reach out to alumni and industry professional to network and gain a better understanding of different companies and departments.

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 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

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 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

Step by Step, Brick by Brick

Step by Step, Brick by Brick

By Nick Porter

Sweat and tears combine with winning comes championships. All starts with hard work and ends in glory. Michael Jordan didn’t come from out of nowhere, he had a strong foundation from his parents, mentors and coaches just like a former SPAD grad, Jan Egert to succeed in their chosen profession. How can a young boy from Switzerland who only knew a handful of English words turn out to be an assistant GM of a well-known OHL team, the Ottawa 67’s? I will tell you.

I interviewed Jan and I will take you back through his journey from moving to Canada at the age of twelve, to finding out what the Sports Administration program at Laurentian was, to finally getting a call from the James Boyd to become an assistant GM of the Ottawa 67’s.

jan 1

For someone to move across town can be hard but imagine moving to a different country, not even knowing their language. That’s what this SPAD grad did. He came over from Switzerland at the age of 12 and lived in Ottawa. He loved the game of hockey and soccer. As he was in grade 12, not knowing what to do after high school something happened. A young lady came to visit his school. She came and “presented Laurentian University and the SPAD Program at my high school in Grade 12. She asked this situational question, where we had to raise our hand if it applied to us – my hand was in the air the entire time – until she turned to me and said you need to turn to page 25 and read the paragraph about Sports Administration”. Jan did and he knew right there that he was going to Laurentian University in the fall. During his time at Laurentian he helped out with the Switzerland junior team as they defeated Denmark in one of his favourite hockey memory, as seen above and below.

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With working with Switzerland, I asked how did you get into scouting in the first place. He said “Scott Campbell was the video coach of the Sudbury Wolves in our third SPAD year, and learning from him it intrigued me.” After those experiences he got a shot as a communications intern with the Ottawa Senators. “When he was there it really opened his eyes afterwards; as Jan got to look behind the scenes, and the late Bryan Murray shared some great advice.”

Upon Graduation in SPAD and getting his MBA at Laurentian as well, he became a scout for the Mississauga Steelheads for several years. This is where he met his biggest mentor, James Boyd, now the GM of the Ottawa 67’s. “James took a chance on a very green 22-year old MBA student; and was willing to instill his knowledge in me along the way. I now look at the business of hockey completely different now than I did back then, have grown and learned countless valuable lessons; and so much of that is because of the guidance and mentorship from James along the way.”

Several years learning from James, the winning started happening. He was won an OHL Eastern Conference Championship with the Mississauga Steelheads. He climb the so-called ladder and was named assistant GM of that team.

jan 3

Then it all came back to earth, he left the Mississauga Steelheads, this past summer. Had no idea what he wanted to do. He flew back home to meet up with some contacts and something unexpected happened. He got a call from his old mentor……..


James Boyd. James Boyd called me to go work for the 67’s. “I knew joining the Ottawa 67’s was the perfect fit for me. It kind of felt like coming full circle – my first ever Jr. Hockey Game that I watched was in Ottawa; so coming ‘home’ just felt right.”

Jan knew right there that every step that he took in his life and every brick that he laid, it was all worth it. The long nights, countless hours in a car to drive to a local community rink to watch the game of “HOCKEY”. All the hard work finally PAID OFF.

*Attached below is the full interview*

Questions with Jan Egert

Who is Jan Egert?

29 year old Switzerland native, former Laurentian Voyageur Men’s Soccer player; SPAD & MBA graduate; current Asst. GM of the Ottawa 67’s Hockey Club.

What values have you held true to yourself since day one?

Learn how to walk before you try to run; trust the process, and don’t cheat the game. Everyone wants to get to the top as quickly as possible, but to be successful – you need to appreciate each additional stone that you lay on your professional foundation every step of the way. Don’t try to cheat your way to the top, you’ll stumble and fall. I’ve never seen anyone successfully jump up a ladder – but I’m quite confident that you can climb to the top with a plan in place.

What made you pick Laurentian University and what was your favourite memory of SPAD?

Funny enough, a young lady that presented Laurentian University and the SPAD Program at my high school in Grade 12. She asked this situational question, where we had to raise our hand if it applied to us – my hand was in the air the entire time – until she turned to me and said “you need to turn to page 25 and read the paragraph about Sports Administration”. I had no clue where Laurentian was, or what the SPAD program was until that day; and later that night – I explained to my parents that going to Sudbury was best for me.

What made you want to become a scout/GM?

I was always a hockey fan, but I had no idea where I’d even have gotten started as a scout, or within hockey operations. Scott Campbell was the video coach of the Sudbury Wolves in our third SPAD year, and it intrigued me; maybe that’s what started it. My communications internship with the Ottawa Senators really opened my eyes afterwards; as I got to look behind the scenes, and the late Bryan Murray had some great advice – which kind of triggered the passion and showed me the path of where to start. After that, it’s all hard work.

What is the hardest part about your job?

I thought the player acquisition part of the job would be easy; but it is tough. There are few things more difficult than the phone call to a player to advise him that he is no longer part of your team.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Winning. The emotion that comes with winning – be it at the World Jr. Tournament in Montreal when we defeated Denmark in a must-win game after trailing 3:0 early; or winning the OHL’s Eastern Conference Championship with the Mississauga Steelheads. There are countless hours and resources invested from players, staff, management and coaches that goes into something like that – so to see everyone get rewarded for their efforts is worth every ounce of sweat.

