We’ve know Zachery Ellis for a few years now. We’ve seen him grow into his current role with the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) and felt the need to feature his journey. Also, the Raptors 905’s Tenneya Martin recommended we feature him. So we are doing just that in this article! Zachery Ellis is currently the Ticket Sales Coordinator for OEG. From volunteering to going to school, to interning; Zachery Ellis never met an opportunity he didn’t like. We sat down with him to discuss his journey and share that chat with you below.
Tell us about your role as Ticket Sales Coordinator with the Edmonton Oilers?
My role with the Oilers is Coordinator, Ticket Sales at Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG). Our sales department is divided into two – group sales (Oilers and Oil Kings) and ticket packages (Oil Kings). As the coordinator I handle several tasks throughout the year. Email marketing is a major part of my job, as well as print marketing through flyers and creating content for social media on behalf of our department. During the games I coordinate any group experiences including anthem, flag bearers, etc. The sales reps will sell these experiences and I’ll run it on game day.
Another major part of my job is running the “Reading, Give it a Shot” program. Through generous sponsors, we reward dozens of classes throughout Northern Alberta in grades 1-9 with an Oilers or Oil Kings game for meeting certain reading criteria. It is definitely the most rewarding aspect of my job.
We have local Edmonton schools come out, as well as rural schools from several hours away. This year we had a record 10,000 students applied by teachers (teachers apply their whole class). This is my first summer so I’m still learning the ropes of my new tasks, but for the most part I’ve continued email marketing and taken on filling out contracts for our business partners for Reading, Give it a Shot, Adopt-A-School, and other business focused packages.
Tell us about what you do on a daily basis as the Ticket Sales Coordinator?
One of the great parts about this job is that there’s no typical work week. And while the summer is pretty 9-5, the season is anything but that! My work-life balance is very dependent on the Oilers and Oil Kings schedules.
For example, in November we had 9 Oilers/Oil Kings home games but 14 in January so it definitely fluctuates. During the season, most of my work day is preparing for the next game. Lots of meetings throughout the week on behalf of my department with others in the company. This is done to make sure we’re all on the same page and ready to go for the next game day.
Also, To wrap up the previous game we’ll send out a recap email. The recap includes some current ticket packages we’re pushing.
But most of my world is looking ahead to the next game. That includes creating the staffing plan for my department. This is done so everybody knows exactly when they should be where they should be.
For instance, creating a game day sheet so the rest of the company knows what to expect from us on the game day, and tying up any loose ends. The Oil Kings have a couple premiere events throughout the season including our famous sold out Teddy Bear Toss, Sing For Santa, Hockey Hooky (morning game), Scouts Night Sleepover, etc. These events take months of planning. So during the season, even though Hockey Hooky isn’t until February we were already having meetings on it in October. These big events use up a lot of time in my world. I would say that my biggest task during the season is creating personalized flyers and order forms to send to schools, non-profit organizations and youth sports organizations to help support them any way I can to reach their ticket minimums for their group experiences.
This task alone, as well as preparing for my next “Reading, Give it a Shot” game are my greatest focuses. Game days can be long. We’ll see ourselves at the rink from 8:30 am until 10 pm and even days leading up to a game day can see us at the office until 7 pm just getting ready. So hours during the season are definitely heavy and you have to be flexible to accommodate them. Rarely from October until April did I leave before 5 pm.
It’s interesting that you were able to complete an internship with MLSE and then move onto the Oilers… how did that transition happen? Tell us all about how you were able to translate your internship with MLSE into the Oilers Ticket Sales Coordinator position?
It’s pretty interesting how the job came along actually. When my internship ended in May following the Leafs exit from the playoffs, I packed up my car and drove to Nova Scotia to live with my family until I could find work. I filled out lots of job applications, including one for a different position with Oilers Entertainment Group. Funny enough, I didn’t get a call back or interview for that one and assumed it was a dead end. So I figured it was a little outside of my experience but gave it a shot anyway.
A couple months later, I got a call from HR at OEG telling me they would be posting a job application for [the position I would later earn] later that day but wanted to run it by me first to see if I would be interested and would put me at the top of the list if that was the case.
Four interviews later I was packing up my car again and this time driving from rural Nova Scotia to Alberta. As my director likes to tell the story, my resume was held onto as something they saw potential in for a future opening and HR brought it down to his office as soon as this position opened. I learned a lot in my internship and I’m very grateful for everybody I met along the way.
Working in professional sport has its challenges. Given the nature of sport, there’s strict deadlines, you need to keep up with the pace and be professional at all times.
Working with the Niagara IceDogs in high school as well helped me prepare for the more casual but still world class professional culture that is the Edmonton Oil Kings. Skills such as time management, communication and punctuality are things we hear about every day but it truly is so important.
Networking as well – this job just came from applying to the right place at the right time but having references from the Toronto Maple Leafs and DC/UOIT Athletics was helpful. The transition was more than just from a career perspective. I had never been west of Ontario before, let alone knew a single person in Alberta. Much of my transition was getting to know a new place where I had absolutely no family or friends and making that transition while also making the transition into my first career. My colleagues around the office were a huge help in that and I can’t thank them enough for it.
How did a diploma in Sport Management help you for your current role as the Ticket Sales Coordinator at OEG?
I think my diploma in Sport Management helped shape my career and the person I am today. I believe that most skills you learn in an educational setting or workplace can be translated to every day life. When we talk about communication skills, time management, etc. it all applies in the outside world to your every day life.
