From hitting a six to understanding risk: former Australian Cricket Captain Jodie Purves is thinking about where she wants her career to be in ten years, and she’s taking the appropriate steps to prepare now.
Jodie Purves’ hunger for life-long development became part of her identity as a young girl growing up in Toowoomba and carried on with her throughout her adult years.
Her parents nurtured her love of sports and academia, and she tried just about every sport she could during her school days. But her passion for cricket burned the brightest and after years of dedication, practice and hard work, she made the Australian Women’s Cricket Team – eventually becoming Captain from 2009-2014.
To say she knows a thing or two about being disciplined and working towards a goal would be a slight understatement.
Over the years, Purves’ dedication hasn’t wavered, but her end goal has changed.
Elite athletes’ careers are notoriously short. They can quickly outgrow the game, sustain an injury or get replaced by the next ‘up-and-coming’ star. So it’s important they have a ‘next step’ in mind; something to pursue once they hang up their hats (often at a relatively early age).
Purves always knew this was important.
“I’ve always been someone who prioritised my work and study. I was always trying to better myself off the field. I prepared fairly well for the athlete transition period, but it’s still hard because you build your identity around being ‘Jodie the athlete’. A lot of people know you as that person, but when you try to transition to the after sport life, there’s a big challenge in trying to redefine who you are.”
Image: Jodie Purves.
The power of determination
“You only have an athletic career for a certain amount of time and it can end at any moment,” says Purves.
At the peak of her cricket playing career, she was reminded just how accurate this sentiment is.
“I’d only been in the Australian Captaincy role for six months when I experienced a career-threatening injury. I ripped my three hamstrings clean off the bone. My surgeon essentially said, “You should retire and give the game away”, but I’m quite a determined person. So I had the surgery and started from ground zero: learning to walk properly and then trying to run again.
“When I finally started feeling better again, I sustained the same injury again and was back in the surgeon’s office. He was like, “Retire. Give it away.” But I was only 24 and I wanted to keep my cricket dream alive… and I’m glad I did.”
After a long time of cheering her team on from the sidelines, she could get back on the cricket pitch and help her team win two world titles. After this, she was finally ready to reassess what her future held for her.
Life after the spotlight
Purves now works in a myriad of different roles, most still very cricket-centric. She’s a coach, a mentor, a writer, an ambassador, she’s involved in advocating for and supporting women in the sports industry and has worked for local councils. But even now she’s looking ahead to see how she should prepare herself for the next step.
COVID-19 halted a lot of her regular work. Like many others did in 2020, she found herself seeking a new way to spend her time while also adding value to her career.
That’s where the Governance Institute came in.
While you might not immediately connect a passion for elite sport with governance and risk education, Purves felt this was an important area to upskill in.
“I did the Certificate of Governance and Risk Management last year as I’d always been interested in furthering myself in that space. I’d just finished my MBA, and I have a future goal of becoming a board director, so further education like this made sense to me.
“I’ve always been interested in how businesses are run and how they could be managed more effectively. I met a lady from the Governance Institute and became really absorbed by what she was talking about with regards to governance and risk management and how important it is for businesses and leaders today. She encouraged me to do this course to develop my learnings so I can be better placed to take on an advisory role one day.”
The Governance Institute offers both face-to-face classes as well as online and remote options, which was great for Purves, who is currently based away from capital cities.
“I was able to do it from home, which was great. And the topics were really captivating and pertinent to the world at the time. For example, we did a webinar on risk management and business continuity, which would have been really helpful for leaders in 2020 – actually, it’s still really important for all businesses.”
The business continuity aspect of the course was particularly interesting to Purves as she could see just how impacted the sports industry was by COVID-19.
“There have been a number of sporting organisations that had their sporting events just stop. And because the events stopped, the funding doesn’t come in, and then you can’t pay players, then you can’t pay staff. There’s been a lot of redundancies within the sporting area. This certificate opened my eyes up to the fact that there’s a better way to prepare for Black Swan events like this.”
Purves also found the aspects around people risk and reputational risk to be quite important.
“This is a particular risk area that was really heightened by the pandemic. Observing how just one small, damaging incident can affect a business in the long term was really crucial. That situation could be making mass layoffs without taking the time to assess other [redeployment] options, for example. That could affect how potential future job candidates view your organisation.”
She also thought learning about social and environmental risks was valuable, noting that consumers and clients are increasingly demanding more action from businesses in regard to sustainability. Understanding how a risk/governance champion would sit down and map out ways to get ahead of the curve in addressing particular risk points was so important for Boards and Business Management teams, she adds.
When you make the transition from elite sports into the corporate world, Purves says you need to understand these business critical skills to “show you’re more than just an athlete”. It’s also an important step for anyone wanting to expand their influence in their business or better understand the process behind important workplace decision-making.
It’s also important for HR professionals who last year might have found their portfolios expanded to include more of the risk and governance responsibilities.
“I found it interesting to learn more about where the risk portfolio should sit within an organisation. It shouldn’t just be something that’s sitting with the legal team or IT team, for example. It must be a top-down approach, starting from the board down to the employees. Everyone needs to embrace risk management for it to be effective in the organisation,” she says.
“The Governance Institute is really welcoming of everyone that comes in to study. It’s a great place to learn at your own pace, in your own time. And you can also ring up and ask questions – they have a team of experts who can help you out and are passionate about furthering governance education. I’ve also met some really great people through the Governance Institute who’ve become good mentors that I can learn from. That’s really valuable.”