The Impact of Athletes on Business: A Game-Changer

  • Career Development Resources
  • Published on October 26, 2023

From the grand stages of Wimbledon to the thrilling terrains of the Tour de France, this summer's sporting events have left us marveling at the prowess of our athletic icons.

Consider the precision of French tennis sensation Harmony Tan, whose calculated crosscourt forehand triumphed over the legendary Serena Williams in a breathtaking match.

Or the sheer strength displayed by the Jumbo Visma cycling team, propelling Wout van Aert to victory in stage 4 of "Le Tour" in Calais.

As a former professional rugby player and company director, I've first-hand witnessed that the skills exhibited by these athletes are not just confined to sports arenas but are the very fabric of success, especially in the corporate world.

It's no coincidence that 94% of female executives in the C-suite have a sporting background, or that 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs participated in sports at the college level. In the words of tennis legend and entrepreneur Venus Williams, "Sport is so much like business. It's all about strategy, learning from losing, and setting goals."

However, when athletes retire, their exceptional value often goes unnoticed if employers don't look beyond academic qualifications and industry experience during the hiring process.

Here are five compelling reasons why recruiting a former sports professional can revolutionise a business:


1. Motivation: Take the example of snowboarding champion Katie Ormerod, whose Olympic dreams were shattered by injury in 2018. Despite setbacks, her extraordinary work ethic and self-belief led her to become the first Brit to win a slopestyle World Cup title. Athletes bring this unwavering commitment, motivating colleagues even in the most challenging situations.

2. Team Mentality: Athletes like multiple Tour de France winner Chris Froome bring an aura of professionalism that elevates everyone around them. This galvanising influence is often underestimated by those outside the sports arena but can transform workplace dynamics.

3. Adaptability: Athletes, faced with the pandemic's disruptions, showcased unparalleled adaptability. Holly Bradshaw, a pole-vaulter, channeled her energy into training despite setbacks, displaying resilience and determination. These traits are invaluable assets in the ever-changing landscape of any business.

4. Outstanding Performance: Medals symbolise the culmination of enduring cycles of exertion and recovery for athletes. The rituals of resilience and strength cultivated during training form the foundation for optimal performance in the corporate world, leading to enhanced well-being and success.

5. Leadership: Athletes possess a unique ability to focus solely on the task at hand, even in high-stakes situations. This composure makes them excellent leaders, reflected in the fact that 46% of CEOs in the UK's largest companies have athletic awards.

Furthermore, the character of elite athletes fosters a culture that inspires leadership in others, driving all members of an organisation to excel.

Athlete Career Transition

At Athlete Career Transition (ACT), we specialise in aiding athletes' transition from elite sports to the business world.

Through identifying and nurturing their transferable skills, we place candidates in professional environments tailored to their expertise, interests, and ambitions as high-level performers.

To discover more about our transformative initiatives and how you can be part of this journey, click here.