by Meredith Dault
For Jordan Harding, there is a direct line between his decision to pursue a Master's degree in Industrial Relations, and the National Hockey League's commissioner, Gary Bettman. "I looked at Bettman's profile," recalls Harding, "and I saw that he did an Industrial Relations degree at Cornell... and then he went on to do law school." Intent on working in the sports industry, for Harding, it made perfect sense: wanting to work in Bettman's world, he figured, would mean following Bettman's path.
Harding, 23, who was raised in a business-minded family, has always been interested in sports. Growing up, he played baseball, and also served as the coxswain with a rowing team in St. Catharines, his hometown. "Obviously, I'm not the tallest guy," laughs Harding, referring to the position's preference for smaller-framed people, "and the coxie's job is to be the coach in the boat, be the strategist and steer the boat down the course."
For Harding, who had always been drawn to leadership roles, it was an ideal fit. "It was a position where I could be telling the other guys, this is what I want to see in you...I believe in you. It really got me interested in leadership and motivation." Harding then went on to earn his undergrad degree in business at Brock University. From there Industrial Relations seemed like a natural progression.
"You learn a lot about negotiations, labour law, employment law, and about what a collective bargaining agreement is," explains Harding about the intensive, 10-month MIR program. "It's also a human resources program, so you get to learn things like interviewing and recruitment skills."
For Harding, however, coming to Queen's was about more than just buckling down with his coursework. Driven by his passion for sports, Harding has helped build the student arm of a Canadian Tire-sponsored charity, Jumpstart -- a program that helps children in financial need participate in organized sport and recreation (visit www.ctjumpstart.com for more information).
Though initiated while a student at Brock, Harding has since founded a Queen's chapter of the charity and has recruited a team which includes 15 of his fellow MIR students, along with 10 from the Commerce program. Thus far, this year's fundraising projects include a Bedouin Soundclash concert in March (which raised an impressive $6400) and a childrens ball hockey tournament (which will take place in May).
For Harding (who hopes, ultimately, to pursue an MBA in sports business) the decision to come to Queen's was clearly the right one. "I came not knowing anyone in the program, and not even thinking that we could bring Jumpstart here, but people were so motivated to do anything! I had no idea that we would be putting on a Bedouin Soundclash concert and the hockey tournament!" The Queen's MIR program has provided the perfect venue to blend Harding's passion for business, leadership, and sports. It's kind of like being at the helm of that boat again. "With me," laughs Harding, "if there are people who want to do something, and they are motivated... well then I'm all for it."