How adapting to change led me to a gold medal
July 31, 2019
Congrats to Ashleigh Werner, one of our amazing Grads, who recently won gold in the women's monobob event at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) 2018–2019 season. Her journey as an athlete required discipline, perseverance and teamwork—the same qualities that are helping her to excel in her career. Here's her story.
Sport has always been a part of my life. When I was younger, I was a swimmer and a track runner before getting into netball and touch football. I also love rock climbing! More recently, I was a professional rugby league and high level rugby 7s and 15s player before I came into bobsleigh in the 2016–17 season.
Women’s bobsleigh is traditionally a two-woman event, with two athletes in the sled. In the lead up to the Beijing 2022 Games, a new discipline has been introduced—monobob, which only needs one athlete. This season, I competed in both disciplines.
In the 2017–18 season, I was a brakewoman, focusing on trying to qualify for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. After qualifying for the Games, we were subsequently refused nomination, so I was a little confused about where to go. Should I return to bobsleigh and try for the Beijing Games or should I go back to rugby?
At the time, my coach asked me to attend training in Lake Placid and transition from brakewoman to driver. After my first day on ice, I was completely hooked—I knew driving was for me.
The 2018–19 season was my first one as a pilot, taking my own team away. It was an incredible experience, and we ended up making history for Australia! In the two-woman discipline, we actually had one of Australia’s most successful seasons in recent history, finishing 2nd overall on the North American Cup Circuit and securing a 22nd place on the current World Rankings.
Taken during the competition (Photo by RJ Photography).
What I learned from my sports career
Honestly, a bobsleigh season is a lot of change management! You have to be prepared for things to go wrong, because they always do, and you have to keep calm and ensure all stakeholders are taken care of—myself, my athletes, my coach, any sponsors, etc. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way.
I always find that every time I go away on a season, I learn something new about myself, the sport or leadership. My life is (obviously) not exactly normal, so working at Accenture felt like the right choice. I wanted a company that wasn’t going to try and make me fit into that mould. As an employee, feeling valued only makes me work harder and it was crucial for me to work with a company that I felt I could relate to.
Winning the gold medal!