Say nothing if not the Pittsburgh Penguins organization is often forward-thinking and goes outside the usual. Earlier this season, the Vancouver Canucks hired the first female AGM, Emilie Castonguay, and the Penguins are opening the door for more.
On Wednesday, the Penguins announced Executive Management program for women and minority athletes to spend one year with the Penguins front office. The inaugural student is U.S. women’s hockey star, Amanda Kessel, who is also the sister of former Penguins two-time Stanley Cup champion, Phil Kessel.
The Executive Management Program offers candidates an opportunity to work alongside executives within the Penguins hockey operations, partnership, marketing, communication, and broadcast departments. The first-of-its-kind program will consist of a rotation through different departments to expose participants to all aspects of the sports business and includes graduate school education and community service components.
“It’s really important. And I’m happy to be one of the first leading the way. There are women that came before me and I’m really grateful that they’ve started to pave the way. And you see it now,” Kessel said. “There are a few women that are now assistant GMs and growing up, I didn’t really think that was a possibility. But like they always say if you can see it, you can be it. So I’m happy to be a leader in that.”
Kessel, 30, represented the United States at the 2014, 2018 and 2022 Olympic Winter Games, winning a gold medal in 2018 and a silver medal in the others. She has also represented the U.S. at six IIHF World Championships, including victories in 2013, 2017, and 2019.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are putting Kessel on the fast track to becoming one of or the first female GM. Kessel agreed, that’s the goal if that’s where her skills lie.
“Yeah. I mean, that would be an ultimate dream. And this program gives me the opportunity to find my way. Maybe there’s something else that I end up liking or somewhere that I’m needed or something that I’m better at,” said Kessel. “So I think this is kind of the perfect opportunity to explore all my passions.”