If you are anything like me, you are excited about the upcoming summer games. And, while I was disappointed that the 2020 games were postponed due to the pandemic, I appreciate that the wellbeing of our global athletes took precedent over the events themselves. It showed that this year’s theme, “stay healthy, stay strong, stay active” was more than just a tagline – it was a truth.
The games represent a perfect combination of healthy competition and the pursuit of excellence – two things I greatly value. As a point guard and First Team All American in college, I understand the importance sports can play in shaping your career journey. While developing the necessary skills to be a successful collegiate athlete, the life lessons I learned along the way are what has contributed to my overall success, professional goals, and life balance. In essence, those skills have helped make me a better “corporate athlete”.
Using Natural Strengths to Drive Impact
Understanding your natural strengths and moving towards roles that leverage those skills drive impact not only for your own career but also provide an impact on your organization. In my case, I gravitated towards roles that required leadership, the ability to influence, effective communication, and problem-solving. All of these roles across my career allowed me to channel that “inner athlete”.
Sports teach mental toughness. It teaches you to learn from losses, celebrate wins, perform under pressure, and have humility by always putting your team first. This skill translates to business as well. Don’t fear mistakes, instead, learn from them. Take time to celebrate wins. Perform under pressure. Make people around you better. Mental toughness is a skill that is absolutely shaped by sports.
Athletes are continually learning – regardless of their sport. They are looking to be better, be stronger, be faster, be a better teammate. This innateness to continually learn and grow is a huge contributor to success in corporate life as well. Those who want to learn help create a culture of innovation, they “fail fast” and solve problems more effectively. Sports teach us that constantly learning drives success.
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In both work and sports, athletes learn there must be a balance. If you train too hard, you risk injury. You must strike a balance that is right for you and know when it is time to rest and regroup. The same goes for business. I have learned sometimes a simple break to allow my mind to rest helps me solve a tough problem, be a better leader, and more effectively help others around me. Sports taught me the importance of balance and I carry that with me today.
It is because of this that I am so excited about our participation and partnership with Athlete Career Transition (ACT). ACT is a non-profit organization that helps athletes realize their full potential and support their transition from sports to business. Too often, athletes don’t realize their full potential or recognize how transferable their skills really are. This is why ACT, in partnership with Sir Steve Redgrave, developed a comprehensive transition program for athletes at all stages of their careers.
Equinix has been a proud sponsor of ACT since 2020 and I am honored to share stories of four former athletes who joined us through the ACT program and have tapped into their strengths to find success at Equinix.
Meet the Athletes
Igone Ruiz de Azua, University Relations Program Specialist, UK
Igone joined Equinix after spending years as an Olympic Weightlifter representing her home country of Spain. She came to us through the ACT program and was thrilled to know that there are partnerships out there helping connect transitioning athletes to careers in business. She believes that there is a direct correlation between sports and business and considers her growth mindset to be an asset to her current role. She has used this skill for continual learning across her role and other areas at Equinix. She appreciates Equinix for being innovative and forward-thinking and we are truly glad she joined our team.
Tom Barratt, Sales Support Associate, UK
Tom comes to Equinix via the ACT program as well and is excited to join our field…pun intended. Tom started playing field hockey in 2000 and excelled globally. As part of the USA Men’s National team, he learned what it takes to be successful on and off the field and attributes his success in transitioning into Equinix to his strong communication skills. “Communication from playing and coaching for the last 10 years is paramount to success in my role. You need to be able to communicate successfully and always be looking to get the best out of people. Sport is such a good feeder into jobs and cultures in Equinix. Likewise, being able to bring a competitive edge to work every day I think does me a big favor.”
Danielle Brown, Field Marketing Specialist
Danielle will join our marketing team this summer, but before joining Equinix she was a Paralympic gold medalist in archery, five-time World Champion, and was World Number 1 for her entire career.
She credits her time as a competitive athlete for helping develop the skills critical for success – skills that she has been able to copy and paste into other dimensions of her life. Sports taught her the importance of drive, dedication and perseverance and how to work in a team environment. It also taught her about personal responsibility and how to better myself through failure and how to be smart with the resources available to me. Most importantly, it taught her more about her herself. These skills have provided her the ability and confidence to move into her role at Equinix and achieve more than she imagined! She stresses to all of the athletes participating in this year’s games to simply enjoy it. “To go to the Games really is one of those once-in-a-lifetime achievements so soak up the entire experience and give it 100%. Coming away knowing that you gave it your best shot is something to be proud of – and a medal is a bonus. “
Ursula Santos, Customer Project Manager, Brazil
Ursula joined Equinix this summer as a Customer Project Manager through the ACT program. Before joining Equinix, she was a Gold Medal Winning Field Hockey Player on the Brazilian International Team. Through her sport, she learned important values that you can’t just acquire; you learn them through hard work, focus and determination. Learning what it is like to fail created a resiliency for her – that and the work of many demanding coaches! She was drawn to Equinix because of the people and knows that she has found a role where she can grow and where she feels complete.
Karl Strohmeyer, Chief Customer and Revenue Officer and executive sponsor of the ACT program is excited about this partnership and the work we are doing to help athletes transition into careers that capitalize on their strengths. “At Equinix, we pride ourselves on creating an environment where every employee can say “I am Safe, I Belong, I Matter” and it is programs like ACT that allow us to continue this commitment to our values, our employees and our communities. Employees like Igone, Ursula, Tom and Danielle not only support a diverse recruiting and working environment, but they also allow us to learn from the diverse backgrounds and experience that they bring to our teams around the globe.”
As we near the opening ceremonies for the much-anticipated summer games, I hope that you will join me to cheer on the dedicated athletes who use their strengths to drive impact in their respective sports. Their hard work and determination are unmatched and for a few short weeks bring us all together to celebrate their greatness.
And if you are looking to join a team dedicated to your success, I invite you to check out our Equinix careers page!