From Field to Finance (Part 1): Why Women in Sport Can Find Career Success in the financial Field.

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Years of intense training and incredible mental toughness make athletes highly desirable in the world of business. With a proven track record of success, most athletes offer traits that many companies find more desirable than a list of business credentials on a resume.

The financial world, in particular, has long had its eyes on high performance athletes, knowing that their broader skills and sharpened mindsets are transferable. High performance simply runs in their blood.

Today, women athletes in particular are in high demand as businesses work to develop a more equitable environment. Wanting to bring more women into the workspace at some of the world’s top companies, businesses tend to move resumes of female athletes to the top of the list, excited to see what new ideas and potential success these hard working women can bring to the table.

Sport and Finance: They Have More in Common Than You Think

While it might not be obvious at first glance, the world of sport and the world of finance have more in common than you might think. Both, for example, demand consistent, high-level performance and constant learning, which is why smart financial services companies are looking increasingly at the prospect of adding professional athletes to their team.

Marija Mirkovic, a former Australian professional tennis player, who has recently made the move to the world of capital markets in London, says analysis is a key common denominator. “Searching for creative tactical solutions, based on careful analysis of your opponent as well as specific situations, is key in tennis. This is true in the analytical world of investments too.”

Other traits that crossover well are:

  • The ability to communicate effectively. Top-level athletes, especially those who play team sports, have developed communication skills that surpass most other candidates.   
  • Mental toughness to persevere. According to executives at an Ontario-based financial firm, success in the world of finance is “15% technical knowledge and 85% psychology.” Sport psychology for athletes is very similar to the psychology needed to succeed in the business world – and top-level executives know this.
  • Managing time effectively. Intense training schedules require athletes to plan ahead and make sure that they are not wasting time.
  • Moreover, some athletes have juggled training alongside full time studying. This skill is invaluable in the fast-paced world of finance as it translates into high productivity levels.
  • A capacity to solve problems on-the-go. Most athletes know that the mental game and strategy is what wins games. Being able to think quickly under stress is another trait financial firms love about their former-athlete employees.
  • Incredible stamina and strong work ethic. Athletes don’t get to the top of their game by being lazy. Over the years, they develop the stamina to keep going and the work ethic that allows them to move ahead of the competition. These same strategies apply for advancing in financial positions.

“As an athlete you have a natural competitive drive” 

Norwegian 100m and 200m backstroke Champion (2013 to 2016), Christine Pedersen, maintains that, “As an athlete you have a natural competitive drive. I chose a career in finance because it offers a platform for that competitiveness to stay aflame. I am able to stay goal oriented and measure my performance. These elements made the transition from athletics to the professional world more exciting for me.” 

 

These are two high-pressure environments, and therein lies the key. “I am always under pressure to deliver and I thrive in that type of environment, says Shauna Mullin, former Great Britain Beach Volleyball player, now well established at a leading European bank.

I believe the skills I developed as an athlete are the key to the success I’ve experienced in the corporate world.

Ultimately, the ability to look at a problem and identify solutions, which was part of the day job on the sand, is now part of my day job at the bank and those skills have allowed me to continue to push the business,” explains Mullins.

“The ability to look at a problem and identify solutions” 

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