Keeping your head in the game
For as long as Keith Fong can remember, hockey has been a big part of his life.
His love of the game solidified at age seven when he attended his first live game. Watching ‘The Great One’, Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers, play against his home team, the Vancouver Canucks, he knew some form of hockey was going to be part of his life forever. Keith continues to play today and in his small way honours his hockey idols – Le Magnifique, The Great One, and The Russian Rocket – by wearing 96 on his jersey. (Mario Lemieux (#66), Wayne Gretzky (#99), and Pavel Bure, originally #10, but for a season wore #96.)
Keith was one of the first students to enrol in Athabasca University’s Certified Hockey Professional–Professional Education Program (CHP-PrEP). Although he has been working in hockey and ice sports in Asia for nearly 20 years, he knows that there is still much more he can learn and is keen to continue that journey. “I want to learn how to run a team and to manage a league,” Keith explains, “and ultimately this program can help me to do that.”
Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Keith has been living in Asia for the last 18 years. He is currently the Business Development Director for the Hong Kong CTC Group, a company known as The Ice & Snow Specialists from Canada. CTC created the first Air Dome in Asia and provides real snow and ice for winter sports, constructs rinks, arenas and recreational facilities, and offers sporting and event management services.
“Our company is preparing and planning grassroots programs for the growth of hockey, especially in China, with the anticipation of the 2022 Winter Olympics and the arrival of the NHL, it’s an exciting time” says Keith.
In preparation for the 2022 Olympics, the Chinese Government has plans to construct 500 ice skating rinks and 240 ski slopes. Certainly, the lead up to the Winter Olympics offers a huge opportunity for CTC and Keith once he completes the CHP program in 2018.
Although he is just getting started, currently having taken two of the six CHP courses, he is already applying some of what he has learned directly into his role. “I’m able to add more value to events and our current leagues here in Asia in terms of improving the sponsorship and marketing,” he said. “Furthermore, the television broadcast rights, ticketing, and operations of the rink are all important, valuable knowledge that I can bring to our potential clients who may be considering building a rink or an arena.”
Keith describes his life in Hong Kong as very busy, differing quite a bit from the life he left behind in North America. He fits in studying after dinner in the evening and before work begins in the morning. “Like with everything in life, if you really want something, you make time for it,” Keith said.
He sees himself as motivated and driven, someone who likes a challenge and doesn’t like standing still. In a matter-of-fact way he states:
“Anything I’m working on, or when I’m playing hockey I want to be ahead of the game. It’s one of the reasons I’m taking the CHP.”
CHP Professional Education Program (CHP-PrEP)
The CHP-PrEP consists of six, senior MBA level courses that focus on business-related aspects of hockey. These courses were developed with input from executives representing both professional and amateur hockey (e.g., NHL, AHL, WHL, Hockey Canada) and all functional areas of the hockey business (e.g., marketing, finance, operations).