iSPARK CONSULTING is the leader in leveraging sport as a catalyst for business and economic activity.
Since 2000, we have infused sports associations, destinations, games organizations, and private enterprises with the energy, passion, and engagement of sport.
We transform events, sponsorship, marketing, and sport tourism initiatives with winning strategies and flawless execution.
Our professional staff includes seasoned subject-matter experts in sport-inspired strategy, turnkey event production, negotiation, marketing, communication, design, multimedia, public and media relations, logistics, and delivery.
Tell us about yourself?
I was a competitive athlete in my teens and early 20s. In my final year of high school, I was part of a “leadership gym” course where I was tasked with organizing and planning events at my high school. The first event I planned was a 3×3 basketball tournament that I had initially hoped to play in. I quickly discovered that I enjoyed planning events and the business side of sport just as much as I did competing. What followed was a four-year business degree in sports administration from Laurentian University which led to various roles in amateur and professional sport before starting my own agency, iSPARK Consulting, in 2000.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
A year or two ago, I was congratulating myself and our team for successfully navigating the pandemic and the shutdown of events. Unlike many others, we really embraced the opportunity of COVID-19 to rethink our value add for clients. However, as a small business owner and entrepreneur, you can never really sit back and cruise. So, the advice I would give myself is to stay flexible and poised to explore new opportunities and never forget what the global pandemic taught us.
What problem does your business solve?
We’re the best at understanding, integrating, and managing all aspects of events, branding, sponsorships, bids, and activations. We deliver exceptional sport-based and gamified programs with creative genius and flawless execution.
We are known for getting stuff done!
- Event Production & Marketing – turnkey sport-inspired events and gamification tactics that IGNITE PASSION and engagement.
- Sponsorship Strategy – dynamic, relevant, and memorable sponsorship programs and activations that SPARK HIGH-VALUE RELATIONSHIPS.
- Sport Tourism – matching events, venues, and host cities to create synergies that STIMULATE ECONOMIC ACTIVITY.
- Coaching & Training – infusing organizations and enterprises with sport-inspired thinking to FIRE UP CREATIVITY in marketing and events teams.
- Marketing & Communication – sport-inspired approaches to branding, marketing, and communication that INFUSE BRANDS WITH ENERGY and engagement.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
My business was initially born out of the need to take control of my own destiny. In 2000, I had just returned to work after maternity leave, and despite working on some interesting things leading up to the 2000 Olympics in that full-time role for a national sport organization, I was feeling bored, tired, and uninspired.
I felt like a “jack of all trades and master of none” both at home and at work. I was really feeling the urge to focus on my strengths and the skills and expertise that I believed would bring me more joy. So, I jumped on an opportunity to bid on a part-time contract that would offer some flexibility at home with young children but also allow me to explore my entrepreneurial side. That short-term contract led to more opportunities, and a business was born! Initially, it was a five-year plan as a self-employed solopreneur, but after the first year, I had trouble imagining myself ever going back to working for someone else. Five years turned into 10, and so on. A full circle moment for me was when my adult daughter started working for my company – she was only six months old when I returned to my full-time job from that mat leave and was 11 months old when I started out on my own in the summer of 2000. It was really special to have her briefly join the iSPARK team for an internship.
What is your magic sauce?
Our sport-inspired, business-driven approach is really what differentiates us, along with the fact that we only take on projects where we have the green light from the client to elevate their brand. I like to say we don’t do vanilla, status quo, or beige. So, we work best with clients who allow us the freedom to help them stand out, connect, inspire, and lead.
We are also known for speaking with passion, confidence, and authority. We are not afraid to tell it as we see it and say it like it is if that’s what’s needed to turn good into great. We like to win, which means taking leadership in the areas where we know we excel.
We find that our clients appreciate our approach and feel a tremendous amount of relief at knowing that their project is in good hands.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Over the next five years, we are focused on building our own event properties and fine-tuning our operational processes and our proprietary strategies to better support our clients. I am also hoping to be able to offer more health and wellness perks to the iSPARK team members and to continue to cultivate the company culture of fun, strong teamwork, good energy, living on the edge, and making an impact.
In five to seven years, I will be easing out of the day-to-day operations of the business and am excited to nurture the senior members of the team to take on a leadership role within the firm.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The pandemic really blew things up! However, we got into the “unplanning of events” and virtual event production which really turned into valuable new services that our clients desperately needed at the time. We found out we’re really good at virtual events because we bring an interactive online experience to event attendees. So, we continue to offer this service and will not shy away from learning new techniques and strategies moving forward. This is what the pandemic taught us – it’s never too late to learn something new.
Another issue that we’ve faced over the years is staffing. I am very careful to engage only the top talent on our team and people who are also a good fit with the company culture. We value professionalism and expertise, but not at the expense of fun. We’re all about sport, after all!
How can people get involved?
If you have a sponsorship, event, marketing, communications, or sport tourism project on the go, feel free to reach out for a complimentary discovery call. We also offer coaching and training services where we share our deep experience, knowledge, and connections to bring sport-inspired, business-driven thinking to events, associations, and companies that seek mentorship for their events and marketing teams.