How elite netball gave one BCom graduate a competitive edge

By Briena Barrett

Life as a student athlete was challenging for Melbourne Vixens defender Jo Weston – but with unfaltering passion and perseverance she made it work. Having just returned from her first Commonwealth Games, we sat down with Jo to find out how she makes it work on and off the court.

For Jo Weston returning from the Commonwealth Games is bittersweet. Having played for the Melbourne Vixens since 2014, this year she realised a childhood dream when she joined the Diamonds team for the Commonwealth Games. Sadly, the team suffered a crushing defeat to England. But the talented defender sees the silver lining.

“Although we didn’t win, it was just the most incredible experience,” Jo says.

“I felt very spoiled playing my first Commonwealth Games on home soil in terms of just everything being so familiar, having all my family and friends there.

“But it was bittersweet, I guess, towards the tail end, when we didn’t end up winning. But the silver medal is still very beautiful.”

Jo receiving her BCom graduation certificate.

Having enjoyed accounting in high school, Jo pursued this interest through a Bachelor of Commerce with the University of Melbourne. She graduated in 2015 - but, faced with a hectic training schedule, it wasn’t a straightforward journey.

Interstate competitions meant she relied on Summer semesters, online lectures, and a strong friendship base to see her through. Any break during competitions was also put to good use.

“At the Constellation Cup I remember we had a day off, and I literally locked myself in the room, and everyone went to Rottnest Island or something like that, and I had to spend the entire time studying.”

“It was difficult to fit it all in, but you make it work if you want to make it work.”

Following graduation, Jo landed a part-time Analyst job for Deloitte Australia – starting out working with the Private and Business Advisory Services arm.

“We look after small to medium enterprises, a lot of family groups, and then amongst that there’s some non-for-profits and some startups - which were my favourite clients to work on. And then amongst that we do tax, we do accounting, we do cash forecasting, we do profit diversification.”

“The work itself has been great in terms of being able to take some of the things I learnt at university and apply them, such as applying the way of thinking that you foster at university during real life situations, like meeting clients, or working on board projects when you’re in a group.”

While the mental and physical energy needed to compete in national league netball can be a full-time job, Jo says the league has always been encouraging of its athletes pursuing outside interests.

“Because they know that in turn it makes us better athletes and better humans in terms of not having tunnel vision.”

Jo at the Commonwealth Games. Photo - Grant Treeby

“And I think that’s nice to have in a sport. Although we might not be remunerated as highly as other sports who are full-time, we actually get the time to pursue things we’re interested in while we’re still playing, while other athletes may have to wait until after their sporting career.”

Jo is preparing to return to Deloitte after taking a short break dedicated to training for the Commonwealth Games. After a couple of years on the job, she has an appreciation for how netball has shaped her work.

“I think I know now, which I feel probably more confident saying, is that I bring something else from playing sport to the workplace. Because you put a lot of hard work into being a part of a sports team.”

“I’ve loved having this external environment, which is a completely different stimulation to what netball gives me.

“That's why work has been great in terms of, not just filling my free time, but also giving me a little bit of an outlet, engaging my brain, and putting myself in a good position, hopefully, post-netball, that I've got some work experience, and know how to handle myself in a corporate environment.”

Banner image: Jo (second from left) receives her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Photo - Grant Treeby