IN MY VIEW: The transition from professional athlete to sports business
After starting my career as an athlete at 14 years old when I was found by the British Cycling Talent Team, the transition into a professional working environment has been one of my biggest challenges to date.
To be a part of the British Cycling from 2005-2013 was a great opportunity and provided a very clear career pathway. A wide pool of athletes were selected for Talent Team programme via testing in schools and local cycling clubs. Upon introduction, the seamless pathway from youth level to World and Olympic medals was described and demonstrated in a clear pyramid diagram. Throughout this time I progressed through to the Olympic Development Programme (junior level), whilst completing my A-levels and then to the Olympic Academy Programme (U23 level). The Academy was a full time programme racing year round in road and track disciplines, and left minimal time for study alongside if you wanted to be successful. In 2013 I had progressed to the Olympic Podium Programme, the top of the pyramid, and had become a world champion in the Road Team Time Trial discipline.
One of the biggest traits of an athlete is to be very goal focused. You are constantly assessing where you are in regards to your goals and reassessing where you want to be. For me personally I had started at the bottom of that pyramid and seen a great challenge and opportunity to work towards. British Cycling has become one of the strongest National Governing Bodies, has one of the best support networks and has accommodated every area so athletes can develop. However your time actively competing as a cyclist will always have an end point that is premature to the average professional working career, and it is only now that I realise this is an area I could have been much better at.
The EIS Performance Lifestyle Advisor, Joanna Harrison, was my main resource for this area and could not have been better at her job. Identifying the transferable skills, producing a CV and discovering what areas of the business world could be of interest. However, aside from Performance Lifestyle Advisors at the EIS there is minimal other advice in this area.
It is only now I realise how much more could be done here. I have discovered companies such as Sport2business and Add-Victor, who specialise in helping athletes into their post competition career paths. From what I understand they are trying to work with National Governing Bodies in order to help athletes in these areas. Sometimes athletes will need part time work to support themselves, but also with athletes being so goal orientated, it can help many to compete at a higher level knowing they have future career plans and will not be starting at the bottom all over again.
After reassessing my goals as an athlete for the next phase leading into the Rio 2016 Olympics I realised it wasn’t the challenge I was looking for. I received a plan for the team pursuit programme building into Rio, and could see roughly how my life would look week by week for the next 3 years. For the first time I had felt differently and realised that the end goal was no longer what I wanted. I needed new challenge and made the decision to take a change in my career pathway.
After taking some time to find a new challenge and discover what area I was interested in, I realised I loved sport and wanted to remain in this industry. An opportunity to join GlobalSportsJobs became available and this seemed a great opportunity for me to use some of what I know and learn new aspects of the business world.
Katie is a Sales Executive at GlobalSportsJobs and regularly puts many of skills she learnt within professional cycling into her day-to-day work.
GlobalSportsJobs is proud to be partnered with WISE Exhibition, promoting opportunities in the Sports Industry.