For this former pro athlete, blending sports, business and fun is all in a day’s work
July 19, 2018
How do you make sure that every Toronto game feels like a win for the fans, as well as for the team’s corporate partners? It’s not as easy as it looks and it requires coming up with fresh ideas for marketing campaigns, while maintaining a strong strategic focus.
As a manager with the global partnerships team at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Tyla Flexman (MBA ’17) works with corporate partners to design campaigns that bring brand messages to life for fans.
“While our sports teams are working hard to win championships, my team is working on driving the organization and our partners forward,” she explains. “I love how I get to work with top brands every day and create something that captures the passion of our fan base.”
She scored this exciting position by networking, having a strong record in sports and showcasing her skills in management and strategic thinking, which she refined during her time at the Rotman School of Management.
From the field to the classroom
It seems like Flexman was always destined to work in sports.
As an undergraduate student, she balanced her studies at the University of British Columbia with an athletic career with the Canada’s national women’s field hockey team, an experience that took her to the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 Pan-American Games.
“I knew that having an MBA would help me move up in the field and it would also give me options to pivot into any industry.”
—Tyla Flexman, MBA ’17
“I really enjoyed the work, but I realized that I needed a stronger foundation in business and management,” she describes. “I knew that having an MBA would help me move up in the field and it would also give me options to pivot into any industry.”
Armed with the knowledge that Rotman was a top business school — and with some encouragement from her sister Jennifer Flexman (Morning MBA’ 15), a recent grad — she pursued an MBA at the School.
Her experience as an MBA student helped her finds ways to blend her background in sports with business best practices.
Notably, completing the Leadership Development Lab program gave her tangible advice on how to lead teams effectively. Another highlight of the program was serving as president of the Rotman Sports Business Club and hosting Toronto Raptors President and GM Masai Ujiri at the School for a talk on leadership. As well, her elective classes in strategy, leadership and innovation made her a well-rounded and competitive candidate on the job market.
Going after and getting her dream job
When it came to landing her dream job, Flexman went back to her roots — and network — in sports. In her first year of the MBA, she connected with key contacts at Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment and eventually secured a summer internship developing partnerships for the Raptors 905, an NBA G league basketball team based outside Toronto.
The stint turned into a full-time opportunity, after the MBA. Today, Flexman works with major Toronto teams — including the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto Football Club and the Argonauts — and with partners across all industries, from consumer packaged goods companies to banks to retailers in developing innovative campaigns that appeal to fans.
“I love how I get to work with top brands every day and create something that captures the passion of our fan base.”
—Tyla Flexman, MBA ’17
Still, she doesn’t feel too far removed from Rotman.
“The job is very similar to business school, because every day is like working on a different case study,” she says.
Having just accepted a seat on the board of directors for Field Hockey Canada, she plans to return to Rotman to complete an Executive Program on Not-For-Profit Governance Essentials. As an alumna, she feels she plays an important role in supporting current students. She returned to the School for the MBA Class of 2019 program kickoff to speak and offer some encouragement to prospective students.
“For anyone on the job hunt or trying to establish a career path, my advice is to be authentic and patient,” she says. “No career is a straight line. If you keep a growth mindset, good things will happen.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »
BANNER PHOTO: By No machine-readable author provided. Chensiyuan assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons