The ultimate team players: Why one company makes room for Olympic rowers

Management training programs may be practically de rigueur for employers aiming to foster and grow talent. But Broadridge Financial Solutions has chosen a different lane: a special program designed just for Olympic athletes.

In 2022, the company created its Elite Athlete Management Training Program, where 10 women rowers work for the company part time while training to compete at the highest level of their sport. Eight of those athletes will be rowing in the 2024 Paris Olympics in July.

Supporting athletes and recruiting talent

The company already had ties to rowers and former rowers. CEO Tim Gokey has been passionate about the sport since he rowed at the University of Oxford while a Rhodes scholar. As a member of the firm’s professional services organization, he also was a college rower and later became a national rowing judge.

The company knew how difficult it was for these athletes to continue to train and work. They “put their careers on hold in order to do this passion,” said Chris Perry, Broadridge president. The employer saw this as an opportunity to support U.S. athletes in getting to the Olympics, while helping workers — women, in particular — prepare for life after competitive rowing.

The 2024 Paris Games logo, representing the Olympic and Paralympic Games, is displayed on the facade of Paris town hall on March 14, 2024, in Paris, France. Eight participants in Broadridge Financial Solutions’ management training program will row in the games this July.

Pascal Le Segretain / Staff via Getty Images


As part of the program, the women work about 20 hours a week, a time commitment that changes depending on their competition schedule, said Perry. In the lead up to the Olympics, for example, they’ll work less; after, more, if they decide to continue rowing with their sights set on the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

While supporting these women is the main goal of the program, Perry said it’s also a way to recruit top level talent for whenever they are ready to start their full-time careers.

With rowers, “we thought ‘what a set of characteristics’,” he said. They have to be disciplined enough to get up early to train, committed to the sport to achieve success and be able to strategize to win. They also must be exemplary teammates who work in harmony with other rowers and give top effort — without splashing anyone in the face while doing it.

The teamwork component is key since the company has found that new workers who are fresh out of college or university have been so focused on competition — to get into a prized school, to get a job — that some think they need to continue being hyper competitive in the working world. “We have to remind them that when you get to a company, you’re not competing with the others in the room,” Perry said. With rowers, you don’t have to do that. To get a seat in the boat, they already have to be the ultimate team players.

Showcasing company culture

Perry said he sees the program as part of the company’s DEI efforts because it supports women athletes in a sport where participants typically don’t get big professional paychecks or sponsorship deals.

It also says something about the company to those who work there, or might want to work there. Doing creative things like starting this program and supporting female athletes can make a company an employer of choice, and help retain workers they already have.

Broadridge is open to flexible working arrangements, which Perry said have become critical in recruiting and keeping talent since the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a way of showing “we’re always going to be connected and we will support you because you’re important to us,” he said. That doesn’t just mean rowers, he added, but also includes others who benefit from non-traditional work arrangements, like women returning to the workforce after having children.

There’s a war for talent, he said; “We have to show that we can meet our associates where their situations are.”