Elite athletes are set to hone their skills in the business world under a Waikato Chamber of Commerce initiative.
Just-launched World Class Waikato (WCW) is a pilot programme matching high-achieving New Zealand sports people with employers.
The programme was conceived when chamber chief executive Sandra Perry, in her former role as leader of Hamilton's economic development agency, employed record-breaking White Fern cricketer Nicola Browne.
Sandra wants business people to sign up for the programme.
"The programme evolved from discussions Nicola and I had about the positive impact our partnership created. It's all about businesses tapping into the drive, passion, commitment and all-round ability of our athletes.
"We thought it would be great to offer this to other businesses," Sandra says.
Browne, who led the implementation of the city's digital strategy, proved her mettle in business by project managing the inaugural Innovation and Growth 2012 in Hamilton in June.
She continues her digital work as a Hamilton City Council contractor, and joins a panel of business leaders and athletes on the World Class Waikato advisory group.
The chamber facilitates the programme by matching athletes with businesses, giving guidelines for initial discussions and managing the connection until an employment agreement is reached.
Business benefits of the programme include being part of an athlete's success, increased profile for the business and leveraging the skills, drive and ambition of the sport person.
Athletes benefit from developing new skills, expanding their business networks, securing a future outside sport and gaining and insight into other career opportunities.
Mystery Creek Event Centre is one of the first businesses involved in the programme, employing New Zealand golfer Sarah Bradley in a design and communications role.
"I love every moment of being in the office and interacting with such a great team of people. This has added to my golf in so many ways," Bradley says.
The chamber aims to have six businesses matched with six athletes by mid next year.
To be part of the programme, phone Sandra Perry 021 849 901 or firstname.lastname@example.org.