While elite athletes have unique backgrounds and experiences – with vastly different educational and vocational journeys to non-athletes – by demonstrating they have what it takes to compete at the highest level in their sport, they also bring with them valuable skills and experiences that could benefit any workplace.
This is why several professional sportspeople have joined Knight Frank this year with a mutually beneficial relationship established between the recruits and the commercial property consultancy.
Who are these sportswomen making the career transition?
Grace Egan, an Australian Rules footballer who plays for Richmond in the AFL Women’s (AFLW) league, is also tackling the role of Sales and Leasing Executive in Knight Frank’s Industrial Logistics team in Melbourne. And Ally Morphett, who plays for the Sydney Swans in the AFLW, has joined Knight Frank’s Student Program in Operations in the Sydney office.
Knight Frank Partner and Head of People and Culture, Kristin Hay said there were several reasons Knight Frank had recruited these football players this year, including a goal of raising gender equity, as well as helping to give career opportunities to players outside and after their sporting careers.
“It is a mutually beneficial arrangement, with successful sportspeople having the personality attributes that can see them succeed in a sales-oriented environment, including resilience, discipline, and being achievement-driven.
“We are also prepared to provide the flexibility and support needed for professional sportspeople, who are juggling work commitments along with training and playing games.”
How do they balance their sport careers with their real estate careers?
Grace works full time at Knight Frank, training four days a week for football after work and on weekends.
“I have always wanted to step foot into the real estate world but only ever thought of residential real estate, and those hours never worked well with football,” she said.
“When I heard about this position, I was very quick to jump at the opportunity to get into the industry.
“It’s exactly what I was wanting to do as a career, and I have loved every second. The aspect I enjoy the most is being on the road meeting new people every day and building connections.
“I think real estate and sport complement each other in many ways, with one of the main ways being in relationship building.
“Football is an environment where you are constantly surrounded by multiple people who come and go, and come from all aspects of life, which is the same for real estate.”
Meanwhile, Ally said she is also loving her experience in real estate so far at Knight Frank, and getting a “healthy separation” from football.
“It’s very hard to find a workplace that is flexible around my football schedule, and that understands what it’s like being a professional athlete and the sacrifices you must make, but Knight Frank gets it,” she said.
“I am only working three days a week on the student program, which is very handy for me, because I try to work on the days I don’t train and have some downtime.
This arrangement works well for the athletes within the AFLW because the season and program are yet to match the full-time careers of the male league. The majority of women who play also have to work either full-time or part-time outside football.
Ally says, “I hope to learn and grow more in the real estate world, and I hope to be in a comfortable position in real estate over the coming years”.
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Find out what other Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives Knight Frank have, or read more employee stories here.
Growing the program
Kristin said Knight Frank was intending to recruit more sportspeople over the coming months, with ongoing conversations with the NSW Waratahs Women’s rugby team, of which Knight Frank is a principal partner.
“The Waratahs players don’t get a salary from playing rugby, so we are having conversations about how to get them a salary, as well as having pathways to a career.
“Following the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2022, we intend to host some information evenings to gauge player interest in a property career.”
Alex Opacic, Founder of Athlete2Business, a recruitment agency specializing in placing former professional athletes into businesses, said he spoke to hundreds of athletes on a weekly basis who were either looking for full-time work post-sport or part-time/flexible work to supplement their sports endeavors.
“We’ve partnered with many companies across Australia, including Knight Frank, who understand the commitments these athletes have and are willing to be flexible around their athletic schedules. This is brilliant to see,” he said.
“At the same time, almost all of our clients get a lot of value in return from these athletes.
“Their competitive nature, resilience, drive, work ethic, discipline, time management skills, and ability to work in a team is a massive culture value add and plays a big factor in achieving revenue goals.”
Not only are Knight Frank making the most of these key transferable skills and helping these women grow their professional careers in sport and real estate, but they are also helping improve the gender balance in the commercial property industry.