Why companies are looking for athletes

On 30 June, Rick Echevarria, Intel’s Vice-President and General Manager of the company’s Olympic Program, participated in an Athlete365 webinar alongside his latest hire, double Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton. During the webinar, Rick outlined a number of ways in which you can use your athlete skill-set to make yourself more attractive to employers in the corporate world. 

  • According to Rick, Ashton Eaton brought an energy and skill set to Intel that only an elite athlete could bring. 
  • Your discipline, ability to perform under pressure and capacity to learn will translate well to the workplace. 
  • Register your interest for the Intel Mentoring Program and a suite of other exclusive resources with Intel and Athlete365. 

We know the next 12 months are going to be very challenging, as you’re trying to balance dealing with the pandemic and then preparing for the Olympic Games, but our commitment here is to really prepare you for both. We’re investing in the athlete community with the same tools and the same capabilities that we’re investing in our most important asset, which is our employees. 

Why we hired Ashton Eaton 

There were a couple of things that we knew. Number one is: we’re building technology to illustrate what’s possible, and who better than a decathlete who’s competing in so many different events to help us shape the technology? Number two: Ashton is highly respected and well connected in the community, and so we knew that he was going to bring some important insights into the company – which he has. A big part of why we’re [launching this new athlete programme] is a lot of the insights he offered to us as we thought about his situation and his career transition. 

Bringing energy to an organisation 

When Ashton came in he brought so much energy, which was highly motivating for us. And I think that’s what we see in athletes: you’re going to come into that role with all the energy of having competed, and bringing all that intensity is going to help accelerate the transformation of many of the companies that are fortunate [enough] to hire you. And that’s why we’re so committed to [our new programme], because we see that athletes can do amazing things for the culture of an organisation. 

Similarities between sport and business

We are, in a way, a different type of athlete. You have to deal with day-to-day challenges when you’re working at a company like Intel, where you’re at the epicentre of technology. You almost have to prove yourself every single day. So if you think that you won’t have an opportunity to get those competitive juices flowing post-Games, you’re wrong.  

You’re going to compete at a different level [in the corporate world], but being mentally fit and physically fit is really something you want to carry along, because careers are like marathons. You’re going to be in the workplace for a long time, and you want to make sure you don’t forget what got you to be a high-performing individual. It’s going to carry you through your whole career. 

High performers have transferable skills

As an athlete, you’re disciplined. You understand how to perform under pressure. And you have to learn and adjust – to competitions, to venues, and potentially to new techniques and technology.  

If you look at those attributes and you’ve been in the high-tech industry, you want people who are disciplined, who perform under pressure and who understand how to learn. 

I don’t want people to think the only way I can get into Intel is if I’m a techieWe need all sorts of skills in the company – from human resources and marketing to business development, sustainability and supply chain expertise. But most importantly, we need talented people. 

Take advantage of our new programme 

We are committing to building the Intel Mentoring Program between Intel employees and the IOC, to support the athlete community. So you’ve got to capitalise on that, take advantage of the program, meet with us, engage with us and then push us to help you find those internships or longer-term opportunities. We can leverage our expansive network of companies and partners that we work with to facilitate opportunities for you 

You can count on us to push on the Intel side to make this program successful, because we really want to see those outcomes happen. I can’t wait to hear stories of athletes who were part of the network and were helped and found your career – either before you finished competing or post-competition – because of the programme that we’ve built. 

Register your interest for mentoring and a suite of other exclusive resources with Intel and Athlete365.