Dach Hiller is the Director of Business Operations for the Mississauga Steelheads. Directing business operations for a sports team is a large role to play in at all levels of competition. The Steelheads are a Canadian junior hockey team based in Mississauga, Ontario and play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). If you’re a fan of this team or the OHL in general, Dach Hiller is a name to know. For the Steelheads, Dach Hiller manages the team’s finances and ensures the team serves the sixth-most populous municipality in Canada (Mississauga) well. It was super interesting to chat with Dach Hiller because he used to work for the Sarnia Sting, my hometown OHL team. Hearing how his presence has grown in the industry and his move from Sarnia to Toronto was inspiring. I also love the insight he provides to all sport professionals. I am sure you will enjoy reading my chat with Dach Hiller as much I did being a part of it.
Tell us about your role as the Director of Business Operations of the Mississauga Steelheads.
As the VP, Director of Business Operations of an OHL franchise, my ultimate responsibility is the financial performance and community impact of the hockey club. I oversee our ticketing department; working alongside our Manager of Ticketing to develop plans, set objectives, and provide support throughout the execution process. From a Marketing/ PR standpoint, it is my responsibility to ensure that our staff has the proper direction and that we are not only doing the right thing for our brand, but also our local community. As is the case in many OHL organizations, I am responsible for managing relationships with existing sponsors and securing new partnerships to help elevate the brand.
I am fortunate to have an incredibly gifted and hardworking team in place that make coming to work in the morning very rewarding.
What does a typical day look like for you?
That’s a question I regularly get asked and my answer is always the same – every day is different and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. For instance, on Monday’s I spend a large portion of my time meeting with our team and analyzing our performance. We do a group chat every Monday afternoon to review the weekend that past and look ahead at our team objectives for the week. Following the team meeting, I like to break out into 1-on-1’s with each department manager and discuss more long term plans and strategy. To prepare for these meetings, I spend the morning collecting data from the week prior. Ticket revenue and patterns, social engagement, sponsorship execution – really anything that I can get my hands on. Monday really sets the tone for the entire week in my opinion. Throughout the week, a large portion of my time is spent on supporting my team, carrying out admin tasks, meetings with potential and existing partners and correspondence with the facility but everything really stems from those meetings at the start of the week.
What is the best part of your position, and why?
Without a doubt – Game Day. Walking up from the bowels of the arena after puck drop and into a jam packed arena with fans enjoying their experience is an unparalleled feeling. I know my team – and myself included – take a lot of pride in what we do on a daily basis and getting to receive that internal gratification of knowing they accomplished what they were working towards is something that I always enjoy.
When looking to hire candidates, do you value their experience or education more, and why?
I like to see a decent combination of experience and education in candidates however I strongly believe that a resume can only tell you so much about a person. I am notorious for spending a lot of time with a candidate before hiring them. At the end of the day, I think that most people can be trained and coached into having success in this industry but the two things that can’t be taught are work ethic and drive. As a person who credits their own success to perseverance, I am always looking for the candidate who wants it more than anyone else. I want to hire someone who will go through a wall to reach their objectives and won’t get discouraged by failure. I want someone on my team who will do whatever it takes and has a passion for being an expert in their field.
What are three essential skills someone needs to succeed in the sport industry?
1 Strong Work Ethic
I’d say work ethic is the most important skill to boast in this industry – particularly when you’re starting out. The hours are long and the challenges are plenty but if you’re willing to put in the work, you will be rewarded.
2 Effective Communication
Whether you’re pursuing a communications, sales, marketing or administration role, both written and verbal communication are key. Because it is such a fast-paced industry, being able to communicate in an articulate and concise manner is a must. Relationships are paramount in the sport industry and being able to relate to people and communicate effectively will go a long way.
3 Organizational Skills
Clients, fans, coworkers – everyone wants to be able to rely on someone in this line of work. Being organized allows you to follow through on promises and stay ahead of the game. A professional in this industry who is organized and can be relied upon will always stand out.
What advice would you give to someone starting out their career in the sport industry?
Let your work speak for itself. Be reliable and don’t take any task lightly. If you prove time and time again that you can deliver quality work for the people you report to, you will continue to receive more responsibility. Parlay that responsibility into success and you’ll climb the ranks quite quickly in this industry.
What is something you would love for potential employees to know before they show up for an interview?
I think it’s always important to do the standard research. Know about the organization, know about the role and certainly know about the person who is interviewing you. Candidates can separate themselves by doing a bit of a deeper dive with a SWOT analysis. If you know the organization’s pain points and opportunities, you’ll be better equipped to A) convey that you’ve done your homework and B) explain how you can help them solve whichever problems they are having in the market.
Anthony's Final Thoughts
<p>Dach Hiller of the Mississauga Steelheads gave me and SPMA readers some valuable advice. My favourite quote from Dach was, “let your work speak for itself”. Aside from that, my favourite part of this feature was Dach’s humility. He was quick to pass off any praise and give his team full credit for their efforts, day in and day out. I think we can learn a lot from what Dach has said, but even more from how he says it. He embodies hard work and humility and reaping the rewards from those traits. Dach also gave us some great recommendations for The Shelf, that revolve around sport business, and sales, in particular. Dach still rereads some of his The Shelf recommendations on a yearly basis, which tells me that he is committed to continually learning. I look forward to seeing what Dach Hiller will accomplish next.</p>