Oct. 27, 2022

Superstar athlete now uses his training to identify future Olympians

2022 Top 40 Under 40: Sam Effah, BComm’14; brand marketing, Sponsorship and Brand Strategy, RBC
Sam Effah
Sam Effah Avenue Magazine

Few moments in sports are as delicious with anticipation as when a stadium goes eerily silent, waiting for the gun to pop at a 100-metre final. Sam Effah, BComm’14, relished this thrill as two-time Canadian 100-metre champ, as well as holding the title of “fastest man in Canadian university history.” More fame came his way when he and Sarah Wells skidded into second place in the 2019 edition of The Amazing Race Canada. Besides being the chef de mission for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Effah has parlayed his background in sports and his business degrees (he also has a Master of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Queen's) into a managerial position on the brand-marketing team at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) where, today, he helps find and fund Canada's future Olympians.

Do you remember any classes or professors who were standouts?

Yes. My Sales Marketing class with Prof. Derek Hassay. This is where I learned the importance of being a great seller — and I don’t mean just in selling a product but selling yourself. Also, my Introduction to Marketing course with Prof. Marc Boivin taught me so much about branding, marketing, sponsorship and creating value for your organization. And I also loved my Sports Marketing course with Prof. Mehdi Mourali.

Where did you hang out on campus?

Baron's Court in Scurfield Hall and Mac Hall.

What has been your biggest career highlight?

There have been two: Being the Canadian 100-metre champion twice and being asked to be the chef de mission for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

What was it like transitioning from an athlete to a corporate gig?

It's a change of pace, but it's somewhat similar. In running track, I have my coach, my training partners and my competitors. At work, I have my coworkers, my manager and our competitors in the business. What’s different is that in sport I was always intense especially when it came to training. But with my current job at RBC, it's about pacing yourself . . .  taking the time to learn content and being a support to my team.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Watching the next generation of athletes reach their Olympic dreams is exciting, and being a part of making that journey happen is extremely rewarding.  I have an amazing team who has supported my transition into corporate and I'm extremely grateful for that. When you work with great people, it makes the job that much more worthwhile.

What have you missed most during the pandemic?

Connecting with people more consistently and attending events. Although most events have returned to "normal," I find it's taken me a bit more time to get used to in-person interactions.  

Any advice for students or new grads? 

Do your best to align future opportunities with your studies if you can — but don't worry if you land in a place that isn't directly within your skillset.  Sometimes we find passions that we never knew we had. To figure this out, we need to try many different roles and be open-minded!

What do you miss about student life? 

The first day of the semester. I love meeting new people and jumping into classes that piqued my interests was always exciting.

With files from Avenue Magazine.

Meet the entire 2022 cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honourees at Avenue Magazine.