Sophie Drakeford-Lewis's Part-time Role to Balance Sports & Working in Finance

Fri 8th Mar 2024

24-year-old Netball star Sophie Drakeford-Lewis has enjoyed a stellar career so far that has taken her around the world, enabling her to compete in prestigious events, including the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2023 Netball World Cup, where England were runners up.

Alongside her performance at club level for Surrey Storm, she has balanced her sporting ambitions with her professional ones, a career in Finance. Through add-victor, she got the best of both worlds, working part-time as a Relationship Manager at Santander and embracing her full potential as a fantastic netball player. 


Sophie’s Sports Background & Transferrable Skills


Sophie began her blossoming sporting journey at a young age, attracted to netball due its team aspect and the communal spirit that defined the game. Sophie explained, ‘I loved all sports at school, particularly netball as a team sport. Having so much fun with school friends led me to join a local club; continuing to learn and play a sport I loved beyond school hours.’ Alongside collaborative approaches, Sophie outlined the development of skills necessary in sports that proved fruitful in professional settings later in life. She acknowledges the importance of these skills, from striving for success and building resilience to learning to manage your time effectively’. She explains that they have defined her as a person and helped bridge the gap between various facets of her life, enabling her to ‘successfully combine academia with professional sport and, more recently, a part-time role in Corporate Banking.’


Sophie further discussed the relationship between her engineering degree, sports, and finance, citing the overlap in critical skills. 'I am very logical, analytical, and have always loved problem-solving, which is why I decided to study Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at University.' She emphasised the key to managing academia alongside professional sport is developing excellent communication and time management skills. 'Having early conversations with tutors and coaches about conflicts and challenges that may arise is just as important as managing time well.' This holistic approach to skill development has been instrumental in Sophie's ability to balance her diverse interests and succeed both on and off the netball court.


Just like the cohesive aspect of netball, Sophie stressed the similarly collaborative involvement in her professional career, explaining that ‘there is a great team culture, rather like that in netball. Whilst I work directly for one Relationship Director, all of the Relationship Managers across the region work together in a wider team. It is great to be able to learn from others who are more experienced in the role and to have a team that is there to support you if you have any questions.’ She also mentioned the importance of honing communication skills, stating, ‘I have found that the communication skills that I have developed through playing a team sport were really valuable when working with new colleagues for the first time and when contacting customers. It is my first experience in a corporate environment, but I was able to find my feet quickly.’


Balancing the Court & Boardroom / Sport & Professional Career


An interest from an early age in numbers, reinforced by a first-class engineering degree obtained from the University of Bath, sparked Sophie’s interest in finance. She said, ‘I wanted to find out more about other industries where I would be able to apply my analytical and numerical skills. I managed to combine studying for the CFA Level 1 exam with playing netball internationally and it was during this time that I realised that I wanted to see some of what I had studied in action, so I reached out to add-victor who made me aware of the opening of a part-time role at Santander.’ Interested in hearing more succes stories of athletes transitioning into corporate finance? Discover how add-victor alumni Chloe Fausa, former Norwegian Team skier, went from international skiing to banking, highlighting initiatives for diversity in finance and the impact of technology in capital markets; or from Christine Pedersen, one of Norway’s best known swimming talents who left the pool to compete in the deep and exciting waters of corporate banking.

Sophie emphasised strongly the support provided by Santander in helping her juggle her sporting goals concurrently with her professional aims. She explains the difficulties in fitting everything into her schedule and the flexibility with which Santander accommodated her needs: ‘I wouldn’t be able to combine a career in Finance whilst also playing International Netball if it wasn’t for the really supportive team at Santander. I am able to work flexibly, and they go out of their way to ensure that I am able to give my all to both. I am so grateful that they have given me this opportunity.’


The Mutual Advantage of Part-Time Roles for Athletes & Employers


Sophie went on to specify the arrangements that had been devised to enable her to fulfil the goals of both domains: ‘the job share arrangement means that I work the hours which are equivalent to 3 days a week. Being a professional athlete can be difficult at times because schedules change at short notice, but Santander have given me flexibility which has made doing both possible. It has always been important to me to think about the future after netball and how I want to develop myself off the netball court in the meantime and so this role has been a great steppingstone.’


In the dynamic landscape of today's workforce, embracing the potential of professional athletes in part-time roles can be a transformative strategy for employers. Offering part-time positions tailored to athletes not only empowers them in dual roles but also proves mutually beneficial for employers. Sophie's success in balancing her netball career with a part-time role at Santander highlights the value athletes can bring to the workplace. This approach not only fosters a win-win situation for candidates seeking to balance their athletic pursuits with a professional career but also proves advantageous for employers; it's a strategic investment in a diverse and high-performing team that elevate organisations in the long run.


“It has always been important to me to think about the future after netball and how I want to develop myself off the netball court in the meantime and so this role has been a great steppingstone.”



Future Aspirations & Athlete Career Advice


Sophie was optimistic in vocalising her future ambitions both within the sport and outside of it by continuing working at Santander: ‘I would like to gain further international experience and put myself in the best position for selection at these tournaments [2026 Commonwealth Games and 2027 Netball World Cup]. My role at Santander was originally a one-year contract but I hope that I may be able to continue it alongside my sporting career.’


As well as her own plans, Sophie outlined her suggestions and advice for student-athletes looking to follow a similar trajectory, balancing sporting aspirations with professional ones. She valued the insight gained from speaking to people in the field: ‘reach out and speak to people in the industry that you’d like to transition into and look to gain some experience by doing an internship or working part-time alongside sport. I didn’t think that it would ever be possible to find a part-time role in finance that I could combine with international netball but there are lots of people who are willing to be supportive and who want to help you in any way that they can.’


Sophie’s journey is one of resilience, determination, and adaptability, similar to other inspirational women in Finance we've been lucky to support. The qualities honed during her youth have served her later down the line and entrenched in her valuable skills that appeal to professional employers. Her hard work has culminated in various accomplishments, particularly her outstanding achievement as Bath University’s 2021 Sports Personality of the Year, a fantastic achievement that underlines her commitment displayed not only in sport, but all walks of life.


Krishna Gowda