Since retiring from volleyball in 2004, Russia’s two-time Olympic medallist has added qualifications to her CV and become an expert in sports marketing.
Education is key
After retiring, I asked myself what I was going to do next. I realised that, in order to pursue a new career, I needed to invest in my education. I decided to use the money I had earned from being a professional athlete to fund my education, which is the best investment I’ve made in my life.
I chose to stay in sport because it’s what I love; but at the same time I wanted to learn more about the business side of sport, particularly marketing and communications. I began looking for specific courses that would help push my career forward.
Work hard, and be patient
I studied business at King’s College London and then took a course at the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) in Lausanne.
Initially, I moved there purely for studying purposes, but I got lucky with an internship in the IOC’s Sports Department. It was all an amazing learning experience for me, and I had always wanted to work for the Olympic Movement. Slowly but steadily, I was heading towards my goal.
Bring about change
I then worked at UEFA, before taking up an opportunity at the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). Since it is my sport, I always wanted to give back something; and having the existing knowledge and experience made it very interesting to start implementing my own ideas.
I started in 2010, and since then organisation has gone through a lot of changes. I’m proud to say that I have contributed in some way. It’s nice to see a sport growing through giving back and making things happen.
Learn from others
I always say that you don’t need to be a gold medallist or a champion to be a good manager. Of course, as athletes, we are normally very dedicated and committed, and that does help with opening the door.
But it doesn’t necessarily help me to be more professional in what I’m doing. I have a lot of great and talented colleagues who have never played volleyball in their lives, and I’m learning a lot from them because they have different skills. It’s important to learn from each other as well.
Make the most of the Athlete Career Programme
I’ve personally taken part in some of the Athlete Career Programme (ACP) courses, and have found them to be extremely interesting.
The standard of these courses is amazing, because they teach you about a number of interesting techniques and methodologies that identify certain skills. It’s very useful, and I would definitely encourage athletes to participate in such courses whenever they can.