My Career Change: Tom Tilley’s Career After Hockey

When a professional athlete’s playing days are over, many do not realize that athlete’s career in another field is often just beginning. As part of VIKTRE’s dedication to drive interaction between athletes and their fans, our Career team made it a priority to show how successful many athletes have been since their playing days ended in a feature called “My Career Change.”

In this installment of “My Career Change,” we interviewed former Professional Hockey Player, Tom Tilley. Most know Tilley from his collegiate days at Michigan State, and in the NHL with the Blues, Lightning and Blackhawks.

What sport did you play?

Hockey

What teams did you play for? Tom Tilley

Michigan State
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Chicago Blackhawks
Peoria Rivermen
Atlanta Knights
Indianapolis Ice
Team Canada World Championships

What industry did you change careers to?

Last 12 years in investment banking/mergers and acquisitions.

How did you get into your new career?

After hockey I transitioned into management for CBS radio in Chicago managing the Chicago Blackhawks Radio network. I worked my way up within two years to managing the 3rd largest sports radio station in the country in Chicago for CBS. At that point I was recruited by a public company out of Pennsylvania to do a start-up sports radio station in Kansas City. Within two years a client recruited me to join his merger and acquisition firm. I managed the company for three years and merged it into a larger firm. After eight years as a partner in that firm, I joined a national wealth management holding company to help lead their investment banking subsidiary. That is where I am currently.

What was the biggest challenge you faced making your career change?

I spent my last four years playing hockey with the Chicago Wolves in the now defunct International Hockey league. During that time, I spent time building my resume by starting a company and working in the front office in sales during the offseason. I was working to build my resume so that I could transition into the corporate world in a seamless fashion. Unfortunately, even with those efforts, the reality was that everyone was fascinated by my resume and I had a lot of interviews but no one had the fortitude to hire me. Finally, a desperate CBS General Manager who was in charge of a neglected property in the Chicago Blackhawks Radio network decided to take a flier on me.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your new career?

A successful progression into a high level finance and investment banking career within 15 years of retiring from professional hockey at the age of 35. Money is not the measure of a man’s success, but I am proud of the fact that I love what I do and make more than twice as much money as I did in my highest paid year in the NHL.

What advice do you have for athletes making their career change?

You need to take control of your transition and if you wait for something to happen outside of hockey you will be sadly disappointed. Be confident in your professional sports background and trust the instincts you have gained along the way. The work ethic and worldly knowledge you have gained along the way is transferable into other careers and industries. Work the network you gained in your professional athletic career to shadow people in various industries to see what you may like but be patient with the process and don’t just jump at the first opportunity. Make a plan and then work the plan. Just like when you were playing.

How can other athletes learn more about your business or your career change?

You can contact Tom via email at: tom.tilley@alliedbizgroup.com. You can learn more about his comany at www.alliedbizgroup.com.

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