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by Julia Salem
Nov 12 2013
Athletes on the Field and in the Boardroom
Conquering the Competition
BlueSteps chats with Mickey Matthews, Vice Chairman - Practice Groups at Stanton Chase International, who was recently published in 101 Great Ways to Compete in Today’s Job Market with more than 30 other successful executives who share their advice and tips on how to compete in today’s job market.
First of all, can you share with us a bit about the work you do at Stanton Chase International and Practice Groups?
Stanton Chase is a top-ranked global executive search firm focused exclusively on retained executive search worldwide. My work has ranged cross-functionally and across multiple industry verticals, with a focus primarily on the diverse Industrial and Manufacturing sectors. Currently, I am on our Global Board of Directors, representing our commercial go to marketing strategy of practice group specializations and global key client development and management.
Are you or were you an athlete? If so, how has this helped you conquer your competition to advance your career opportunities?
Athletics are near and dear to my life; from my father who went to Duke on a baseball scholarship, to myself where, at Brown University, I was an All-American lacrosse player, leading our team as captain in my senior year to an Ivy League championship and #6 National Ranking and now down to my daughter who was a 3 time National Champion lacrosse player at Northwestern and current coach at Penn State University.
The ups and downs of competitive sports, the perseverance required and the lessons learned from practice, wins and losses have all been incorporated into my personal and professional life. This has allowed me to be resilient in the face of adversity, lead international teams on complex and challenging issues and to to follow when necessary, all while progressing in my career at Stanton Chase from the ground floor to our Global Board.
Continuing on that question, what strengths do athletes bring to the table that many executives from other backgrounds do not?
Athletes, especially those that maybe are not super talented and have had to fight, kick and scratch for their success, bring a competitive fire, a team player mentality and an attitude of never giving up that allowed them to possibly over achieve past their peers who have not been involved in competitive sports. The lessons learned, most notably from the losses, being put into so many diverse, real time, challenging situations where you “cannot hide” that sports provides and the ability to have mentors with differing styles to learn from all provide athletes the opportunity to develop these skills and strengths in teamwork, discipline and flexibility that are so critical for success in today’s rapidly moving business environment.
In the book, you recommend that executives list their athletic accomplishments, involvement and learnings in their personal career-marketing tools. How can this help executives gain further access to the hidden job market and executive recruiters?
The benefits to stating their accomplishments and achievements on the playing field are multiple. Executives, hiring managers and executive recruiters by extension do not want to be anyone’s training ground and hiring today is for attitude and drive with the ability to hit the ground running. In any executive search you can find a handful of candidates that possess all or the majority of technical capabilities we seek so then it comes down to who you have confidence in will overcome obstacles, dig in when the going gets tough and has a track record of successfully winning. You learn, achieve and evidence all of this on the playing field.
How can athletes highlight their USP (unique selling point) during executive interviews with hiring managers and search consultants?
An ancillary benefit of mentioning on your profile, resume or marketing tools your USP related to sports is connecting with hiring managers and search consultants whether that is to even possibly get the interview or then certainly to connect while speaking with these professionals. Executives are looking for someone they can trust, someone that has common interests, someone that not only can do the job but they want to work with and these can also be potential “ice breakers” or strong networking opportunities if included in your profile.
Any final words of advice for other executive athletes who are currently competing in the executive job search game?
Be loud, be proud and not only talk about the successes, but the grind to get there; what you learned as you overcame obstacles and how you have translated that into the business world and your professional career. For example, in my sophomore year at Brown, I got a chance to start when an older player at my position was injured. I performed well for the team and was named to the All-Ivy team as a sophomore—a great accomplishment.
In my junior year, that individual came back and regained his spot. I never pouted. Instead, I worked hard to push the 1st team. Towards the end of the year, when we ended on a disappointing loss to Penn to lose the Ivy League championship, I went to everyone on the team in the locker room after the game and made them remember that feeling. I vowed that we would not let that happen during my senior year.
The next year, we won the Ivy League championship going undefeated, beating Penn handily along the way and ending up #6 in the country. It is how you handle the down times that is more reflective of who you really are and how you will handle in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to talk about “failures” and what you learned and how you would change next time.
If you are interested in reviewing and possibly purchasing a copy of the book to jumpstart and elevate your executive career please visit: 101 Great Ways to Compete In Today’s Job Market
For further inquires about 101 Great Ways to Compete in Today’s Job Market, please email Mickey Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org.