A career in sport all part of the game plan
The degree programs in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management are designed to have graduates employment ready, fully prepared to seek a career path in their field(s) of study. Others obtain the necessary prerequisites while studying with us to gain entry to graduate programs, inching themselves closer to their dream job.
November is Career Month at the University of Manitoba. Over the next handful of weeks, we’ll be highlighting a selection of our alumni, their fascinating careers, and paths they navigated to land The Job.
Bachelor of Recreation Studies and Community Development major Lisa Tinley is the Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Manitoba. She shares more about her current role, the career stops she’s made along with way, and how her foundation of learning as a FKRM student prepared her for it all.
What year did you graduate from U of M and what was your degree/major?
I have two degrees from U of M. I graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts and then a Bachelor of Recreation Studies and Community Development in 1998.
What was your first job upon graduation?
It was with the National Sport Centre Manitoba (NSCM) as the Communications and Marketing Coordinator. I did my work study placement there, and that transitioned into a full-time job. The timing could not have been better. Winnipeg was hosting the Pan American Games, and part of my job was to promote the Manitoba athletes and coaches. I had always wanted a career working in sport, but the opportunity to work in sport with a national organization during a major sporting event provided so many opportunities to learn and develop professional relationships that still exist today. One of the coaches for the U of M track team was my first boss – Alex Gardiner.
What is your current job title, and what are some things you enjoy about your current career?
My current job title is Associate Director with Athletics and Recreation. I think I have one of the best jobs in sport. I really enjoy the wide variety and scope of duties. No two days are ever the same. On a daily basis I can be dealing with athletes, sponsors, facility questions, ticketing, Bison game day preparation, marketing and promotional plans. I’m also lucky to work with a really talented and dedicated team.
You’ve had some interesting positions and jobs along the way to where you are now. What are some highlights you’re proud of? Did you ever think you would be where you are now based on your first job out of school?
My first job at NSCM allowed me to work directly with high performance athletes and coaches. It gave me insight on the dedication, sacrifice and passion it takes by not only athletes, but their coaches, family and community to get to the top of the podium. This is where I began to learn the business side of sport which included sponsorship and funding.
After three years with NSCM, I accepted an eight-month contract to work in Selkirk for the Western Canada Summer Games. It seemed crazy to others that I would leave a full-time job to accept short-term contract, but I was interested in working on a major sporting event. That was an amazing experience because it was such a small staff we were all working on things outside our areas of expertise to ensure the games were a success. I learned so much about working with volunteers and a rural community to host a large event.
I will admit that during my time at Western Canada Summer Games I was the games mascot on a variety of occasions. The funny thing is that we had to borrow the Billy the Bison costume from U of M because we had no money to purchase our own. It has come full circle because Billy the Bison is an important part of Bison Sports promotion on campus.
When my contract was complete for the Western Canada Summer Games, my husband and I bought a local publication – Winnipeg Women magazine. It was a steep, but fun, learning curve and we had a very talented staff that helped make the magazine a success. One of the highlights over the 10 years of owning this business was the creation of Winnipeg Men Magazine. We adjusted the format to be double sided – Winnipeg Women on one side and you flipped it over and Winnipeg Men was on other side. The magazine became known for this format.
We sold the magazine in 2012 and I accepted a position as Community Relations Manager with Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. It was a fantastic opportunity to work on the sponsorship program. I went from asking for money to giving it out! I’m also very proud of launching the IMPACT Team during my time with Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. It was a group of five high performance athletes that traveled the province going out to community events sponsored by MBLL to talk about the influence sport has had on their lives.
How did your education as student in our faculty prepare you for your career path?
What I really like about the degree is the flexibility and opportunity to make it what you want. When I look at my classmates and what they are doing now, there is a whole range of career paths. My education gave me the foundation for working in sport, but that really only gets you in the door. What makes you successful is your desire to work hard, learn from others and build relationships. I feel that my degree helped to instill that work ethic and provided many opportunities for networking and relationship building. I have also been very fortunate in my career to have worked for and with, some outstanding leaders.
What advice do you have for students near graduation as they seek a career in the field of their studies?
My advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity placed in front of you, especially ones that are not paid. They will always open a door or lead to another opportunity. The best example I can give is when I volunteered as the Logistics Chair for the Women’s World Hockey Championships in 2007. This volunteer position involved overseeing transportation, security, housing, food service and team services for the championships. At the time, I was a new business owner and had never been involved with any of the areas I would oversee. But I was able put together a team of volunteers with the expertise to help and it was very successful. The people I met during that one opportunity have led to so many other wonderful experiences and even jobs. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you are willing to take the leap, good things happen.