Susan Kricun wanted to be an actress. The 32-year old Vice President of Communications and Executive Director of Coyotes Charities grew up wanting to be in the spotlight, and instead ended up working with “the greatest hockey legend of all time, Wayne Gretzky”, as she explained.
Being an actress seemed too risky for the Arizona State University Journalism graduate, but looking back, she is still not sure exactly what was holding her back. “After having my own company, I look back at my life and I think, I have done a lot of very risky things.”
Being in the public relations field, Susan still gets to enjoy the spotlight she craves from time to time. “The good news is I have the opportunity through my job now and my role in publicity throughout my career to act as a spokesperson. So I still get my time in front of the camera”, Susan said laughing.
In her final semester of college, Kricun needed to take an internship for credit and ended up working for SRO Communications. At the time, SRO was a full service agency for the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and America West Arena, home of the Suns and Coyotes. After seven months with SRO and upon completion of her internship, another ad agency, E.B. Lane, hired her on. She was there only seven weeks before SRO offered her a full-time public relations position. She took it and spent the next five years building a solid foundation for her career.
The internship was instrumental in allowing Kricun to realize this was what she wanted to do. “It (the internship) gave me a good solid footing and understanding of what public relations was”, said Kricun. “Given the nature of the business I was involved with, between all the work with the Phoenix Suns and Suns Charities, and all the publicity opportunities for concerts and family shows at AWA, it seemed like a perfect fit.”
In 1998, after five years of working for SRO, Susan decided to launch her own marketing company, Ink Communications. During that time on her own, she achieved several successes including strategic alliance programs and marketing for clients including Nextel Communications, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Avon Cosmetics, Sprint PCS, Phoenix Coyotes, Harlem Globetrotters, Tom Collin’s Champions On Ice and Sportscom to name a few.
Her experience at SRO would eventually be the stepping stone to the position she holds today with the Phoenix Coyotes. In 1996, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix and Susan was a part of the team that helped launch NHL hockey in the desert. “I met Shawn Hunter, along with several others from Winnipeg when the team first came to Arizona. I was fortunate to help launch the team and educate fans about the sport of ice hockey in Phoenix for the first year and a half that they were here in the Valley.”
Susan’s working relationship with Shawn Hunter over the past several years eventually led to her closing her company and becoming a full-time member of the Phoenix Coyotes staff. “About a year and a half or two years into it (Ink Communications), Shawn approached me and asked me if I would be interested in coming back and working for the team full time”, Susan said. “I had plenty of time to think about it and once the ownership change took place this past February, I was retained through Ink to represent the Coyotes. During that time, I spent the majority of my time focusing on the Coyotes account. In June when the new arena was solidified for Glendale, AZ, I made the decision to close Ink and go full time with the team.”
“With the new ownership and new venue in Glendale, the position Shawn offered me is a tremendous career opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
It was the success of Susan’s company and her own hard work that has paid off in the way of her current position. Owning her own company was very rewarding, but she is very happy in her new environment. “I had a taste of owning my own company and I enjoyed it immensely, but I don’t know if that’s something I would pursue again. I enjoy the working environment at the Coyotes. It’s great having lots of people around and resources at your fingertips.”
As far as what it takes to “Work In Sports”, Susan offers some great advice. “Hands down, without a doubt, you have got to get an internship. It provides practical experience and, if nothing else, you know exactly what you are getting in to.”
A living example of a famous saying, “it’s who you know”, Kricun explained more benefits of spending time as an intern. “It provides you the opportunity to meet people and network. A lot of what it takes to get hired is through word of mouth since the industry is so fast-paced. It’s a lot easier and faster to fill positions through referrals than it is to open it up to the general public.”
It does not stop there though, as Susan continued to explain, “The people who persevere and put forth the effort I think are the people who rise to the top and end up successful in the industry. You have to have the passion to succeed. The sports and entertainment industry is so cut-throat and there are so many people that want to be in it. You have to have the mentality that you’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done and you have to continue that will to succeed through your career no matter what level you’re at.”