Challenge to Change | Olympic-sized career for BCom alum

Keavy O’Malley-Keyes used her Bachelor of Commerce to kick start her career as a global player and is now Merchandising Manager at NBC Sports in New York.


For almost as long as she can remember, Keavy O’Malley-Keyes has been an international student. She was born in Holland, lived in six different countries, and attended high school in both Belgium and Japan.

When she was determining where to go to business school, top of her priorities was finding a school with a global outlook, where she would fit in.

“My initial plan was to go to the UK,” she says. “But then a UBC Sauder recruiter came to visit my high school in Tokyo. When I learned about the quality of the program and heard how many international students attend UBC Sauder, I changed my mind.”


Just like that, O’Malley-Keyes' goal became to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) at UBC Sauder even though she had never lived in Canada before.

“I thought it would be fun to add to the list,” she says.

When she arrived, she found the city of Vancouver and the UBC Sauder campus welcoming. O’Malley-Keyes settled into the Canadian lifestyle quickly and took in her first hockey game, one of the country’s most beloved sports.

“I’ve always loved sports but I didn’t know a thing about ice hockey because it just wasn’t big in any of the places I’d lived,” she says. “When I went to my first Vancouver Canucks game with some friends from UBC, I thought it was just the coolest thing.”

She didn’t know it at the time, but that game, coupled with her UBC Sauder BCom, would chart a new course for her career.

Keavy O'Malley quote


O’Malley-Keyes gives much of the credit for her easy transition to UBC Sauder to her international student coordinator.

“Wally Mitchell was key to helping me get set up initially,” she says. “He helped me immeasurably.”

On campus, O’Malley-Keyes pursued a well-rounded university experience; she pledged a sorority, played dodge ball on recreational sports teams and took full advantage of everything the UBC Sauder BCom offered. Off campus, she spent her winter weekends skiing at the world-renowned resort Whistler Blackcomb.

Even with a full schedule of extracurricular activities, O’Malley-Keyes completed her BCom with honours.

“I was very proud of that distinction because it opens up so many doors in my career,” she says.


After graduation, O’Malley-Keyes returned to the Vancouver Canucks, not as a fan, but as an intern in their marketing department. That led to a position with the National Hockey League in New York, which she held for three years.

Now, she’s Merchandising Manager at NBC Sports in New York, where she specializes in Olympic gear.

“I love the travel component of my job,” she says. “I spent two months in Rio this summer and I’m already looking forward to the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.”

O’Malley-Keyes never predicted her career would take her where it has.

“I was a Human Resources major,” she says. “And that just goes to show that the UBC Sauder BCom is such a well-rounded program, I was able to end up here in consumer products. The finance and statistics courses I took help all the time because I use financial forecasting tools in merchandising.

“In fact, I use the skills I gained in my BCom every day.”


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