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Life as a Professional Athlete
NTT DATA Business Solutions Company Ambassador, Joss Lowden, talks about her life as a professional athlete in the world of cycling.
I’ve often been asked the question if I regret not focusing on cycling earlier in my life and jumping into professional cycling from a young age. I have maintained the same viewpoint on this throughout and that is that I am the athlete I am today because of my career, my experiences and my life before. My career as an SAP consultant has shaped who I am; how I train; how I develop and progress and very importantly – how I use and analyse data, so there is not a moment of my time with NDBS that I regret. To take you back a few steps and to introduce myself to those of you that I don’t know. I’m Joss Lowden, I am a full time professional cyclist, riding for a Scandinavian World Tour team called Uno-X. The team came to me last summer and offered me a contract that would take my semi-professional career to full time, with the support of a professional team set up designed to have me competing as the leader for the team at the top level in the world and when we race the inaugural Tour de France this year.
I have been with (now) NDBS for over 10 years. I evolved with it, from Blueprint to Itelligence to NDBS and in the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to have the support of the company to allow me to work part-time and flexibly to enable me to continue racing and competing at a world tour level. Balancing the two is something I have been incredibly lucky to be able to do and I am a firm believer that it is possible to do the both. Up to a point and that point came last year when my race schedule, world record attempt and my contract demanded my full attention and I agreed to step back from working in Ian Garrington’s Operations team to focus fully on my cycling. However – I am far from gone from the company and I remained involved, committed and part of the NDBS family. The athlete I am today has been shaped by the analyst I become at NDBS and the relationship will remain.
There are a lot of parallels between being a professional athlete and a consultant. While the thought of riding for 5hours a day, up and down mountains may seem far away from your office desk, I can assure you that it’s really not that different. I have always been motivated to train and develop and that was as true when I was a consultants as it is now. Research and technology develops and you as an individual, as a team, as a business have to move with it and we are always looking to follow these developments. I never stand still. I listen to podcasts, read research papers, test new software – it’s very much what I did when I was a consultant to ensure I was up-to-speed on the latest SAP innovations so in that respect, nothing has changed. To be the best, you have to take responsibility to look to develop yourself.
I am naturally an analytical person and I see my training and performance as an optimisation made up of a series of inputs that I need to work on. It’s not just about the time spent riding, but also the recovery and importance of rest to allow the adaptations to take place. And then there’s the mental wellbeing, the mindset, the execution and how I handle stress and nerves in racing and also how I work with me team. The equipment is a big rabbit hole of testing, analysis, developments and innovations and this is something that can make a huge difference on the road and something I like to get involved with probably a lot more than most of the other riders. I hope that over the season as I race and share my experiences, I will be able to share some insight into all the elements that go into how I, and how athletes come to perform on the day.
Whether you are also an athlete so can relate, a sports enthusiast that just loves to get into the nitty gritty world of data and tech or someone that is just interested in people, their lives and behaviours – I hope there will be something interesting to read for everyone. Women’s sport is going through a hugely exciting and transitional period where the gap to men’s racing in terms of spectators, salaries, sponsorship and general equality is closing. I am fortunate enough to ride for a team that believes firmly in gender equality and inclusion, and given the involvement I have had in the past with NDBS and the D&I conferences along with the Women in Tech directives, it’s something that is very important to me and I can draw on my experiences and the success within NDBS to take with me to my cycling team.
I started racing in Belgium in April. I’ve had a bit of a bad run with illness this winter so I will be racing my way back to fitness so I will be ready for the height of my season when we get to the summer with the stage races, the mountain passes and the long days in the saddle.
I hope you enjoy following my racing over this season and you feel inspired to get out and about; be it on your bike, on foot or in the pool.
I am also still on my email here at NDBS so if you have any stories, challenges or you compete in a sport yourself then I always love to hear about this too.