Next week in Chicago, five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry will be recognized as the Class of 2014 SFIA Future Industry Leader Scholars. All five of these recipients will be present at SFIA’s Industry Leaders Summit on September 16-17, 2014 at the Drake Hotel.
Each of our scholarship recipients is incredibly talented and display an incredible amount of promise as they rise to the top of their field. This week, SFIAinsider, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be posting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight before the event.
Meet Jocelyn Vande Velde, Director of Education & Sales Training for SFIA member Johnson Health Tech N.A., a former softball ump who has biked on the same roads as the Tour de France. Continue reading to see the full interview.
Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?
I initially became interested in applying to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program when I was encouraged by one of last year’s winners, Bob Najduk. We work together on the Marketing and Product team at Johnson Health Tech in Cottage Grove, WI. After looking into the opportunity, admittedly, I was a little disappointed to not see female representation in last year’s group of five scholarship winners. That said, I saw the application process as an opportunity to challenge myself to be a strong representative of the female constituency in our industry as well as glean some leadership insights from the two-day summit.
What was your very first job?
Like many teenagers, I babysat the neighborhood kids, but my first “real” paycheck was working the carryout counter at a very popular restaurant in the Chicago suburbs. I was 15 years old. I went on to also wait tables and serve as a hostess over a span of several years. I have vivid memories of Saturday double headers with my high school softball team and racing to work in my restaurant uniform; an oxford white shirt, men’s tie, black pants and apron, only to sweat like crazy from way too much sun mixed with the hustle of a fast-paced restaurant and a lot of clothing! I loved everything about it including their amazing, comfort food. And I learned that the world would be a much nicer place if everyone worked a year in a service industry role!
What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?
Another high school job was umping softball, which led to officiating Intramurals at Western Illinois University, which led to being one of four graduate students leading the Intramural department. This combined with my personal love of sports and fitness and my burgeoning business skills both in school and my longtime “college break” job working at a well-known insurance company, led me to realize that life is too short to hawk a product you can’t be passionate about (no offense to the insurance industry). Since that realization, I’ve never accepted a job where I can’t be pumped about what it is that we’re selling.
What exactly do you do in your current position?
As the Director of Education & Sales Training I work closely with and manage our Training Coordinator as well as do the following:
1) Help teach our global retail and commercial sales staff, including the dealer and distributor network, to learn about our products and services to make them all better equipped to be successful sales people. I utilize a multitude of methods like webinars, live training, e-learning and more.
2) Develop web-based/video educational content for our commercial customers which has become increasingly important with the proliferation of technology-based products and our more advanced strength line.
3) Foster a strong relationship between Johnson Health Tech and various educational partners like the American Council on Exercise and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, to name a few, in order to mutually support each other’s educational efforts.
What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?
I love working with a globally diverse group of colleagues. As much as I love sports, I love to travel even more. In a normal week I’ll email or chat with people from all over the world. I find that being globally aware keeps me on my toes both personally and professionally. Ironically, I love to learn and perspectives from outside my zip code are the best catalysts for education and open-mindedness.
Also, I would be lying if I didn’t mention our company’s culture of wellness. We are fortunate to have a wonderful workout facility as well as countless wellness program perks like outdoor yoga, group personal training, massage and being a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) drop off for organic veggies. Working out gets you “fit points” which can be cashed in to help pay for new gear or more of said perks!
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?
This is my first time attending, so the anticipation of the unknown is definitely exciting. I really look forward to learning from the industry veterans during our sessions, but more importantly via the personal connections that can be made during the networking portions.
What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?
As a spectator, I’ve been insanely fortunate to witness some amazing things first-hand like Michael Jordan playing with the Bulls, numerous bike races, especially the Tour de France, from tiny roads in the middle of nowhere—most of which I got to on my own bike, the action in the pits with Red Bull Racing at a Formula 1 race and amazingly, my husband placing first or second in all his bike races at both the US and World Transplant Games—to name a few.
However, nothing brings me more pride as an athlete than the relationships I’ve fostered due to my various sports and fitness passions. Three of my closest friends to this day were either volleyball teammates or rivals since I was twelve years old. My most dear friends I’ve made in adulthood were made while riding miles and miles of farm roads around Madison, WI where I live. And most importantly, a really sweet college boy pretended to like running in order to train with and get to know me. Now, fourteen years later, I call him husband and best friend. These human connections developed through sport trump any game winning hit, triathlon or marathon finish line or mountain climbed.
Do you have a favorite sports movie?
I love most baseball movies. My favorite of that genre being The Sandlot—it reminds me of the motley crew I grew up with on my block. However, my most favorite sports movie of all time is Breaking Away—a cult classic among cyclists and perfect for anyone with a desire to exceed the expectations set forth for them.