From Football to Finance: Lizzie Durack Shares her Unique Journey from Premiership Football to Global Bank

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Deciding to leave sport is never an easy feat. It often comes with nagging questions and doubts and the ultimate feeling of deep loss. For Lizzie Durack, moving away from football was no different. It was with a heavy heart that she chose to hang up her goalie gloves in order to pursue her finance career.

In Lizzie’s case, many questioned the timing as she is arguably in the prime of her playing career and well within the top-flight ranks, but for her the decision came off the back of her passion for cognitive engagement, be that academia or vocationally, and the newfound lifestyle freedom she will find in The City. She explains that her studies and corporate career have always been of equal importance to her sporting endeavours, and given her already illustrious football career felt it a great time to redirect her focus.

Lizzie Durack in action chelsea

add-victor had the opportunity to sit down with Lizzie to discuss her journey to this point; from leading Harvard’s soccer team to multiple Ivy League Championships  whilst completing her Economics and Neurobiology degree, to earning silver at the U19 European Championships for England, one thing is clear: regardless of what she does, it is done with passion and a fierce pursuit of excellence.

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What is your earliest memory of playing football?

I remember my first official game. It was for my under 8s school team and I was the only girl on the team. I volunteered to be the goalkeeper for the first half, and I remember running up to my mum  and dad just before the game started and telling them that I would never let in a goal. I think we were down 4-0 by half time!


What would you say is your greatest achievement within the sport?

There are many things I’m proud of when I think about my career, but I’d say winning a silver medal at the U19s European Championships would be the one that comes to mind. The team didn’t concede a goal until extra time in the final, and I was named as part of the team of the tournament. To be considered one of the best youth goalkeepers in Europe, was definitely a huge honour.

Durack Part of the Three Lions team
Durack Part of the Three Lions team

Where has been your favourite place to play?

I think the most enjoyable all-round playing experience I had, was my time playing college varsity football (soccer) at Harvard. The attitude and culture of team was just wonderful to be around. In saying that, playing for Chelsea wasincredible, and being able to train and play with some of the best players in the world at a world class facility was an exciting thing to be a part of.

You’ve played for both the Australian and English national teams, historically there has been a vibrant rivalry between the two countries, how was it to experience both camps? Is there one you preferred?

I played for Australia at U16 level and then England from U19s to seniors, and at least for me there was a quite a difference in the culture of the teams. Personally, I warmed more to the culture in the England squads, and found my place with the girls there more easily. I would also say that while both teams have incredibly talented players, the resources that are provided to the England teams are a step ahead of what Australia is given.


You’re relatively young in your playing career, what drove you to take a step away from Football and focus more on your finance career?

It was a really difficult decision that I thought long and hard about, but what it came down to was really just a gut feeling about what was going to make me happy. I don’t think I had the passion any more for football that I needed in order to continue pushing forward with my career, and I was starting to feel that the sacrifices it took were taking their toll on me too heavily. I really missed the deep intellectual stimulation from university and knew that a career in finance would provide me with that, as well as the freedoms (such as travel), that aren’t really available to professional athletes.


How did you come in contact with add-victor?

One of my good friends from Harvard, is a professional rower here in London. He had been in contact with add-victor, because he is also thinking about going into finance, whenever he decides to step away from rowing. I was discussing with him my thoughts about retiring and he put me in touch with Steve White-Cooper, who was fantastic in helping me through the process.


Where do you see your finance career developing? What are you most looking forward to within this new path?

I honestly don’t have an answer to the first part of that question. I am in a great team now at a large global bank, and am looking forward to learning a lot and doing some valuable work there. It’s exciting to work day in and out with incredibly smart people, and at this point I’m just trying to absorb everything I can from those ahead of me. More broadly, I’m excited to use my now more normal structure in life to travel and enjoy parts of life I haven’t ever really been able to enjoy!

Lizzie In Action for Harvard Women's Soccer
Lizzie In Action for Harvard Women's Soccer
Lizzie Durack Harvard save

What characteristic do you believe is the most influential to your success within sport and within finance? Are they the same?

It’s clichéd to say, but the answer to this is by far the support of my parents. From an early age, they would do anything to make sure I was able to access every opportunity both in football and in my academics. Whether it was driving long distances in peak hour traffic to get me to training, or making me late dinners when I had got home from training and had to start doing homework, they would always give up their time for me. They’ve travelled to the ends of the earth to watch me play and whether I had the best or worst game of my life, they were always there to give me a big hug. They’ve also been there to keep me level-headed and make sure I focus on my academics, without which I am sure I would never have the career opportunities I do now.


What have you learnt most from the football?

It’s tough to pinpoint a single thing, but I’d say acknowledging the temporary nature of every moment. Sport has definitely taught me that, as long as you’re working hard, when things aren’t going well, you’re next big win or breakthrough is never too far away. On the flip side, its taught me to appreciate the highs, because inevitably life will happen, and you will have to ride out another low in the not too distant future.


You studied at Harvard University, tell us what that experience was like, both for your sport and academics?

My time at Harvard provided me with some of the best moments of my life but also some of the toughest. Being young and that far away from home in an intense academic and sporting environment was really tough at times. But what I remember most were the fantastic friends I made, the incredible professors I was taught by, and the fantastic coaches, who had my back through the whole experience (….oh, and the extremely cold and snowy Boston winters!). I’d highly recommend to any young athlete, who also wants a university education to seriously consider going to the States.

Durack Walks Away from Football with Head Held High
Durack Walks Away from Football with Head Held High

What do you enjoy most about finance, more specifically the Sales space within?

As mentioned earlier, definitely working with smart and engaging people, who challenge and encourage you to learn and make an impact for the team. Specifically within Sales, you have the opportunity to help some incredible people in the industry with their business. It’s really cool to listen to how these experienced finance professionals speak about the markets.


If there is something you felt sets you apart from other graduate analysts, what would it be?

I’d say maybe a more mature outlook on life. By the pure fact that I took two years away from finance to be an athlete means that I am an older starter. A lot of the first year analysts have gone straight from high school to university to now working full time, and are a lot younger than me, and maybe haven’t had the opportunity to experience some of the things I have. They are definitely extremely smart, driven people but I guess I have a few more wrinkles on my side.


If there’s one piece of advice you could give to an aspiring female athlete looking to go into finance, what would it be?

NETWORK!!! I know it’s a clichéd buzz word but it makes such a difference when it comes to getting a job and building a career, if you’ve taken the time to build some genuine relationships in the industry. Not just from an application standpoint but also just having some mentors to help you with each part of the process is absolutely priceless.

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