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Northern roots strengthen her role in sports and entertainment industries
2020-06-09

The sports and entertainment industries are often closely interwoven.

One need not look a whole lot further than the ownership group of the local OHL team (Sudbury Wolves Sports & Entertainment) for evidence that hits close to home.

Thirty-three-year-old Laurentian Sports Administration graduate Celine Seguin is thankful for the parallel paths that run, side by side, in two of her most passionate pursuits.

She is, however, even more thankful for the personal core values that were instilled in her, quite early, back in her hometown of Elliot Lake, basic beliefs that have allowed her to both navigate and flourish in either environment, with ease.

"I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO," said Seguin, borrowing a mantra coined by British actor Tom Hardy.

"I would have to give all of the credit to my parents for that. They taught me and my brothers to work extremely hard for what we have. They understand the importance of customer service and being able to navigate with all different types of people."

The daughter of hard-working, self-employed northern Ontarians, Seguin would flow directly from her days of SPAD studies in Sudbury into a decade-long involvement with the CFL, working for a couple of years with the Hamilton Tiger Cats before moving on to the league office.

For more than half of that time, Seguin was most associated with the Grey Cup, the game and all ancillary activities, with the CFL eventually creating the role of Grey Cup Director to properly recognize the lead that she would take in handling all aspects of the week that represents Canadiana about as much as any other event in the country.

Last November, Seguin would slide over to accept the job of Vice-President - Business Administration with the Juno Awards, second in command only to President Allan Reid with the prestigious celebration of our national music industry.

It's been quite a ride for a young lady whose knowledge of exactly what would lie ahead was pretty much confined to the fact that physical activities, of all shapes and sizes, was where she would most find her comfort zone as a student at Villa Francaise des Jeunes.

"When I first chose SPAD, it wasn't because I understood the sports industry," said Seguin. "Being from Elliot Lake, it's not like we have any booming professional teams in any way, shape or form - so I really didn't know what sports business meant. I knew that I loved sports, and I knew that I loved helping my parents with their businesses."

In fact, like so many graduates of the L.U. program that was an absolute pioneer in the field when launched in the early 1970s, Seguin would point to her fourth year field trip to Dallas as both a highlight and a springboard to the world into which she was about to dive, head first.

"It's definitely a highlight of the program and something that I would continue to champion the value of," she said. "I felt like that particular experience helped to open our eyes as to exactly what the sports industry looks like in real life."

From there, the life lessons of her youth would leave her in very good stead as she began her meteoric rise as coordinator of sponsorship with the Hamilton football franchise. "It was important that I was treating the gentleman who was responsible for putting the signs up in the stadium the same as I did with my contacts with our major sponsor, Scotiabank," she said.

"I couldn't make things happen without the signage company. Everybody plays a role, and they are all important - because without one, you don't have the other." Hers is a natural, personal approach that strikes a chord with one and all, helping to garner a great deal of respect in a workplace that can be just about as male dominant as they come.

"She's our leader" was a quote attributed to Patrick Roberge of PRP Productions (producers of the Grey Cup halftime show) in a Globe and Mail article published in November 2017. It spoke volumes about the reputation that Seguin had managed to carve out. "For me to gain the respect of not only my male colleagues, but also my female colleagues, they knew that I was always going to try and deliver as much as I can for them," she said.

"At the start, you deliver small things. Eventually, when you gain more responsibility, you have to deliver bigger things. If you continue to deliver on them, then there shouldn't be any reason why people shouldn't respect you. To be honest, if people don't at that point, they're not worth your time."

Truth is that Seguin has always been more than willing to roll up her sleeves and work in the trenches. There is absolutely no pretense in her words. The woman who still proudly trumpets herself as a northern Ontario gal recognized quickly that reaching her end goal involved taking several smaller steps, right from the day she left school.

"I think it's important to know that you're going to grow," she stated. "In fourth-year university, you're at the top, but when you start your career, you're right back at the bottom. The sports industry is not easy. It does seem glamorous, but it is not. Regardless of your end goal, you can always start somewhere else and eventually get there."

"Once you are in, it's easier to move around. If you work hard and stay humble, I think it will eventually come to you."

Her time with the CFL fit that criteria. Still, she was ready to move on, though Seguin does not see the recent curve in her career path as a drastic change of course. "When this position (with the Junos) came up, I viewed it as a really great step for me, as it relates to experience," she said.

"I was really focused around major events with the league office. I really like operations, I really like being part of general business decisions, whether that's marketing, whether that's social, whether that's digital, whether that's events."

"Sports and entertainment are very closely related; they usually go hand in hand," Seguin added. "This new job provides me that next step."

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