Spotlight on… George Pinner on working to an Olympic gold medal equivalent in the corporate world

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George Pinner is an Account Manager, as well as a professional international hockey player. Although the Olympic games have been postponed, he’s still training hard with the ambition of being selected as GB’s first choice goalkeeper next year.

In this interview, George draws parallels between his sport and life at work, setting goals and thoughts on driving your own career journey.

Tell us about yourself

I started work as a Project Manager for Cadbury’s before becoming a full-time athlete ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, where I was the reserve goalkeeper in the GB hockey team. When the games finished, I needed to decide what to do for a career.

Insurance appealed to me because of the people aspect and building relationships. I like interacting with people, and anyone who knows me well, knows that I like to talk! I joined Lorica in 2013, which was acquired by PIB Group in 2018.

What makes PIB a career destination for you?

Being part of a bigger group means there are a lot of opportunities to develop a really good career at PIB. The learning and development, and tools we can access has improved dramatically. Our internal vacancies board for example, is an interesting way to explore career options and opportunities to move around different parts of the Group. It’s very exciting to be part of PIB.

What does your hockey training entail (before the coronavirus lockdown)?

We trained pretty much every day as a squad. There is the physical, fitness and technical training, but we also develop our mental skills with psychologists‎ to help us deal with pressure or improve our leadership skills for example. I feel very lucky with the support that I have received from Lorica and PIB to pursue my dual aspirations.

What skills do you bring into the workplace?

There are a range of skills that are highly transferrable like handling pressure, communication, leadership or listening. In my current role, the two main skills I take from sport are teamwork and being self-motivated.

There’s 28 of us in our squad, all with different backgrounds and personalities. So, to get the best out of people we have to be good at the relationship side of things, collaborate and trust each other. Building relationships and understanding why people behave or do what they do is essential, and in return helps with giving feedback and how you talk to each other. I use those skills at work as we interact daily as a team, as well as with other parts of the business such as Claims and even insurers.

And being self-motivated?

At hockey, we’re incredibly lucky with our environment and all the tools to be the best player possible, and to a degree you are told what to do when you’re on the programme. However, just doing what we’re told will help to be a good player so it’s up to us to make the most of what’s available to be a great player. I’ve always had a clear vision of where I want to go, and regularly set goals that I’m passionate about, which makes it easier to feel motivated. Having a good plan in place gives you something to work towards. I think that’s similar to the workplace – I have a job description and things I know I’ve got to do, but ultimately, it’s up to me to develop my career.

What are your goals in the ‘corporate world’?

My short-term goal is to become an Account Executive. Longer-term, I would love to be in a leadership or management position one day, which would be my equivalent of an Olympic gold medal.

I’ve learnt and developed a lot of skills from sport but need to tweak them, so they are appropriate for the corporate world. I have goals, but need to develop a plan.

There is so much knowledge and support to tap into, but ultimately, I need to take responsibility to work out my journey and really drive that. It’s very similar to what I’ve had in sport and we’re lucky to be in a business with an environment that enables you to do this.

How do you feel about playing in the next Olympics?

When I became an Olympian and stepped foot on the pitch and played four years ago, that was quite big for me because it’s something I’ve aspired to since I was young. But there so many people – coaches, family, friends and colleagues – that have a really big impact on you as an athlete. I felt proud that I could give something back to them and be able to say that I’d achieved this as a result of their support. But I’m older now, younger guys are coming through the squad and I take nothing for granted – it’s more competitive, I will have to have played even better, even more consistently. So I think if I do manage to get selected and play in the next Olympics, it will be even more special.

I’m gutted they have had to be cancelled due to coronavirus, but I will still work towards my goal of hopefully being selected as GB’s first choice goalkeeper for next year.

Best advice you’ve been given?

Remember to enjoy it and find the fun in getting better. When you enjoy something you’re more likely to keep wanting to do it. It’s too easy to get caught up in what you could do, what could go wrong, what did go wrong or you fear failure, so that you don’t commit 100% to it.

So, it could be anything from trying a new sport or exercising for the first time. The next time you go, you might be five seconds quicker than the last. Celebrate that success.

One thing that people don’t know about you?

I showed the Queen around my bedroom!

At the 2012 Olympic, our squad was having lunch and our performance director came running into the room asking us to tidy our flat as we had some ‘important visitors’. It was very surreal, like showing your nan around a place!

This is our forth in our series of spotlight stories on interesting and talented people around PIB Group. George’s story follows on most recently from Elisa Griffin,  Matthew Howes and Kenan Brown Wingfield. For more information about PIB, visit www.pibgroup.co.uk