A career change can be challenging for anyone, especially for former athletes transitioning out of elite competitive sports. But organizations that can provide support or opportunities for these talented individuals can often benefit from their unique set of skills; this includes teamwork, dedication, work ethic, problem-solving, communication and leadership, among many more, that can be applied during their athletic career and outside of sport.
As an organization, Equinix is committed to building and maintaining a culture that reflects, at all levels, a rich diversity of thought, experience, culture, and background. This includes embedding Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) into all business activities, especially prevalent in our hiring and talent development process for all individuals, such as former Athletes at the Games.
The Athlete Career Transition program and Equinix
One of the many ways we bring uniquely diverse skillsets at Equinix is through our global collaboration with Athlete Career Transition (ACT). The ACT is a comprehensive transition program for athletes retiring from sports and focuses on helping these individuals to transfer their skills to various business environments.
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We began partnering with ACT in 2020 to onboard former elite athletes from sporting disciplines into new roles across various departments at Equinix, including sales, support, and recruitment. In 2021, we extend our partnership with ACT to Asia-Pacific to provide professional athletes with new career opportunities. Among the six newly hired athletes worldwide, there are two from Asia-Pacific.
Below, meet Ockert Cilliers, a former athlete and brand ambassador on the international Track and Field circuit who now works as a corporate sales account executive at Equinix in Sydney, and Bruno Kenji Ozeki, a former professional swimmer who competed in the 2016 Summer Games and has now embraced his new role as a sales support associate in our Tokyo office. Learn about why they chose to join Equinix and some inspirational advice about forging a career in the technology industry.
Ockert Cilliers, Senior Account Executive, Corporate Sales, Equinix Sydney
Ockert was a contracted athlete (400m hurdler) and brand ambassador for Adidas on the international Track and Field circuit, including the 2004 Summer Games in Greece. He joined the Equinix Sydney office as a corporate sales executive in early 2022 and has approached his new role with the drive and determination of a former athlete.
“I am really excited to be part of a company that is a leader in its field, not only in how they do business, but making the environment welcoming, inviting, and supportive for employees from all walks of life. Equinix has an incredible work culture!” Ockert commented on the transition.
Ockert is keenly aware that nothing worth having comes easy. “I believe in looking at the bigger picture and knowing that whatever you do today to improve the current situation will bring rewards down the line. Success is not achieved overnight. It takes hard work, commitment, and dedication, on the athletics track, as in life.”
To young professionals who hope to make a career at Equinix, Ockert says perseverance and hard work are key. “Seek and use feedback to continuously improve. Do whatever is necessary to carve the path you want. It might be hard, and it might take a long time, but it will be worth it. It took me a full year to land my current role at Equinix, but here I am, and it is already worth it! I can genuinely say that I am surrounded by an awesome group of people here. Everyone reaches out and is willing to help.”
Bruno Kenji Ozeki, Sales Support Associate, Global Sales Operations, Equinix Tokyo
Bruno was a professional swimmer who competed in the men’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay event at the 2016 Summer Games. He joined the Equinix Tokyo office in 2021 as a sales support associate.
“After retiring from my swimming career, I felt a deep hole in my heart—something I have never felt before—a lack of passion. Throughout my swimming career, there were times when I swam for my team and times when I swam for myself. Looking back on my journey, I quickly realized that I was the happiest when I dedicated myself to a team and a legacy.”
He goes on to add, “at Equinix, I’ve been able to once again find that joy of being part of a winning team that’s committed to driving innovation in powering the world’s digital leaders. I’ve always been the happiest being part of something bigger than myself, and I’ve found that here.”
Bruno’s advice on finding success at Equinix? “Organization is key. As a sales support associate, I need to keep track of and deal with multiple requests from sales representatives at the same time. Being able to effectively prioritize my commitments is extremely important. I’ve also learned the importance of swift and frequent communication. Consistent and focused communications with customers are central to my role here.”
In his early days at Equinix, Bruno has taken every opportunity to ask questions and ensure he takes the time he needs to ramp up his role in an industry that’s completely new to him. “The sense of accomplishment I feel when commended for a job well done by a sales representative pushes me to continue to learn and grow.”
Accelerating the equity and hiring of diverse talent
We believe that personal sustainability and career success depend on DIB, and in turn, an inclusive workplace generates the most significant innovations and substantial business outcomes. We have seen much success so far, reaching various milestones as part of our social goals. In 2021, we increased our Equinix Employee Connection Network to nine groups, providing representation and support for individuals from all walks of life and bringing DIB to life at Equinix through advocacy, awareness, mentoring, training, and more. We have also made tremendous progress in some key areas. Highlights include increasing representation of women by 1.5 %, from 23.9% to 25.3%, and increasing historically underrepresented minorities in leadership roles by 1.7% year on year.
Through our Pathways program, we also continue identifying new channels to connect individuals to meaningful opportunities at Equinix. The program offers multiple avenues to reach a diverse pool of candidates at different stages of their career journeys. It comprises of partnerships with various organizations, such as the ACT, to offer former professional athletes an opportunity to work in the technology sector. In 2021, 12% of our external hires came from these programs, and in 2022, our goal is to achieve 20% or more of hiring from Pathways and our other initiative, New to Careers.
Strength comes from diversity
We are paving the way to a better future where our employees of all backgrounds, our customers’ diverse businesses, and the unique and complex communities around us can thrive. If you’d like to learn more about how Equinix supports its employees and the communities or read about our successful initiatives, download our 2021 ESG highlights report.
Join the Equinix talent network if you want more information about our open roles. We currently have over 245 data centers in offices around the globe—there’s something for everyone.