23 Mar 2017

Now retired from professional table tennis, Australia’s William Henzell continues to excel as he embarks on a career outside of sport.

As a three time Olympian for Australia, William Henzell put in the hard yards on the court from an early age. It is more than two decades ago that he took a leap in to the unknown.

“I moved to Europe by myself when I was 14 to have a proper crack at table tennis so I had to be self-sufficient from a young age. I had to take care of the present, like doing my own cooking and cleaning, as well as plan for the future, like what I needed to do to develop my game and what opportunities I needed to pursue. I think my parents for very brave to let me go.” William Henzell

However, a sporting career can only last so long. Now retired from professional table tennis, Henzell has embarked on a different kind of journey. He is currently studying towards a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Melbourne.

“I retired from playing about a year ago. I felt it was better to focus doing two things well (work and my MBA) rather than doing three things (work, MBA and playing) poorly. So the MBA has certainly helped me prioritise and make decisions about where to invest time.” William Henzell

The work in question is at multinational law firm Slater and Gordon Lawyers as an Analytics and Reporting Manager. It has been an interesting time for Henzell, adapting to the differences between the sporting and professional world.

“As an athlete, especially in an individual technical sport, you need to single-minded and self sufficient. You don’t have anyone else to rely on when you’re out in the spotlight competing and nearly every decision you make is about how to improve yourself. The biggest difference I found transitioning to the professional world was the importance of building up a great team around you with complimentary skills, where it’s less about self-motivation and more about how to motivate and bring those around you on the journey.” William Henzell

Henzell’s career epitomises the perfect transition from player and athlete to professional and academic, and is proof that work ethic can carry over from the court to the classroom.

Original interview from Melbourne Business School.

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