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Making waves through marketing and rowing

 August 27, 2015

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When I started at Avanade, I was pleasantly surprised that the company wanted me to be an individual, be creative, stay fit and incented me to do all those things. They wanted me to use a fund called “extended benefits” for things that were meaningful to me; and that I could use those funds on a wide range of things including activities outside the company.

As I embraced the “work at home” culture,  I needed an exercise plan that gave me time away from my home/office and had a social element to it (you can only go up and down 13 steps so many times in your house in a single day).

So I started off searching Groupon for activity deals…you know those offers that you purchase thinking you will use right away but that you often forget to use until they are way past their expiry date? Yes, one of those. I realized this was my opportunity to try a rowing class for a month, with no risk.  From my first moment of learning about rowing from vernacular to technique, I was hooked.

My approach to rowing has been to be flexible enough to be put in any position in any boat.  I have been fortunate enough to row in all kinds of boats from single person sculling (two oars) to large sweep boats (one oar). With each position, just like with our teaming approach to working with clients, each position in the boat brings a specific function. To be as flexible as possible, we spend time in any and all positions to round out our conditioning.  This is akin to the role that our field facing folks take with clients every day - being ready for any set of client issues, being flexible, agile and demonstrating value to our clients.

In rowing however, when we approach races, we are often placed into a specific “line up” which the coaches optimize for speed and boat agility and race length. As with the role or marketing, we must prepare for the short term - the short races, whilst at the same time preparing a much longer looking view of campaigns, go to market and the longer relationship view with our clients - like the distance races - 5000 meters or more. And much like a customer win, the feeling of winning is joyous…. this past June our Masters team won our Women’s Novice 8+ (meaning 8 rowers raced) in the Northwest Masters Regional competition.

When I first took up rowing, I thought it seemed a pretty easy sport.  And while the basics can certainly be picked up quickly, the nuances are never-ending including a variety of cross-training, techniques and challenges. Far beyond the exercise are the values and the community of people that I have come to know. Much like it takes time to create your own relationships and community at Avanade, I have similarly found a tight, unique bond among my fellow rowers that ebbs and flows with personal highs and lows in the boat.

It’s about becoming the best version of yourself and being a part of the best boat you can be in a competitive environment. Avanade is that boat. As with clients and with rowing, it all boils down to the months of training you do for those few short minutes of flawless execution.   So, what started off as a tentative toe in the water has definitely turned into what I hope will be a life long passion.  If that’s not Avanade culture, I don’t know what is.

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