[Submitted photo: CBC host Ron MacLean with MHC alumnus Kynan Vine [right] broadcasting live from the Calgary Stampede.]
The business of rodeo & relationships
Rodeo has always been a way of life for Kynan Vine, but his perspective on the sport has evolved over the years, thanks to his experience at Medicine Hat College (MHC). As the Manager of Rodeo and Chuckwagon for the Calgary Stampede, the business administration graduate has the opportunity to deliver once in a lifetime experiences to millions of people from around the world.
Born and raised in the Medicine Hat area, Vine grew up in the ranching and rodeo community. With a professional bull rider for a father and barrel racer for a mother, it’s no surprise that he found his way into the rodeo arena where he worked as a professional bullfighter for 13 years.
“It's a neat life to live. Rodeo is a transient lifestyle but it's such a community. The biggest thing rodeo taught me is the value of relationships. You never know when you’ll cross paths with someone again.”
Education was also valued by Vine. Although he was offered rodeo scholarships across the USA, MHC was his first choice when it came to pursuing post-secondary. He started in environmental reclamation but was drawn to the business aspects of the program and changed his course of study.
“At first I thought marketing was about selling but I learned you can’t market anything without being passionate about it. It has to be genuine,” explains Vine.
“I got such a good background in the business administration program. The accounting and marketing knowledge was foundational and I was well prepared to start working.”
He graduated with a business administration diploma in marketing in 2009 and launched a successful career that combined his education with his passion for rodeo. He took a part-time position with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) and continued to rodeo on the weekends. One year later, he was offered the position of Director of Rodeo Administration and was the youngest person to hold this position by nearly 20 years. In this role, Vine was responsible for the execution and administration of over 55 professional rodeos across Canada, including leading the production for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). He also helped to realign pro rodeo with sponsorship programs, broadcast media opportunities and other marketing initiatives, and to produce the first live broadcast of the CFR. During his time with the CPRA, he also held positions on the CFR Commission, Cowboys Benevolent Foundation Board and the Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Board.
Vine retired from rodeo competition in 2013 after donating a kidney to his mom and was grateful for his education, which helped him launch a new phase in his life. With a solid foundation from MHC, he completed an executive master in business administration degree at the University of Calgary.
In 2015, he took a contract with the Calgary Stampede as a rodeo production consultant and the rodeo arena director, a position held by only five people in the event’s 108 year history. In addition to managing 10 days of rodeo and chuckwagon action at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, he continues to produce 50 other rodeo events across Canada throughout the year.
“It’s an adrenaline rush seeing it all come together. It's really about entertaining people and giving them experiences that they have never had before.”
When he’s not busy delivering these experiences, Vine is speaking at conferences about the business of rodeo, covering everything from fan engagement and marketing practices to event production and sustainability. He also has the opportunity to share his love for the sport with children, which is one of his favourite parts of the job.
“I can honestly say I didn’t know where my education was going to take me. In the end, having a solid understanding of business has been the key to my success. Jobs like mine are few and far between in the rodeo industry, but I truly believe without my education from MHC, I would not have been able to be a part of the industry the way I am today,” says Vine.
“When I left high school, I am sure my teachers thought I would just rodeo until I couldn’t do it any longer. Last year, I was inducted into my high school’s hall of fame, so it just goes to prove that with a solid education and a passion in your life, if you can dream it, you can achieve it.”