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The Student Insider

Athlete turned entrepreneur: University of London tutor shares his career journey

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On 11 December 2023, a University of London tutor will deliver a public lecture on leadership and the transition from an athletic career to other professional spheres. Dr Corey Hicks is a two-time NCAA All-American Athlete, coach, author and medical director with over 20 years’ professional expertise within the pharmaceutical industry in the US. Today, he teaches sports entrepreneurship on the University of London’s online PGCert International Sports Management programme. Prior to his talk, he shared some insights into his personal journey and career progression with us.

Dr Corey Hicks, an accomplished Decathlon athlete, honed his skills under the tutelage of esteemed track and field coach Brooks Johnson. His exceptional talent even saw him join the Olympic Hopeful team in 1996, and. although an untimely injury thwarted his competitive aspirations, Dr Hicks exhibited his unwavering dedication to the sport. He transitioned seamlessly into a role as a sports analyst for NBC Channel 3 News, which still allowed him to remain actively involved in the Olympic spirit. 

“A lot of my teammates were competing, so I had a chance to break down certain events and talk about the preparation, the mental and physical focus that goes into competing. I had an opportunity to cover the decathlon and talked about all of the phases and what was taking place; just to take the viewers into the mind of what athletes really and truly experience during competition.” 

After the event, Dr Hicks returned to teaching, which was his primary job prior to joining the Olympic Hopeful team. Although he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and helping children, he started to reconsider his career path and potential. He was recovering from the injury, looking for a way to get back into the swing of things and a job that would help him feel more accomplished, so when an opportunity to work in the pharmaceutical industry presented itself, Dr Hicks took it. 

"Upon stepping into the realm of the pharmaceutical industry, I found a profound fulfilment in satisfying my competitive drive. It wasn't just about personal satisfaction; it was immensely rewarding to realise the role I played in transforming lives. It's a chance to advocate for products that truly make a difference, ones that positively influence the well-being of patients." 

Working in sales in the pharmaceutical industry allowed Dr Hicks to combine his knowledge of professional sports with his personal talents as a speaker. He felt like he’d finally found a voice and a job that was fulfilling, and his ability to articulate information to others effectively eventually developed into a career as a motivational speaker. 

With his experience in sales and marketing, a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration, Dr Hicks had many career paths open to him. Just like many of the University of London students embarking on the International Sports Management programme, he considered going into coaching at the university level and passing the knowledge on to the next generation of athletes. 

His plans changed when a friend gave him the idea of pursuing a PhD in Health and Human Performance, at the Concordia University Chicago. With a lot of specialised courses in the degree, it would allow him to become a medical director and incorporate the 26 years of pharmaceutical knowledge and expertise he’d already gathered through working in the industry. 

“Getting a PhD in Health and Human Performance was the best move I’ve ever made. It opened up a door for me to serve as a medical science liaison, and that's when I crossed over to medical affairs. Instead of selling, it was more about educating.” 

Now, as a two-time author, a motivational speaker and a medical director, Dr Corey Hicks seeks to share his knowledge and empower others by giving public lectures, through his books and by teaching at the University of London. 

International Sports Management is a versatile programme aimed at former athletes and people who want to build a career in the sport industry, but aren’t necessarily athletes themselves. Along with other highly qualified tutors, Dr Hicks provides guidance for those who are looking to make a transition into the business side of the industry or decide which path to take going forward. 

As a tutor in sports entrepreneurship, Dr Hicks brings invaluable insights derived from his extensive background in marketing for billion-dollar corporations. His intimate familiarity with the pharmaceutical industry in the US further enriches his guidance. Moreover, his profound understanding of the essential personal attributes essential for entrepreneurial success significantly enhances the quality of instruction within the module. 

"When students seek my advice, I emphasise that a degree signifies your capacity to learn rather than determining your ultimate success. This programme presents a valuable opportunity. Exploring its comprehensive syllabus reveals priceless knowledge and experiences that shape your learning journey." 

While the two core modules of the Postgraduate Certificate programme focus on the financial and governance sides of sports organisations, students undertaking this course have an opportunity to broaden their horizons with several optional electives. People who already have a specialisation or experience with marketing or events management could learn to apply their skills in a sports context or use this course to transition into the sports industry, without having to change their profession.

Watch the recording of Dr. Corey Hicks' talk from December 2023, titled 'The Authentic Leader in You: Transitioning from an Active Athlete Career to Professional Life'.

If you're unable to make it, the event will be recorded and available to view afterwards. 

You can also find out more about the PGCert International Sports Management.