Trevor Georgie, 29, is president and general manager of the Saint John Sea Dogs major junior hockey team in The Canadian Hockey League.
I grew up in Mississauga. Hockey was something I always enjoyed, but I started playing late, at 13. At that age, when you're learning to play hockey, you're not going to have a bright future as a player.
At one point, My dad was a banker, so I was going to be an investment banker. In high school, I went and applied at a Bank of Montreal branch and sat and waited until someone would speak with me. I was 17, the youngest financial manager in Bank of Montreal history.
After four years, I was watching the Brian Burke press conference when he was introduced as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs owner MSLE. You had (president and general manager) Richard Peddie, (his successor) Gord Kirke and Brian Burke. It wasn't Brian I admired, it was Richard. A switch went on: One day, I want to run a professional sports organization.
My brother said you have to go to the University of Windsor (MBA program) – the person that has your dream job, Richard Peddie, is alumnus. You need to find the person that has your dream job and figure out how they did it. So I applied and got a place.
I get a phone call from the dean of the business school: We want you to represent the university and present Richard Peddie with this major award from the business community. I must have spent 40 hours preparing for 30 seconds. I introduced Richard, and when he left, one thing I really appreciated, he took out his business card and said, "Let me know where things take you," because he knew I was going to Florida.
I wanted to move back to Canada. I called the dean from the business school and within two weeks I was sitting down at Maple Leaf Sports, in Richard's office. He said, "We're not hiring but let me see if there's a fit here down the line." Finally, I get a call for a marketing co-ordinator with Toronto FC, with Maple Leaf Sports. When I first arrived, Richard had a welcome-to the-team card on my desk. He really took a great interest in my development.
My director at the time, Preben Ganzhorn left to go to SmartCentres, the biggest commercial developer in the country. A year and half after I started at MLSE, Richard is gone, and I decide to join Preben, working for Retrocom REIT, owned by SmartCentres. I was the marketing manager. You want to follow good leadership and I had a great relationship with Preben.
There are three sides of the sporting world: the property side (LSE, the Sea Dogs); the client side, that has the cash; and there is the agency side, people who have the ideas and contacts. I had already worked on the property side, now I'm on the client side.
Preben went to the agency side, Wasserman Media Group, and so there was an opportunity to come in and be the senior manager and be the lead on their biggest Canadian client, RBC. So, I come and do that. I've worked on all three areas of the sports world.
With Retrocom, I was visiting Saint John in January, 2014, looking at different sponsorship, marketing and strategic opportunities. It's my first Sea Dogs game. The Sea Dogs president at the time, Wayne Long, is sitting with Scott McCain. We get talking, and we seem to be getting along. The next day, we chat a bit at the airport, and Scott says, "Keep in touch." We'd meet every couple of weeks at his office in Toronto, and talk, and developed a great relationship, by fluke.
In September, 2015, I'm thinking I might do some consulting work with Scott, with Wasserman. Scott says to me I'd love you to meet the folks here, give me your thoughts on the operation. In October, Wayne wins as an MP. And a few weeks later, I get an e-mail asking if I'd be interested applying for the role of president. I have to give a lot of credit to Scott, because at that point I was the youngest president in the CHL, at 27.
The Jan.7, 2016 press conference, that moment, coming to Saint John, sitting down with Scott, really brought flashbacks of the press conference with Brian Burke, Richard Peddie and Gord Kirke. The cameras are blinding, and questions are just flying. I remember at that moment thinking, "enjoy this."
As told to Patrick Brethour. This interview has been edited and condensed.