Unstoppable: from HR manager to Olympian

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HR people are always working to improve themselves, but few are likely to follow Jess Petersson’s lead on what she says makes her a better HR pro – competitive marathon running.

Petersson competes for Denmark but was working as an HR manager in Teddington, England, focusing on international change programmes and the integration of mergers and acquisitions. Training and competing on the world stage has made her better at her job, she said.

“It made me very target-orientated. Because I knew I had a certain amount of time at work before I needed to go training, it made me more focused than most people, because I hadn’t got the option of sitting at my desk until 7 or 8 o’clock,” Petersson said..

She runs up to 200km a week with a best time of two hours, 34 minutes and 56 seconds. She hopes to beat the time at the Olympics, but says a recent calf injury could affect her chances. It’s her first Olympics, but she’s competed in world-level ironman competition.

That global experience influenced her career choices, and inspires her at work.

“Through my running I’ve met a lot of people from all over the world, which had led to my interest in diversity and inclusion and also in how teams of people from different nationalities work together,” Petersson said. “In sport you can measure performance in an afternoon, but in the workplace it’s a greater challenge to figure out what is working and not working.”

 

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