Written by Patricia Duguay
Every event we put together in Alumni Affairs has a ‘first’…first time with a live band, first time with a ‘poutine bar’, it is the ‘firsts’ that make my job fun.
Last week we had our first event ever - on a soccer field.
When we made a connection with proud alumnae Maria Soklis, BA’91 SDS, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at KIA Canada, I was thrilled that she would consider speaking to her fellow graduates at an alumni event. I was even more hopeful that we could come up with a unique venue to showcase her amazing career in the ever-exciting and evolving automotive industry. I wasn’t expecting to create an event on a soccer field though!
How did we get from securing an amazing alumnus speaker in the automotive industry to booking a party on a soccer field? I’ll tell you how.
As it turns out, Maria has been instrumental in creating KIA’s incredible ‘Drive Change’ initiative, bridging industry and community. The program challenges Canadians to improve their communities, and is as much a part of Maria’s professional goals as is increasing sales. That is all good, but still, how did that get us to a soccer field?
KIA – as part of their ‘Drive Change’ initiative, is proud to be the title sponsor at the state of the art training facility for the Toronto FC. The brand new amenity, located in Downsview Park, sets the bar high for an innovative era of football development in Canada. This amazing space is modeled after traditional European football academies and has a field with a winterized bubble for year round use. One of the most challenging parts of planning the party on the field was consideration of the high tech cork and sand in-filled surface. Add to that, this venue is SO NEW that we were the very first group to hold an event there so everything we did, was the very first time it had been done. It was a bit of a white-knuckled ride, but the best events usually are!
By all accounts, alumni and fans were thrilled to have to opportunity to tour the sacred space. It is a magnificent facility.
Maria’s Social Development degree from Waterloo along with her passion for people and professional drive (pardon the pun) has transformed KIA Canada into one of the industry’s most socially responsible corporations. So what exactly IS ‘Drive Change’? It is a challenge - for individuals, communities and even KIA dealers to make their communities a better place. And so along with numerous corporate led and individually inspired ideas and bursts of support, KIA became the title sponsor of the Toronto FC Training Ground.
So when I mentioned to Maria that I would like to hold the event somewhere really interesting and exciting…well, THAT is how we got to an event on a soccer field. And it was an awesome event.
Check out our photos from the KIA event on our Flickr page.