Competition day is familiar to me. I wake up early, take a mental note of my goals for the next 12 hours, make some coffee and tie my hair back in a tight pony tail. Somehow, today was familiar. Instead of my team Canada gear, I put on business appropriate attire and rather than rolling my fencing bag into the competition salle, I took the elevator up to the Deloitte office overlooking downtown Calgary. It was a clean slate to participate in Game Plan Day, an immersive in-office experience for Olympians, Paralympians and National Team athletes to explore career development and life after sport.
At 8:45am I walked into the boardroom to sit with 16 of my Canadian teammates and scanned the room a few times to place them without their lycra, speed suits or skis. The team at Deloitte gave us a warm welcome and talked about the environment in which they work and how it supports people from all backgrounds to flourish in their own way. They emphasized the power of a non-traditional workplace and a high-performance culture. Instantly all the athlete’s eyes lit up and I think it sparked a world of possibility in that room. Deloitte proceeded to lay out the schedule for the day, packed with speakers, job shadows, networking and mock interviews.
First was the job shadow portion of the day. I joined Tynan Wenarchuk, an analyst in the consulting practice at Deloitte. I showed up to his office eager to tag along with his morning, to find out that he was already on a call with Deloitte employees from across Canada strategizing on how to best deliver their message to the client they were advising. I was impressed with how interactive and productive the call was. With so many individuals on the line, I didn’t expect the team to come away with so many action items and clear ideas for their client. As an athlete, we are uniquely placed to effectively work within a team atmosphere to deliver a result under pressure. I quickly realized the skills I have honed as an athlete are incredibly transferable and useful to a different kind of team.
Next was the mock interview. I was asked all the standard interview questions and with little work experience, I was able to convey my strengths, problem solving abilities and overcoming adversity easily through examples from my Olympic pursuits instead. Furthering the connection with what I have to offer and what employers are looking for, I quickly realized that interviewing requires concise, deliberate communication. Just like our lives in sport with our teams and coaches, effective communication delivers results.
Finally, it was time for the speed networking portion of the event. With various Deloitte clients and partners in attendance, our task was to spend five minutes with each of them. Hearing about their individual career developments, it was evident that there is not a defined path but a common thread. Resiliency, hard work and seeking opportunity defined these leaders in their respective industries but it is also at the core of our make-up as athletes.
After a morning jam-packed at the Deloitte office, I laced up my running shoes to reflect on what the day had taught me. My real takeaway from Game Plan Day was that the intangible assets we have polished to get to the Olympic stage are transferrable and desirable in life after sport. From applying teamwork skills in the boardroom, to using advocacy skills in interviews instead of lobbying coaches, the parallels are obvious. Relaying interesting experiences gained through sport to network provides a unique perspective. Years of sport provide an excellent springboard to success in the workforce.
I would like to thank the Game Plan Team and Deloitte Canada for making this event possible and look forward to attending events in the future!
2012 & 2016 Olympian
Photo: Jared Armstrong