Going for gold

Going for gold

John Maclean was the first wheelchair athlete to complete the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in 1995 and followed that up by swimming the English channel. He then won an Order of Australia in 2000 and now has his sights set on winning gold at the Beijing Paralympics. Also working as a motivator and adviser to Express Data’s management team, he spoke to ARN about his greatest achievements and how he aims to get the best out of the corporate world.

What do you do at Express Data?

John Maclean (JM): I’m very fortunate to have a job at Express Data; I act as an advisor to the management team to hopefully get the best out of them. We talk about relative issues like work/life balance. It’s great that the organisation has a vested interest in its employees and has brought on someone like me to communicate with them on life lessons, self, business and community, and how contributions can be made in those four areas.

I try to get the best out of a person by asking specific questions about their goals and then working towards achieving them. It’s not just with Express Data; this is an opportunity for me and a lot of the other corporate companies that we have access to, to get the best out of the individual. It’s an exciting thing for me to give back, share lessons learnt and watch other people shine in their own way.

How did you first get involved with ED?

JM: I originally met with Ross Cochrane [Express Data’s managing director] many years ago. I mentioned I was keen to take some of those lessons I’ve learnt in sport and move that into business and ultimately work with CEOs on a global basis. He said ‘why don’t you come and have access to our management team, start there as a form of apprenticeship, and see how you go’.

Why did you start the John Maclean Foundation?

JM: Ten years ago, before I swam the English channel, Nike was one of the sponsors and they gave me a cheque for $20,000 to put towards a good cause. There were many good causes out there, but I thought if I start my own foundation I will know where those funds go. I saw a need for kids and families with kids who use wheelchairs to have a better quality of life. The foundation started up in NSW at a state level through kids with wheelchairs playing sports. We started to look around the country and realised the needs for kids in wheelchairs far exceeded their ability to just participate in sport. What I found was if kids are playing sport they’re doing well, which meant they are better equipped to get out of the door and into life: Some of the kids who really struggled were still inside.

In order to launch the foundation nationally, we did a handcycle ride from Brisbane to Melbourne in 2002. We raised $400,000 and for every kilometre, we cycled for a kid in the country. The foundation has now raised more than $2 million.

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