I found out about f1 from an old school friend. I had just finished rowing full time as part of the GB squad and had only the smallest amount of office-based work experience. I didn’t know what to expect but f1 was very thorough. It works with athletes wanting to move into new careers in sponsorship and marketing and explained how important it is to be able to tell your story, which was hard for me at the time. When I realised I couldn’t continue to row the only thing I was certain of was that I wanted to stay in sport. The GB rowing squad had sponsors like Lucozade and Siemens so I knew that someone had a job to make partnerships with sports teams happen. While I was rowing I decided to do a Masters in marketing with a sports related thesis. I utilised all my contacts, asking friends and fellow athletes what and who they knew. I had hundreds of cups of coffee with people.
f1 gave me lots of suggestions for work experience and internships and then put me forward for a role at IMG. Why was I excited by working at IMG? Well the name speaks for itself. It’s synonymous with sports marketing.
Working behind the scenes in sport makes you realise how much effort goes into small things. I started as a PA and moved into an Account Exec position very quickly to work on London 2012. After the Games I worked across different accounts, went to Dubai with Formula One and golf and started working on a project with GE and British Triathlon. It sounds glamorous but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
People love sport and sponsorship really works. Recently I have worked on projects that encourage employees to get fit and healthy, play sport and engage with their company’s wider values. Employee engagement helps companies create ambassadors within as well as outside a company.
When you’ve been at the top of your game and you have to start at the beginning again it’s tough. You might have been a champion rower but now you don’t know how to book a meeting room on your company’s online system. And you have to be realistic about what you can earn. Everyone starts out as a beginner at some point so it’s best to accept it and get on. If you’re doing something you feel passionate about then the high points are very special. The other day I spent a three hour taxi journey talking to the England Rugby Captain, and I helped Greg Rutherford with a few things after he’d just won Olympic Gold in the long jump. Those are the moments that stay with you.
My tip when you start out afresh is to use your friends and contacts and to learn as much as you can about the industry you want to be in. I often get asked for advice via LinkedIn now. It can be flattering. I’ll never forget those hundreds of coffees I had with friends of friends. None of them led directly to a job but they were all useful. If some one asks you for your advice then offer it to them. Even if you don’t have hiring power, it can still be very helpful!