Harnessing sports women’s leadership for business

A NEW global mentoring program has been created by EY’s Women Athletes Business Network, in partnership with the International Women’s Forum (IWF). Its aim is to “harness the untapped leadership potential of female athletes after their retirement from sport”.

Elite women athletes, who have transitioned or are in the process of transitioning from a career in sport, will be matched with prominent female business leaders from the IWF membership. EY also recently launched a new online community for female athletes to facilitate connections among current and retired athletes around the world. 

For the duration of the program, mentees will also be connected with an EY liaison that will provide access and introductions to EY’s internal and external global business networks.

Beth Brooke-Marciniak, EY’s global vice-chair for public policy said in this inaugural year, 25 elite athletes will be selected.

Ms Brooke-Marciniak said the program defined ‘elite athletes’ as “having currently or previously competed professionally or semi-professionally or at the national or international level”.

“Female athletes have leadership skills that can't be taught in the classroom,” Ms Brooke-Marciniak said.

“Our research shows that 96 percent of top female executives played sport, with more than half competing at the university level. The world needs more women leaders and we believe that elite female athletes are a unique talent pipeline.

“This new mentoring program is focused on building a bridge between women in the business world and women in sport to help open doors and create new career and leadership opportunities for these extraordinary individuals.”

The partnership gives the Women Athletes Business Network access to IWF’s membership of 6,000 senior women executives in 33 nations on six continents. Their mentor members – women who have reached the pinnacle of leadership in their respective field – will share their insights, lessons and leadership expertise with athlete mentees. 

Deedee Corradini, immediate past president and global ambassador for the International Women’s Forum said,  “For more than 20 years, IWF has lifted the prospects and expanded the reach for emerging women leaders around the world. We are especially excited to join with EY on this new mentoring program to support elite women athletes as they move forward in their leadership journeys. IWF knows the value these women of talent and potential can bring to the world.”

Olympic champion. broadcaster and former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Donna de Varona has become the lead advisor to EY’s Women Athletes Business Network and its new mentoring program.

“Connecting accomplished women athletes with the world’s most pre-eminent women outside the sporting community can only enhance the talent pool of those who are eager to lead, inspire and make a positive impact in our changing world,” Ms de Varona said.

The associated online community provides individualised career assessments, resume building tools, networking tips, stories of post-sport career success and a host of other resources.

An example is the recent webcast recording featuring some of the greatest female champions of sport and business, including tennis legend Martina Navratilova, Olympic gold medallist and TV host Summer Sanders, Brazilian Olympic swimmer turned CEO Fabiola Molina, British Olympic champion and DKH Legacy Trust Founder Dame Kelly Holmes, and Newton Investment Management CEO Helena Morrissey.  In the webcast they share their lessons of success and failure on the field and in the workplace.

Female champions webcast





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