Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the amazing Tamika Marks-Grant, Assistant of Partnerships at the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). She provided me with a very organized, insightful perspective as to how she tackles her day-to-day schedule. It’s busy, busy, busy working in sport. You can clearly see that Tamika’s role with the COC is absolutely no exception to that. But she manages it in a methodical way, which I have already begun to implement in my own routine. Tamika Marks-Grant explains throughout our conversation how much she truly loves sports, playing them, or watching them, they have always been a big part of her life. That’s really what working in sport is all about and the reason why I had to share my conversation with Tamika Marks-Grant to our audience. Scroll down for the entire interview!
Please note: The interview with Tamika Marks-Grant was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
In my role as the Assistant of Partnerships for the Canadian Olympic Committee, I support the Marketing Partnerships team with various partner programs, strategic projects and events. I have the opportunity to work with the Partnerships, Business Development and Commercial Affairs teams which allows me to work on a variety of projects within sports sponsorship.
My main areas of responsibilities include meeting coordination, gifting, partner communication, process management, event execution support and partner programming.
A typical day for me starts with me getting into the office around 8:30 am. I like to arrive before 9 am so that I can fully settle in and set myself up for the day. I then begin checking the different email inboxes I am responsible for managing/overseeing; making sure to identify what takes priority for the day.
I follow that up by working on any ongoing project details. Connecting with other members of my team when necessary. I typically have one or two internal and/or external meetings throughout the day. If is an internal meeting, I am taking notes for the team and following up with everyone on any action items. As the day goes on, I will help my team with any one-off projects or tasks that need to be turned around quickly. I end everyday with writing in my notebook the tasks that need to be completed the following day. This helps me stay on track with project deadlines and is a nice way to make sure I do not forget anything important. I try not to work when I am home unless it is necessary – helps to keep a good work/life balance.
Growing up I played multiple sports – Basketball, Dance, Rugby, Track & Field and Cross Country. I always had a passion for competition and was determined to be a strong competitor.
I knew I wanted to do something in sport but for a long time, I originally had the dream of being a professional athlete. In middle school, I thought I was headed to the WNBA but then realized that I do not have the height. In high school, I was planning on running Track & Field for the rest of my life but then my school team folded. Then in my last year of high school, I was asked to join the rugby team and I found my passion for the game. I was fortunate enough to play rugby at the university, and city, level and really wanted to see how far I would be able to go in the sport. I, unfortunately, suffered a few bad injuries that made me have to re-think my entire future. It is not easy to no longer identify myself as an athlete but thankfully I was able to realize that I can still participate in sport off the field.
During my recovery time, I became the first female president of the Laurier Lettermen Club. The Lettermen Club is a group of student-athletes who volunteer and give back to the community that supports them. Being the president of the club, and making school history, I had my first taste of how working behind the scenes within athletics can be truly fulfilling. When the club performed well, it felt the same way as winning a game or dominating a competitor. There was that same strong sense of teamwork, accomplishment and hunger to continue to do well. I then started to really explore what careers would allow me to stay close to sports and impact them in some way. I came across the sport management program at Humber College and had that true ‘lightbulb’ moment where I realized this was the path I needed to be on in order to achieve everything I wanted to do within the sport. Overall, the combination of me leading the Lettermen Club and discovering the sport management program was the moment that I realized the sports industry was the career path for me.
I like to set small goals on a weekly basis, big goals for the month and long-term career goals that span over a period of time. This way I am continuously working towards bettering myself and accomplishing career milestones. I think it is incredibly important to set realistic goals for yourself because they work as a good pulse check on how you are performing and areas you can improve on.
An example of some of my goals – A small goal I had this past week, was wrapping up a bunch of follow up emails prior to taking time off work. A larger goal, that I had for the month, was putting together a framework for a new internal process that I would like to implement. A long term career goal I have is becoming an account manager or event lead one day. I love my agenda! I like to physically write down things that need to be done and having the satisfaction of checking it off once complete. It is also a great visual to see what I have going on at the moment; ensuring not to have too many things due at the same time.
I am motived to work in sports because I love the challenge. I enjoy challenging the status quo and bringing something new to the table. Becoming the first female president of the Laurier Lettermen Club helped me realize that I can accomplish anything that I work hard towards. I want to continue to push through barriers and set a good example for the next wave of young female athletes who want a future in the sports industry. In addition to that, I just generally enjoy being involved in sport. I always knew that if I did not continue playing at a high level that I would be working in sport in some other way.
My favourite part about working in the sports industry is being able to be part of those moments that everyone talks about. Those sport moments that go down in history and get talked about for years to follow. From being on the field when the Grey Cup is being played to working on projects that will be executed during the Tokyo Olympic games, it is amazing to know that the work I am doing will be on display for the entire country to see. It is almost hard to put into words how great of a feeling it is to see how all your hard works come together in a sporting event.
My favourite part of the job is just being able to work on the Olympics. The Olympics is something I have watched since I was a child and now being able to just come into work every day is amazing to me. Regardless of how big or small a project I am working on is, it is going to be a surreal moment to watch the summer Olympics this year and see/hear about things that I helped to make a reality.
I do not have a least favourite thing about my job. That might sound like a lie, but it really isn’t. I am still in the early stages of my career, so I see everything as an opportunity to learn and grow. I approach every job, task and project with the mentality that working on these foundational skills will help in my overall career growth.
There is no specific person that I model my career path after. There are a few great people that I do look up to and who help to shape who I am in my professional and personal life. Past co-workers, coaches, teammates, friends and teachers have all played a role in my life one way or another.
I like to take the different styles and approaches from all of them to make myself a more well-rounded employee. For example, one of my old coaches was great at breaking down concepts for me to better understand new techniques. I try and do the same things when I am explaining a new idea to my coworkers.
I feel that this helps me be such a versatile employee.
This is my favourite movie of all time because it is a story about how sport can unite people regardless of their background. Everyone on the team, and eventually the entire town, bond over football and the success of the players. To this day, it has an amazing message and will continue to demonstrate the power of teamwork and a sense of belonging within the sport.
This movie is great because Basketball was one of the first sports I ever played. In this movie, the importance of being a student before being an athlete is prominent and is something I truly connect with. As a student-athlete at the high school and university level, I understand how challenging it is to balance everything while wanting to actively compete and plan for your future.
This is a great feel-good movie that tells the ground-breaking story of the first Jamaican bobsled team. My grandfather is Jamaican, so it was great to bond with him over his culture and sport. Another great example of how the power of sport can bring people together.
Interview by Riley Keenan