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The secrets of sports that you can apply to your career

By Pamela Evans, Business Process Development Senior Analyst, Accenture Federal Services, Atlanta

Competing is all about preparing. My experience as an athlete and a working professional has taught me that the same philosophy applies to both arenas: career as well as sports!

I have a busy job at a big company. Last year, I took on the additional role of competitive long-distance "world's team" duathlete in my off-work life. The dream to compete for my home country came to fruition with a lot of preparation and time management. I qualified in North Carolina to race the 2014 International Triathlon Union (ITU) Long Course Duathlon World Championship in Zofingen, Switzerland, on TeamUSA, with 24 other competitors. More than 20 countries were represented there in September. While there, it was a delight to connect with colleagues in my company’s Zurich office. They introduced me to their country, and I was able to share with them about mine.

The world championship race was extremely difficult, but I attacked the situation the same way I wanted to handle any workplace initiatives: Study what I'm headed toward, follow a plan of execution, make mental notes of lessons learned with my coaches (or my immediate manager) and leave room for unexpected developments! Duathlon is a multisport similar to triathlon, only without the swimming. The Swiss race consisted of a 10K run, a 130K bike ride looping through villages and mountain ranges, then a final 30K run over more mountainous terrain. I was thankfully able to acclimate my body to the thinner, drier climate in Europe the week leading up to race day! It was opposite from the hot, humid climate of Huntsville, AL, where I live and work. With much encouragement from friends and workplace colleagues, I finished the race in around 10 hours and 15 minutes, 4th in my age division!

My higher caliber athletic pursuits began during my last years at Auburn University, where I competed on their crew rowing team. After joining Accenture immediately after graduation, I looked around for new athletic pursuits and began participating in triathlon events. Three years of continuous racing, progressing to the Ironman 70.3 triathlon distance, left me a little tired, so I took a season "off" to evaluate future options. The break also helped me to think more deeply about what I truly wanted to shoot for in the athletic realm, much like one would consider new professional career options. After praying and considering many things, I started digging into the USA Triathlon website to see what qualifying race could earn me a spot on Team USA, and I went for it.

The parallels between a professional workplace and a competitive athletic world are uncanny. In the workplace, my highest priority is to deliver excellent and thorough work that is fitting for the client. An important lesson is to be honest about my own strengths and weaknesses, taking deliberate steps to change my performance in certain areas if it's needed. In athletics, I have to go through a similar process when measuring my progress with my coaches. My end goal is to be as prepared as possible to execute things with complete passion and excellence!

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