2013Nov 19

@LU_SPAD Students Visit Montreal for #JMSM13

1460986_602893196438239_1953918669_nOn November 7th, over 50 SPAD students made their way down to Montreal for the 18th annual John Molson Sports Marketing Conference hosted by Concordia University. The conference features a number of themed speaker panels consisting of high-profile industry leaders. Moreover, the conference is the largest student organized business conference in Canada! Students gain a great deal of insight from these panels. Here are some highlights from the weekend.

Panel 1 – Under The Microscope

Moderator- Sunny Pathak, Founder of SOS Media

Speakers

  • Ned Colletti, GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Pierre Boivin, Former President of the Montreal Canadiens
  • Chris Wallace, General Manager of the Memphis Grizzlies
  • Greg Campbell, Former President of the Memphis Grizzlies and SPAD Alumni

The main theme of the panel was decision-making under intense scrutiny. Each speaker spoke about personal experience where they have had to make big decisions in high-pressure situations. A big theme during the discussion was the issue of ownership changes and relocation. Each speaker spoke about the importance of communication and keeping  a consistent organizational culture during a time of change. Wallace and Campbell spoke specifically about the Vancouver to Memphis relocation involving the Grizzlies, and how the organization had a three-year goal of rooting the team within the community. They mentioned the importance of a unified identity during a time of change. Furthermore, Boivin and Colletti spoke about the importance of focusing on winning in big sports markets such as Los Angeles and Montreal. Fans in these type of markets generally don’t have the patience for a rebuild.

The panelists also offered a great deal of advice for students trying to get into the sports industry. Colletti had this to share with the audience: “Stay focused on what your job is, and do it to the best of your ability every day”. Moreover, Boivin added: “Keep your nose to the grind, be good at what you do, and don’t worry about 3 or 4 levels above you.”

The panel was very informative and gave students a wide variety of perspectives in regards to decision-making. Everyone in attendance definitely benefited from the knowledge gained.

Panel 2 – The Growth of Sports Business

Moderator – Kris Mychasiw, Managing Partner at Sprint Management

Speakers

  • Ian Clarke, EVP & CFO at MLSE
  • Johanna Miller, Digital & Social Media Specialist at Reebok-CCM
  • Claire Zovko, Sports Law Attorney
  • Andrew Baker, Director at the Canadian Olympic Committee and SPAD Alumni

The panel discussion focused on the growth of business across different organizations. Clarke shared a wealth of knowledge with the audience, including his “non-textbook” advice. He highlighted the importance of having energy, creating a personal brand, and having passion for the field you work in. He also went on to talk about the significance of networking in the sports industry.

Each speaker offered different perspectives on a variety of topics. Baker, SPAD Alumni, shared a great deal of knowledge about the growth of the Canadian Olympic Committee during his tenure there. He stressed the importance of never turning down an opportunity that could benefit you in following your passion. He spoke of personal experiences where the job he was doing wasn’t always ideal, but knew that in the long run, he would benefit.

Zovko and Miller also shared some good advice about how to grow as a business professional. When talking about advancing your career and building a strong network, Zovko had this to say: “Cultivate those seeds, plant a lot of them, and they will grow”. Essentially stressing the importance of being persistent when trying to make a name for yourself.

Panel 3 – Living on the Wild Side

Moderator: Doug Bishop, Publisher Newschoolers.com

Speakers

  • Felix Rioux, President iF3
  • Brendan O’Dowd, Co-Founder of Ride Shakedown
  • Alex Langevin, National Director of Marketing at Oakley
  • Sebastien Toutant, Professional Snowboarder

The third panel focused on Extreme Sports and their rapid growth in popularity. The panel consisted of well-respected members of the industry. Moderator, Doug Bishop, led a discussion which focused on the careers of each panelist. It was interesting learn about the different paths each had traveled to get to where they are today. It is apparent that their passion for their sport has been a driving force in their individual careers.

