Andrea Dubak didn’t have any previous marketing experience working for a sports organization, but with her expertise in the profession and a passion for recreational sports, she is now the event and marketing manager for the Calgary Sport & Social Club (CSSC).
Originally from Winnipeg, Dubak is a first-generation Canadian who grew up learning Slovak from her parents. She decided to move to Calgary almost 15 years ago and in 2010 she went to pursue higher education at Mount Royal University.
While completing her business degree, Dubak attended and volunteered in various marketing workshops. It was through these events where she made important connections that later helped her land her first marketing job.
“I think that is definitely what got my foot in the door — you don’t always get that lucky,” Dubak says.
David Finch, Dubak’s friend and professor for seven years, explains that her curiosity is what makes her a great marketer.
“Andrea just stood out from day one with that literally in class [she was] asking questions, being inquisitive,” Finch says.
Recently, Finch invited Dubak to collaborate with him in a senior marketing capstone class. In this class, students get real-world work experience working under tight deadlines.
“It’s always nice to engage alumni and Andrea was a fantastic student, and she is even a more fantastic alumni,” Finch says.
Years before collaborating with Finch, Dubak was able to kick-start her career by mastering digital skills. She found herself working for a tech company located in the core of downtown Calgary.
In 2016, Dubak started at Thomas Fresh, a produce company that offers Canada-wide distribution and has more than 150 employees.
“I would have never known how much passion I actually had for fruits and vegetables until I worked in that industry,” Dubak says.
Dubak says her time at Thomas Fresh was important because she became more confident having to learn new skills that extend beyond the realm of marketing.
“It’s such a great growing opportunity when you can be that go-to person in a company and be able to pave new paths and improve things.”
Simultaneously, Dubak was looking for ways to stay fit without compromising her busy schedule.
Dubak’s love for recreational sports began when a friend asked her to play in the Calgary Sport & Social Club, an organization known for offering co-ed sports for more than 20 years.
“I was working quite a few hours a week and I was being fit but not as consistently as I would have liked,” says Dubak.
Intrigued by what her friend said, Dubak joined the CSSC’s beach volleyball and slo-pitch leagues. Soon after joining, she found herself recommending the CSSC to her friends, to the point of almost feeling like a cheerleader for the club.
“All [of a] sudden I was so much more confident in sports in general and I just wanted other people to experience that,” Dubak says.
Dubak heard about a marketing position at the CSSC and she remembers saying to herself how perfect it would be to work for an industry she’s so passionate about.
Janelle Kendell, the sponsorship and marketing manager at the CSSC, remembers meeting Dubak in the interview process as a very positive experience.
“Andrea definitely stood out; she was very friendly, very outgoing. I’m a huge cyclist myself and she had a water bottle sitting on the desk in the interview session from a bike shop that I know so we basically immediately hit it off,” she says.
Currently, the CSSC’s marketing team is made up of two individuals. Kendell calls Dubak her “other half.”
Kendell says she values a co-worker like Dubak because of her creative mindset and their shared passion for recreational sports.
“[Dubak] decided to pursue this role at the CSSC just based on her own personal experience with the club and the impact it had on her life,” she says.
Using her experience, Dubak wants more people to try recreational sports. She says it is what motivates her at her new job.
“I think that’s what really drives me in this role and yeah that’s kind of what it comes down to. That passion of knowing that you’re encouraging people to do something that’s good for them and it’s going to make their life hopefully better,” she says.
But when COVID-19 hit, Dubak had to learn how to deal with the many social restrictions.
“In normal, non-COVID times I would be running about 25 events a year through the CSSC. Those events are mostly tournament based like slo-pitch tournaments, beach volleyball, yard games, all sorts of fun events like that and then also hosting season end parties for players at the end of their season,” says Dubak.
Though COVID-19 changed what her position looks like, Dubak appreciates the support her employer has been giving her over the past year.
“They definitely are very aware of their employee’s mental and physical health and they’re very encouraging of people growing in their company and I really appreciate that obviously as an employee I think that’s very important,” Dubak says.
Kendell says Dubak did a fantastic job adapting to a new role, even when there was no time to be trained.
In spite of the many restrictions the Alberta government implemented, Dubak and the CSSC were able to come up with many online alternatives. She is currently hosting online trivia, online fitness programs, esports and even a speed dating event.
“She’s super creative, so always able to think outside of the box and I think that really showed itself through the virtual events that she sort of spearheaded through the COVID period,” Kendell says.