Hailing from London by way of Italy, Thomas Colautti is the latest add-victor prospect to kickstart their career in finance. After finding success at the junior level, competing on a global stage, be it at tournaments in Barbados, Denmark, Croatia, and Qatar to name but a few, he took his talents to Princeton. For Tom academic investment was equally as important as his athletic pursuits; as high as his aspirations were in the sport, he knew that at some stage he was going to go professional in something else, and he wanted to be prepared. So, after a year on the ATP tour, reaching the world’s top 1000 list, his motivations were redirected to securing a role in finance. Here’s what he had to say about it all–
How did you get started in tennis?
I think I was about 5 years old and saw my parents, who played socially at the time, on court and I expressed interest in trying myself. So they enrolled me in a summer course and I have played tennis ever since!
What has been your greatest achievement to date, and what did you learn most from it?
The achievement I’m most proud and fond of is playing in the junior event at Wimbledon. It had always been my dream to play there so it was a pretty special experience. I’d say even of any other of my achievements, the most important lesson I learned was that setting goals and working hard to achieve them can be extremely rewarding.
How has sport helped shape who you are today? What characteristics do you think sport has given you?
Probably the most important things I’ve learned from sport are being coachable and being extremely competitive but respectful towards peers and opponents at the same time. I also think that taking sport to an international stage was extremely humbling and enabled me to have very different life experiences to the typical 23 year old.
What would you say add-victor’s unique contribution has been to your transition from sport to finance?
I was in an awkward stage of the recruitment cycle when I stopped competing, so perhaps for me the biggest impact add-victor had was the quick turnaround between the time I first spoke to them, and my first day of work in my internship. Also I think that add-victor’s previous experience and track record of putting athletes into roles that they went on to excel in really meant that the bank actually seemed eager to hire athletes. Applying through a traditional recruitment channel I would’ve faced a significant uphill battle in convincing recruiters that my lack of experience and athletic background were not detrimental but of value.
Do you think it’s important to have resources available for British student-athletes that are perhaps caught between two locations?
Definitely. I think especially with the popularity of going to America to pursue elite athletics alongside a university degree, it can be difficult to maintain a strong network in both locations to make the transition out of athletics that much smoother.
What do you think the similarities between sport and finance are?
The need to be results based in evaluating performance, the general competitive environment that arises as a result of that, and (especially early in a career) the need to be coachable and take criticism and corrections the right way are just a few of many similarities between the two.
How would you rate the opportunities for elite-level athletes when it comes to internships/job opportunities?
In my experience elite-level athletics is not really considered a significant differentiator in traditional recruiting processes, and athletes might be held in lower regard if they haven’t had the previous internships or other work experience / extracurricular activities to demonstrate passion and knowledge of a certain field. However, there are ways to find opportunities through athlete networks (although this is definitely more prevalent in the US).
How did you come about your internship at a large multinational bank?
I met Steve White-Cooper from add-victor through a mutual friend that I knew from Princeton. When I sat down with him I explained that I was going to be stopping with my tennis career and was looking to pivot into a finance role. After discussing in more detail what kind of position within the finance sector I might be interested in, Steve put my name forward for the add-victor internship at said bank. There was an online testing and an interview process after which I was accepted onto the programme!
Colautti Clinches the Victory at Princeton
What advice would you give to an elite athlete exiting their respective sport who’s keen on a career in finance?
Something that helped me a lot was doing a lot of reading into the branch of finance that interested me the most / that I was applying for, and understanding the skills that made someone successful in a career within that role. Having done that I carefully thought of experiences and skills that I had gained through my sport and how they matched up to the above. Leveraging my sporting background rather than shying from it was the best thing I could do for myself.
What do you think the most critical thing your recent internship has offered you?
A chance to prove myself. ‘Getting a foot in the door’ for competitive roles can be extremely tough, so having the opportunity to demonstrate that I’m capable of doing the job despite a lack of experience was critical. Also the opportunity to meet with various business heads was something I’m not sure everyone would have the opportunity to do, so we were extremely lucky in that regard too!
Why do you think athletes tend to excel in the finance industry?
I think it has a lot to do with being driven and wanting to be best regardless of what it is you’re doing. Athletes (again just from my anecdotal experience) tend to have laser focus on winning and results – which translates pretty well to the finance industry in my opinion. Secondly, I think being humble enough to be coachable and to understand that you have to start from the bottom of the pile and work your way up is invaluable as finance is relatively hierarchical. Last of all, I think people with a different background can sometimes be a welcome breath of fresh air in an environment that otherwise can be conducive to attracting similar types of people. Different backgrounds also mean different perspectives, which again, are massively valued.