Back to the beginning

A decade after helping kickstart it, an alumni returns to QSIC

Katrina Galas was part of the first, unofficial contingent of Queen’s Sports Industry Conference (QSIC) delegates.

Back in 2005, Galas — now a brand manager at Sportsnet — joined a group of Commerce and Physical Education students who travelled to Toronto to gain a better understanding of the sports industry.

In addition to visiting four businesses, including Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the group received on-court access to a Toronto Raptors game that evening.

Galas, Comm ’05, returned to her alma mater last weekend for a radically revamped QSIC, taking part in a “Breaking into Sports” panel discussion last Friday afternoon.

Since graduating, Galas has worked in marketing for Nike, the Vancouver Olympic Committee and other companies. At Sportsnet, her job sees her finding ways to increase the value of the network through marketing opportunities.

The conference gave her a chance to return to her roots — and to discuss her chosen industry with current students and QSIC delegates.

Galas said university programs could place a greater emphasis on the relationship between the sports and business worlds.

“It’s not in the consideration set right now of many people in the traditional sense of career progression or career choices,” she said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity to grow and [QSIC has] really set the tone for that here — this year in particular.”

Galas said businesses could interact more effectively with students at the university level — something that could potentially grow the Canadian sports industry.

“There is a lot of potential still in this country in the industry, compared to the [United] States, so how can we work together in unison to leverage the assets of the school and the professors and the student bases,” she said.

In addition to the business experience she gathered at Queen’s, Galas spent 2005-06 as a winger on the women’s hockey team.

She said her previous sports experience wasn’t a necessity for her to enter the sports industry — but it provided a definite benefit, along with networking skills and a finely honed work ethic.

Part of the success Galas has enjoyed has come from where she has worked. Both the sports and business industries are predominantly male, she said, but she’s found herself working at companies where gender wasn’t heavily considered.

“It depends on the culture of the organization. I would say that in most of the places I’ve worked, it hasn’t even crossed my mind, to be honest, that there isn’t a [gender] balance,” she said. “Some places, you notice it more, but for us, that’s part of our jobs as leaders in the industry to make sure that isn’t a barrier.”

Galas said the industry will continue to evolve, and it’s key to keep pushing the involvement of women in the sports business.

“I know for myself, I have both male and female mentors, but if those female leaders didn’t exist, it would be hard to source inspiration that was female-led,” she said.

“Whether it’s social media as a trend, data analytics as a trend or women in leadership as a trend — if it’s a trend, then that means it’s growing, so to jump on board and help facilitate it and do your part is important.”

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