Words of WISdom from Rebecca Pany
Tuesday, April 10 2018 12:00am
As a former student-athlete at Indiana University, Rebecca Pany (PMSA '16) now works for her alma mater as the Assistant Athletic Director for Administration and Operations and is offering her words of WISdom
Rebecca Pany (PMSA '16)
Assistant Athletic Director for Administration and Operations, Indiana University
How has your experience as a student-athlete impacted your career?
Being a student-athlete at Indiana University was an experience that really was second-to-none. Without it, I wouldn’t be in this industry. I was able to develop skills and habits that benefit me both in my career and more importantly in my life. Having the opportunity to work together with my teammates and coaches to learn how to build a culture, battle through adversity, succeed with a team mentality, and believe in something bigger than self are all essential lessons that I was able to experience that have benefited me immensely in my career. I will be forever thankful for the opportunity to be able to serve an institution that has given me so much.
Starting as a compliance coordinator and now serving as the assistant athletic director for administration and operations, could you please talk about the key factors to your career progression at Indiana?
My career path is unique and everyone has their own story about how they got there and why. Sometimes you just land in the right spot, which is honestly how my story has worked. I began this crazy career during the second semester of my senior year in the compliance office as an intern, not knowing I wanted to get into the field. I fell in love with the administrative side of intercollegiate athletics, the entry level position in the compliance office opened up, I earned an interview, and well, here we are. I moved around quickly, but every position I have served in at Indiana has always been about project management. Learning to make systems more efficient, working creatively to get the most with less and just making other’s lives easier are really the three things that have benefited me the most in my movement. My job duties now are focused in central administration, strategic facilities and operations. Learning to balance three distinct responsibilities has been an amazing challenge and I look forward to continuing to add to the balancing act.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
First and foremost, the most rewarding part of my job is being able to make a difference in the experience of student-athletes and help in their development. In addition, this is such a people business. The best part of my job is building relationships – whether it be with students, other colleagues or the countless people who help me every day outside of the office. There have been so many times that I have been given an end goal, with no real map to get there and figured it out because of the people I am surrounded by day in and day out. Managing projects is really what makes me tick, but doing it surrounded by a team is what is the most rewarding. There hasn’t been one major project that I've been a part of that I looked back on and said “wow, that would have been better if I did it by myself.” Being a part of and therefore helping develop a culture where people feel comfortable and confident working together, sharing ideas and being supportive of each other to make a difference in the lives of these students is really what is the most rewarding part about this career.
What are the most important skills/experiences for young professionals starting a career in sports?
It’s not really a skill, but my best advice is to understand your role and master it. So many people get caught up in titles, job descriptions and “what’s next”. Focus on where you are now and get good at it. The rest will come. Along the way of getting REALLY good at your job, you’ll notice things that aren’t getting done in areas that are outside your job description – talk to your boss and see if you can help solve those problems. It might not be the most glorious of things to get involved in, but you pick up a few of those things, and suddenly you make yourself even more valuable. People notice people who do their job really well and who do the things that no one else wants to do. Outside of this, the one life lesson I swear by is to always remember to make someone’s life easier. Take something off someone’s plate. Bring someone coffee. Help at an event that isn’t even remotely close to your responsibility – just go to the event. This is more than just helping your boss or the people who are higher up than you in the organization – it’s (most importantly) the people who are next to you in the trenches. They’re the ones who you will help you the most when you need it. Simply being nice is underrated. You not only become invaluable, but you develop into a better person.
What lesson that you learned at OHIO has had the biggest impact on your career?
If being a student-athlete at Indiana has impacted me the most in my career, my degree from OHIO is a close second. OHIO surrounded me with people who were smarter than me, who had more experience than me and who knew the industry better than me. I really listened, learned and soaked everything in that I could from this group of amazing people. The biggest lesson that OHIO taught me was how much you can learn from your peers – about not only your career, but really how much these people can teach you about yourself. Having a circle of people who you trust and respect is essential to being successful in this career, and thanks to OHIO, I have that and continue to grow my circle.