Who would have thought you could find a triathlete amid our small yet mighty A.S. Watson tax team in Europe? Well, there is...meet Soumaya. In summer 2019, she raced ahead in our MOREathon (our internal walking/running/cycling challenge in which Group Europe tried to cover the longest distance possible). Not only did she take first place in our London Battersea office, she was also a member of the winning team (shout-out to Team 5)! Awestruck by her mettle, we wanted to know exactly how she did it…
First of all, how did you get into Triathlons?
I was looking for a sports challenge and my friend who did a half Ironman last year challenged me to
do the same. I accepted, and that’s how my journey began - I’ve been training ever since.
Best and worst parts of your training?
I have to admit, triathlon training requires a lot of commitment in terms of time, diet and sleep. Moreover, it’s very expensive – to do well you need to sign up for extra classes, training and expert coaching.
At the same time, it’s totally worth it. During the process you meet a lot of inspiring people, you become healthier, and you’re always releasing endorphins - so you feel great in your body as well as your mind. It’s essentially a race against yourself to become a better person.
How do you squeeze all this training into your daily routine and global role?
I mostly work out after work - I very rarely train in the morning! My weekends generally consist of a lot of long training sessions - either cycling or running. I do travel a lot with work, but I’ll tell my trainer in advance and we’ll replace some of my training with extra running sessions. You’ve got to be willing to adjust and always have confidence in your training!
Where do you find your motivation?
After I sign up for a race, I consult a coach and discuss my training plan with them. Once this is in place, motivation is no longer a question - you have a schedule of what you need to do to achieve your goals. If you don’t put in the hours, nothing is going to happen. My top tip for success is to be 100% committed – develop a training programme, stick to it, and you will see results.
After all that hard work, it must be incredible when you finally cross that finish line...
It's the result of months of effort, so it does feel amazing. Whilst the competitive side of you always wants a better time, you do feel a sense of pride as you know you can sign up to races and complete them. The atmosphere is also great as you get cheered on by so many people. They say things like, "Come on, you can do it!" and it's great to see the sense of human solidarity at these events.
It's also more meaningful when I do it for charity. It's easy for us to decide to train, but in some parts of the world, people don't have that choice. They may need to walk 5 kilometres a day to get to work as they can't afford any means of transport - it's not an option for them, which is humbling to think about.
This summer, your team took first place in our MOREathon. Any highlights?
Driving my team to the finish line! I tried to send encouraging messages to other team members. If I noticed there was a need to complete an extra mile, I would take one for the team!
Did our MOREathon help with your triathlon training? Or the other way around?
I think my training helped with the MOREathon as I had to do it anyway! However, it was nice to see that there are some really fitness-focused people within the company – especially as I’m sure we each have different stories.
Does ASW give you opportunity to focus on your wellbeing journey?
There are some great ideas behind our wellbeing initiatives and my close colleagues are also very supportive. When I discovered some of them were also runners, we started to visit the nearby track over lunch time. It has to be a spontaneous thing because we’re all so busy, but it’s great when we can do it.
Finally, how important is CSR and wellbeing to you?
Very important. For a long time, my wellbeing was mostly achieved through yoga classes and spa sessions (the jacuzzi and steam room have always been my biggest vice)! When you’re training, it’s different, and you feel much better.
CSR is also important as it’s a way to give back to the community and engage with programmes designed to change the future for the better. Afterall, we’re More than just a business.
If you’re a fan of wellbeing initiatives, why don’t you check out our latest vacancies? 😉