DYAN Leah ‘Nikki’ Cheng is not complaining about juggling her roles as president of the Philippine Skating Union and senior operations manager of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF NIKKI CHENG

Balancing both corporate and sports jobs isn’t easy.

But Dyan Leah “Nikki” Cheng proves it otherwise.

Cheng, who juggles her jobs as senior operations manager of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. and president of the Philippine Skating Union, said she is glad to have the opportunity to work in the corporate world while enjoying her passion in skating.

She said getting involved in two demanding — yet enjoyable — tasks is a huge blessing.

“I have a corporate job that is aligned with my passion and every experience that I have is unique,” said Cheng in an interview with Daily Tribune.

“The best thing about it is how the two roles are aligned. The fact that SM has skating rinks gets me in a good position to create change not only on the sporting side but also on the business side because they get sewn together.”

A Marketing Management graduate at De La Salle University, the 31-year-old Cheng sees her involvement in sports as something that would further amplify her role in growing the business.

“From a business standpoint, sports open many networking opportunities. It serves as a unifying force, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, not only within the Philippines but across the globe,” Cheng said.

“Personally, I’ve found value in cultivating relationships and expanding my network with various NSA (national sports association) officials. Through sports, I’ve met politicians, executives, relatives of business magnates and even celebrities.”

As president of skating and executive of SM, which owns some of the country’s best skating rinks, she gets the best of both worlds as she gets the chance to skate from time to time while attending to her corporate responsibilities.

“I enjoy skating. I’m a recreational skater. I still skate but it’s more of an exercise,” she said.

But enjoying her passion while having a high-profile corporate position isn’t an overnight process.

Cheng admitted that she also started her way down as she was part of the Supermalls Management In-Training Program in 2017 before becoming a tenant relations manager in 2018.

Then, when the PhSU leadership was offered, she nearly turned it down.

“When I was recruited by SM, their front was there are malls in SM China and they want to deploy me there. That was always where my eyes were,” Cheng, a half-Chinese, said.

“Back then, I didn’t really know what I was going through. It is nothing that I regret and I love what I am doing.”

Cheng assumed the PhSU leadership post in December 2020, a month after its longtime president Josie Veguillas passed away.

One of the highlights of her young career as an NSA leader was being part of the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games management team as a deputy of chief of mission Richard Gomez.

Cheng, who graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2016 with a Chinese Language degree, said she enjoyed her stint in assisting the national athletes while utilizing her mastery of the Chinese language.

“Definitely it was a plus and an advantage. I think one of the reasons why I was invited is because they know I can speak Chinese,” Cheng said.

She added that while working under the umbrella of SM does make the job easier, there are still challenges in looking for support to sustain the training and participation of the national athletes.

With that, they came up with an annual show — the “Carols on Ice” — to raise funds for athletes and coaches preparing for major international events.

Among those who took part in the highly-successful event were star skaters Sofia Frank, Edrian Paul Celestino, Isabella Gamez and Alexander Korovin, who all performed gracefully before competing in their respective events in the national championships.

“The public’s misconception about us is that we have a lot of money since we’re kind of under SM. We have some help but it’s not like SM gives everything to support the athletes,” Cheng said.

“SM gives but it’s still a journey of finding sponsors. I don’t think one entity can do all this.”

Cheng said she is lucky to have her passion and work knotted in a happy union that puts her in a position to be a catalyst for change.

With that, other sports officials should also find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds. After all, working while having fun would definitely lead to positive results.

“I think if their work and the sport they are in are intertwined, they are in a great position to create change,” Cheng said.

“As long as they are passionate about the sport, I hope they do their best. I think they should take the opportunity to grow their sport while they are still in that position.”