Accenture knows that tapping into talented people from a range of backgrounds is a critical factor to success – for our clients and our business. One of the ways we’re supporting this goal is through our partnership with the Minerva Network, an organisation that supports female athletes transition to their next career. Louise May, our ANZ Strategy & Consulting Lead, talks about being involved with the Minerva Network as a mentor.

The Minerva Network is an amazing organisation that supports female athletes as they make the transition from sport to the workforce. They do this by identifying mentors from the corporate and professional world and matching them to athletes in search of support. With many female athletes balancing part-time work alongside their sporting careers, it’s often more about the shift in focus to prioritising their professional, rather than athletic, development.

Earlier this year, I became a mentor, being partnered with Genevieve Horton, an Olympic rower. Genevieve is incredible – full of energy and drive, talented and hugely successful in her sport.  Last year after the Tokyo Olympics, when she was in quarantine, she was applying for jobs and came across Minerva. She applied, and that’s how we became partnered.

For me personally, this feels like an incredible chance to give back. As a child, I was a competitive diver and my brother was an elite water polo player. He studied for years 11 and 12, as well as university, part-time to balance with being a top-level athlete, and I saw him wrestle priorities between sport, education and professional development. Being able to give back now and help someone like Genevieve, who has incredible skills and has achieved amazing things, through this life transition is so rewarding.

An amazing pool of talent
As a woman in our industry – with a significant skills shortage – I also see the need unlock and tap into the amazing skills that are out in the market. The women who are part of the Minerva Network have these fantastic skills that are desirable and highly transferrable. As a nation, we need to do more to take advantage of this pool of talent.

Part of this effort is helping these women recognise the skills that they have, and just how relatable they are to the professional workforce. Some of the innate characteristics of elite athletes, such as discipline, as well as the skills they have refined through sport, like a range of psychological tools, teaming and collaboration, are exactly the attributes that are highly sought after in the professional world. Those foundations are so strong and give people an incredible launching pad for the transition to the workforce from sporting careers.

Many athletes don’t understand how these skills translate, so that’s part of what the mentoring through Minerva looks to address. Another challenge these women face is how to handle the shift from being at the very pinnacle of your game where you can exercise significant control over your success, to a new environment where there’s often more uncertainty and you’re no longer the expert. As well as the mentoring partnerships, Minerva helps through workshops on topics like establishing new patterns of behaviour and guidance on establishing work-life balance.

The mentoring partnerships are also a great way for the athletes to be exposed to roles they may not have previously considered. For example, at a recent workshop, one of the athletes expressed interest in strategy work, which has opened a conversation about a potential internship. Being able to give athletes this type of work experience to experiment and see in practice how their skills can translate to other fields, is powerful.

A workshop with the athletes

Involving the broader Accenture team
In addition to being a mentor, the Accenture team has been working with Minerva more broadly on a pro-bono basis to streamline processes to support growth. Minerva wants to scale and work with more athletes to increase their impact.

Recently, a team from Accenture conducted a number of workshops with Minerva and some of its athletes to map out the athlete and mentor experiences. By building a deeper understanding of the processes, and what can be improved, we’ve worked to develop requirements to digitise and streamline some of the administration. As a result, Minerva will be able to successfully match more athletes and mentors and scale the impact of their fantastic work.

The Accenture team involved with Minerva really loved the opportunity to work with purpose and see the impact of their work. The professionalism and enthusiasm our people bring to pro-bono and volunteering projects like this is fantastic, and it’s incredibly rewarding. And it was certainly appreciated by Minerva, who recognised their positive contribution.


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Louise May

Lead – Strategy & Consulting, Australia & New Zealand

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