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Always a Saint

Published on

by Sandra Mitchell '91

Paul Bee ‘06 is lit with a competitive spirit. Bee has loved being part of a team since boyhood, playing sports in his hometown of Mattawan in Southwest Michigan. He carried on with athletics in high school and at Aquinas, where he played basketball and ran track. Before his graduation from Aquinas, Bee secured a career in professional sports. Though no longer competing on the court or the track, Bee’s career is fueled by the same passion that drove him as an AQ Saint.

With a dual degree in business administration and communications and two internships under his belt, Bee started working in ticketing for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers just two weeks after graduation. He absorbed all he could in three different roles with the Cavaliers before moving on to another ticketing role in professional sports, this time with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. During his time with the Red Wings, Bee served as an adjunct professor at both Aquinas and Wayne State University, teaching sports business courses. He rose through the ranks of the Red Wings Staff, eventually serving as Director of Ticket Sales.

Then, in 2017, after seven years with the Red Wings, the Milwaukee Bucks came calling. The team offered Bee a position he couldn’t refuse: Vice President of Group Ticket Sales.

FROM THE MINOR LEAGUES TO THE PROS

When Bee stepped onto AQ’s campus in 2002, it was to play basketball, run track and earn a degree in business. Aquinas provided Bee with the perfect combination of sports, course offerings and proximity to his home and family. Having the growing city of Grand Rapids just up the street didn’t hurt.

Bee remembers one way Aquinas prepared him for the business world: telling him he needed to gain work experience and helping him get it. Not only did he accept invitations to apply for and serve as an AQ Ambassador with the admissions department, Bee went on a search for an internship. He was eventually hired as a group sales intern at the West Michigan Whitecaps. Working in these two positions, Bee began to understand how to be a professional out in the real world.

“As an ambassador, I got my first suit, went through etiquette training and learned how to give tours, which was a good training ground to help me learn how to run meetings,” Bee said. “My internship with the Whitecaps was everything you think an internship should be. I did a little bit of everything, which really got the wheels turning about where I wanted my career to go.”

THE AQ IMPACT

Today, Bee isn’t just part of a team, he’s leading a team. With 70 sales representatives reporting to him, Bee’s job is to sell out the Bucks’ arena on every game night.

To be a successful leader, he ensures his team members have appropriate training, use the best technology, operate efficiently and feel they are part of a fun and challenging culture. Most important to Bee’s success is recruiting the right talent for the job. Much of that talent comes to Bee through his Aquinas network.

Bee stays in touch with people from his basketball and track days, including those he competed against. His connections have grown outward from the West Michigan Whitecaps and now include players and professionals from national teams. Aquinas professors put Bee in front of students to talk about sales careers. And he’s grown professional relationships and personal friendships with many Aquinas staff and academic members.

“AQ does it the right way,” Bee said. “There are some schools out there considered ‘powerhouses’ of the marketing and sales industry — they have 20,000 or more students on campus. But I think Aquinas has a better advantage. We’re investing time in the students that are coming out. I’m always looking for talent, always looking for people wanting to succeed in this industry. Aquinas has those people.”

Bee believes being an Aquinas Saint gives its students and graduates full access to the business world. The relationships he’s nurtured with the College’s staff and professors provide him with immeasurable and ongoing support with his career. With his competitive and generous spirit always in play, Bee gives back to the community from which he’s received.

“I’m thankful for everything Aquinas has done for me,” Bee said. “I have countless people I rely on and lean on and reach out to. I don’t think many people have any idea of the impact school has on you, even once your days in the classroom are done.”

“I’ll always be a Saint.”