In Conversation With: MLSE

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) is home to storied sports franchises such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and Toronto F.C. YMA caught up with Tyla Flexman and Alex Forani of MLSE to gain a little insight on their roles, the sports and enterntainment industry, and MLSE's Global Partnerships Case Competition.

YMA: Can you describe your role/position at MLSE?

Tyla: I work in partnership development in our global partnerships division. So I meet and work with a variety of brands to develop marketing programs that use our teams to deliver on their business objectives. There’s a lot of research, making sense of market research and fan data and coming up with unique and creative ways to authentically integrate a brand within our team environment.

Alex: I also work in MLSE’s Global Partnerships team, but I am on the Marketing side of our department.  I manage a roster of five of our corporate partners and am responsible for bringing their brands to life through the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors.  I spend my days working directly with some of our largest partners and working together to build our programs that drive results for their brands and ours. 

YMA: Why did you get into sports business?

Tyla: I have always been drawn to Sports & Entertainment, a passion industry that is the fabric of our communities. Personally sport has always been an integral part of my life growing up and fortunately led me to an athletic career. Once that ended I wanted to maintain that connection with sports.

Alex: Like Tyla, sports has always been an integral part of my life.  In 2010 I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Vancouver Olympics (which was a dream come true).  I feel in love with working in an arena and being surrounded by such adrenaline.  Coming home from Vancouver I knew I had to find a position in the industry.


YMA: What is a typical day like for you at MLSE?

Tyla: I meet with marketing teams for different brands, I research industries, I sit in brainstorms to ideate partnership programs for a brand, I create pitches, I meet internally with our various departments to bring an idea to life (ticketing, VIP, food and beverage, business intelligence, team operations, game operations etc) and I pitch programs to brands. I do all of this with an amazing team of colleagues who works really hard together and has a ton of fun.

Alex: A typical day is so hard to put into words. One day I could be sitting at my desk answering emails and calls all day, the next I could be running around the arena executing a partner event, and the next day I could be on set for a video shoot.  I love the variety – keeps me on my toes!

YMA: Is there anything specific that sets the Sports and Entertainment industry apart?

Tyla: I think we get the advantage of working in a really fun industry. Sports & Entertainment make people happy, they bring joy to people’s lives and we get to have fun with that. I think that translates to all aspects of our job and I feel lucky to work in this industry.

Alex: SO MANY THINGS!  For me, what sets our industry apart is the people.  I work with so many passionate, smart and high energy colleagues.  Not all industry’s get the opportunity to spend time around such amazing people.  I feel blessed.

YMA: What was the coolest experience or project that you have worked on at MLSE? 

Tyla:  Working on this recruiting program is definitely one of them! We get to engage with top universities in Canada and watch talented students create new ideas and concepts in a relevant way that’s identical to our day to day jobs. It’s really fun to engage with students and I love getting to share what we do and how creative, data driven and business minded our jobs are.

Alex: One of my favourite projects to work on was our renewed partnership with Sun Life Financial.  I was given the opportunity to work very closely on their renewal, including their commitment as the Toronto Raptors first ever jersey patch partner.  This was an exciting one as it was a first for the organization and I loved being a part of the team that built out their new strategy.  Their new partnership is a true 360 degree approach that involves cause marketing, athlete endorsers and grassroots initiatives (to name a few).   


YMA: Are there any popular misconceptions about working at MLSE that you would like address?

Tyla: I think there can sometimes be a misconception that we only look for people who are sports fanatics. We obviously want people who are fans of our teams and brands but we are looking for people who can bring a diverse skill set and fill a specific function, for Global Partnerships we’re looking for strategic minded marketers who can have an impact on our business.

Alex: I often hear that people think MLSE is a male dominated company.  I work with tons of strong female leaders here and our company has lots of initiatives to engage and promote women.  Check out one of the latest events we held as part of our MLSE Women’s Leadership program called “She The North” as an example of the things MLSE is doing to empower women.

YMA: What was the most difficult part of working at MLSE?

Tyla: Friends asking me for tickets!

Alex: Hard question!  Sometimes the hours we put in can be a lot, so it’s often a struggle to find a good work/life balance.  I’ve been with MLSE now for six years so I think I’ve finally mastered it, but it definitely took me some time. 

Apprentice Round 2: Schulich Thinks Big


By: Kyle Vertierra - Project RED Director

Round 2 of the Apprentice is officially in the books. 

