Strong-willed and determined from such a young age, Winter Olympian Keaton McCargo, from the United States, has been skiing since the age of two. Now 22 years old, she has achieved medals in the World Cup and her childhood dream of competing at the Olympics in freestyle skiing. Following in the footsteps of her older sister, who was also a skier, Keaton used to follow everything her sister would do and found her passion in the sport.
“I realised it was something I wanted to do when I discovered its artistic qualities and how happy it made me,” said Keaton. Finding something you are passionate about is the key to success in any sport, and finding one you excel at is even better, but all athletes will ultimately get to a point in their career where the next step is to transition from an athlete into the business world and focus on a different career path.
Athlete Career Transition (ACT) alongside EY, support retired athletes with the next step in their careers. Keaton has worked closely with the team at ACT to transition into a business role at EY. One of the most challenging things that Keaton has had to deal with, as will many athletes facing this point in their careers, is the struggle with creating structure. “The hardest part is not having any structure. My plans were laid out for me and now I have to make them for myself.”
On the national team, Keaton would train 6 days a week, all year round, working with her coaches, Caleb Martin, Lance Field, Matt Gonza and Josh Bullock. Focussing on achieving her ultimate goals, Keaton was influenced and mentored by Hannah Kearney, an American mogul skier who won gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, “she was a phenomenal teammate and best competitor I have ever met. She is a big numbers person and she is always extremely honest even when you don’t want to hear what she has to say. She is supportive and always encourages me to do my best - then she’ll give me a hug,” explained Keaton.
In her new role Keaton will be working in Core Business Dervices (CBS) with the Learning and Development team. Suitably apt for this role and looking back on her past achievements, Keaton has always aimed to be the best in all aspects of her life. Competing around the world individually and alongside team mates has made her understand how to work and function solely and as part of a team, striving for the best possible results, so competing in the Olympics was a dream come true, “I think being a strong world cup athlete and supportive team mate were always more important to me than results. I am proud of the friendships I made.
“I always loved competing in Japan. Whenever I completed a run there I felt victorious; the people are ecstatic. I am always the happiest when I ski to the best of my ability,” said Keaton.
Working as part of a team is important to Keaton and to all athletes as they thrive from the support and camaraderie of others. Even though most athletes compete separately they are all part of a bigger team and encourage and support each other throughout. Looking to the future and how others can learn from Keaton’s journey she said: “Don’t ever be afraid to fail because failing is what you learn most from.”
Moving into her role at EY Keaton is looking to use what she has learned and apply it to the role she is set to do, “I am looking forward to making more connections. I love working with people and I want to see if I can be helpful in such a different environment,” continues Keaton.
Ben Paszkowec, ACT’s performance psychologist, works with the athletes closely during their transition into EY, “Working closely with all the athletes, the main focus is on transferring the skillset they have developed in the sporting world to make a meaningful impact in the business environment. It’s a challenge for any athlete when transitioning, but it’s my job to ensure that they’re ready throughout the process to take on the new role and work to the best of their ability. I will be there to support them with anything they may need to know or are unsure of, ensuring that each athlete transitioning into EY is psychologically ready for the next step in their career and is ready to take on the various challenges ahead of them while they adjust to a different working world.”