Week 49: Kelly O’Hanlon

Development Planner


Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


My name is Kelly O’Hanlon and I am a Development Planner focusing mostly on residential development in the City of Toronto.  Sports have been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I played five years with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team, and served as captain for my final two years before graduating with a Bachelor in Commerce.  I went on to play one year in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, but made a choice to focus on my career afterwards.  This led me to a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Ryerson University.  I am lucky to still have a role in varsity sports as the assistant coach of the UofT Women’s hockey team.


What is something you learned by being on a team? How does that apply to your work?


Being on a team is a collaborative effort of individuals working together towards a common goal.  You learn to recognize your strengths, and identify weaknesses that you need to improve on.  You also learn how best to utilize the strengths of those around you to move closer to that common goal.  Being on a team is also more than performance on the ice, field, or court.  You learn valuable skills related to time management, responsibility, leadership, confidence and respect.  The field I work in is very collaborative.  You are constantly working with other people, and learning to adapt to new situations.  Having a background in sport has allowed me to progress in my career, and take on new challenges with confidence.


How do you define leadership?


To me, leadership is having the ability to maximize the efforts of those around you.  It is about leading by example, and in doing so empowering those around you to reach their potential.  I have been in many different positions in sport and work, but by putting my full effort into everything that I do, I believe you receive the respect of those around you, enabling yourself to be in a position of leadership.


Have you experienced failure or a barrier that you have learned from? From that experience, what advice would you share with young athletes?  

After graduating from UofT, I was faced with a decision if I were to continue with hockey or focus on my career.  As elite athletes, it is hard to go from training daily with a constant support team of coaches, teammates, trainers, etc. to being a retired athlete.  I found this transition period to be difficult, but I was lucky to find a career path that I love while still being able to be involved in sport as an assistant coach at UofT.  For young athletes, who may find themselves in a similar position, I would stress the fact that transition from an elite athlete to a retired athlete is inevitable at some point.  It is important to know that there is opportunity beyond sport, but that the skills you learn from your days of being an athlete will help you through that transition and into your next career path. And of course, there are always resources available if you ask.


Instagram: @kellyo27