Jillian Klassen is the Manager, Venue and Sport Partnerships at UBC, which means she gets to represent our accommodations, as well as the 14 sports facilities on campus. She works to bring sporting events to UBC Vancouver, and acts as the liaison between event organizers, and our UBC venues. In her free time, Jillian loves to run every morning, read, cook, and hang out with her dog, Cooper.
Interview by Tony Tsu
WHAT DO YOU DO HERE AT UBC?
I have a unique role here on campus, as I support two departments; Conferences & Accommodation and Athletics & Recreation. This is because my role is to secure large events on campus that utilize both athletics facilities and accommodations. UBC has 14 world-class facilities and over 7,000 beds on campus during the summer months to sell to external groups. This allows for a seamless event experience for athletes competing as well as attendees! Having all of this in one place means that there are cost savings involved, such as affordable hotel rooms, and minimal transportation costs as UBC is very walkable! It’s really the perfect, worry-free option large events.
HOW IS IT LIKE TO WORK SO CLOSELY WITH THE UBC COMMUNITY?
The UBC community is so large, which means that I am not always working on external events to UBC. Our varsity coaches are among some of the best in Canada, with years of experience and strong networks within their respective sports. Therefore, I also work with them to bring high profile National Sporting Organizations (NSOs) to campus, as well as National Training Camps. Not only do these events help elevate UBC’s reputation, but they are also an avenue to generate revenue that is used to support student athletes, new facilities for use by the UBC community, new student residences, and many other initiatives.
WHAT MAKES UBC UNIQUE AS A SPORTING/EVENT VENUE?
Nowhere else in Vancouver (or Canada) can you find access to 14 world-class facilities and 7,000+ rooms, all in one convenient location. Not only does it make it easier for planners, but it’s a simple and seamless experience for the athletes, and spectators. Everything is walkable and easy to access, which makes it an ideal location for complex events that require flexibility and many different venue options.
HOW HAS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IMPACTED YOUR WORK?
Like every venue, due to COVID we have had to cancel almost every event. Given that I focus on sports groups, high performance athletes attending training camps are exempt from COVID restrictions. This is because with the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, it is imperative that teams are able to train together in order to remain competitive. Therefore, we have already had one National Team train and stay at UBC in January, and another one in March which is great to see.
WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE US TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORK THAT YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES DO?
It is so satisfying to see an event be successful for the organizer and the attendees, and have a positive impact on the UBC community. Knowing that I play a small part in booking these events, which give athletes the opportunity to grow and improve in a sport they are passionate about is very rewarding! Whether they’re junior teams, or professional athletes, seeing someone do what they love keeps me going, even through difficult times like the pandemic.