Learning from the best: Allianz’s Olympic and Paralympic Buddy Program

Last updated on February 23, 2023
Allianz Australia employees have been learning first-hand what it takes to overcome obstacles on the path to achieving a defined goal. Their mentors? None other than leading Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

When thinking of inspirational leaders who have set goals and then gone about achieving them, it’s hard to look past Australia’s crop of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Without exception, they’ve faced numerous personal challenges and channelled their energies towards success at the highest level.

Whether or not they attained a podium finish at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, just qualifying for sport’s most elite competition is reason enough to celebrate their hard work and resilience.

We recognise the tremendous sacrifices athletes make to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Globally, Allianz is proud to be the worldwide Insurance Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Locally, we’ve been a partner of Paralympics Australia since 2011, and the Australian Olympic Committee since 2019. These partnerships don’t just align us with the universal ideals of unity, community, integrity, and respect espoused by athletes at the highest level. They also provide opportunities for those who work at Allianz to apply the same ideals at a local and individual level.

As part of a new Buddy Program, some of our Allianz Culture Influencers have undertaken mentorship with leading Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The vision is for the shared insights to help with setting and achieving goals.

At the close of the 2022 program, we had the chance to speak with two of our employees about what they have gained from the mentorship program.

Connie Botros and Alana Cooper both occupy senior roles in our Personal Injury division and are part of our Culture Influencer Team. This team plays a key role in communicating and sharing stories about culture, shaping initiatives to evolve culture and helping to bring culture to life through ways of thinking.

Both jumped at the chance to take part in the Buddy Program when it was offered to them.  

“The program was a great opportunity to hear from athletes about the personal challenges they’ve faced in their lives, how they find motivation to achieve defined goals and how they get the best out of themselves,” Connie says. 

Connie leads one of our Recovery Support teams in Victoria. They provide assistance to injured workers who are unable to work or retrain for at least 12 months. She says what she learned from the program is directly relevant to several of the issues injured workers face. These include experiences such as finding a pathway to recovery, setting practical goals and, ultimately, returning to suitable employment. 

Connie was mentored by champion sailor and two-time Olympian Will Ryan. She was inspired by Ryan’s thoughts on the power of words and how they can influence actions.

“When we’re talking to our injured workers, we want to help them identify small goals and support them to achieve those goals,” Connie says. “When challenges are broken down into small parts, it becomes easier to talk about what actions are needed to overcome them.” 

Connie Botros
Connie Botros, Culture Influencer and Buddy Program participant 

Alana manages a team of governance, quality assurance, business optimisation and engagement specialists. She took similar insights out of her mentorship with Nic Beveridge, an elite triathlete and competitor at two Paralympic Games editions. 

“Nic introduced me to some great concepts on goal setting including visualising your ‘end’ first and creating a list of actions, your ‘100 1s’, that are achievable and how satisfying it can be to tick them off on your path to success,” Alana says.

Alana Cooper
Alana Cooper, Culture Influencer and Buddy Program participant 

The Buddy Program isn’t a one-way street. Both Connie and Alana agree their athlete mentors experienced their own ‘aha moments’ over the course of the seven sessions. What came through for all participants – mentors and mentees alike – was the commonalities that exist between the elite sport arena and the corporate world.     

Themes such as overcoming obstacles, conducting regular performance reviews and examining what small actions are needed to achieve a goal. These are as much of a concern for insurance staff and the injured workers they provide support to as they are for high-performing Olympians and Paralympians.

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This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 ("Allianz"). In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

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