Pathways: Jayme Pendergast, Director of Athletics, Life University

Women Leaders in College Sports: Think back to five years ago, did you envision this is where you would be in your career?

JP: Never. But the last two years I was fortunate enough to work with a great leader and mentor, Dan Payne, who was previously Life University’s Athletic Director. He gave me opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone and I really grew from those experiences; and enjoyed them. He challenged me to think and he valued my input. When he left to be CEO of USA Rugby I had the confidence to take that next step.

Women Leaders: What do you wish you would’ve known back when you first started your career in athletics?

JP: Never become disconnected from your purpose. My purpose is to use sport as a vehicle to educate young men and women. When you lose sight of the purpose it alters your response, as it changes the lens from which you’re making your decisions.

Women Leaders: What has been your most rewarding career accomplishment to date?

JP: My favorite part about working in college athletics is seeing a student-athlete, who without the opportunities afforded to them through their sport, might not have graduated, or even attended college. Seeing young individuals grow, mature and graduate - all because of the support they were provided within the university system - is by far the most rewarding accomplishment.

Women Leaders: If you could do your career over again, what would you do differently?

JP: I’m very happy with where my career has taken me. I don’t think I would do anything differently.

Women Leaders: What advice can you offer someone who wants to progress in their career?

JP: Align yourself with good colleagues/mentors that will support you and challenge you. You need to put yourself in a position where you see growth as a possibility. And when given the opportunity, hire good people to be a part of your team.

Women Leaders: What books and/or podcast are you currently listening to or reading?

JP: I’m a big fan of podcasts: Freakonomics, Note to Self, Revisionist History, and Criminal. I just started reading “Invisible Influence” by Jonah Berger.

Women Leaders: Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?

JP: “Privilege doesn’t lead to entitlement” – Kirk Cousins in his Big 10 Kickoff Speech. Also, not a quote, but the Broken Windows Theory described by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point has really influenced me personally and professionally.

Women Leaders: What is the most significant goal you have yet to achieve?

JP: I don’t look ahead too much. I take things as they come and keep focused on the present. However, my current goal is to help grow Life University’s athletic department and lead a mission of education and excellence. Our department is relatively new and has the potential to make a huge impact on the university as a whole.