Last Friday, the Top 10 teams from Round 1 of the Apprentice assembled at General Mills' Corporate Office to face their next challenge: to develop a disruptive marketing campaign for General Mills integrating the future of retail -  E-commerce. 

Competition Day started with a pleasant surprise from General Mills. In addition to touring their sublime office space, delegates were invited to take part in a company-wide meeting where they were able to catch a sneak peek of an upcoming General Mills campaign and even meet Olympic Gold Medalist Vicky Sunohara. Nevertheless, competitors were able to brush off their excitement and keep their composure as they prepared for their presentations.

Desiree Brassard (Associate Director, Top 30 Under 30) kicking off Round 2 of the Apprentice

Desiree Brassard (Associate Director, Top 30 Under 30) kicking off Round 2 of the Apprentice

Judging the competition was an esteemed panel of General Mills judges featuring: JP Del Carmen (Associate Marketing Manager), Luke Allen (Sales Director), Nicole Korb (Associate Marketing Manager), and Jacky Lam (Account Development Manager).

While competitors only had one week to tackle the case, it did not stop them from bringing their A-game to the competition. Across the board, the panel of judges praised Schulich students for their high level, creative, and implementable solutions to the case. These sentiments were notably echoed by Judge Allen who, while a devout Laurier alumnus, jokingly declared that he now may consider allowing his children to apply to Schulich after seeing the quality of the presentations! 

Competitors also had a lot to say about their experience at General Mills. Connie Quach noted, "presenting at the General Mills office was an exhilarating experience. I was able to learn about their amazing corporate culture, learn from their current employees and see the impact they have on the community". Monique Mai added, "presenting to General Mills representatives was definitely an eye-opening experience. I was really nervous, but everyone there was so welcoming and supportive that it eased my nerves instantly. It‘s definitely an experience I would do all over again".

JP Del Carmen, Luke Allen, and Jeevan Grewal (Senior Trade Marketing Analyst) announcing the Top 5 teams from Round 2 of the Apprentice

JP Del Carmen, Luke Allen, and Jeevan Grewal (Senior Trade Marketing Analyst) announcing the Top 5 teams from Round 2 of the Apprentice

Despite all of the excellent presentations, unfortunately only the top five teams could advance to Round 3 of the Apprentice. Congratulations to the top five teams: Fire and Desire (Hiba Shaikh & Siyara Jayasinghe), Pretty Little Marketers (Connie Quach & Nicole Tsinas), MJ (Junjun Liu & Meena Shan), Team M&M (Monique Mai & Monica Peav), and Lucid Dreamers (Jenny Chu & Amir Larjani).

If there is anything that Round Two showed us, it's that Round Three is looking to be an epic finish to an already historic competition. Who will rise to the challenge and take it all? Find out on November 17.

The P&G Experience


By: Risham Najeeb - Guest Contributor

Tide. Crest. Secret. Pantene. These are household names of brands that many of us use in our daily lives. Like many people, while I used these brands as a part of my regular routine, I never paused to give much thought to the incredible effort and coordination that goes into bringing these brands from inception to the shelves of the stores where we pick up our groceries from. This summer, I had the opportunity to do just that, I was able to understand and influence this process as a sales intern at P&G Canada.


Specifically, I worked on the Oral Care Category for Shopper’s Drug Mart. Before I get into what I personally worked on over the summer, I want to start by providing some context on the roles and responsibilities an intern has and compare it to what a full-time P&G Sales employee (an Account Manager) does. The point of this is to show you how my work as an intern fit into the grander scheme of things. 

So, What Exactly Does an Account Manager do?

In very simple terms Account Managers:

Act As Intrapreneurs

They take ownership of an entire category of products. It is their job to drive & execute strategic objectives, brand strategies, and grow share for that category at the retailer they work with. For example, you could be an Account Manager for the hair care category at Costco.

Act As Consultants For Their Category

They collaborate with their retailer to develop strategies to improve the performance of their category. This can involve leveraging insights from a large pool of data that P&G Canada has access to and making those insights useful for the category and for the retailer.

What was I Able to do as a Sales Intern?

I saw Real & Tangible Results of my Work

One of my projects involved engaging with and influencing Store Managers to align with P&G Canada’s strategic objectives for the Oral Care category. Throughout the summer, I spoke to several different store managers. Through using compelling data, understanding their viewpoint, and slowly convincing them of the merits of P&G’s strategy I was able to see my idea for a display go up in Shopper’s Drug Mart stores across Toronto.  I was then able to track the effect these displays had on the sales of these stores and thus see the direct results of my efforts.

