Q&A With Our Rock Star Intern Khanh Be

khanh-thumb NAME: Khanh Be

INTERNSHIP TERM:  Fall 2015

ABOUT KHANH: Prior to joining TORQUE Strategies as an intern, Khanh was a member of the FIFA Women’s World Cup organizing committee in Ottawa, where she worked on community outreach, grassroots partnerships, and group ticket sales. Prior to that, Khanh was working on her master’s degree in sport management at the University of Ottawa, and an internship with Hockey Canada, where she supported the marketing team for the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship. And if that’s not enough, Khanh is also a known quantity to our friends at @McMasterU. She first caught the sports marketing bug working in a game day marketing role with the A&R department while she was enrolled as an undergraduate student in Kinesiology.

Khanh hails from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and grew up in Berlin, Germany. She considers herself a trilingualist because she can order a bowl of pho or a stein of bier in three languages. Oh, and her nickname is Bacon! Yes, BACON!

What interested you most about TORQUE when you were looking for an internship?

Coming from the world of sport and major events specifically, I was lucky enough to have an all-encompassing, albeit abridged, view of sport event marketing. From volunteer management, to fan experience, to ticket sales, I got to try it all. What interested me the most about TORQUE Strategies was the fact it would be the first time I dove deeper into one of the foundational components of sports marketing. The uniforms of the volunteers, the take-home goodies for the fans or the promotion that is required to sell out a stadium, are all possible because of sponsorship.

What is the day in the life of a TORQUE intern like?

A typical day is best started with a large block of time left empty to get my projects done! The beauty of working in a collaborative and team-oriented environment is you really get to work with everyone and their projects. That means, while I may know  I have to work on a database compiling  information regarding our past sponsorship deals, I should also be ready to complete a research brief for a brand, in time for an ideation scheduled for the end of the day. All in all, work at TORQUE is dynamic and you never know what you can be a part of on any given day!

What is your favorite part about being a TORQUE intern?

The constant learning. There are teachable moments almost every day, not just about the culture and work ethic required in the sponsorship industry, but also in all my research and sponsorship intelligence work. Whenever I’m completing a project, I get to learn about Brand a and b, Category c and d, or Event e and f. There was never a day that I didn’t leave the office one tidbit smarter about the sponsorship industry.

What was one thing about the sponsorship industry that surprised you the most?

How long the process can be, from initial client contact to getting that signature on the dotted line. Working in sponsorship is about nurturing relationships and constantly fine-tuning a potential partnership. Though clients may come on board seemingly overnight, the work that we create together is definitely slow and steady. This has made me appreciate how detail-oriented and patient working in sponsorship has to be.

How has your internship shaped your vision for your future career path?

You don’t have to squeeze it out of me. I am an unapologetic romantic and true believer in the power of sport. Seeing sport organizations grow stronger through the support of partners makes me believe that the end product in this constantly-moving chain of events is tremendous: a call-out for more volunteer coaches because youth soccer registration was overwhelmed with new Christine Sinclairs; a family with twin daughters being able to afford to take both of them to basketball practice; an awe-inspiring photo finish in Rio to place third, instead of fourth.

Seeing what is made possible through sponsorship affirms that I want to take my learnings and help grow other sport organizations through marketing, business development and strategic sponsorship. Though my time at TORQUE has been absolutely phenomenal, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do just that at the marketing and business operations department at the Ontario Soccer Association, starting in January.

FAST FACTS

First TQ “buzzword” that comes to mind:

“Storybuilding”. The industry buzzword is story-telling, but as I’ve learned, that is a passive way to talk at someone, in static one-way dialogue. Storybuilding™, as TORQUE has coined it, is co-authoring the story, inviting your audience and yourselves to write a brand’s narrative together.

Favourite TQ tradition:

Waffle Wednesdays! Walking into the office with the smell of Chef Lindsay whipping up some waffles will be one of my favourite memories.

Which company would you love to work with?

In the world of sport, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, because although they have incredible partners already on board, I would love to help bring to life the story of our Paralympians even more saliently, via sponsorship. And in the world of brands, Bio Steel, because who wouldn’t want to be along for the ride when a Canadian disrupter underdog brand dethrones the mighty Gatorade/Powerade.

Dream guest for Friday Chill n Chat?

One of my favourite retail brands is Sport Chek, and Duncan Fulton is behind a lot of that digital-content heavy magic. I’d love to know, how does a brand, and its major parent company, continue to go up from being an already inventive innovator and early adopter of digital strategy?

In your opinion, what organization is currently doing sponsorship the best?

Seeing what CIBC was able to contribute to the Pan Am Games was impressive. I remember reading articles about people’s concerns about the games potential negative impact. on infrastructure and transportation, but then comparing it to the post-event news that heralded and praised the Games for hosting a world-class games and leaving a great legacy. With #PanAmazing, CIBC Team Next, and all of its other activations, certainly contributed to that. I’m excited to see what they do to elevate the Ottawa 2017 celebrations!

Proudest moment at TQ?

Working with my old university on an amazing project. I’m a proud Marauder and alumni, and being able to go back to McMaster’s Athletics & Recreation Department (where I had my first sport marketing job) to see familiar faces and work with them on bettering the Marauder brand, was a fantastic experience.

What you will miss most at TQ?

Is it cheesy to say ‘the people’? I know it’s cheesy to say ‘the people’, but when it’s true, it’s true. TORQUE Strategies and TwentyTen Group are such well-oiled machines, that it is so refreshing to finally see everything you learnt in organizational behavious classes put into action. The individual people are rock stars, experienced and knowledgeable beyond belief, but to wrap all that great individual energy up in a cohesive, collaborative, encouraging team environment is basically setting the standard for the professional work culture you’d want to learn from.