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Redefining the athlete: Making a career transition

Making a career transition is a tough decision at any stage of life, but it can offer unique challenges to athletes.

To make a successful career change it is important for anyone to follow a process and evaluate your interests, values, and skills and what you enjoy doing.

For ex-athletes, they can use their well-horned sense of discipline to ensure they really follow this process thoroughly. Alternative careers should be considered, and the different job options that might appeal.

Aon’s Global and Corporate Sales Director Nick Green OAM successfully made the transition from former professional rower and Olympic athlete to the corporate life, and says it is important for athletes to use their huge networks and connections gained over their time in their sport, and speak to people from many different walks of life to identify pathways and options.

“While it depends on your career interests, I think networks and connections are so important. I think what I personally gained and found value from my sporting and outside sport connections that they are very willing to help and support you. For athletes what I would encourage them to do is make as many connections and life-long friends as they can, and some of these connections will open up doors for you.”

Nick also suggests getting advice from many different people to help evaluate your decision.

There are many ways that athletes can translate their sporting skills into the corporate or professional world, with discipline and leadership values being two strong examples of skill sets aligning that both sectors can utilise.

“There’s a lot of learnings between how corporates perform and execute and how athletes perform and execute. There’s lots of parallels between the two sectors and ideally there’s some meeting point in the middle where athletes can learn from the corporate sector and at the same time the corporates can use some of the skills sets athletes have.”

This is an advantage when athletes look to make a move into a professional area. But, Nick says, when making that career move athletes will face a challenge in how they define themselves anew.

“When you move into a different environment outside your sport, you’ll always be defined as that athlete. The challenge is how you embrace that to your advantage and how you want to redefine yourself in this new career endeavour, whatever that may be. You make a decision about what’s important in your life.”

Ultimately, it is important for athletes to do their research and evaluate their skills to determine how they want to spend the next part of their life, take advantage of those valuable sporting connections, and when making the leap use those skills gained as an athlete to successfully transition to their new career.