From The Fields To The Boardroom 

By Laura Manescu

We gain a much deeper set of translatable skills through our sport, but if we don’t talk about them, we’re selling ourselves short.

The relative infancy of ultimate creates some pretty unique opportunities for us to step up and develop a range of skills and experiences we wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. So when speaking to players on the topic of referencing ultimate when applying for jobs, it’s surprising to hear how often it is spoken about exclusively in the context of the ‘teamwork’ and ‘leadership’ skills it demonstrates. 

We gain a much deeper set of translatable skills through our sport, but if we don’t talk about them, we’re selling ourselves short. Here’s my take on a few examples to get us thinking outside the box about how ultimate makes us more employable.

Having difficult conversations 

If you've ever selected a team, delivered constructive feedback to teammates or acted as a mediator to resolve team politics, you've had a difficult conversation.

Irrespective of your profession, most jobs require some level of stakeholder management (AKA working effectively with other people to get things done), so there's a good chance you're going to be asked in an interview to talk about a time when you've had to say no to someone or a time when you've had to have a difficult conversation.

Strategic thinking

Line calling, designing team plays or just playing with field awareness and making ongoing personal technical adjustments, are all examples of strategic thinking. If you're part of club leadership then you're gaining other valuable skills like setting club vision and executing strategies to get there, which is highly translatable to leadership in business. 

These experiences allow us to demonstrate key components of consulting and strategy design: things like structured thinking, adaptability, future focus and critical assessment of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

Resilience under pressure 

We’re really fortunate to be seeing an increasing focus on dedicated Mental Strength Training programs and coaching at Aussie rep and domestic club levels. The tools we’re learning from these programs train us to perform consistently at our peak, irrespective of the conditions. 

Although we coach for field specific applications, tools like mindfulness practice and mental imagery are used just as frequently for coaching resilience in corporate leadership programs. 

Being able to draw on experiences where we've performed at our best in a big final, in front of crowds, on a live stream or while playing for our country all demonstrate resilience in pressure situations. These experiences are character building, and they teach us skills and mindsets that are highly valued in business. 

Project & supplier management 

Most organisations are serviced by external suppliers across a range of different departments. Whether you're in procurement, finance, technology, human resources or marketing, supplier management and strong organisation skills are always highly valued.

Most of the time this involves briefing in new work, establishing agreed timelines and costs, following up regularly to make sure those agreements are followed through and managing payments. These are skills we demonstrate regularly through the course of club administration activities. Organising uniforms, running events or leagues, field hire or making arrangements with specialist coaches are all great examples we can draw on to demonstrate some of the experiences we’ve had in event, project and supplier management.

Initiative and self-driven development

Most campaigns and club seasons require us to set a campaign vision and to establish season specific goals for ourselves like focusing on the timing and consistent execution of layouts on defence, or nailing our inside break flicks. 

This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about traits that set us up to be successful in business, but taking initiative to set and drive our own development goals is important for for two reasons. First, in large organisations with dedicated Organisational Development teams these skills may be incorporated into performance review criteria via mandatory development plans or other expectations. Second, and more importantly, being self-motivated and actively identifying and working towards specific career goals is a defining trait we see across almost all successful senior business leaders. 

No one ever made it to the ‘top of the ladder’ by accident, and with businesses increasingly looking to hire future leaders, initiative and self-driven development are traits we will be assessed for during the recruitment process.

Parting thoughts

The examples I’ve talked about are only a starting point. To be really successful pursuing our dream jobs, we need to think actively about what skills set us up to perform in those jobs and communicate specific examples where we’ve demonstrated those skills through the experiences we’ve had. This is the basis for almost all behavioural style interviews and if we've done our research properly about a role, we should be able to anticipate what types of skills we'll be asked to demonstrate.

Ultimate gives us so many opportunities to experience things we wouldn't otherwise, but if we're not showcasing those things then we're selling ourselves short. Let's do it justice and start talking about some of the unique ways ultimate makes us more employable.