The 2010 World Championship silver medallist retired from rowing after the Olympic Games London 2012 to begin his search for a new career. Here he reveals the highs and lows of his pursuit of his ideal job.
“I had started to think about what I was going do with my life as early as 2008. After 10 years focusing on my rowing and being away from home for long periods, I wanted to spend more time with my family but realised I still had to pay the bills and the mortgage. I knew a few guys who’d retired before me and didn’t really know what to do next. I was aware that I needed to have a plan. The challenge was finding the right job. The rowers I knew ended up taking the first job that came along and didn’t enjoy their work. It created a massive void in their lives because they didn’t have the passion for their jobs that they’d had for rowing and they struggled for motivation. I didn’t want to fall into the same trap.”
Back to school
“I was able to get a grant from the English Institute of Sport towards further education and I started studying to become a Chartered Financial Analyst. My plan was to eventually apply for jobs in the City of London. Keeping up with my studies wasn’t difficult. When you’re away at a training camp, you have a couple of hours in between sessions, so studying took my mind off the intense training.”
“I made contact with a recruitment company that specialises in moving athletes into the business world. They helped me make sure my CV was up to scratch and worked on how to approach interviews and highlight my transferable skills. I hadn’t been for an interview for 10 years so it was daunting when I had my first telephone interview while I was at a training camp at altitude with the British team. In September 2012, I began an internship in the City at Henderson Global Investors. It was surreal because one minute I was at the Olympic Games and two weeks later I was commuting and sitting at a desk all day. It was difficult mentally but I tried to be resilient and get on with it.
“Starting from the bottom again was hard. You put 10 years of your life into being the best at something and then you have to leave all that behind. It’s hard to get your head around, being at the summit of one mountain and then finding yourself at the bottom of another. I had always wanted to do something that I was passionate about because that’s the only way to find genuine motivation in a role. I quickly realised that it was missing in the City. I missed the competitive edge and having targets.”
On the right course
“One of my former rowing colleagues worked in recruitment and when the role of membership sales manager at Wentworth came up he contacted me. A golf club is quite similar to a rowing club and my role demands a lot of the attributes I needed as an athlete – focus, attention to detail and a good knowledge of the latest technology to improve results.”
“As an athlete you have to learn how to deal with pressure. You can’t teach that and it has served me well in the business world. It’s been an eye opener in business how people perform under pressure. Some excel and some don’t and I’m fortunate that I can fall back on my experiences as an elite sportsman. Wentworth was the perfect opportunity. It allowed me to be involved in sport again and still have that competitive buzz from sales.”