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Alum finds parallels between CrossFit and finance
About two years ago Dex Gittens (MBA’12) started CrossFit, a high-intensity interval training, and found similarities in the sport, his career in the financial services industry, and his approach to life. Gittens sees a strong correlation among the three as all require hard work, consistency, and being receptive to feedback and coaching.
Coming from Calgary, Alberta, Gittens chose the Corporate Residency MBA (CR MBA) at Dalhousie University because of the composition of the program. He was interested in the eight-month internship and the opportunity to expand his network both within his cohort and across various disciplines. Once in the program, Gittens gained a lot from the focus on soft skill development through the Personal and Professional Effectiveness (PPE) course, as well as the opportunity to grow his network during the internship.
‘Our network is our net worth’
After four years in consulting, Gittens shifted into finance and is currently an associate director in the Alberta South Calgary Office of Roynat (a subsidiary of Scotiabank). “We work with high growth companies and entrepreneurs that need a financial partner who understands their business and growth needs,” he says. “We get to see what works and what doesn’t.” This has created a lot of variety and opportunity for learning. In his current role, Gittens is responsible for the full deal cycle including deal origination, negotiation, execution, and ongoing client and portfolio management. He views his experience at Roynat as a great training ground for his long-term career in financial services because of the diverse experience and skills that he’s building there.
Gittens credits his network and the mentors he has had along the way for helping to push him and setting him up for long-term success, stating, “I have been surrounded by some great mentors who have helped me a lot. Our network is our net worth, and I am fortunate enough in my career to be surrounded by some really great mentors.” He shared that he is always humbled to be able to have opportunities to grow and develop. “It has been a fun journey so far.”
The value of giving back
Having been on the receiving end of meaningful mentorship, Gittens is now in a position where he is able to give back and be a mentor himself. He volunteers monthly with a teen leadership program, a three-year program to teach young people about mindset, teamwork, and collaboration — all lessons Gittens learned while earning his MBA and throughout his career. “It has been really cool to see these teenagers grab onto it and grow,” he says. Having seen three cohorts go through so far, Gittens and his colleagues are considering expanding the program.
Just like CrossFit
Gittens compares progressing in a career to building competencies and skills in CrossFit. Careers are long; they are an evolution and a process. When Gittens joined CrossFit the results took time and patience. To achieve faster results he focused on one competency at a time. He recalls obsessing over skipping until he could complete a skill called ‘double unders’ consistently. “Mastery comes from asking for feedback.” he says. He focused on the small details and continued practicing until adequate muscle memory was developed. Gittens says that the same holds true for building skills in work and life. “Sometimes you are going to hit stumbling blocks but if you stay consistent, keep working, and keep acting on the feedback you ask for and receive, the results will come.”
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