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4 female C-Suite executives who played college sports

What’s the secret sauce? Learn more about why women make great leaders by exploring EY’s reports, "Where will you find your next leader?" and "Why female athletes make winning entrepreneurs."

Research shows that participation in sports plays a crucial role in developing leadership and team-building skills for women. The benefits of athletics involvement are evident in board rooms and executive offices around the country, where women are leading their companies in big ways. According to a global EY and ESPNW survey, 94 percent of the women working in C-suites played sports, and 52 percent played sports at the university level. In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are four women whose rise to the executive office illustrates how sports prepared them to lead.

Anita DeFrantz

Anita DeFrantz Then and Now
Anita DeFrantz Then and Now. photo credits: Then: Connecticut College; Now: Anita DeFrantz

Now: President of the Tubman-Truth Corporation

Then: Student-athlete on the rowing and women’s basketball teams at Connecticut College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political philosophy in 1974.

Additional education: Law degree from Pennsylvania in 1977.

How sports helped her become a leader:
“I had to learn how to work together with people that I might not have otherwise crossed paths with, then work toward a common goal.”

Read more about DeFrantz here.

Gail K. Boudreaux

Gail Boudreaux Ten and Now
Gail Boudreaux Then and Now. photo credits: Then: Dartmouth College; Now: Anthem, Inc.

Now: President and chief executive officer of Anthem Inc.

Then: Student-athlete on the women’s basketball and track and field teams (shot put) at Dartmouth, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology in 1982.

Additional education: MBA from Columbia Business School in 1989.

How sports helped her become a leader:
“As a former college basketball player, I learned many valuable lessons on the court that have shaped my leadership style today. I believe that a successful leader ensures everyone on the team clearly understands their role and responsibilities, communicates often and effectively, and approaches each challenge with the mindset that there is always another move or option. More importantly, great leaders build teams and cultures that embrace diverse backgrounds and foster different perspectives. When we come together as a team to achieve a common goal, I believe we can achieve extraordinary results.”

Read more about Boudreaux here.

Lisa Caputo

Lisa Caputo Then and Now. photo credits: Then: Brown University; Now: The Travelers Company

Now: Executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for The Travelers Companies.

Then: Student-athlete on the field hockey and lacrosse teams at Brown, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and French in 1986.

Additional education: Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern in 1987.

How sports helped her become a leader: 
“Communication, collaboration, setting goals and working toward them, the drive to win — these are important life lessons that are all applicable to careers in the modern work force.”

Read more about Caputo here.

Beth Brooke-Marciniak

Beth Brooke-Marciniak Then and Now
Beth Brooke-Marciniak Then and Now. photo credits: Then: Purdue University; Now: EY

Now: Global vice chairwoman of public policy at EY.

Then: Student-athlete on the women’s basketball team at Purdue, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management and computer science in 1981.

How sports helped her become a leader: 
"Athletics really teaches you that we each have a role. You understand the mosaic of the team. You understand the importance of the mosaic versus the importance of the individual. You know what you have to do for the team to win. That carries over so well in the business world."

Read more about Brooke-Marciniak here.