The National Coaching conference (Oct 24-25) by various experts will discuss ways to bring out the best in today’s athletes. 

This includes communication, sharing past SEA Games experiences,building culture and facilitating change, and best practice in developing technical athlete development plans.In a timely review of life beyond the arena, Paul Kam talks about how athletes can transfer these qualities into the corporate world.


Would I hire an ex sports person? The immediate answer is  “yes”.

Athletes are trained to win and compete and have an inherent drive to push themselves further. A permanent competition for excellence.  The corporate rat race is exactly that. Having this winning mindset can be quite an advantage in the corporate arena but only if you can harnessed it.

Most sports people I have met or employed have a higher drive to get to the top of their game but they require the right motivation. In the sporting arena it can be the podium finish or the adulation of the crowd that gives them the adrenaline rush. In a company an equivalent to an adrenaline rush can be in the form of sales targets, recognition and even new challenges.

To a sports person, sometimes the mere thought of a new challenge may be good enough to spur him or her on. Sports also trains resilience and determination. A never give up attitude at work could mean a more resilient work force that has longer staying power.  This quality is something most employers would want of their staff.

Irregardless of whether the athlete competes in an individual or team sport he requires good coordination and team spirit to do well. A good sports person recognises that from a very early stage.Coming into the corporate environment would mean transferring their skills to function in another team environment. This will lead to a transition of winning in a stadium to winning in the company.

The same discipline and desire to win, that is often found in sports persons, also inspire the corporate team to cultivate the same work attitude. I have also found that the more successful sports persons, build pride of ownership for the team. If you have the world no. 1 on your team you have the bragging rights.

There is a flip side to this though. If an athlete has spent his life pursuing his sport he may end up developing an insular mindset and may have problem understanding subject matters which may not be of interest to him. The learning curve can be steep and challenging for an athlete who has only lived the life of a sportsman and this can sometimes be very demotivating. Having surpassed all their previous peers and competitors in their field they may suddenly find that not being the best in the work environment can be pretty depressing.

I have also encountered some good athletes who have found difficulty adjusting to corporate life as they have always had it easy due to their talent. Juggling a ball is very different from preparing a presentation after all. As an athlete, your life is mapped out to ensure you have the best coaches,  equipment and facilities to optimize your talent. In the corporate environment that may not always be the case. However, many sports persons have transitioned very successfully through sheer determination and grit. A dose of humility helped. The desire to win is added great fuel for success.

Sports persons bring natural energy to their working environment. In the challenging corporate environment where we are expected to be in top shape and make quick and fast decisions and actions, a healthy body to support a healthy mind would be a huge advantage. The flip side to hiring an athlete is that some athletes may find the desk job a bit too slow for them and may find difficulty in focusing and keeping awake. Provide an environment where team work and camaraderie feature prominently and this can alleviate boredom.

Athletes are capable of displaying a fairly high level of confidence that is built over the years through playing in competitions. Playing in front of large noisy crowds, who can either be cheering or jeering, builds their resilience and this can be reflected in their approach to tasks no matter how big or small. Harness this confidence, and most corporate leaders will tell you, half the battle is won.

Finally, from my observation of having two national athletes in my employment,  I found them independent in carrying out their  job. Very little hand holding is required once they have been equipped with the right skills.

So would I hire a sports person? Yes. Definitely yes!