After an illustrious sports career, athletes often have difficulty finding a good job. Research from strategy consulting firm Bain & Company shows that of all Olympic athletes, rowers have the best track record of breaking into the corporate world after their Olympic careers.
About 8% of the U.S. and U.K. rowers who medaled at the Olympics between 1972 and 2000 went on to excel in businesses, landing top jobs at public companies, investment banks, law firms and consulting firms, or starting their own companies. In the study a “top job” was defined as a C-suite executive, board member, partner, managing director or higher. Rowers are followed by swimmers and sailors, with about 1% of each group holding a comparable top job.
According to Bain partner Patrick Manning, there are several reasons why rowers may be more likely to succeed than other athletes. “First, many of the rowing medalists in the study attended elite colleges and universities. Second, unlike other sports, there is a dearth of professional rowing opportunities, forcing rowers to pursue other careers. Rowing also requires intense teamwork, which often means sacrificing personal glory and adapting to the style of others in order to achieve a final goal.”
The study by Bain & Company
The study looked at the post-Olympic careers of 840 U.S. and U.K. medalists from seven categories during the Summer Games: rowing, swimming, sailing, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, and athletics. The study was conducted by Bain partner Patrick Manning, who was a member of the 1992 U.S. silver-medal rowing team.