Life After Mac: Real Stories of Alumni Finding Their Way — Khanh

Who knows what they want to do with their life at 18 years old? A 2008-era me sure didn’t. I was heavily involved in student leadership and athletics, and at the time, all I could dream of was modeling myself after the most prominent leaders in my life: my high school gym teachers and coaches. Ending up as a sports marketer instead goes to show you that plans made in your teens sometimes just aren’t meant to be.

Back to 2008. In order to chase my goal of being a Phys.Ed. teacher, I found my way into Mac’s acclaimed kinesiology program. I would finish the 4-year degree, go to teacher’s college, and emerge ready to lead the next generation of student-athletes.

It was all going according to ‘plan’, until towards the end of my time at Mac, when I accepted the job of Game Day Coordinator with the Athletics & Recreation Department.

This wasn’t that out of left field for me; I’d been involved with the Maroons (McMaster’s original sport marketers), and was working towards a Minor in Business as well. I also had been finessing my design and marketing skills, and ran a small business creating commissioned drawings. This role would be a perfect extension of all those skill sets.

I was assisting with promotions and sponsorships, and served as in-game hostess for varsity games. I was thrilled about the job — it combined my innate interest for marketing/design, my raving fandom for sports, and an odd comfort with yelling into a microphone. But I was also worried. The role had nothing to do with being an educator or kinesiology. I suddenly realized several years of science-heavy education became almost useless to me, and that all that momentum towards my ‘dream’ career path was halted.

In the end, I was right. This job knocked me off my career path altogether. But I couldn’t be happier that it did.

Abandoning all intentions for teacher’s college, I pursued a Master’s in Sport Management instead. That meant 1.5 years of hands-on learning about marketing, finance, law, organizational behaviour and administration, all in the context of the Canadian sport system. I was on a new career path, and I knew I wouldn’t be getting side-tracked anymore.

My career so far has given me some amazing opportunities. Since graduating, I’ve worked with the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship, and the record-setting 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Today, I oversee the marketing, branding and partnerships portfolio of Ontario Soccer (the 3rd largest sports organization in Canada), and was the leader for the organization’s rebrand efforts in 2017.

First-year me, sitting in that anatomy class, would probably be mystified if she heard where I had ended up. But I also think she’d be proud of me, knowing that I followed my passions, embraced the unexpected turns along the way, and that I got to write this note to you. So lean in to your instinctive passions, even when they take you through a u-turn. You could end up loving the detour.

Khanh Be, BSc. Kinesiology ‘12



The McMaster Alumni Association, over the course of the next year, will be featuring one grad’s career story each week. If you graduated in the last 10 years and are interested in sharing yours, please email Scott at mallonsa@mcmaster.ca.

If you are looking to get started on your own journey check out resourcesavailable to recent graduates through the Student Success Centre.