It’s the most wonderful time of the year — March Madness has arrived!

As we look to make our selections in the coming days, there’s a lot to consider. After all, the odds of having a perfect bracket are about one in nine quintillion, so strategy is everything.

“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

Sure, there’s a chance. But, the greater odds are not necessarily in the art of perfecting the bracket, but in becoming a champion — or expert, if you will — in the bracket tournament of your choice. At Protiviti, we are no stranger to having experts among us. We challenge our employees to find their area of interest and make it an area of expertise — and they do! These champions make our organization better — and their quest for victory always makes for an exciting and competitive company-wide NCAA basketball tournament.

As we head in to the madness, we’re looking forward to identifying the next winner of the seventh annual Protiviti March Madness tournament. In the interim, we caught up with some of Protiviti’s former student-athletes to hear about how their dedication to their athletic career translated to the professional arena. We hope that their stories will resonate with you and help you to identify ways that your experiences outside of work have strengthened your career. Oh, and perhaps it will help to inspire you during your bracket selection process — because at the end of the day, having the potential to become a champion just plain feels good.


Division I Lacrosse National Champion, University of Maryland


Biggest athletic accomplishment: “Helping my team to win a National Championship at the University of Maryland. It was an incredible moment in my life and I was able to celebrate with my teammates, family, and friends at a post-game tailgate right outside the stadium.”

What is the best lesson you learned from playing? How does that lesson translate to your career today? “One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that the only way you get better is by practicing. Looking at my career, I look to identify areas of improvement, figure out a way to spend 10-15 minutes a day to get better, until it becomes a strength.”

Who is your tournament pick? “University of Kentucky! Go Catz!” (Background: Alex’s fiance is a Wildcat graduate)


Division I Soccer, Mercer University

Michael sprinting down the field for Mercer

Biggest athletic accomplishment: “My biggest accomplishment off the field was obtaining A-Sun All Academic Honoree multiple semesters.  On the field, my biggest accomplishment was playing in the Conference finals vs Florida Gulf Coast University. We lost 1-0 in overtime, but the experience was incredible.”

What is the best lesson you learned from playing? How does that lesson translate in your career today? “The biggest lesson I learned was time management skills and how to balance different commitments. As an athlete, you don’t have control over your schedule (I.E.: class times, practice schedules, road games). It is a challenge to have the discipline to go to the library and study after a 3-hour practice, or to study on the bus after a game on the road. For my career today, it translates into work ethic and appreciation for any and all ‘free’ time.”

Who is your tournament pick? “I have to go with Duke this year, there is so much hype and excitement around Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.”


Division I Rowing, University of Notre Dame


Biggest athletic accomplishment: “My biggest accomplishment was related to my growth in the sport. I walked onto the Women’s Rowing team my freshman year knowing nothing more about the sport other than the fact that it favors tall athletes. Within two years, I had earned an athletic scholarship and was competing at a NCAA National Championship.”

What is the best lesson you learned from playing? How does that lesson translate in your career today? “My experience on the team reinforced that hard work translates into results, especially when you have a strong team surrounding you.  The hours that I spent on the water in South Bend (in the rain, hail, and below-freezing weather) and on the erg (rowing machine) with my teammates translated into success throughout my collegiate career.”

Who is your tournament pick? “Notre Dame.”


Division I Basketball, Binghamton University


Biggest athletic accomplishment: “Playing for Team Canada alongside three future NBA teammates Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Cory Joseph (Indiana Pacers) and Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks) in the Adidas Nations tournament against other countries top prospects and several other future NBA players”

What is the best lesson you learned from playing? How does that lesson translate in your career today? “I learned many valuable lessons playing basketball and it’s tough to determine the best. One of the things that I value most that I’ve learned from playing basketball is strong work ethic, which has assisted me in achieve goals both on and off the court. This has translated to my career in consulting because we work in a very dynamic, fast-paced environment, with ever-changing client needs. This requires us to continually develop new skill sets and to go above and beyond when needed to serve our clients successfully.”

Who is your tournament pick? “Duke Blue Devils because of their impressive star-studded freshman class, solid role players and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski leading them.”


Division I Baseball, Creighton University


Biggest athletic accomplishment: “My biggest accomplishment was being on the team all 4 years.  As a walk-on, I did not receive an athletic scholarship and every year I had to work hard to stay on the team.  Additionally, I received the top academic honor for our Conference my senior year as the top GPA for a student-athlete.”

What is the best lesson you learned from playing? How does that lesson translate in your career today? “A few things stand out to me:

  1. As a walk-on who did not play much, I knew I was one of the worst players on the team. But not everyone can play every day and there are other roles that are important to a successful team.  I constantly thought about how I could add value to the team, especially when I wasn’t playing.  I would get there early to help my teammates get ready by throwing extra batting practice or hitting extra ground balls to others.  I would often help my teammates to notice things when they were playing, especially the pitchers when they were struggling with one of their pitches.  I knew the game of baseball, unfortunately I was just not as talented as others to execute.  I also helped my teammates a lot in the classroom.  Often my teammates would seek me out to help review their papers or to help them study for a test.  I think the same thing applies to our teams at work for Protiviti.  Everyone has something to contribute.  It is up to each of us to play the best role that we can and always do what is in the best interest of our team, even when it is not the most glamorous role, or even when it may not be in our perceived best interest.
  2. The second thing I learned from playing college baseball is how to build relationships, and how to treat everyone with respect. I will forever be grateful to my teammates, who knew I was the worst player on the team, but they still respected me for my contributions, they treated me equally like a valued member of the team, and for many of them, I am still friends with today.   I am also proud of the trusted relationships I build over time with the coaches.  They knew they could rely on me to help them in certain situations, and I still am in contact with them to this day as a proud alumnus.  Again, similar to our work at Protiviti, each of our teammates deserves to be treated equally, regardless of their age or their role and deserves to be recognized for their individual contributions.
  3. Finally, I learned how to win and lose with humility and dignity. We didn’t win every game in baseball, and we don’t win every proposal at Protiviti.  But the way that we win and lose can reveal our character, and can push us to improve.  There are lessons to be learned not just when we lose, but also when we win.  The consulting business is very competitive, and our competition is worthy of our respect.  We have to be competitive and work hard every day to be better than everyone else, but we should also do it in a way that we can be proud of our efforts no matter the outcome. “

Who is your tournament pick? “Gonzaga.” 

As we look forward to the tournament and our annual Protiviti March Madness bracket challenge, we hope that our former collegiate athletes have inspired you! Each day, we all have the ability to embody being a champion. Whether it’s a champion of an initiative, a champion for gender equality in the workplace, a champion of community involvement, or a champion of client relationships, you have the power to be the best version of yourself and to help others to champion in their own unique ways.

And if that wasn’t enough inspiration for you, perhaps some insight from last year’s Protiviti March Madness winner, Miles, will help you along:

‘The key to selection scenery is to analyze yourself. Get outside and find a calm meadow with a perfect sunset. A crisp breeze through the air, birds chirping, animals grazing off in the distance. You have to really take advantage of being one with nature to truly understand yourself and to be able to make the picks that really speak to you!”

Miles’s pick this year? Virginia.

If you can’t find yourself a calm meadow, Miles suggests that you avoid getting caught up on a single team because “there will be some upsets that you will never predict. So, for every few that make sense, go with an upset for the others. Or, you can always pick randomly from a hat which may end up being a better strategy…”.


With all that said, let the games begin!

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