Tell me about your journey to becoming the assistant GM of the Ottawa 67’s

It all moved pretty quick this summer after my departure from the Mississauga Steelheads. I was in Europe to meet with a few contacts about opportunities overseas; but once my phone rang with James Boyd on the other end – I knew joining the Ottawa 67’s was the perfect fit for me. It kind of felt like coming full circle – my first ever Jr. Hockey Game that I watched was in Ottawa at the then-Civic Centre; so coming ‘home’ just felt right.

What is your greatest accomplishment in work and in life?

I’m not sure – I don’t like to talk about my own accomplishments. Hockey is a team sport; and the business of hockey is a team sport. I’ll likely revert to moving to Canada as a 12-yr old boy; and speaking about 10 words of English at that time. To be able to grow, and move to a different part of the world, and adjust to be successful – that’s likely my biggest accomplishment so far in life.

Who is your mentor/role model and what lessons did you learn from him?

There are a number of role models that have greatly impacted my life and my professional journey – but I would be hard-pressed to go beyond James Boyd, now the GM of the Ottawa 67’s. James took a chance on a very green 22-year old MBA student; and was willing to instill his knowledge in me along the way. I look at the business of hockey completely different now than I did back then, have grown and learned countless valuable lessons; and so much of that is because of the guidance and mentorship from James along the way.

Have you had any failures in life and if so, how did you overcome it?

Everyone has had failures; some small and some much tougher to swallow.
In the end, you have to believe in the process; you have to believe in yourself, your abilities and that you are in fact doing things the right way.
If you can do that – then things will work out in the long-run; facing adversity along the way will actually benefit you once you do reach your full potential.

Thank you for taking your time to let me interview you today, it’s much appreciated.

Thank you.                                                 

2017Oct 31

The Beginning

Eric Wass

Assistant Coach/Laurentian Voyageurs Men’s Soccer


“You’ll never play the game of soccer again,” the doctor said as he looked at my knee, I thought it was over, but it was just the beginning…


This was a phrase that Eric Wass never wanted to hear.


However, this being a large reason as to why I traveled halfway around the world from Helsingborg, Sweden to Sudbury. A unique opportunity in the classroom and with the Laurentian Men’s Soccer team was something I wasn’t going to pass up.


At just 3 years old, my father introduced me to the sport and ever since I have remained involved. Playing for 17 years, I have plenty of experience and games under my belt. So much so, that I have been coaching for the last 4 years and counting.


A few years ago, an off-field knee injury put me on the sideline temporarily. Shortly after returning to the game, a few re-injury setbacks and irreversible knee damage ultimately led to my soccer (playing) retirement.


Giving up something that you love, are passionate about, and is a vital part of your life can be detrimental, heartbreaking, and difficult to accept. Initially, it was extremely challenging and difficult to give up something that has been a part of my entire life. But, soon realized that I could still play a crucial part within the gam22883158_2120043781354931_309238873_ne of soccer.


I quickly transitioned into my next role within the world of soccer and joined the coaching staff of my former club team. To this day, I haven’t looked back.



Despite not being able to play the game, the ability to coach is a huge advantage to bettering my future career. With a dream of being a professional coach in the English Premier League, I need to be experienced. Thus, starting to coach at such a young age will give me at least 15 years of experience others applicants likely won’t have. Additionally, obtaining the required licenses needed to coach at different levels now will also give me an edge up on other coaches. As well as provide me with a greater understanding of rules and techniques for coaching.


Johan Carlsson, my former coach, told me, “you are better in the head than the feet.” Implying that I have a greater knowledge of the sport itself than my ability to play the game. Many would take this an insult, but I took it as a compliment, knowing that I have the skill set and ability to succeed at the coaching level. This could be contributed to the countless hours I spend reviewing tactics and strategies along with spending a lifetime around the sport.


A successful, four-year coaching career with the Kullavagen BK, an under 21 club in Sweden, and I was interested in taking the next step.


But the real question: Why Laurentian?


The cliche “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” proved beneficial for me and landing at Laurentian. My father, a professional women’s soccer coach in Sweden, was able to draft the daughter of LU’s Athletic Director. In turn, putting me in touch with the “right person” to advance my coaching career at the university level. Needless to say, this was something I was not expecting.


After learning more about the university itself, the soccer team, and finding a desired program of study (sports psychology), I choose to attend Laurentian University. Before long, I was packing my bags and heading to Canada for a new adventure.


13432222_1342227075792511_2780642078468735267_nThe opportunity to help coach at the collegiate level is a step up from my previous coaching position in Sweden. But, also brings along a new perspective and interaction with the athletes.

Playing the role of both student and coach brings a unique set of interaction with athletes such as coaching friends and classmates. When in a coaching role, this is not an optimal situation as you are looking to establish yourself with authority and on a hierarchy level. Which, can be difficult to develop and take time but I have slowly been adapting to this. Throughout the duration of the season thus far, I have had to prove myself to the athletes with my knowledge of the game to gain the desired respect, authority, and position that I deserve as a coach. I have found that the Canadians are more respectful to their coaches than compared to Sweden.

Regardless of the country I coach in, the message I present to my athletes on game day remains the same. “Han du kommer möta där ute vill vara bättre än dig. Han kommer kämpa röven av sig för att vara just det. Min fråga är: kommer du låta den jävlen vara bättre än dig? Vad fan kom du hit för då?” Or as we can better understand it, “The guy you will be against out there today wants to be better than you. He will fight his ass off to be just that. My question is: will you let that sucker be better than you? What the hell did you come here for then?”


Eric Wass / Contributor