We would like to introduce you to Sarah Carli, a financial adviser from HLB Wollongong. Sarah is also an elite athlete who has set her sights on running the 400m hurdles at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. HLB Mann Judd is proudly sponsoring Sarah, so we asked her to share her journey to becoming a financial adviser along with insights into how she balances her career both on and off the track.

I’ve been a financial adviser with HLB Mann Judd Wollongong for over two years, which I love. I also have a side hustle as a 400m hurdler with my sights set on competing at my second Olympic Games at Paris 2024.

Racing towards success

I started little athletics in the u9’s at Wollongong City Little A’s. I was never a stand-out athlete to begin with – in fact my first trophy was for 100% participation! While I gave every event a go, it was the hurdles I took a shining too. Within a year of starting the 400m hurdles, I qualified for the 2011 World Youth Championships, where I placed second. It was the first indicator that I had what it took to be an international level athlete.

A major injury led me to withdrew from the 2012 World Junior Championships, prompting a realisation I needed to put a backup plan in place. I couldn’t rely on being an athlete.

Life beyond the finish line

After high school, I chose to step back from elite sport and pursue a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong (finance and management). I really enjoyed the finance side of things and felt it offered good future job prospects.

Entering full-time work after university, I discovered I finally had routine and structure back in my life. For the first time in a while, I looked forward to training.

2024 Adelaide Invitational

In 2018, I became a registered financial adviser, the same year missing out on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games selection. Determined never to be the athlete sitting at home again, I made my senior international debut a year later in Dohar, Qatar. My career highlights so far have been competing in front of 40,000 people in Birmingham 2022 as a Commonwealth Games finalist and representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympics.

It hasn’t always gone smoothly. Over the past few years, I have struggled with some pretty serious injuries while trying to find the right balance between my work/ study commitments and training needs.

I joined HLB Mann Judd in 2021. The firm has been incredibly supportive and understands how important getting to the Paris Olympics is to me. I am honoured that HLB Mann Judd is sponsoring me and I’m proud to have the opportunity to wear the HLB logo on my race uniform.

The pursuit of finding balance

I see Paris as the pinnacle of my track and field career, and I am doing everything possible to make sure I can do the best that I am capable of.

Working part time as a financial adviser at HLB Mann Judd has allowed me to have both a sporting career and a working career at the same time. The ongoing flexibility and support has been a key in keeping me in the industry while I continue running.

I enjoy being in the office, working closely with clients and helping them achieve their goals. In some respects, it’s also been a way of getting away from the pressures of the track. I can focus on the clients and the HLB team.

I’ve seen how others in the HLB team have built fantastic relationships with their clients, and how much clients trust their advisers. I’m only in my second year of working with the firm’s clients, but I’m already feeling that connection and sharing big milestones with them, which is incredibly rewarding. It’s exciting to be part of their journey to financial security.

Perseverance and patience 

Balancing work and life with elite sport has been challenging but after nearly a decade of trial and error I feel like I’ve finally got it right. To get here, it has taken some tough choices, while also having the ability to adapt quickly when things don’t go to plan. Through perseverance and patience, I’ve been able to build an environment that brings out the best in me.

Right now, my focus is on Paris. Whether I make it or not, I’m committed to giving it my absolute best. Regardless of the outcome, there will be a sense of closure. Afterwards I know I have an amazing job waiting for me.

Photo credits: Michael Dawson Photography and MT Sports Photography