From Synchronized Figure Skater to Go-To-Market Strategist?

by Anna Mellas

Many of us probably have childhood hobbies that we remember fondly, but never really consider how they might impact our future careers. For me, synchronized figure skating was that activity that I loved and continued to pursue throughout my youth. 

Little did I know, my experience as a competitive skater would shape my career in client management. The skills and qualities I developed on the ice, including discipline, determination, and teamwork, have proven invaluable in my work at AK Operations. 

Anna Mellas Skating Blog 2Can you spot which one is me?

Finding Success As a Team As An Athlete

One of the first things you think of when you hear “figure skating” is that it’s typically a solo sport. I, of course, didn’t do much solo skating. I was a synchronized figure skater on a team of 16 girls.

That meant that I wasn’t just practicing and competing for myself. I had 15 other girls that were counting on me to constantly be my best. One of things that my coaches always told me was, “You don’t always notice who’s best on the ice, but you can definitely spot the worst.” Although that could have driven my teammates and I to constantly try and outperform each other, instead, we made sure we didn’t have a weak link so we could do our best as a group.

This is how I learned that success wasn't just about my individual performance but also about the performance of the team as a whole. Each of us had to work together, trust each other, and rely on each other to achieve our goals. This mentality has translated into my work life, where I strive to work collaboratively with my teammates, support their growth and development, and always keep the bigger picture in mind. 

Finding Success as a Team As A SharpChick

I’m constantly grateful that the women at AK Operations push each other to be better every day. Our feedback loop is an ongoing process that encompasses more than just criticism; it also involves praise and guidance. I’ll always share a useful tip or new strategy because even though we’re responsible for individual accounts, we hone our overall strategy as a team. 

I’m lucky enough to work with a group of extremely smart and innovative people. I believe it’s important to never be the smartest, most talented, or most successful person in the room, because that means you’re not surrounding yourself with the right company. This mentality helps me push myself to be better everyday and level up to the people I see before me constantly coming up with new ideas and shaping our client strategy. I had the same discipline on the ice – as much as I wanted to be “the best” on the team, the bar was constantly getting set higher.

Finding Success as a Team As Client Partner

My experience in skating has taught me how to deal with failure and setbacks. As an athlete, I had to learn to overcome injuries, defeats, and other obstacles to keep going. This resilience has helped me in my professional life, where I've learned to approach challenges with a growth mindset and use them as learning opportunities. 

One of my biggest heartbreaks in my skating career was not making it to the World Championships in Croatia to represent the US with my team. We had practiced endlessly, altered our routine to be fresh and exciting, but at the end of the competition, we did not qualify. My thoughts when we heard we didn’t qualify weren’t “What could my teammates have done better?” or “Why did the other teams beat us?” Rather, it was ,“Should I have practiced more?” and “Did I dedicate enough time to my team?” I know I can’t beat myself up for a hardship I had at 17, but that mentality of always looking for what I can do better for my team, my company, my clients has shaped the decisions I make as an adult.

In conclusion, my career journey has been shaped by my experiences in competitive skating, and I'm grateful for the skills and qualities that I've gained through the sport. As I continue to grow and develop in my career, I will always strive to embody the teamwork, dedication, and perseverance that I learned on the ice.

Connect with Anna