Students interacting with alim, alumnus about how sport has impacted his experience

May 10, 2019, by Katy Johnson

How Can I Use Sport to Further My Career?

By Emily Bateman, Sports & Alumni Relations Officer

The Alumni & Sport Speed Networking Evening in April was an opportunity for students to hear from alumni who were involved in sport during their time at university. The students listened to how our alumni applied the skills they gained in their career. You may not realise it, but participating in sport is a valuable opportunity to also acquire instrumental, transferable skills – such as leadership, teamwork, mentoring and budgeting – that will help support you to take the next step after graduation. 

Over the course of the evening, the students spent time with each of the alumni in small groups and had the opportunity to ask questions related to their individual interests and future plans. They gained some interesting and enlightening insight.  

Key pieces of advice from our alumni

Alim Hirji, BSc Economics

Ranked 19 in England at senior level for Table Tennis, Director at Ashley Hotels. He is part of the current Senior British League champions team and still competes to a high level, and now enjoys a good balance of working hard for his business and training for the sport he is passionate about.

Alim graduated from the University in 2010 and joined Accenture as a management consultant for four years, working with clients such as RBS, HMRC, and Diageo. Currently, he is working as a director in the hospitality industry (Ashley Hotels).  

Alim’s advice to the students was: “It is possible to balance continuing to play elite sport and sustain a 9-5 job with support form your employer.

Mary McCarthy, BA (Hons) Philosophy

During her final year at Nottingham, she balanced her time as President of the Ladies Hockey Club, running for SU President (coming a devastatingly close second) and ensuring she wasn’t falling short of the 2:1 mark in her degree.  

The skills and confidence she developed during her final year have been invaluable in her career. Straight out of university, Mary tried her hand at events and marketing working for a sustainability company but after realising this wasn’t the career for her, she applied for graduate schemes. After being rejected from NHS, PwC, and Deloitte, she got offered a job at Valitor, Icelandic payments company.  After a year on the graduate programme doing different rotations, she was approached by WorldFirst to join the Partnerships Team where she currently sits. 

Mary suggested to the students to: “Take advantage of every opportunity and see where things take you.”

James Oldring, BA (Hons) English Studies

A former resident of Sherwood Hall, he was also a very active member of Hockey Club, but his real sporting passion was horse racing. Before coming to Nottingham, James spent three years working in racing yards and riding as an amateur jockey. He continued to ride throughout his time at Nottingham.

After graduating, James made the decision that he would make his passion his career and focussed on transitioning from being an active participant to becoming involved in the administration of the sport he loved. He undertook a graduate scheme run by the British Horseracing Authority, the governing body for British racing, before accepting a role at Newmarket Racecourse. This led to opportunities with the Jockey Club, then for the British Horseracing Authority itself – where he worked for seven years, starting as a junior executive and eventually becoming Corporate Projects Manager, reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO. In that time, he represented British racing in the Houses of Parliament, oversaw a rewrite of the rules of racing, relocated British racing’s headquarters to new offices in London, negotiated tax breaks for the racing industry worth £40m a year and was part of a team that set up British Champions Series and British Champions Day. 

James’ words of wisdom was to: “Take responsibility and own it – revel in your successes and admit your failures.”

Mark Evans  

Previous Sports Officer, Marketing Director at Direct Line Group 

Mark started his marketing career in Mars Inc. and for 10 years worked on a number of their global brands across sectors and geographies. Subsequently, Mark worked at 118118 and then HSBC. He joined Direct Line Group in 2012 in the build-up to an IPO process and in the past six years has overseen the transformation of DLG’s brands and marketing approach, including the multi-award winning reinvigoration of the flagship Direct Line brand.  

Mark is a Fellow of the Marketing Society and was voted the Financial Services Forum Marketer of the Year in 2015 and the Marketing Society Marketing Leader of the Year in 2018.  In 2016, Mark founded the Sprintathon in support of Stand Up To Cancer. The ambition is to Beat Cancer Faster by sprinting mass-relay marathons in schools and businesses.  

From his experience in the industry, Mark Evan’s advice was to: “Build Bouncebackability – don’t be phased by setbacks.”

Dr. Tim Brabants MBE, Medicine

Great Britain’s first ever Olympic Gold medallist in kayak racing. Performance Coach at British Canoeing and Locum Emergency Medicine Doctor 

Tim is Great Britain’s first ever Olympic Gold medallist in kayak racing. He returned from the Beijing Olympics with a Gold in the 1000m and Bronze in the 500m single kayak events. His achievements have been pioneering throughout his sporting career having won Britain’s first ever Olympic medal in the sport in Sydney 2000. Tim went on to win four European titles and in 2008 was World, European and Olympic Champion.

Alongside sporting life, Tim is a qualified medical doctor specialising in accident and emergency medicine.  Tim is used to dealing with high-pressure environments whether that be on the water in an Olympic final or in the resuscitation room of an A&E department. He knows how to use pressure and anxiety to positive effect. He understands how to bring others together to work as a team in difficult circumstances. 

After competing in the London Olympics in 2012, Tim retired from competing to focus on furthering his medical career. He now combines a full-time role of coaching the next generation of elite level kayak athletes with a part-time career in emergency medicine based in Nottingham. 

Tim Brabants guidance for the students was to: “Say yes to more things and get out your comfort zone.”

What the students learned from the alumni

“Highlighting the value of sport for careers.”

“I can apply the skills that I have been honing in my sport (determination, picking myself up after failures, having confidence in my abilities, and especially, knowing how to be focussed) into other things that I do – such as my academic students. Which was what I really needed to hear!”

“Even if an opportunity occurs that isn’t the one that you want – any foot in the door is an opportunity that you should take.”

“The importance of significance and success. Also, how to find jobs in your chosen sport.”

“Not everything is about success, but the significance and impact that success has on you and others.”

“To use and emphasize the skills learned through sport to employers.”

“Always ask.”

“Hearing about how the alumni changed careers constantly and tried lots of things before settling down in their career.”

If you would like to learn more about how your experiences in sport can benefit your future career, book an appointment with one of our career advisers. You can get further support on CVs, cover letters and interview techniques.

Posted in Choosing Your CareerSports