According to Rick, Ashton Eaton OLY brought an energy and skill set to Intel that only an elite athlete could bring.
Your discipline, ability to perform under pressure and capacity to learn will translate well to the workplace.
There are many similarities between elite sport and the workplace, meaning you can transition smoothly into many jobs.
Trying to balance dealing with a pandemic-affected world and preparing for competition was always going to be very challenging for athletes. We’re investing in the athlete community with the same tools and the same capabilities that we’re investing in our most important asset, which is our employees.
Why we hired Ashton Eaton OLY
There were a couple of things that we knew. Number one is: we’re building technology to illustrate what’s possible, and who better than a decathlete who’s competing in so many different events to help us shape the technology? Number two: Ashton is highly respected and well connected in the community, and so we knew that he was going to bring some important insights into the company – which he has. A big part of why we’re [launching this new athlete programme] is a lot of the insights he offered to us as we thought about his situation and his career transition.
You’re going to be in the workplace for a long time, and you want to make sure you don’t forget what got you to be a high-performing individual. It’s going to carry you through your whole career.
Bringing energy to an organisation
When Ashton came in he brought so much energy, which was highly motivating for us. And I think that’s what we see in athletes: you’re going to come into that role with all the energy of having competed, and bringing all that intensity is going to help accelerate the transformation of many of the companies that are fortunate [enough] to hire you. And that’s why we’re so committed to [our new programme], because we see that athletes can do amazing things for the culture of an organisation.
Similarities between sport and business
We are, in a way, a different type of athlete. You have to deal with day-to-day challenges when you’re working at a company like Intel, where you’re at the epicentre of technology. You almost have to prove yourself every single day. So if you think that you won’t have an opportunity to get those competitive juices flowing post-Games, you’re wrong.
You’re going to compete at a different level [in the corporate world], but being mentally fit and physically fit is really something you want to carry along, because careers are like marathons. You’re going to be in the workplace for a long time, and you want to make sure you don’t forget what got you to be a high-performing individual. It’s going to carry you through your whole career.
High performers have transferable skills
As an athlete, you’re disciplined. You understand how to perform under pressure. And you have to learn and adjust – to competitions, to venues, and potentially to new techniques and technology.
If you look at those attributes and you’ve been in the high-tech industry, you want people who are disciplined, who perform under pressure and who understand how to learn.
I don’t want people to think “the only way I can get into Intel is if I’m a ‘techie’”. We need all sorts of skills in the company – from human resources and marketing to business development, sustainability and supply chain expertise. But most importantly, we need talented people.
How we have supported athletes
One way that we looked to benefit the athlete community was through the Intel Mentoring Program between Intel employees and the IOC.
This program was in place to help you and other athletes learn from us and then use that knowledge to source internships or longer-term opportunities. Our expansive network of companies and partners formed a key part of facilitating those opportunities.
We were so passionate about making this program successful, because we really want to see athletes benefit. I love hearing stories of athletes who were part of the network and were helped and found their career – either before finishing competing or post-competition – because of the programme that was in place.