Background in sport can help accelerate

By: Amelia Fisher-Starzynski, Chicago, Sept 28, 2016: Applications for the EY Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) 2017 Mentoring Program are now being accepted. Elite female athletes seeking to make the transition from sport to successful careers in business and leadership are invited to apply for the program, which aims to support the career progression of top sportswomen following their retirement from competitive sport. The online application is available HERE.

The year-long program, a joint initiative between the WABN and the International Women’s Forum (IWF), seeks to match 25 top women athletes with prominent female business leaders in order to develop their potential to become impactful leaders outside of their sport. Mentors are carefully chosen from across the IWF’s network of 6,400 senior women executives in 34 nations on five continents to offer one-on-one guidance to the athletes and help bridge the gap between business and sport.

Beth Brooke-Marciniak, EY Global Vice Chair – Public Policy and Leader of the Women Athletes Business Network, says:

“Our research has shown that a background in sport can help accelerate a woman’s professional career. The drive, discipline and dedication of elite female athletes, in particular, make them a unique leadership talent pool. By pairing these 25 inspiring women with top female executives, we want to nurture their leadership skills for extraordinary success not only in sport but also in the business world.”

The 2016 mentee class, which has gathered at the IWF 2016 World Leadership Conference in Chicago this week for intensive leadership workshops, includes women from 13 countries who have competed across a range of sports.

Mentees include Angela Hucles, who twice won gold as a member of the USA Olympic soccer team, champion Olympic freestyle skier Jennifer Heil from Canada and Great Britain Paralympic swimmer Susannah Rodgers, who is fresh from winning gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Rodgers says, “Winning gold in Rio was an unforgettable experience. With such an intense focus on training and competing, it’s been incredibly valuable to have a senior female leader like Dr. Alice Maynard helping me to navigate my next steps after Rio. This type of mentoring is very important for elite athletes as we transition from sport to our next step in our careers.”

Applications for the 2017 WABN Mentoring Program are available on the International Women’s Forum website and close on November 2, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Now in its third year, the WABN Mentoring Program continues to build on EY’s strong legacy of supporting female athletes and the advancement of women in the workplace by recognizing the connection between women, sport and leadership and comes at a time when many athletes are re-assessing their future.

As an official supporter of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and a leading global employer, EY understands the unique challenges many athletes face when taking the next step in their career. Through initiatives like the WABN, which was created in 2013 to help unlock the leadership potential of female athletes, EY is creating pathways to help support a smooth and successful journey from sport to the boardroom.

Donna de Varona, Olympic champion and Lead Advisor, EY Women Athletes Business Network, says:
“As an Olympian I know from experience the challenges and opportunities involved in translating athletic skills to leadership in the workplace. I urge any elite athlete with a desire to reach new leadership heights outside of competitive sport to apply to this unique program.”

Teresa Weintraub, President of the International Women’s Forum, says:
“IWF is excited to continue this special partnership with EY as we support the empowerment and growth of these impressive women. Female athletes spend the entirety of their sporting career pushing themselves and their teammates towards excellence. In most respects they already are strong leaders. The EY WABN Mentoring Program builds on those strengths and provides the opportunity to be mentored, challenged, inspired and equipped to rise to the highest levels of leadership.”

This initiative forms part of a wider EY program of support for elite female athletes, which includes a series of research reports on the connection between sport and leadership for women, the WABN Athlete Intern Program, launched during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to directly support a progression from sport to business through internships at EY, and the WABN Facebook group, which provides a platform for women from sport and business to network, build powerful relationships and uncover new leadership opportunities.


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