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Consultant and triathlete Monique McDonough is no ordinary alumna

Friday, March 11 2016 12:00am

Monique McDonough found balance as working parent and is helping others do the same.

Alumni: Monique (Means) McDonough

Current role: Principal Consultant, Symmetrics Group and Founding Partner, Blackburn Management

Home base: Washington D.C.

By day, Ohio University College of Business alumna Monique McDonough is a principal consultant at Symmetrics Group, where she helps companies evaluate and improve their sales effectiveness and evolve their organizations. “Everything I love—smaller companies, building teams, building companies, working with people—I get to do here,” she said. “What’s really interesting is that every organization has increased pressures to drive revenue and improve their sales functions. It might be because they acquired a lot of companies, they changed leadership, they want to better understand a new market, or sometimes they just aren’t hitting their numbers. I get to help them evolve their organizations, which is really exciting.”

By night—and the wee hours of the morning—McDonough is a mother, wife, triathlete, and founding partner of Blackburn Management, a business that helps other parents balance family, career, and triathlons.

The business began as a blog ( in 2014, when McDonough and her husband, Greg, decided to train together for an Ironman—her fourth and his first 140.6 mile triathlon race. “We thought, ‘everyone is asking us how we’re doing it’, so we started sharing our experiences through a blog,” McDonough explained.

The answer? Creativity and flexibility, according to McDonough. For example, the couple goes to bed early to wake up at 5 a.m. and spin before the kids are stirring. Sometimes, McDonough even brings running clothes to work and runs home to get in a few extra miles. “The other part is that our kids think it’s normal,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for them to get in the jogger for a 10 mile run. I’ll run four miles before stopping at Starbucks for hot chocolate, then a few more before stopping at the carousel at the Smithsonian (on the Washington Mall). I make it work and they have fun.”

After realizing the strong demand for professionals trying to incorporate fitness into their work and personal lives through the blog, the McDonoughs partnered with OHIO College of Business sport management students for ideas to expand the business. As part of their senior project, the students completed a market analysis and then developed recommendations.

“We were blown away by their final presentation,” said McDonough. “They suggested we create an ambassador program to promote the business at races, and expand the blog to include video components. They also suggested channels and avenues for advertising, as well as hosting a community race or event.”  

In addition to exploring student recommendations, the couple recently published a book to help athletes determine the right race for them: The Road to Being an Ironman: North American Ironman Triathlons. Visit both the blog and book website online

On top of all that, McDonough manages to stay involved with her alma mater. She serves on the board of Ohio Women, and also as a mentor for the Select Leadership Development Program within the College of Business.  

And of course as always, her next race is on the horizon.

- Potpourri –

Pressing questions for Monique McDonough

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

“I think it’s two-fold. I get to work with really smart, talented people who continue to push me to excel every day and that intellectual professional challenge is fantastic. It’s energizing. And, because I’m a consultant I get exposure to so many business climates, cultures, industries, team organizations, and dynamics, and if I worked exclusively with one company, I wouldn’t necessarily have that exposure.”

What advice do you have for students trying to make it as a consultant?

“Get exposure to as many different facets of the world as possible. In order to be a consultant and be able to adapt, you have to give yourself exposure early on to different situations. You have to travel. Test out some of the fields you’re studying through summer or winter break internships. Volunteer or take a job on campus. Go to as many alumni events as possible; you never know who you will meet that can impact your future.”

Why do you continue to support and stay involved with OHIO’s College of Business?

“That’s an easy one. I feel so fortunate for the education I had with the people and support of the University, and I feel that it’s my role to pay that back. Professors really impacted me in an extremely powerful way and they spent the time to help mentor and coach me. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I feel like I have the opportunity to devote my time, my treasure, and my talent to others.”

When you weren’t in class, where would we find you on campus? 

“Either working at The Post, at the Oasis (a coffee trailer near the library), the Pi Phi house, or in a team room somewhere.”