NHL Entry Draft 2019
My name is Joseph Wills and I am a MBA student at Athabasca University (AU), future Certified Hockey Professional (CHP), and active member of the Business of Hockey Institute (BHI). I currently reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I’m a Charlotte Checkers (AHL) season ticket holder and am an avid fan of the NHL and AHL as a whole.
Complete career change
I have spent the last 16 years in information technology (IT) as an engineer, manager, and consultant. It was time for a change and hockey management is what I want to do.
I chose AU because they allow learners to substitute their professional experience in lieu of a formal degree. Up to this point, I have only finished an associate’s degree in information technology. Fortunately, my management experience qualified me as a candidate for the MBA in hockey management. I was more than excited to be accepted into the program, and courses are currently underway.
One of the prerequisites for this program is acceptance and admission into the Business of Hockey Institute (BHI). As a member of BHI, we are ambassadors for the game and encouraged to help strengthen the business of hockey wherever possible.
Attending the 2019 NHL Entry Draft
As part of a networking and educational initiative provided by BHI, all members are invited to attend the NHL Entry Draft. This is an excellent opportunity to meet fellow BHI members and staff, along with other AU learners who are also enrolled in the online MBA in hockey management. Needless to say, I was both nervous and excited to be making the trip northwest to Vancouver for this year’s draft.
In June, during the draft, I was taking a course in strategic management. This seemed only fitting, as 31 teams were all vying to establish their own strategies, and better position themselves for the upcoming and future seasons. As with most corporate strategies, each team had conducted their own market research to identify which players best fit their culture and further solidify their team’s chances of success. The draft itself is only one piece of the puzzle; trading players and draft picks is also a part of the overall strategy. Also, each team must have a contingency plan in case their first, second, or even third draft option is no longer available when they’re “on the clock.”
In addition to networking with fellow colleagues, BHI also invited prominent members of the hockey community to come and speak. They offered to the group stories on their involvement with hockey, their experiences in the hockey world, and to offer words of encouragement and advice to those of us who are just starting in their pursuit of a managerial career in hockey. We had the privilege to meet former players: Kevin Westgarth, Steve Greeley and John-Michael Liles, plus Winnipeg Jets owner, Mark Chipman, and WHL Commissioner, Ron Roberson, among other distinguished guests.
Every speaker had something different to offer, yet they all echoed the same philosophy, “Work hard, stay positive, and be passionate about what you do.” Each speaker’s success stemmed from that philosophy. This was my biggest takeaway from the weekend, plus gaining an understanding of the the immeasurable value that a solid and genuine corporate culture is to an organization. It all starts from the top, and as a future executive, this is the type of example I will seek to uphold.
From the time I landed in Vancouver to my return to Charlotte, this trip was an amazing experience all around. I met so many great people and learned more than I ever thought possible in a four-day excursion. I already have Montreal on my calendar for next year’s draft!