I had my Ideas Heard and Acted Upon

For another project, I was tasked with developing a plan to leverage a new influencer for Oral Care products. One of my favourite experiences from my internship occurred as part of my work on this project. I remember sitting in a board room full of 10 people from all different levels and parts of the company. All were there to listen to me pitch an idea about how we could tap into the potential of this influencer and how we could bring this plan to life. By the end of the meeting, I was able to gain approval for launching a pilot program to test the worth of my idea and potentially put it on track to becoming a national program. The feeling of pitching an idea to a multi-billion dollar company, to see it being taken seriously, and actually being acted upon was incredible.

I Received Support From and Learned From People at all Levels of the Company

My work by nature required me to collaborate cross-functionally. This meant that I was able to learn from people from many different parts of the company. Each time I spoke to a new person I learned something new about what makes P&G’s brands what they are today. Behind each brand was a finance person, a brand manager, a product supply person, a sales executive, and so many others who worked together to drive success for P&G. Being a part of this collaborative chain opened my eyes to the roles each of these people play in bringing a brand from its inception to the shelf of a local retailer.

Last but not Least, I Slowly Understood the Intricate Details, the Careful Thought, and the Creative Strategies That go Into Selling Something as ‘Ordinary’ as Toothpaste

All of the projects I worked on made one thing clear to me: the product sitting on a shelf at your local Shopper’s Drug Mart, was definitely not just “placed” there. The in-store merchandising, the location of the product on the shelf, a display at the end of the aisle, these are all influenced and tied together to craft in-store experiences all aimed at helping a consumer find the product they are looking for and picking the one that a company like P&G wants them to pick. So, next time you walk into a Shopper’s Drug Mart and see that Crest Toothpaste sitting on the 3rd shelf from the top, take a second to think, why is it there? Maybe an intern suggested it.


Procter & Gamble is currently hiring Brand Management, Sales, and Finance & Accounting Summer Interns. Check out P&G's internship Instagram here. Click the button below to learn more about these positions and to apply. Applications are due October 29 at midnight.

My Apprentice Experience


By: Michelle Bui - Case Competitions Director

Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to compete in Apprentice. Entering into my second year, the only previous case competition experience that I had was Pitch Perfect (ironically enough, this was YMA's first-year case competition before we rebranded it this year to Breaking Brand).


Clearly, my case competition experience was not at all extensive compared to other applicants but I wanted to give it a shot anyways. That leap of faith ended up leading me through all three rounds of the competition to become one of the Top 5 teams. Although my partner and I never placed in any of the rounds, the experience of our Apprentice journey was so worthwhile. Our journey was full of unforgettable moments from the crazy ideas we pitched to one another to practicing for hours on end. With every part, I can attest that we both learned so much from our Apprentice Experience.

Here are my 7 reasons why you should compete for Apprentice:

1) Expose yourself to different industries in marketing

Each round of Apprentice is sponsored by a company in a different industry (i.e. CPG, telecommunications, etc). By tackling marketing issues that are situated in different industries, you can gain insight into what type of work you will be involved in. With a little taste of everything, this can really help in determining what type of industry you best fit in. I found that while there were cases that I loved working on, there were others that I had less interest in. While taking on these cases gave me a challenge, it allowed me to learn.

2) Meet & network with industry professionals

Within each round, you will have the opportunity to meet with the company's representatives. With a tighter pool of competitors in comparison to the number of delegates who attend a large-scale networking event, you can talk one-on-one with the judges or any other industry professionals that the sponsor brings.

3) Improve case and presentation skills

What’s a better way to practice your public speaking and case skills than to test them out at a case competition? 

4) Receive critical feedback

Even if you do not move onto the next round, the judges are able to give you feedback on your presentation and ideas so you know what to consider moving forward, allowing you to develop and improve.

5) Tackle real and current industry problems to get a taste of what the marketing field offers

If you’re considering marketing, Apprentice is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in taking on real issues that these companies are encountering. You can go beyond classroom learning to execute an actual strategy and take ownership of your work.

 6) Exercise creativity and practice self-sufficiency and self-learning

Each case has different deliverables that will force you to extend your creative limits. You have complete authority and flexibility with what you want to do. Outside of the creativity behind the campaign, you also need to use data to back up and validate your ideas. The process calls for a lot of learning, but you’ll be so proud of the work that you accomplish and are able to call your own.

 7) Showcase your skills and ideas in front of recruiters and industry reps

Our sponsors for Apprentice are currently recruiting - this is a great opportunity to show them what you are capable of!

