When I asked Nzingha what it felt like to transition from sports to professional services, her response reflected her approach to any new challenge or opponent.
“The transition was exciting because it was a new type of stimulating experience; a completely new arena for skill learning — new tasks, new routines, new relationships to manage, new goals, new discipline,” she said. “I am in data analytics and was a political science major, so it was all completely new to me.”
This illustrates a growth mindset: seeing a new challenge as an opportunity instead of a threat. Nzingha believes it is how champions in sports are built, and it’s made all the difference in her new career. As I’ve often noted, attitude determines altitude, and taking a “can do” approach is a great way to stand out in any arena.
Our conversation quickly turned to how to squeeze everything in and be successful in all facets of your life. As the father of two active children and the husband of a successful attorney, I admitted that balance can be hard to achieve. I mentioned that finding time for all my passions – family, work, community service and more – required flexibility and some creative scheduling. Nzingha agreed.
“For my first year at EY, I took a hiatus from fencing and was able to travel to the client site and fully commit to the traditional client-facing schedule,” she said. “The Olympic qualification year started this past May, so I requested more flexibility to accommodate the additional training and travel.
“Since then, I’ve been on a flexible work arrangement that allows for working remotely and often with nonconsecutive hours,” she said. “The key was communicating with my team and understanding what was possible.
“This is another key lesson that took me much longer to learn than I care to admit: don’t assume what is and isn’t feasible in any part of your life,” Nzingha said. “If you work hard and communicate with those around you, you’ll have a much better chance at being successful both individually and collectively.