Justin Firth: Student of the Week

SOTW Justin FirthJustin Firth – a Queen’s University alum – was awarded the honor of Student of the Week. The Toronto-native was recognized for his contributions to class discussions, particularly during International Business sessions with Dr. Francis. He effectively incorporates his international background, as represented in his insightful thoughts on the strategies and concepts of international business.

What have you learned so far in your Sports MBA experience that has helped prepare you for working as a manager in the sports industry?

This program has really aided me in becoming a more complete team member and leader. Coming from a social science background where most of the work was done individually, I was not the most well versed in group work, along with giving presentations to others. The cohort dynamic is incredible in this sense as it allows you to hone your skills in a supporting, caring environment before being thrown out into the real world. Getting opportunities to work in groups and present information to employees of both the Anaheim Ducks and USFL has been amazing. My classmates have really helped me out and the improvements I have seen are incredible. With the help of classmates I am now far more prepared to succeed in the sports industry upon graduation.

What has been your favorite ___ and why?

Class: Sports Marketing. Fantastic professor, fun lectures and very topical lecture material that I know will help my career after the completion of the program.

Faculty Member: This is tough but I think it would be Professor Dalakas. His sense of humour and commitment to the subject matter is like no other. He made class fun and really wasn’t afraid to let us know his allegiance. Even if it was perennial disappointment like Oregon Ducks Football. Go Trojans!

Guest Lecturer: Steve Gera. Listening to him speak was a real honor. The passion and commitment he exudes in everything that he does is enviable. He is a real role model and the SMBA class is lucky to have him come in and give us his time.

Outside of Class Experience: Dominican Republic Trip. This is really a no brainer, getting to travel to another country and immerse ourselves into their baseball culture was a once in a lifetime opportunity. As a kicker, the class was really able to bond and upon return, you could see the difference with how well the class knew each other and the desire to see each other succeed.

Consulting Project: Anaheim Ducks YP Project. This project is the exact reason I decided to pursue a  Sports MBA. It was real world experience in the sports industry and getting to go to the Honda Center and present my ideas was a real honor.

Who is your most admired organization/leader/brand in sports and why?


My most admired sports leader is Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous. He absolutely epitomizes the sort of hard work that it takes to become successful in sports business. After graduating from university he took an unpaid internship with the Montreal Expos to help out with scouting in Florida. He did not come from an Ivy League University or play extremely high level baseball, instead he was able to move through the organization by working hard, constantly asking questions and having an ability to cultivate close relationships with those in the organization. In 2003, he was hired by Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi as scouting coordinator. In 2009, when Ricciardi was fired, Anthopolous took over his job at only 31 years of age. His tenacity, talent and ability to build relationships is simply astonishing and he really is a role model for how I want to be as an employee and leader. Below you can read more about his incredible journey:


How have you adjusted since coming from (previous state, county, city)?

Coming from Canada, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect moving down to California. However, the transition has been rather seamless. Especially in the class setting, it was really easy to get to know everyone because of our shared passion in sports. If anything, the diverse backgrounds of my fellow students has allowed me to grow as a person. From lessons about soccer from Brazilians, cricket talk with classmates to chats about past jobs with some of the more experienced classmates, my life is richer for having spent times with the cohort.

Justin Firth DR

What are you hope to/have gained from the program?

For me, what this program has really been helping me to gain is a really solid set of skills that I will be able to take into the workplace, regardless of the direction my career takes me. Being one of the younger students with far less experience than some of the others, I cannot say with any certainty at this moment exactly where I want to go in life. However with the technical skills, social skills and sport specific business knowledge we are acquiring I know that I will graduate with a leg up on the competition that is out there. Dr. Francis, our International Business professor, described the process of getting your MBA as “filling your toolbox” with skills and knowledge that will aid you down the road. This is exactly what I hoped to get and am currently getting from the SMBA program.