Why You Should Join Breaking Brand


By: Afreen Miah - Sponsorship Director

Pitch Perfect (now Breaking Brand) will always be one of my fondest experiences in university.

Coming into 1st year, I often wondered, “What in the heck is a case competition? What is MARKETING? How do I even marketing? How can I effectively create and execute a marketing strategy that will differentiate a brand and provide its customers with the utmost value?”. 

Well, participating in Pitch Perfect answered all of my questions, and above all, it allowed me to create valuable memories with a wonderful human:  Monica!!Peav who became one of my best friends here in the land of Schulich!!

Now, Monica and I initially believed that we would need Universal Studios to film our 1-minute pitch. However, this was not the case; it turned out that we could pitch anything and everything, and film it using something as simple as a cell phone camera. Naturally, we decided to pitch our friend Chun-Wah! You can check out our video here:


As silly as the idea was, it allowed Monica and I to have fun while showing our creativity, and we eventually went on to place 3rd in the entire competition. Being in an environment with only 1st years was a great opportunity express our ideas without the fear of judgement, learn about the different aspects of marketing, and gain marvelous case competition skills. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would come to apply the knowledge from Pitch Perfect to many aspects of my Schulich career.

Overall, Pitch Perfect was the best possible way to kick off my 1st year at Schulich as it not only provided me with significant insights into the marketing field and case competitions, but it also gave me a chance to make FUNtastical memories!

To all my 1st years, although the application is slightly different this year, the point of the competition remains: have fun(and learn something while you’re at it)!

Transferable Skills to Marketing


By: Shaan Ali Jessa - Project RED Director

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “I need a job to get experience, and I need experience to get a job” paradox, but this is not necessarily true. Everyone has to start somewhere, and although LinkedIn makes it easy for people to hide or delete past work experience, everyone does indeed start somewhere.

Your first job in university may not be as glamorous as you’d like it to be, but do not undervalue any experience that you already have. Each experience comes with so much learning about different industries, application softwares, products, people insights, soft skills development…you name it.

As you begin to apply to internships and full-time jobs, think about the transferable skills that you’ve gained in each role. Extracurricular and part-time experiences have a huge impact on supplementing your application on top of maintaining a solid GPA.

To get started on how your part-time and extracurricular activities relate to marketing roles, first think of some of the main entry level marketing roles out there such as: Sales, Social Media, Communications, and Brand Ambassador. While these titles may seem like a stretch from “cashier” or “sales associate”, they are more related than you’d think.

Here’s why:

  1. Part-time work and extracurricular experiences give you the opportunity to work in and possibly lead teams. Every company looks for candidates who can work well in teams and possesses leadership potential. Within your clubs and part-time job, you’ll definitely get this opportunity. Use this opportunity to develop that skill set.

  2. Working in a retail or customer service environment allows you to build communication skills. Communication is so important in marketing as you are constantly communicating internally and externally with the world on why your idea, brand, product, or company is awesome. Think about the transferable skills here when you are communicating your ideas to colleagues in a work environment or communicating to customers why they should buy into what you are selling. If you’ve already had experience doing this in a store or restaurant, doing this in an organization becomes that much easier.

  3. Part-time jobs teach you about sales and brand representation. In line with communication, you have to be persuasive and be able to sell on some jobs. Similarly in marketing companies, representing a brand and selling that brand either to other businesses or customers is a core function of marketing roles. Highlight your ability to sell, persuade, and communicate with confidence when doing that. Did you achieve any benchmarks (like high sales or customer satisfaction)? Definitely highlight those as well!

  4. Being involved also helps you develop time management skills. On top of keeping up with school work and maintaining a stellar GPA, you might be doing more than your peers which really showcases your time management skills. All jobs require the ability to juggle multiple priorities, and you are already demonstrating that already!

  5. Your extracurricular experiences help develop analytical skills. Marketing is often described as the mix between creativity and data, using critical thinking skills to analyze trends, make recommendations and produce solutions. This starts with critical thinking. In your extracurricular experiences, you may have solved a problem for your club. At work, you may have used excel to analyze data and make a recommendation. Definitely highlight these problem solving/critical thinking experiences as it shows you can apply the theory you learned in class to the real world!

Remember, there is value in every experience, so don’t sell yourself short! Focus on transferable skills and you’ll definitely land your dream job.

To find out more about how your skills can be applied in a marketing role, make sure to attend our kick-off event: Marketing360!