2017Nov 14

From a Basement to the World

For some people the game of golf can be a constant struggle to keep the ball in play and out of the hazard that seems to act as a golf ball magnet. For the world’s best however, it can be a game of inches. Dave Makarucha has dedicated the last 15 years of his working career to creating the best possible shaft for golfers everywhere.

Gawain Robertson (Left) and Dave Makarucha (Right), Co-founders of ACCRA Golf

Gawain Robertson (Left) and Dave Makarucha (Right), Co-founders of ACCRA Golf

                With a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfred Laurier University, Dave Makarucha eventually found himself working at Wilson Sports as a logistics supervisor. In 2002, he left Wilson Sports and started his own company with his now long-term business partner, Gawain Roberson. Together they started PGMC and became the distributer of United Sports Technology (UST) for the Canadian market.

                Originally working out of their respective basements in Kingston, Ontario, Dave and Gawain fostered relationships with custom club fitters across the country. In 2004 they purchased the brand ACCRA from UST with the idea of developing a high-performance golf shaft dedicated to club fitters. 14 PGA tour players put an ACCRA shaft in their bag in the first week. ACCRA Golf shafts have been in the bags for over 50 PGA Tour wins and was used by Luke Donald while he was the #1 ranked golfer in the world in 2011.

ACCRA has grown and continues to be a world leader in the high-end graphite golf shaft market. They are the world’s largest aftermarket distributer of golf shafts with club fitters located primarily across the United States and Canada.

Justin MacDonald and Ken Thompson of ACCRA Golf

Justin MacDonald (Left) and Ken Thompson (Right) of ACCRA Golf

ACCRA also works with Lee Porter Golf Solutions who is located in Margaretting, England. Lee is an integral part of the ACCRA business model and acts as ACCRA’s distributer for Europe and the Middle East, while the main office in Kingston, Ontario services the Americas, Australia, South Africa, and Japan.

Dave and Gawain recently started a relationship with True Temper to be their exclusive after-market distributer. True Temper Golf has a history spanning over 100 years and is one of the world’s leaders in steel golf shafts. With this new partnership ACCRA is set to expand bigger than ever before and take the world of golf by storm.

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 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.