If your goal is to achieve success in the sport business industry, the Ted Rogers MBA program at Ryerson University is where you need to be. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Ted Rogers School is surrounded by a vast number of the top sport industry firms, executive leaders and innovative trailblazers who are considered to be the best in the business. This is why it is important to place yourself in an environment that will not only challenge you, but will also see you thrive, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

We are living in “unprecedented times.” That is what I keep telling myself when I think about the events that have transpired over the past six months with the unexpected arrival of COVID-19. For the past ten years I had spent my summer months traveling with Team Canada’s National Basketball Program as a Certified Athletic Therapist. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, with sporting competitions on hold and international travel at a standstill, it was necessary for me to explore all of my options as the country faced economic uncertainty.

With year one of my MBA under my belt as a part-time student, I was able to establish a great working relationship with both the faculty, staff and mentors at the Ted Rogers School who are well-connected within the industry, including Brian Cooper, Chair, MKTG and Ted Rogers MBA Sport Stream Special Advisor. In particular, over the past few months I have had the pleasure of working closely with Dr. Cheri Bradish, an Associate Professor at Ryerson and Director of the Future of Sport Lab, who has been a tremendous mentor in my life.

Being mindful that 2020 would present some unique challenges related to the availability of job opportunities and internships being offered to graduate students, Dr. Bradish established a “MBA Sport Focused Experiential Program.” This program was designed to give MBA students a remarkable opportunity to acquire work experience with some of the top industry leaders in sport.

Over an eight-week period, the following organizations welcomed us with open arms: Canada Basketball – the national governing body for basketball in Canada; OverActive Media – a global esports and entertainment company based in Toronto; DEC Sports & Entertainment – a sport marketing partnerships agency; and Sportsnet – recognized as Canada’s #1 sports network and owned by Rogers Sports & Media. Other students engaged as Research Assistants in projects interacting with the Wasserman Media Group and Global Athlete. 

Week after week, we found ourselves tackling a number of research and strategic consulting type projects that focused on areas in marketing, sponsorships, partnerships, team operations, finances and policies, creative content, domestic development and event planning.

While COVID may have prevented in-person meetings, business carried on as usual, and I soon found myself on conference calls with a number of top industry executives. I watched and listened as they navigated through the day’s agenda as each department lead provided brief overviews related to ongoing projects.

My team and I were put straight to work. We drafted business proposals and gathered the latest research to further strengthen and support the projects we were tasked with, and really invested ourselves in our work. 

A foot in the door and an opportunity is what Dr. Bradish provided for my fellow classmates and I, which I am immensely grateful for. Furthermore, in an industry dominated by men, Dr. Bradish’s monumental success in the industry speaks for itself as she continues to break down barriers and stereotypes, and advocates for women looking to take on leadership positions.  Baring witness to this firsthand, I truly believe that we have entered an era that will see more women in leadership positions in the sport industry.

It goes without saying that my life has been blessed with a number of outstanding individuals I am privileged to have in my network. So what’s next? Only time will tell. With every opportunity, I continue to lay down a strong foundation for myself while adding to my personal brand. Team operations and creative content is where I hope to land as I look to further my career in the sport industry.

Posted by Michelle Bell

Michelle Bell is currently completing her MBA with a focus in Sport Business and Innovation. She is a Certified Athletic Therapist at Ryerson University, overseeing the Men's & Women's Basketball Teams and the Women's Hockey Team varsity programs. She has also spent the past 10 years working and traveling with Canada Basketball, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Applied Health Science Degree in Athletic Therapy.