• Brynn Nash

Game, Set, Match: A Master's Degree at UNB Leads to Career Opportunities in the Sports Industry

Updated: Apr 1

UNB has a lot of positive and influential driving factors when attracting potential students and community members. In combination with UNB's prestigious history, beautiful campus, and tight-knit student body, UNB is also home to one-of-a-kind programs, like the Master of Business Administration in Sport and Recreation Management (MBA.SRM). In the program, students combine courses from the Faculty of Management’s MBA program and from the Faculty of Kinesiology. This is a program to which UNB MBA.SRM Alumni Khevyn-Lynn Gormley sought after in 2018 as a pathway to transition into the sports industry. Khevyn graduated with her master’s degree from UNB in April of 2020. Her desire to pursue an MBA was to build a solid business framework, utilizing the professional technical skill sets she had attained during her time working as a data analyst. Khevyn knew that pursuing an MBA would expose her to new aspects of the business world. In addition, an MBA would help improve her communication skills as she had an interest in specializing in customer engagement, sales, and marketing. Knowing that an MBA was the goal, Khevyn also saw an opportunity to bring sport back into her life and career trajectory through the program.

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Khevyn was always a sports fan; hockey was something that she gravitated to growing up in a city with a vibrant hockey fanbase. Ironically being from Calgary though, she was never a Flames fan. Khevyn’s grandma converted her to a Leafs fan from a young age and she remains one now, patiently waiting for them to win their first Stanley Cup since 1967. Nonetheless, sport became an influential factor in her life early on. Khevyn believes that sport can act as a connector between people and a driving force in creating meaningful experiences. Playing competitive soccer throughout her adolescence allowed her to create lifelong friendships and develop skills centered around teamwork and collaboration. Whether someone is playing or attending a sporting event, Khevyn believes sport offers opportunities to experience excitement, joy, and the ability to meet new people and connect with old friends. However, Khevyn notes that playing and attending sports is often a privilege, and many people are not always afforded equal sporting opportunities. That is why Kheyvn strongly encourages those in the industry and those entering it to continue to make it more inclusive and accessible. A topic she was passionate about carrying into her MBA education.

Knowing she wanted to pursue an MBA and continue her passion for sport, she searched for a program that would help her transition into the sports industry. This search led her to the MBA.SRM at UNB. The ability to study business while simultaneously being exposed to the inner workings of the sports industry was a game-changer for Khevyn's career aspirations. In addition, completing a second degree also allowed her to demonstrate a continued commitment to learning. Earning an MBA was an opportunity for Khevyn to meet other students from around Canada and internationally, building a network of connections with people with different work experiences and perspectives on the global economy. Through the MBA.SRM’s internship program, Khevyn was able to seek out a contracted position with Tennis Canada in Toronto in the summer of 2019 and winter of 2020. The position entailed working in their ticket sales department for the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. Khevyn was able to build real-life, applicable work experience through this internship and it was through this work that led to her re-hiring in 2022, where she now works as the Stadium Sales Manager for Tennis Canada.

Advocating for women in sport is a passion of Khevyn's as well. Since starting her professional career, she has worked in a variety of sectors, oil and gas, technology, and sports, all of which have historically been heavily male dominated. She mentions that when you couple that with working in a sales discipline, you tend to apply or hold positions traditionally held by men. There have been changes in recent years to sports as a whole and strides within sales to bring in more women. However, progress does not always mean parity. Khevyn mentions that gender bias can take place directly in hiring practices, but also in subtler ways, such as women facing self-doubt and imposter syndrome working in roles more commonly held by men. Diving into some self-reflection, these are all things Khevyn has felt at times. Until women are represented equally across all fields, she notes it’s natural that women will feel waves of imposter syndrome as they settle into their careers. However, she believes by increasing employer support, resource groups and mentorship, women can thrive by changing how they process such negative emotions. One action Khevyn strongly believes can positively impact gender equity in sport is through the hiring process. And this means not only hiring women into entry-level positions but considering women for positions at all levels of a business. To Khevyn, this is important because as you spread diversity up the chain, diversity of thought can prosper, and real change will begin to occur. In Khevyn’s opinion, women mentoring women is also crucial to breaking into the industry. Through mentorship, women can learn from each other and discover what has been key to their success and movement up the ladder.

Khevyn's best advice to anyone searching for a career in sport or making a pivot in their career path is to look for a discipline you enjoy, whether that be marketing, sales, data analysis, etc. and hone that craft in whatever way possible. She notes that skills like this are transferable across many fields. Once you find something you like, you can bring it into any industry. For her, the pandemic allowed Khevyn to find her passion for sales, and she finds herself grateful to be back in the sports industry continuing to pursue sales managing the National Bank Open’s ticketing department. As a woman in the sports industry, Khevyn encourages you to be an advocate for women in your everyday life, whether that be as a consumer of women-owned brands, watching female sports or listening to women-produced content. Khevyn states it is crucial to support women-focused organizations that elevate women in sports, as even such small actions of support can be the first step to greater change.

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