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In His Shoes: Andrew Ference

5-minute read

Day Job:

Director of Social Impact, Growth and Fan Development at the NHL

What I'm Reading:

New York Times

What I'm Listening To:

Rap Caviar on Spotify, Old Punk from my younger years

Workout of Choice:

On my bike, stairs or pulling sandbags around.

What I'm doing when I'm not at work:

Skateboarding or playing rugby with my daughters.

Unpopular Opinion:

Canadian sport’s fans are too quiet.
Andrew Ference in Poppy Barley's Jasper Derby

Wearing The Jasper Derby in Black

What is your biggest motivator, personally and professionally?

Curiosity and asking, “why not?”

What is the biggest challenge you have endured?

Getting and keeping a job in the NHL. Of course, the payoff is massive, but nothing else in my life has required as many sacrifices as this. Andrew Ference in Poppy Barley's Jasper Derby

Wearing The Jasper Derby in Black

As a professional hockey player for over twenty years, you recently transitioned into a more corporate role with the NHL. Can you explain what that transition has been like for you?

I was involved in many environmental initiatives while I was playing, in addition to being a part of the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) negotiations, both of which led to me establishing relationships within the League office. This gave me an idea of what working at the corporate level would be like, but nevertheless, I was clueless about how some things are done. Expense reports and budget meetings with finance were all foreign to me. I never had any expectations that this role would ever have the thrills of playing the game. I’m not really one to pine for the good old days, which has really helped the transition from an incredibly unique career into an interesting and challenging, but comparably mundane job. Andrew Ference in Poppy Barley's Jasper Derby

Wearing The Jasper Derby in Black

What does your current role with the NHL involve?

Quite a variety of things. From working on sustainability—environmental and economic—within professional and community ice arenas, establishing and maintaining government relationships, Club supported programs like girl’s & youth hockey, and social impact work like Hockey Is For Everyone.

I think people may be surprised to hear that you received a certificate in corporate sustainability and innovation from Harvard University. What was that experience like? What was your biggest takeaway?

My biggest takeaway is that I should have started it a decade earlier! It was two years of filling all of my dead time by sitting in airplanes and hotel rooms with incredibly interesting classes and research. Going back to school at an older age was actually a great experience, and it was very fulfilling. Relearning how to write a proper grad paper was a challenge, though. But I got straight A’s throughout, and I have that sucker framed proudly in my house! Andrew Ference in Poppy Barley's Jasper Derby

Wearing The Jasper Derby in Black

What is the best career advice you have been given?

“You are what you do, not what you say.” Some of the best life advice too. Dreaming and having goals about doing big things is easy, actually doing them is a different animal.

Over the years, you have been such an activist in the communities you have lived. Why is giving back to the community so important to you? Where do you think this passion came from?

It’s not “giving back” to the community; it’s just being a decent citizen. Be proud of where you live and do things to make it a little better. It’s not complicated. Andrew Ference in Poppy Barley's Jasper Derby

Wearing The Jasper Derby in Black

Why did you decide to make Edmonton your home?

I’ve been fortunate to live and travel to many cities around the world, and they all have their pros and cons. Especially when you look at them with the thought of living there. It came down to the fact that Edmonton is an easy place to live for our family. Solid people, great schools, fantastic recreation and sports, and yeah, it’s really bloody cold in the winter. Like I said, pros and cons. Andrew Ference in Poppy Barley's Jasper Derby

Wearing The Jasper Derby in Black

How do you see Edmonton evolving and changing in the next 5 years? 10 years?

I believe that good cities have an abundance of human interaction. Whether that’s through a traditional European town square or a city that has great infrastructure for walking, biking, skateboarding, whatever that may be. I am hopeful that better infrastructure around non-car transportation continues, and I look forward to seeing the outdoor square beside Rogers get properly utilized for what should be non-stop programming; Christmas markets, concerts, street hockey tournaments and so-on.

What is one thing about yourself, that people will be surprised to hear?

I really enjoy quality time in the kitchen. Pies and cookies especially. I also make incredible crepes.

One piece of advice you would give your younger self?

You want to be punk? Be straight edge.

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