It’s no secret that the drive, determination and dynamic thinking required to play high-level sport are also attributes that transition well into the workplace.
Here, we take a look into the past lives of 3 of the world’s highest-performing business leaders to find out their sporting origins.
Indra Nooyi – former CEO, Pepsi
Nooyi is a globally-recognised business leader and the Council Director at International Cricket, as well as the former CEO of PepsiCo. She ran Pepsi for 12 years, and consistently ranks among the top 100 most powerful women on the planet.
During her time at Madras College as a young woman, Nooyi started the first women’s cricket team and excelled as a bowler. Starting the all-female team was a controversial suggestion in 1971, but she wasn’t about to let convention stop her.
“Cricket is a team sport and everyone has to play in their positions exceedingly well,” she has said.
“[You] think about the team first rather than just performing individual heroics. I’ve learned those things through cricket and carried it with me through my time as a CEO.”
Brian Moynihan – Chairman & CEO, Bank of America
During his freshman year at Brown, Moynihan played football and then later switched to rugby. In an interview with The Brown Daily Herald, he had similar sentiments toward the benefits of sport to Nooyi:
“The lessons of leadership do transfer — how to motivate people, how to try to get people to do more than a team can do apart. You can only win in rugby if you play as a team.”
As the Herald pointed out, “what made him excel was his understanding of the game, his ability to teach himself and to set an example for others” – all traits that make for an excellent business leader.
Moynihan now leads a team of over 200,000 employees and orchestrated one of the biggest comebacks in banking history.
Meg Whitman – CEO, Quibi & formerly Hewlett Packard Enterprise
As well as the companies above, Whitman also serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble and Dropbox.
In high school, Whitman captained her swim team and also played varsity lacrosse, tennis and basketball. Later, at the world-renowned Princeton University, she played NCAA squash and lacrosse.
She’d later carry this tenacity and drive into the workplace, becoming one of America’s most accomplished businesswomen. As with our previous entries, Whitman attributes her success both on the field and in the boardroom to teamwork.
“I liked team sports the best,” she says in her book The Power of Many.
“When I’m pulling a business team together, I still use those basketball aphorisms I learned as a young person: ‘Let’s pass the ball around a little before game time’, and ‘do we need man-to-man or zone defence?’”
At The Transition Phase, we believe Athletes are extremely valuable to organisations.
We’re an early careers programme that supports talent from a high-level sporting background. We utilise our own experience of having successfully transitioned careers to provide athletes with career guidance and support, making them aware of their transferrable skills and how they can be utilised in a professional environment, whilst providing organisations with access to high potential talent.