Annual Student run conference provides individuals with immense networking opportunities within the sports community
On November 2-5, 2017, I had the great pleasure of attending the John Molson Sports Marketing Conference (JMSM) in Montreal, Quebec.
The conference is entirely student-run from John Molson Business students in Concordia University. In it’s 22nd year, the conference aims to “Create value for university students interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry“.
This year, the speakers included deputy commissioner of the NHL; Bill Daly, Assistant GM of the Chicago Cubs; Shiraz Rehman, President of Sportsnet; Scott Moore, President and CEO of Toronto FC; Bill Manning as well as countless other executives, presidents, authors and analysts from the five major sport leagues. The goals for the panels were to provide a mix of journalistic perspective, independent company perspective as well as an internal team perspective.
The event had seven speaking panels and three workshops, each focusing on specific categories within sports. Several interesting panels, including on the evolution of analytics and Public Relations 101 which was an all-woman panel that addressed key issues including the recent anthem protests in the NFL and how to properly address it.
The workshops were split up, as no more then 30 students were in attendance, creating a more intimate experience ripe with personalized opportunities. One such panel centered on how to win a super bowl bid as Tanya Dreesen, a VP of Partnership and Special Projects of the Minnesota Vikings spoke about how and why a bid was won. Minnesota hosts this upcoming Super Bowl so it was uniquely interesting to get a perspective from an individual within the organization.
A key term echoed by most every professional during the weekend was: Network is your net worth. Jobs in professional sport are few and far between and as a result, creates a very tight-knit community. Fostering positive relationships with these individuals is arguably more important then what is on your resume and your GPA. As such, these professionals stressed the importance of listening and interacting with one another in a way to get your foot in the door in the sports industry.
Over 270 total student delegates attended the conference, from 25 different universities. The industry professionals that were present (24 in total) were speaking pro bono. As such, they were all genuinely interested in providing advice to the students in attendance as they can relate to being in the same position that these current delegates were in today.
Mcgill University Alum Shiraz Rehman, the current assistant GM of the 2016 World Series champions spoke of a particularly entertaining story of him as a young student trying to get exposure from professional baseball teams. He flew down to Florida for the annual GM meetings in MLB. There, he hung around elevators, staircases and played the same hole on the golf course for three hours, with the hopes of ‘elevator pitching’ to these GMs. This persistence helped parlay him into a job for the Red Sox, and eventually to his current job as an assistant GM where he has found immense success.
As President/CEO of Toronto FC Bill Manning stated “A lot of doors are going to close on you, but never give up” which is a phrased that could be said for almost every individual in the sports industry. Persistence pays off!
It is unfortunate that within StFX, there is no sports marketing program of any sort. As well, the absence of a similar conference within the Maritimes is disappointing, however this weekend opened the door for several students to hopefully start the brainstorming process of creating an event alike JMSM to be brought to Nova Scotia and hopefully foster more of a connection for StFX within the sports industry world.
For those interested in other events alike JMSM, Queens University is hosting the 19th annual Queens Sports Industry Conference on March 8-10 in 2018.