One of my favourite examples, going into college I was terrified of presenting and public speaking in front of a room of people. The thought honestly made me sick. Now, I’m able to stand up in our weekly Monday morning meeting, Tuesday upcoming games meeting, and every single game day meeting and verbally communicate my departments things in front a couple dozen people. Four years ago this is something I wouldn’t have imagined.
The Sport Management diploma was a big plus. Here in Alberta for example, there’s little to no Sport Management programs so the recruiters actively look toward Ontario students to fill positions. The school was also a big help on my resume. I know that here at OEG, Ontario for sport management has a strong reputation and it gave me some bonus points to have it on the resume.
My courses were very helpful. My schedule was regularly a broad range of things from marketing to sales to accounting to business and beyond and they’re all things that I use in my every day work life. There’s not one class that I look back on and think it was a waste of time. Each one helped my professional development and prepared me for the workplace. Something I’ve told many people when speaking about the colleges is that I can’t say enough about the professors. The level of professionalism, knowledge, experience and respect was very clearly world class.
I’m thankful for all of the help I received, being held accountable and for everybody going above and beyond to help me achieve my goals. The experiences that we had are something I’ll hold on to for a long time.
I’ll always remember the Wheelchair Basketball charity event we put on for Event Management. I’ll also remember my group’s winning “bid” for Sport Tourism to host the games. Those two moments, were educational but also a good source of team bonding and fun.. This program was more than just a ticket to a career in sport for me. Nothing is guaranteed. You will get out of it what you put into
There’s too many people to name but I’m grateful who I got to spend three years next to. I made some lifelong friendships and learned under some of the best Sport Management professionals around. If I could go back in time I would do it all over again!
Tell us about your volunteer experiences and why you felt the need to “give away” your services for free?
I’ve done lots of volunteering, mostly around sports. Two of my best memories working in sport are actually volunteer experiences. I volunteered for Hockey Canada during the 2015 & 2017 World Juniors on their media relations team. I was living in St. Catharines, ON at the time and made the hour and a half drive up to Toronto almost every day throughout both tournaments to work a game or two and would head back home.
This was my first opportunity to contribute to something on an international level, and having been pretty young I was in awe at the time as well. Every year throughout high school we had a large group with my brother and our friends led by my father that volunteered with the annual Big Move Cancer Ride.
I’ve also worked with the CHL Top Prospects Game. Outside of sports, I have volunteered with the Royal Canadian Legion assisting in poppy sales and Friday fish meal nights with my father, who was a member of the legion. I think it was important to volunteer as a way to network. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people, get my name out there and show potential employers how well I can contribute to them.
“I can’t stress enough to current SPMA students how important volunteering in sport is. As soon as you can start, you should.”
Volunteering also helps develop skills you need in the work force. They want the best out of you as you’re still expected on time. They also want you to act professionally and get the job done. All aspects learned volunteering have translated into my current role as Ticket Sales Coordinator for OEG. It’s also important to take some time out of your day to give back to the community. Without volunteers so many of these amazing events can’t function. In my personal experience, I have found with employers in several interviews that volunteering is one way to show your commitment and passion. I was able to do that inside and outside of sports and it’s something I will continue to do throughout my career.
Can you list and describe 3 tools you use nearly every day in your role as Ticket Sales Coordinator?
1. Microsoft Office: I can’t go a day without Word, Excel and occasionally PowerPoint. I’m sending and replying to emails all day long so Outlook is huge for me, as it also allows me to set and accept meetings, use the out of office function and check other colleagues’ calendar.
2. Archtics: Archtics is our backend ticketing system through Ticketmaster. For the sales reps, Archtics and customer relationship management (CRM) is such a huge part of their jobs. I use Archtics for the reading program to book classes in. While I wish I was as familiar with it as the sales team is, the ticket operations team is a huge help with my weekly questions!
3. Dynamics365: Dynamics365 is the system we send out marketing and sales emails with, which as mentioned before, is much of my job. This one is a huge tool for me. At OEG we all use something called Jabber, which is essentially an instant messaging tool for work so you can message or call somebody with the click of a button. It’s also helpful for seeing who is at their desk or away before heading to the other end of the office.
Whom that’s been part of your journey in sport do you think we should feature on SPMA?
Daniela Passarelli from the Belleville Senators would be a great one. She had an internship with them in their inaugural year turn into a full time job and has large responsibilities in a relatively young career.
Chris Cameron from DC Athletics. He’s had quite a journey from writing as a beat writer for a small town maritimes hockey team to Durham College/UOIT Athletics. He did stuff with Team Canada at the Universiade and had some pretty incredible stories. Daniela Passarelli who I mentioned first was at the Universiade in Russia this past winter actually doing social media for Team Canada I believe.
What would you say to Sport Management professionals that want to be the Ticket Sales Coordinator for an NHL team one day?
To anybody that wants a career in Sport Management, make sure to network! Your professors will drill that into your head every day and trust me, they know what they’re taking about. Jump on every opportunity, volunteer where you can and cherish the friendships you’ll make. Chances are you’ll cross paths with many of them one day! Lastly, be patient. Some people know what they want right away in life and achieve that after finishing school. There’s some people in this industry I know of that didn’t figure out this is what they wanted until later in life.
Some always knew but it took a long road to get there. Be patient and take advantage of every opportunity you can. Some opportunities will come right by but there are many out there that you have to step out of your comfort zone and battle for!