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Sports administrator

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What is the job you love?

The job that I love is working with people and contributing to the growth of a community.  At the moment, I work in my dream career industry – Sports – as a Business Operations Manager.  I hope to one day with more experience lead a sports organisation that has high profile or is an Olympic Sport.

How did you get into this line of work?

First I had to qualify for University and this required me to pass my High School Certificate.  I remember it being tough and required many hours of hard work studying and making sacrifices that not many of my fellow classmates at school would have made.  Being deaf made it harder. To overcome the challenge of not being able to fully receive all the verbal information from my teachers at school, I had to do more reading and take one-on-one tutorials. My parents helped me with this, but if I wanted to do well I had to do the work.

Fortunately for me, I got the best possible High School Certificate mark to get me into my first choice University and course – I applied for Bachelor of Social Science and Policy at the University of NSW.  During the degree I studied Economics, History, and Social Science. It was also at University I got more involved in sports administration through the University sports clubs.  This helped me gain experience in learning about how sports clubs work and what happens behind the scenes to enable me and many others to play sports.

After graduating from University, I was unsure of what I wanted to do, so I travelled to the UK and did many different jobs ranging from being a office administrator to a posh English Hotel Footman…..yes I did meet many famous people in this job and had lots of fun.  It was during my time in the UK that I decided that I want to become a Sports Manager, so I enrolled into the University of Sheffield to study a Masters degree in Sports, Recreation and Tourism Management.  It was very tough, I had to work hard on my grammar and writing. Being deaf,  this was a weakness as I was concentrating on many other things to learn.  I even had to enrol into English grammar courses as the standard of writing required to complete a Masters degree at one of England’s top 10 Universities was very high.  Fortunately after two tough years of set-backs and writing (believe me I actually wrote a massive book), I was awarded my Master’s degree.

After getting a degree, the next challenge was getting a job, and being deaf makes it tough as I found that apart from convincing potential employers that you are the right person for the job, I had to convince them that being deaf is not an obstacle for them to employ me.  My first ever job in the sports industry was in Sheffield as a community recreation officer which was a great experience.  Then when I returned to Australia, I found it tough again to get the job that I believed that I was experienced and had the skills for.  I again applied for many positions to get into my chosen career and many times I received set backs.  

While I was applying for work, I did temporary office work and, more importantly, enrolled into sports coaching and referees courses to gain more extra-curricular experience to help me gain a foothold in my chosen career.  Finally I broke through with Sydney University Sport employing me as a Sports Development Officer.  I worked for Sydney University for five years. I left Sydney University to work with Dartfish Australia (a sports video analysis software company) as I wanted to build on my experience in the industry.  Then Dartfish unfortunately downsized and I found myself out of work.  This meant that I had to go back to the drawing board and searching for a job where I could use my experience and skills, plus one that I can grow my experience to enable me to reach my main career goal later in life.

This period of looking for work saw me undergo over 100 job applications and over 50 job interviews for positions located all around Australia.  Again I found the task challenging – having to convince potential employers that I am the best person for the role advertised and that being deaf is something that employers should not consider as a challenge.  During my time of searching for work, I completed a Project Management Course by correspondence at the University of New England, and contacted several Senior Managers in the Sports and Recreation Industry to build networks and knowledge. Finally I broke through and gained a job as State Manager for Victoria with Touch Football Australia.  Then after a year and a half as State Manager in Victoria, Touch Football Australia promoted me to National Business Operations Manager based in Canberra.

What is the best part about your job?

The best part about my job is the fact that I am making a difference to over 390,000 Australians who enjoy and play the game of Touch Football.  I also enjoy the challenge of being a part of the Senior Management team that administrates the strategic plans using 38 staff and guiding many hundreds of volunteers to ensure that they can continue to deliver high quality delivery of their sport.

My job also allows me to gain experience in management of financial reporting, business operating systems, and human resources that in my previous roles I thought would never have been possible.  I have been able to transfer these additional  skills to my volunteer role as current Chairperson of Deafness Forum Australia and as Vice-President of DeafACT.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

The main challenge that I find in my role is the fact that for every new person I meet or work with directly in my role is that I have to explain a bit about the best way to communicate with me – normally and facing me.  There have been times where I have missed out communications in meetings. Sometimes you have to let it go and get the information though a work colleague after the meeting. Other times, I simply have to remind the group at the meeting to repeat the information so that I can understand what is happening.  Recently with the advent of mobile captioning using the internet and laptops/iPads,  I am finding it easier to be part of meetings and enjoy the ease of information that I can now receive at meetings.  The other challenge has been the use of phones. However, the advent of captioned phones and blue tooth phone loops have made this task easier in recent times.

What advice would you give a deaf or hard of hearing person who is looking for a career like yours?  

The first advice I would provide is that it is your career, and the best career is to follow your dreams.  You can have one or you can have many, and you can change your career at any time – it is simply following another one of your dreams.   If you want it badly, it will happen. But it is up to you on how you make it happen. Nobody else can do it for you. They can help you but it is ultimately you that will get the job. Secondly, as I have found many times applying for jobs or even getting promoted is hard work and it is made even harder by the fact that you are deaf.  Don’t ever give up. I always say to myself that whoever gives me the job is giving me a fair go and those who did not are simply not ready for me at the time.

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