Kyle Pereira is the Director of Player Recruitment of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Kyle actually played in the OHL from 2008 to 2012 for the Brampton Battalion and the Guelph Storm. Kyle Pereira is a graduate of the OHL’s program and knows what it takes to provide the same kind of opportunities he was afforded as a player.
I recently chatted with Kyle about his involvement in the player recruiting process and alumni relations. We also discussed how he works closely with each of the OHL’s member teams and their hockey operations staff. Kyle Pereira provides us with a ton of insight and before I give any of it away, I figured I’ll just give you a look at our conversation. Enjoy!
Tell us about your role as Director of Player Recruitment at the Ontario Hockey League.
My role at the OHL is to develop and implement an all-league recruitment strategy and activity. In short, this involves liaising with Minor Midget teams and prospective players across Ontario and parts of the United States.
Working closely with the players, families, and advisors of elite hockey players, my role is to provide information and education regarding the opportunities the OHL provides both from an on-ice development as well as a scholarship perspective. This also involves working closely with the 20 member teams and their respective Hockey Operations staff.
I am also responsible for the enhancement and development of the OHL Alumni Association. It is my priority and a priority of the League to continue to find new ways to engage with our thousands of Alumni. This includes the exciting and impending launch of an OHL Alumni Mentorship Program.
What does your day-to-day look like?
The day-to-day can vary quite a bit based on the time of year. The role is very different in-season than it is through the summer/ off-season. During the season I spend time traveling to watch elite Minor Midget teams and present to them the opportunities that the OHL provides for On-Ice Development and Education in the form of our scholarship. This includes individual meetings with players, families and advisors of the majority of top-ranked players in the upcoming draft class. I visit teams, tournaments, showcase events, and camps.
The off-season is spent largely on developing a strategy for the upcoming season. How will we do things differently? What worked well? What didn’t? We are always looking for ways to innovate and enhance the experience for our players and families – the summer is the time to develop this. The off-season is also when a lot of the development and execution of the league Alumni Program will take place.
What is the best thing about your position?
Hockey has always been my biggest passion, so the best thing about my position is the ability to have a career in hockey and share experiences and opportunities with the next generation of elite players. Having been a player in the OHL and a beneficiary of the OHL Scholarship, the game of hockey and the OHL itself has given me so much opportunity. To be able to pass these experiences along has been incredible. There is such an excitement that comes from working so closely with young players and working for a league that I believe in so strongly. Also, the hockey community is extremely tight-knit with so many excellent people and brilliant minds. It is a pleasure to work with them day-in and day-out.
Having a business background through my MBA and having worked in a Start-Up environment previously, I love how the role allows me to be creative and blend my hockey and business experience. Having the opportunity and freedom to create and implement a progressive recruitment and development strategy is something that I really enjoy.
Who or what has had the biggest impact on your career choice?
My parents without a doubt. My passion for sport and for hockey started with them back at 4 years of age and has only grown since. The support they provided is what gave me the opportunity to play hockey at a high-level and is what ultimately helped to open the door in this role. The support of my wife Sarah has also been huge. Leaving my previous role was a big decision and one that required sacrifice in some ways, without that support I wouldn’t have been able to so confidently jump into the hockey world and kick-start what is hopefully a long career working in the game I love.
Are there any strategies you use to overcome particularly challenging situations?
I think that in any challenging situation, transparency and communication is the key. It is inevitable in sports or in business that various challenges will present themselves and things will not always be as smooth as intended. My opinion is that in these cases, being honest and communicating clearly will almost certainly help the situation. These situations will certainly require additional work, openness and adaptability in several ways, but transparency and communication are most critical.
What are your future expectations, goals and missions in your career?
I wouldn’t say that I have a specific “expectation” of my career, I feel fortunate to be where I am and my expectation of myself is to continue using my own experience to positively impact players and families. Like anyone, you want your career to progress and you want your role in the industry to continue to grow and evolve but in terms of specific “next step”, I’m not sure yet what that might look like. In the near term, my goal is to continue to innovate and improve the way that we do things from recruitment, development and alumni perspective at the OHL.
“In saying that, I have confidence that if I am doing the right things and doing right by the players and the league, the rest will take care of itself. “
What do you believe are three essential skills someone needs to excel in sport business?
The Business of Sport is definitely an exciting one and working in hockey has been a dream come true. With that said, like any job it doesn’t come without its difficulties. Without a doubt, I believe that Passion is most important. It may not be a “hard skill” but I believe it is a foundational requirement for success in the hockey or sports business. As it comes to specific skills, I think these are the 3 most important that would lead to a prolonged career in the industry.
The sports and hockey world is ever-changing. Things happen quickly and the ability to adapt, re-focus and problem-solve is imperative to success in the business.
Things won’t always come easy, there will be hiccups along the way. The industry is extremely competitive and highly-sought-after. To succeed, perseverance is critical.
Communication is huge in any business, but that is certainly true in hockey. There are so many different groups within the hockey world, between Hockey Ops, Business Ops, Players, Media, Agents and so on. Communication and transparency among them is critical.
Thoughts from Anthony
Working with Kyle to get his feature on our site was a pleasure. I was very eager to have him featured because of the work he does, helping young men achieve their goals on and off the ice. Not every single OHL player goes on to play professionally, so Kyle and the OHL have to offer other incentives for these young players. Education is a big incentive for them. I also really appreciate how Kyle can speak from a place of experience when talking to these young men about their futures. Kyle Pereira is an OHL graduate and he has utilized his educational opportunities by getting a BCom and an MBA.
Kyle Pereira was awesome to work with and I can’t wait to see what innovations he brings for OHL players, past, present and future!