Changing tack: Something completely new.

My mind is happily made up, my contract signed, in mid November I will be starting something completely different to anything I have ever done before.

This unknown-ness is ultimately what led me to go in this direction. I believe that I don’t really know something until I try it, so why not try something new and unknown. During this last year – sailing different boats, trying different things but all along the same sailing based line – I just did not find anything that completely excited me, or challenged me in all areas as much as my Olympic sailing did. Nothing really used all of the skills I have that I enjoy using, nothing felt like it would really help me keep growing as me.

So rather than chasing myself back in circles doing things I already know, I am taking a leap in a new direction: Taking a job with EY (Ernst & Young), based in Auckland, working in Advisory, and the Performance Improvement sub-line.

Last year after the games I did a set of sessions with career advisor Lee Brodie from Career Dynamic – Who I completely recommend if like me, you are ever a little lost on this careers subject. She helped me sort through my interests, the skills and competencies that are transferrable from my sailing career, as well which skills I had actually enjoy using the most. Eventually summing it all up into what sort of industries or jobs could be a good fit for me.

We ended up with a very short list, I am rather fussy it seems… The possibilities for me included coaching, mentoring, strategy development, change management all with a strong emphasis on performance and working in small teams. Summing up with either consulting or being self-employed as potential directions to take. Not a big spread I know, going through the flip cards of jobs and roles, my ‘No’ list was always a lot bigger than the yes! So when this opportunity to work at EY came up, it really couldn’t have fitted more perfectly.

It started in May this year, when out of the blue I got an email from a U.K. based company called Athlete Career Transition, saying that I had been identified as a ‘potentially appropriate athlete for a unique program that EY is running’ and was given the opportunity to go through the selection process of online tests, interviews, and eventually meeting (by Skype) some of the people from EY NZ.

Ernst & Young Building, Westpac on Takutai SquareI wasn’t really aware of this before, but EY is part of a global campaign to help athletes transition into the work force – opening up real opportunities for people like me who have just put their life into sport, without so much thought of what happens after. I had heard about their Women Athletes Business Network, as one of the Brazilian sailors I know was part of their mentoring program, but didn’t know much else to be honest.

The selection process obviously all went well, considering that this was my first ever experience with a job interview! Maybe it’s better not knowing what to do, as with any other media interviews I have done, I’m just me, I tend to speak my mind, and you can take it or leave it!

I had looked at ‘going corporate’ after Rio, but didn’t really find anything that really excited me, the thought of making power point presentations all day in an office was not enticing at all. It is also pretty hard to think about starting at the bottom again at 31, after 12 years in professional sport, succeeding in getting to the top. So through this opportunity, it’s amazing to be able to step into what I see will be a great role, with plenty of challenge and pressure!

So, does this mean I am retiring from sailing? No, I have no intention of actually retiring just yet, as I have no idea what the future holds – I just know that for now, I am going to try this direction and see where it takes me. I still plan on being involved on the side with various sailing activities. Some coaching, mentoring and hopefully escaping work for a regatta here and there…

For now, sailing takes a back seat and trying to build another side of myself takes priority. Now that I have made the decision it is so very clear… What really excites me is learning, challenge, really growing myself in skills and capabilities. This step provides a whole new range of possibilities, of unknowns – starting from knowing nothing again and moving into a whole new arena to conquer!

Then there are all those work-ey things to get my head around, like the idea of leave? What do you mean I only have four weeks off after a year of employment? 😳 There are some positives, like plenty of clothes shopping to do also! Must admit I have already bought three pairs of shoes here in Holland… And the obvious aspect of actually being based in one place for a while, to set up a real home, to build into my weekly routines some of those thing that make me happy…

Especially after this year of uncertainty, I am looking forward to the challenge, to being out of my depth once again, to meeting a whole new set of people, to use my mind, to push myself again. Also a bit nervous about such a change, but there is only one way to find out if its a good change, Try it!


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