May 23, 2017
Langara Alumni recently sat down with Human Kinetics alumus Tyler Wallace to chat about his career in sports performance healthcare, working with the NBAs Phoenix Suns, and life after Langara.
It's great chatting with you. First things first, why did you choose Langara?
There were several reasons: Firstly, educationally it provided me with a program that met the area of focus I was interested in as I wanted to pursue a career in the area of athletics and/or sports medicine. I can honestly say I wasn't exactly sure at that point what I wanted to be when I grew up but I knew if I could be involved in athletics at some level it would be great. I had a keen interest in human performance and sports medicine.
Secondly, it gave me a very good stepping-stone to be able to get classes and credits that would help me transition to a major university. When I started I had my eyes on UBC but that changed over time.
Thirdly, personally, I had a few friends who were going to attend and I had got to know a few faculty and staff who made Langara a very attractive place to begin my higher education path.
What program did you take?
I was in the Human Kinetics program. It might have been know as Human Performance at that time. I also volunteered time with the athletics department serving as trainer and manager for Men's basketball for a couple of years.
What is your current career? Position?
I am Chief Product Officer of a Performance Healthcare solutions company called Fusionetics. Our product team is responsible for the innovation and creation of clinical and technical products that help people move, perform, and recover better. We have several divisions that contribute to our product and I am fortunate to get to work with some great people and brilliant minds across research, content, production, and technology to build and deliver solution implementation in professional and collegiate sports, fitness, and healthcare.
How important do you think education was in achieving your current position/success in your field?
Education is important in any career. It was very important in mine not only in the way of the academics on campus but also as it allowed me the opportunity internships and networking to put learning into application and provider real work experiences along the way. The knowledge you gain through academics is very valuable but the ability to use that in combination with work setting applications is priceless, as is the networking that goes on through such programs in and out of school.
There are many areas where academics also are not keeping up with industry change and also the cost of education is at an all time high. Students need to be aware to ensure their investment, financiall and in time, in the education is in the right program and going to provide the right outcome for them to achieve a prosperous career.
What advice would you give to students considering a career in your field?
Understand the landscape and consider not what the industry is today but where will it be in 5, 10, 20 years when you are growing professionally and in the middle of your career.
Ask yourself if you are working 50-80 hours a week are you in a spot that hits on your:
Personal passion - do you love what you do? If not pick a new path
Reward am I seeking - financially or otherwise most people want to be recognized and feel they are making an positive impact with their contributions
My industry is at the intersection of healthcare and technology, which are changing and evolving every day. The jobs that are available today weren't even around when I was in school and thus students in this field need to stay open-minded and understand what is here to stay vs. the trends or fads that come and go.
Staying on top of both the research and the staying connected is really important. In the real world its as much about who you know as it is about what you know.
Today's world is as small as it has ever been. Good news and great reputations travel fast...but so do poor ones. So lastly, I would tell them to work hard and have a good attitude - there is no replacement for that.
In your experience, are there any differences between working in Canada and the US?
There are great things happening on both sides of the border but there are some significant differences between working in Canada and the U.S.
In my field of sport and healthcare and the integration, there simply is a larger market in the U.S. and thus much more opportunity. With that said, there is also more competition.
I think there are also some difference in the attitude, mind-set, and pace of the people in the work environment between the two countries. Having lived in each country for about half my life, there are many similarities but there are some differences culturally, which make the work environment different. Not better or worse on either side of the border, just different.
How did you get there from here (career path)?
I attended Langara and then transferred to Arizona State University. My first job out of school was at Physiotherapy Associates (Tempe, AZ) - one of the top physical therapy clinics in the U.S. There, I met some amazing people in the field who taught me a ton about the field and started me on what turned out to be my career path.
I then transitioned to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in California where I started as clinical director of our training facility and then led product development and strategic development for the organization for over 10 years.
Next I joined the Phoenix Suns as director of Performance and Recovery. It was an amazing experience to work alongside the premier sports medicine and performance staff in sport and contribute to their system.
Finally, I was fortunate to be a part of the creation and start-up of Fusionetics with partners and colleagues four years ago.
Was working in your current field a lifelong dream or an unexpected joy? And why?
I think a combination of both. I always have been interested and passionate about the area in which I work but as I entered college I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to be when grew up.
Following my passion however has led me to opportunities and experiences that I couldn't have imagined. The industry work in has evolved exponentially as a result of the technology and economics surrounding sports in the U.S. and healthcare.
What was the most unexpected point/experience in your career so far?
The most unexpected thing has been the opportunity to work alongside and meet some amazing people in sport and in business. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by great teammates at each step of my professional journey and the contacts, experiences, and outcomes I have made along the way are some of the things I'm most proud of.
Do you have a favourite Langara memory? Favourite teacher?
I look back at the times I had with my involvement in both academics and athletics at Langara fondly. The memories that stand out the most are of the great teams I was a part of, like Men's Basketball, and the friendships that were created working closely with student athletes.
I can't speak for everyone but balancing workloads (school and sports) taught me a lot and made me value the commitment and dedication that everyone had to each other. There were people from all over the place with many different backgrounds who came together to work towards a common goal, through good times as well as challenging times, and in many ways we achieved at the highest level - aside from a loss in the National Championship game. Looking back many of those experiences I can say it helped lay a great foundation to help prepare me for the real world after academics.
Knowing what you know today...what piece of advice would you give your old student self?
Work hard and smart. A strong effort is recognized and rewarded, lack of effort is not. As you gain experience, create systems that can combine hard work with working smarter to maximize outcomes.
Get AND Stay Connected. Who you know is often more important than what you know, create a network of people you can trust, help, and have them you... and don't burn bridges. Respect in the business world goes a long way.
Be a Team Player. Contribute in any way you can with a positive attitude.
Execute. Regardless of career make sure your actions deliver results that are what employers want, and if you are working for yourself you will want that too.
What an amazing story. I'm sure both our current Langara students and alumni will find as inspiring as I have. Thanks so much Tyler for taking to time to chat with us.