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Roxane Héritier, former curler, at Zurich Switzerland

ROXANE HÉRITIER, FORMER CURLER

Roxane Héritier - Curling and the "Life After"

04 / 2023

For more than half of her life, Roxane Héritier has burned for curling – of course she still does, but no longer actively on the ice. She has decided to take on new challenges and goals and to acquire and develop other skills. So her focus is no longer on curling, but on training and further education and other new sports. The budding psychologist has just completed an internship as a working student in human resources at Zurich Insurance; so naturally we wanted to know how she fared, how her path continues and what she takes with her from the many years of curling into «life afterwards.»

At Zurich Insurance, I am immersed in a new world that is unknown to me. Until now, I had almost only worked in the sports industry. At Zurich Insurance, I was able to meet new people and gain experience from people in a completely new field for me.

I am at a stage in my life where I want to try out as many different things as possible to find out what suits me and where I want to go.

A big challenge was to find out what was required of me in an area I didn’t know yet. Where can it go and what do I have to do to get there? In sport, I usually knew what I had to do, so I appreciated all the more that everything was so well organised at Zurich Insurance. The well-structured processes and the close cooperation with my superiors made it much easier for me to get started.

My primary areas of responsibility were the administration of various HR processes. However, I would like to highlight my role as an HR ambassador. Each HR department – mine was the administration – had its own contact person who was allowed to conduct employee surveys and represent the concerns of the employees.

Not only Roxane had a great time doing it, but her boss Olivia Blattner was also enthusiastic about her approach: «Roxane immediately applied for this additional position as HR ambassador, which is not a matter of course. I was very impressed by her unbiased manner, her great interest in the subject matter and her approach to people without fear of contact. She confronted her superiors with questions with an ease and did not shy away from answers.»

I think I consciously or unconsciously took that with me from my time as an athlete. There, too, I always tried to think in terms of solutions and to always find some. From curling, I am also used to dealing with changes and working towards goals. Even if there are always phases when things don’t go quite right, you shouldn’t bury your head in the sand straight away.

At Zurich Insurance, there were always changes and processes that had to be adapted. There, too, it was crucial for me to accept the new things and react to them in a considered way.

Psychology has always fascinated me. In curling we had a lot to do with mental coaches and sports psychologists. Especially there, it’s important to keep your pulse calm and focus directly on the next stone. In curling, you have to have your nerves under control all the time because the feeling when you throw the stone is crucial.

I was able to apply some of my knowledge from my studies directly. How do I give feedback, to whom do I give feedback and how do I receive it. Communication in the team plays a crucial role; not only in sport, but also at work.

I can very well imagine working in sports psychology myself one day, as my heart burns for the sport. I am at home in the sport of curling and have lived through all the experiences myself, so I could probably pass on my knowledge most profitably. However, I am interested in many sports and would find exactly the aspect of diversity very exciting. Every sport and every athlete has different needs and prerequisites. This always presents me with a new challenge.

I have also found out that coaching is something I am very good at. I was allowed to coach the national curling team for two years, which gave me a lot of pleasure. But there, too, I had to learn that you can’t do this job with half your energy. The team was very ambitious and I had to spend almost as much time as when I was still active myself. That’s when I decided to put this office on hold again – perhaps I could take it up again at a later date when I have finished my studies.

My professional career was also the reason why I decided to stop curling in 2020. My team was in the top 15 in the world. But in order to move up again, we would have had to invest a lot more. To put it figuratively, we wouldn’t have had to shoot stones for 1.5 hours a day, but up to 5 hours a day. This is simply to maintain the consistency that is demanded by the world’s best. There I was faced with the decision “all or nothing”. That’s when I decided against the sport.

But I couldn’t stop completely. I’m playing in a club again and recently I’ve even started to enjoy it again. At first, I had a lot of trouble coming to terms with the fact that I was getting worse. I was increasingly frustrated and couldn’t enjoy it. But now I’ve learned to deal with it and I can just take the joy out of the game. From next season, I will even play in a fixed team again, where we will be semi-ambitious in Switzerland and Europe, but will no longer be chasing points.

On the one hand, I like this very much, but on the other hand, I still miss curling at a high level. Primarily it is the competition that I miss. The competitive side. What I love, on the other hand? Having time to try new things – squash, skiing, meeting friends. I can get excited about a lot of things, yet I want to find the fire again, something I burn for and where it tingles again. Again, I have two hearts in my chest: on the one hand, I find this a very exhausting and annoying process, but on the other hand, it’s very cool and exciting.

My activities at Zurich Insurance are an important building block for me to take another small step in my post-sport career. After working for the Swiss government in the army’s top sports promotion, this time I was given an insight into a world-class company. Unfortunately, these activities deviated too much from the topics I deal with in my psychology studies. In the end, this made me move on. Currently, I am doing an internship in educational and counselling psychology. From August 2023, I am looking for a permanent position in a 40-50% position that complements my Master’s degree.