On Nov. 7, the Brock University Sports Management department held its fourth annual Professional Development Conference Day for the Professional Engagement for the Sport Industry (SPMA 1P94) course.
The Sports Management program at Brock over the recent years has been able to produce some top students that have gone to become valuable members of sport organizations, specifically in the Toronto area. Kyle Dubas, a 2007 Brock graduate of the Sports Management program is one of the biggest known names. After graduation, Dubas worked in the Ontario Hockey League as the general manager for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and has worked his way up to becoming assistant general manager of the more famously known Toronto Maple Leafs. Andrew Tannish, another Brock SPMA has also worked his way up to becoming the assistant general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Those two men have received the biggest recognition amongst graduates from Brock; however, through the SPMA conference, students are able to learn about other graduates that have advanced into roles with sport organizations. Some other organizations that have Brock alumnus as employees include Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the Toronto Argonauts.
For this year’s conference Dr. Julie Stevens and her team of third year students were able to put together an event that was filled with great speakers, most Brock alumnus. Guest speakers included, Joe Cote – Associate Director of University Advancement at McMaster University; Katelyn Sander and Chris Verlaan – Co-Presidents, Core Sport Communication; Victoria Wikston – Director, Business Development of Niagara Falls Tourism; Kojo Mensah – Program Coordinator for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for the Government of Ontario; Manpreet Pandha – Acting Director, Partnership Marketing Services for the Toronto Blue Jays; Scott McRoberts – Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Toronto (Scarborough campus); Adam Halbertadt – Account Manager, New Business for MLSE; and Eric Holmes – Director of Communications for the Toronto Argonauts.
The day got started at 8:15 a.m. with registration and then an hour keynote presentation by Deldra Dionne – Director, Partnership and Business Strategy, Legal Associate for Cimoroni and Company. Following that four of the eight speakers presented in the morning, and the other four in the later afternoon. Each speaker presented in a Thistle room in front of many well-dressed first year Sport Management students.
“I would have loved to have this in my first year,” said Brock alumni Adam Halbertadt. “A thing Brock has done great is getting alumni to come back to talk and give back. There’s so many of us across the [sport] industries that have gone on to do pretty cool things.”
Students were presented with real life problems that each speaker has dealt with when getting their current positions. Speakers told stories of how they got to where they are, and future steps they hope to take to grow within the sports industry. A word that every speaker touched on throughout the day was “networking”.
“It’s tremendously important,” said Eric Holes, also a Brock alumni. “Coming from experience, and what I talked to the class about, you need to take every advantage you can when it comes to networking, placements and real world experience.”
“It’s so important,” Halbertadt said when talking about networking. “For me, networking got me where I am and having the opportunity to come back and talk about the importance of that is great.”
Holmes even shared two Grey Cup rings he has while working with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. For most of the students, it was the first time they got to see and hold a professional championship ring. It showed that hard work can lead to tremendous success.
Halbertadt told a great story about former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, and his time as an intern with the former Montreal Expos. When Anthopoulos began as an intern, one of his tasks was to get coffee. Not the best job, but “Anthopoulos made it a priority that he was the best coffee getter and he did it with a smile,” said Halbertadt.
Stories like that give first-year students an idea of what they are in for once they get into the workforce after graduating. Also, appreciating whatever position you are in and working hard can lead you to a even better position, like Anthopoulos has shown.
“They need to do everything they can to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Halbertadt when asked what students need to understand with future jobs. “Some of the stuff I have dealt with is sale booth at games, and not being afraid to talk to people.”
“Our students in Sports Management are energetic and driven students that enjoy sport,” said Dr. Julie Steven, the professor for SPMA 1P94. “As first year students, coming to an event like this, the exposure to all that the sports industry offers around the job market and potential career paths is interesting and a valuable opportunity to learn about it all.”
A lot of the help to get this event organized came from third year students of the Sports Management program. Students that were able to participate in this event during their first years, and also give back to the newer Sport Management class. It was a chance for the older students to experience how to put an event together for success.
“When you’re a professor in our program, you teach your students a lot about content and material,” said Stevens. “It is not until they are actually out doing something, that has an impact and takes route. It’s great because we have students that want to give back.”