PwC launches program to support elite athletes in future careers

15 December 2022 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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Six high-level sportspeople have joined the Brisbane office of PwC for a new twelve-week program aimed at providing flexible professional development support to elite athletes.

PwC’s new elite athletes’ program will provide sportspeople with flexible employment and professional development opportunities to help prepare for a life after sport. The initial pilot, designed in conjunction with the Queensland Academy of Sport, will run for twelve weeks in Brisbane with six participants, including two Paralympians, an Olympian, and three aspiring competitors.

“We’re excited to welcome these six top athletes to the firm,” said PwC’s Brisbane managing partner Chris Rogan.

PwC launches program to support elite athletes in future careers

PwC is committed to creating a positive impact with athletes and recognising their potential to become successful business leaders. Our elite athlete employment program will provide Australia’s top athletes with the skills they need to have a thriving professional career alongside their sporting career, as well as long after sport,” Rogan continued.

According to PwC, the program participants will all be working on current, client-facing projects while being integrated into the working team to gain corporate knowledge and experience. Meanwhile, the athletes in turn will be able to schedule work responsibilities around their training and competition, with PwC to further provide support in planning for a career after sport with a view to future full-time employment at the firm.

In addition to the Olympic swimmer and two Paralympians who compete in swimming and basketball, the remaining program participants have been drawn from the world of top-level canoeing, athletics, and hockey. Notably, the idea for the program gained legs at the time of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, with Strategy& associate and returning swimmer Jessica Hansen first discussing the matter with colleagues while still in quarantine.   

“I am passionate about making athletes aware that there are opportunities, like working at a big firm like PwC,” said Hansen, who first joined PwC in 2020 less than a year out from the rescheduled Games. “I have to admit, I was hesitant when joining PwC, that my training and competition schedule would be too challenging for it to actually work out. I learnt quickly that PwC acknowledges, celebrates and supports unique experiences.”

In establishing the new program, PwC cited a study by the Australian Sports Foundation which found that half of the aspiring Olympians and Paralympians surveyed reported earning less than $23,000 per year from all income streams, well below the national minimum wage. This issue is further compounded by difficulties in finding work due to a lack of experience, as well as common mental health challenges following a retirement from sports.

“Elite athletes have to manage a sustainable short-term career within sport but also a transition to develop sustainable long-term careers after sport,” Rogan said. “We want to empower our athletes and show them that there can be a fulfilling professional life after sport. Elite athletes possess critical skills acquired through sport such as communication, teamwork, leadership, resilience and discipline. These skills can be adapted in the corporate world.”