My Career Change: John Kawaja’s Career After Curling

When a professional athlete’s playing days are over, many do not realize that athlete’s career in another field is often just beginning. As part of VIKTRE’s dedication to drive interaction between athletes and their fans, our Career team made it a priority to show how successful many athletes have been since their playing days ended in a feature called “My Career Change.”

In this installment of “My Career Change,” we interviewed former World and Canadian Curling Champion, John Kawaja. Most know Kawaja from being the youngest player to ever win a Canadian Curling Championship and also from being inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.

What sport did you play?

Curling

What teams did you play for?Kawaja

2x World Champion (1983, 1990)
2x Brier Champion (1983, 1990)
6x Brier participant
Canadian Curling Hall of Fame
Ontario Sports Hall of Fame

Played 17 years with Ed ‘The Wrench’ Werenich

What industry did you change careers to?

Sporting Goods

How did you get into your new career?

I was asked to help the Bata shoe company design a signature curling shoe. From there, I began a career with adidas while I was still playing. After retiring in 1997, my career quickly progressed to general management roles with the brand in Canada and the U.S.

I have recently left the adidas group, after 27 years there. My last 11 years were with the group’s golf division, where I was the President of the TaylorMade golf company.

What was the biggest challenge you faced making your career change?

When I retired, I moved completely away from the sport. It was “play at the highest level, or not at all.” In my case, retiring gave me the opportunity to focus my energy and passion on my career, and my young family.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your new career?

Leading TaylorMade to industry leading market shares, revenue, and a culture of success.

What advice do you have for athletes making their career change?

Apply the things that made a difference as an athlete…dedication, effort, preparation, energy, creativity, and passion. Business is not really different. There are winners and losers. Be competitive. Be a winner.

How can other athletes learn more about your business or your career change?

You can follow John on VIKTRE by going to his profile here

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