Q&A with Alumnus and two-time Olympian Roderick Chisholm (MBA 2006)

Thursday, 18 August 2016  @Business School

​​We sat down with AGSM alumnus Roderick Chisholm (MBA 2006) to discuss his previous Olympic runs. Roderick competed at the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 and at the London Summer Olympics in 2012 as part of Australia’s rowing delegation. He competed in the Lightweight Double Scull and the Lightweight Coxless Four Crew.

Q: How long have you been rowing and how did you get into it?

A: I have been rowing since my first year at university in 1992, so a little over 20 years. My sister had recommended that I try out the college boat club as a good way to meet people and because ‘they had the best parties’.

Q: When did you realise you should be taking the sport seriously?

A: There was never a point where I thought ‘I’ll keep at this and go to the Olympics’; equally there was no coach that ‘spotted my potential early’. I went into full-time work straight out of university and kept rowing because I enjoyed the sport, the competition and the group I trained with. Almost as a side effect I went a bit quicker every year until I started winning and getting invited to selection events.

Q: What was it like when you realised you’d be representing your country in the Olympic games?

A: Awesome!

Q: How did training (and life generally) change once you knew you were to appear in the games?

A: The training just grinds on as before, just with much more kit.

Q: Stepping out, into the Olympic stadium (during the opening ceremony), what was that like? How did you feel?

A: Unfortunately, since the rowing starts on the first day of the games, the rowers do not get to march at the opening (five hours on your legs and a late night the day before racing is not considered beneficial!). We try to make up for it at the closing ceremony, however, not as much as the water polo players. They finish on the last day so have to catch-up a bit in the hours before the ceremony.

Q: Are there any parallels with doing the course you did at AGSM @ UNSW Business School and your training for the games?

A: Two important parallels:

  1. In sport you train hard to perform, in business you work hard to get results. All too often people forget that and let the hard training and hard work become their end goal. There are no medals handed out for whoever trained the most hours.
  2. The most successful Olympians I met took ownership of their own results, they did not wait for direction or assumed that someone else (a coach or mentor) would do their thinking for them. Likewise the people who got the most out of business school were the ones who were most willing to take responsibility for their progress and not be content to ‘go with the flow’.

Q: Are you still rowing and what are you doing now, post AGSM and Olympics (career wise)?

A: I still row at my club twice a week but not as competitively as before. After business school I joined a startup fund management business and have been in fund management since then (apart from a few breaks for the Beijing and London games etc).

Q: Will you be watching the Rio games this year and have you any advice to the UNSW Olympians?

A: I will certainly be watching the games and my only advice to any of our Olympic team this year would be to remember to enjoy and drink in each and every second of the games. ​

In addition to former athletes like Rod, we profiled all of our current students and alumni who have been competing in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games. Read our profiles of Rugby Sevens flyer Henry Hutchison (who also featured in an episode of Pulse), Water Polo star Johnno Cotterill, and our silver medalist sailor Lisa Darmanin.

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