The panel also offered a very unique perspective on the business of Extreme Sports. A large portion of the discussion focused on the different challenges currently being faced in the industry. Each speaker stressed the importance of sponsorship in this industry. Langevin spoke about some of the different sponsorship initiatives Oakley has undertaken lately, and some of the challenges he faces on a daily basis. Sebastien Toutant, or “Seb Toots” as he is commonly known by, also spoke about sponsorship and the importance it has had in his career. Overall, the panel did a great job of sharing some insight into a relatively new, and rapidly growing industry.

Panel 4 – Athletes Panel

Moderator: Scott Russell, CBC Sports Broadcaster

Speakers

  • Alex Bilodeau, Olympic Gold Medalist in Freestyle Ski
  • Joannie Rochette, Olympic Bronze Medalist in Figure Skating
  • Benoit Huot, 9-time Paralympic Gold Medalist in Swimming

The captivating Scott Russell led a very special panel which featured some of Canada’s greatest Olympic and Paralympic heroes.

Alex Bilodeau, the first ever Canadian athlete to win Olympic Gold on home-soil, talked about his journey to the Olympics, some of the hurdles he’s faced in his career, and his current plans for the Sochi Olympics.

Similarly, Joannie Rochette spoke about her career as a figure skater. She talked about the challenges and triumphs she faced during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and of the pressure she faced leading up to the Games.

Finally, Benoit Huot, the most decorated athlete on the panel, spoke about the many challenges he has faced as a Paralympic athlete. He talked about how he learned to deal with his disability as an athlete, and the perseverance it took to achieve the level of greatness he has in his sport.

Scott Russell was excellent in getting each speaker to open up about their journey from a young age until today. It was truly inspiring to hear what each athlete had to say. The panel received a loud standing ovation from everyone in attendance.

Panel 5 – Fandomonium

Moderator: John Lu, TSN Reporter

Speakers

  • Kevin Gilmore, EVP and Chief Operating Officer with the Montreal Canadiens
  • Steve Dapcic, Manager of Digital and Experiential Marketing with the Tampa Bay Rays
  • Dan Quinn, Managing Director at NFL Canada

This final panel focused primarily on the in-game fan experience, and some of the current initiatives being used to enhance the overall fan experience at games. John Lu did a tremendous job as moderator, asking well-informed questions and leading a great discussion.

Gilmore talked about the importance of delivering top-value in-game experiences to fans. With advancements in technology, many fans have decided to stay home and watch games. This isn’t a problem in Montreal, where every game has been sold out since the lockout in 2004. Gilmore also talked about the importance of bringing fans closer to the team. Social media has definitely helped in that regard, but it’s the docudrama, 24CH, that really brings fans into the lives of the players. Gilmore talked at length about some of the challenges and opportunities the show has created for his organization.

On the other side of the spectrum, Steve Dapcic spoke about some of the challenges involved with drawing fans to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Dapcic talks about the Florida sports market, and the competition sports teams face within the market. Dapcic explains that the team runs a number of different promotions throughout the year which targets a wide variety of demographics. Dapcic also talked about the importance of social media, and the second-screen viewing experience. He explained some of the strategies the Rays are currently using to tie these into the in-game experience.

Dan Quinn was the only speaker to represent a league, as opposed to an individual team. Quinn talked about a number of different issues currently being faced by the NFL and NFL Canada. Most notably, he spoke at length about some of the strategies being used by the NFL to bring social media and fantasy sports into the in-game experience. Quinn mentioned that many teams now have designated areas at stadiums where fans can go set their fantasy lineups, and get updated information on games going on around the league.

After the panel discussion, Ned Colletti returned to give a final keynote speaker address. Colletti spoke about his own personal journey, and the mountains he has had to climb to get to where he is today. He was very inspiring and captivated the entire room while speaking. It was a great way to end

Overall, the conference was a tremendous success. Everyone who attended the conference gained a great deal of perspective into the industry. Each panel was unique, and the variety offered a wealth of information to those in attendance. Some even took advantage of the weekend to network. JMSM ’13 was a hit!

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