While there are more conventional and less arduous methods of career development, Great Britain’s Simon Mantell is convinced that the pursuit of Olympic hockey gold is boosting his credentials for future employment amongst the City’s financial elite.
Mantell was a member of the Great Britain side that finished fourth at London 2012 after losing 3-1 to Australia in the bronze medal match, although August’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro provide the chance of redemption.
Not long after the glitz and glamour of the capital’s Olympic exposure, Mantell began to lay the foundations for a post-hockey career by completing an internship, organised through the English Institute of Sport, at Goldman Sachs.
A part-time role at the investment banking firm followed before the long-term fallout from a concussion injury and the proximity of this year’s Olympics prompted a shift in his immediate priorities.
Re-admission to the financial sector remains a viable future option for the 31-year-old, who is adamant that his sporting odyssey negates any disadvantage he might face by entering the industry later than some.
“The big thing which I have realised is that when you’re pushing yourself in the sporting environment you’re adding to a skill set which can be useful in the future,” Mantell told City A.M.
“Everyone understands that sportspeople make huge sacrifices and have dedication and drive to succeed and that’s certainly useful in the working environment.
“Even if it’s just knowing how teams work or how feedback works in teams. Hockey is a team sport and it’s very important how we work together. In almost all business environments you’re having to get the best out of your colleagues.
“It goes further than that but there are definite overlaps and hopefully such overlaps will offset the fact that you’re coming to a different career later on in life.
“There are certainly attributes which sportspeople develop that could be useful across business and I believe finance companies are ahead of the curve in terms of their thinking on how they recruit.
“Finance companies may well have pushed boundaries in that regard a little earlier than others.”
Reading Hockey Club attacker Mantell was forced to cut short his temporary contract at Goldman Sachs after suffering post-concussion syndrome following an innocuous collision with an opposing defender during his side’s clash with Southgate in November 2014.
The rigours of training and securing selection for what he admits is likely to be his last Olympics would have intervened at some stage, but nevertheless Mantell believes his sojourn to the City could prove a wise investment.
“Looking at a computer screen and the concentration involved with working was deemed to be unhelpful to my recovery and the recommendation from our medical staff was to take out all non-essential cognitive stimulation,” he added.
“But it was a great opportunity to plan for the future. That’s one of the things that athletes, certainly within hockey, have realised that they need to do.
"If athletes are relaxed about knowing what’s going to happen in the future and feel as though they are progressing themselves and making themselves more employable, it may keep them in their sport for longer.”
Mantell, a business graduate from Birmingham University, competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as Great Britain finished fifth, while he collected a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games north of the Scottish border.
Spells with HOC Gazellen-Combinatie in Holland and the Mumbai Magicians in the Hockey India League also form part of a diverse career for the Somerset-born forward.
With his concussion worries and a frustrating 12 months consigned to history, Mantell can concentrate fully on Great Britain’s aim for a first Olympic men’s hockey medal since gold at Seoul in 1988, before the page potentially turns on a next chapter.
“At the moment my focus is solely on Rio, first of all making the team, and then having success over there,” said Mantell.
“That’s my focus but at the back of my mind there is always a thought of the future and at some point I would certainly like to look at my options back in the City and within finance.
“It’s that competitive and highly-driven environment, similar to sport, that adds to the allure of wanting to get back there.”