Skip to Main Content
Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership

Leadership from the Court to the Classroom

  • Ciaran McGovern
  • |
  • Jun 5, 2017
Leadership from the Court to the Classroom

Ciaran McGovern, MBA '17

About the Author: Prior to completing his MBA, Ciaran McGovern, MBA ’17, travelled around the world as a professional volleyball player, representing Canada for eight years.  He shares reflections of his leadership development at Ivey and how it compared to his court experience.

Fear is in the anticipation. Often when we take on a new challenge, in a new environment, our mind runs a thousand miles a minute.  We think we know what it will take to be successful and tasks that we need to focus on. For me, going to the classroom was no different but my experience as a professional volleyball player transitioning into the classroom was unique in a different way.

What does it take to lead in sport compared to in a corporate setting? That is what I often asked myself as I was entering the MBA Program at Ivey.  The process is always iterative. Something that Ivey helped me with was understanding that a decision is rarely ever perfect, the stars don’t always align with business, and that was the same on the court. I was a perfectionist, always trying to improve and was rarely satisfied with my result. It was mentally taxing some days when I did not perform well, and I had a hard time letting performances go. I would turn the wheels in my head of what I could do better long after the match. When I came to Ivey, that was not an option. I needed to learn, reflect, and keep up with what was going to happen next in the moment. The workload and structure of the program forced me to focus in the present, transition my focus, and pay it forward by helping the others around me, just as they helped me.

How can I be better? As I came into the program, I modelled strong habits from my teammates as I was starting a different lifestyle all together. I watched my teammates and friends go to the Olympics and accomplish their goals. They inspired me to put the actions we had learned as a team into a different focus. Ivey was the perfect place to help me harness my athlete mentality in the classroom through goal setting, directed focus, and team learning. All traits that I will strive to carry with me throughout my professional career.