3-month update: Adrienne Garvey — Professional women’s rugby player and risk analytics manager
In this 3-month update since we had a chat with Adrienne Garvey, professional rugby player for the Hong Kong Women’s National 15s, we ask her to share some highlights from playing at the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens and World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier, as well as recovering from an injury that has at times sidelined her from playing and dealing with the emotional frustration that comes with injuries.
Adrienne is currently balancing her career with HSBC in Hong Kong as a Risk Analytics Manager, while representing our city in the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s National Sevens program, a full-time training programme based at the Hong Kong Institute of Sport. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, Adrienne played at the London Wasps RFC, while working in the finance industry in London. Adrienne has been playing rugby for 14 years. She most recently represented Hong Kong at the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens and the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier. She also played in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2017 between 8 – 15 July against Japan.
You play rugby professionally representing Hong Kong, while working at HSBC. How did you get to this stage, and how do you manage to do both?
The opportunity to trial for the Hong Kong rugby team arose in 2014. My HSBC colleagues were extremely supportive of the opportunity and provided a flexible working arrangement and additional leave to enable me to participate in weekly trainings during office hours and travel monthly to various competitions.
What 2 – 3 skills have you developed that translate from the sporting field to the workplace, or vice versa?
Leadership is certainly an important skill in both environments along with collaboration. I work closely with my team mates on the pitch to achieve our goal within trainings and games and this translates directly to working with my colleagues in the office.
What does sport bring to your professional career? What is the impact of sports on your professional career?
I believe sport helps bring another angle for personal development. Many soft skills transfer across both environments, thus it gives you more development opportunities. Also you can often become a senior member of a sports team earlier than the office team, particularly if you join a sport from a young age and this can help develop leadership and core communication skills earlier.
Juggling both an athletic and corporate career, what challenges do you face? How have you been able to manage these challenges?
Time management is always critical. Team training times are set and I cannot be late, but at the same time when deadlines are laid out in the office I need to ensure I manage my time to produce the best work on time. This is only possible as I work closely with my office colleagues and frequently provide updates on my time commitments, sharing work load if necessary and working openly with all those in the office and on the pitch.
Not everyone will pursue both an athletic and corporate career; however, we all can benefit from including a little bit of sport into our lives. How would you recommend someone who’s looking to start playing sports for fun or at an amateur level begin to do so?
Sports is a fantastic addition to anyone’s week. Whether it’s professional, amateur or even just a light walk. If new to finding sports assess first what fits best for you in terms of work out time; morning, lunchtime evening? Are there any activities you have done before that you would like to try again, or have you seen something new that interests you? There are options for all routines and all workout preferences, group training, team sports, the gym, don’t say you don’t have time and don’t like running, you need to make some time and find what you enjoy. You may need to trial a few different options to work out what you enjoy most and best fits for you.
WISE HK ran a survey in January 2017 where limited time and work pressures were the two most significant barriers to playing sports. What words of advice do you have for someone who’s struggling to incorporate some sports into their life?
Limited time is just an excuse. I believe anyone can make time if it is a priority to them. You just need to work out when is the optimal time and place to undertake the activities. Start by looking at your week, when could you fit in even just 30 minutes of sport? When are you maybe less productive and infact may benefit from a break in the office or other activities? Its all about planning and preparation and you can make it happen. It can often be easier if you find a friend to join you on this journey. I find early morning sport is perfect for a refreshing start to the day and leaves me ready to be efficient in the office.
Was there anything different or special about playing in this past year’s HK Sevens and World Series Qualifier that you hadn’t experienced in previous years?
Every tournament has its highs and lows. It was memorable this year to play closer to the main stadium and have a better link between the two events (mens and womens). Unfortunately it will also be memorable for the wrong reasons as we underperformed in the pool stages and did not reach our target.
You had suffered an injury prior to the Sevens but powered through the tournament, only to aggravate the injury even more. How has the injury impacted your playing or role on the team?
My injury was managed well through training load and treatment to enable me to play in 4 tournaments over Feb to April. It meant my pitch time was reduced in training and at tournament time, which did impact my connection with the team, but work off-the-pitch supported maintaining the relationship to play together. Now that we have moved into XVs preparation for the world cup in August, I did take an 8-week break from all running to enhance my recovery. During this time it’s been important to maintain my connection with the team by supporting at training, still having a voice and involvement in every other possible way from meetings to gym time.
Importantly, how does suffering this injury make you feel and how do you cope with any feelings of disappointment or frustration or other “negative” feelings?
It is very frustrating to take part in events when you know you are not at your peak performance. But the team understands it is hard for everyone to peak in every tournament, so we all support each other to perform at our best in that moment. Even though I was not where I know I can be performance-wise, I had to stay positive and keep pushing myself to play and stay confident and fulfil my role in the team as best I could.
Since you’re still working at HSBC at the moment, has this injury changed anything in terms of how you’re managing your time and work responsibilities?
The injury has just meant some of the time I have out the office for training is now for treatment. Also, I am using some of my lunch breaks for treatment. I speak regularly with my boss to ensure he knows what my training schedule is and any changes or additional needs. The office team are very supportive and understanding. The importance is that I fulfil my role at HSBC alongside pursuing my sporting career. HSBC are very flexible to support my rugby playing, providing extra leave and flexible hours.
Comment from WISE HK: Adrienne’s case balancing full-time sports and a professional sporting career shows that communication with both her work and sports team is essential. It helps to have a work team and sports team that are both supportive and understanding of what is needed for Adrienne to balance and manage these important aspects of her life, but it also takes dedication and commitment from Adrienne to demonstrate she can do both. It’s a great example that a professional career and a sporting career can be maintained simultaneously!