On the surface, Henry Smith leads two very different lives.
But you don’t have to dig too deeply to see there is a significant crossover between his life as an elite athlete and his work as a talent engagement specialist.
Juggling both careers is a mammoth task but in the two years he has been with Melbourne firm Six Degrees Executive, Henry has discovered a lifetime in athletics has equipped him with skills which are invaluable in the workplace.
Maybe surprisingly, he says his working life has also made him a better athlete – and not just because it pays the bills.
Henry joined the Six Degrees graduate program in 2018 and became a permanent, full-time staff member after 12 months.
He is now a Talent Engagement Specialist for the firm’s B2B sales team, supporting his team with unearthing talent and talent mapping across the junior, mid and senior sales market, to ensure they engage with the best candidates.
Athletics has been a huge part of Henry’s life since he took up high jumping at the age of eight, before transitioning into triple jumping and finally long jumping, representing Australia at several international junior events.
After missing out on qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games long jump competition by just 4cm, he refocused his attention on making the Australian team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Although the Coronavirus pandemic has seen the Olympics postponed until next year, Henry remains philosophical and is still in full training with a home gym in place and access allowed to training tracks as long as athletes abide by social distancing laws.
“The health and wellbeing and safety of the public over-rides a sporting event,” Henry said.
“I was in the top 32 in the world and looking to maintain that, so I was sitting really well to qualify for the Australian team.
“I’d overcome a pulled hamstring and was ready for the nationals, which were to be held last week before they were cancelled, and was then heading to Asia and Europe to compete.
“The postponement of the Games means I have another six or seven months to train and get fitter and stronger and faster for the Olympics in 2021.
“So it’s full steam ahead.”
The cancellation of the Australian Track and Field Championships means Henry is still the reigning national champion after winning at the nationals last year.
His personal best jump of 8.06m places him among the best long jumpers in the world and was just 16cm below the distance needed to automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympics.