Martha McCabe, 2X Olympian, Masters of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Candidate (Queen’s University)

About you:

  • Born and raised in midtown Toronto, Ontario
  • Undergraduate degree: UBC Kinesiology
  • 3 older siblings and 2 great parents + now 6 nieces and nephews (all under 6 years old!)
  • Love sports, travel, and outdoor adventure!

How did you join the industry?

My journey was not a straight path, but over the years I did my best to pull on strengths from my past and explore new opportunities for my future.

Growing up, I always really enjoyed sport and followed in the footsteps of my two older sisters and 1 brother to run and swim through high school. I moved to Vancouver to study Kinesiology at UBC and to train with the nation’s best swimmers at the high-performance centre in Vancouver. Here I trained under breaststroke guru, Jozsef Nagy, a Hungarian swim coach.

Throughout my career, there was injury, disappointment and many challenges along the way. It was older athletes and mentors that helped me to continue on my path and eventually reach the Olympic Games. As I completed University, I was very focused on my swimming career and as I started to look beyond sport, I realized that many young people didn’t have the privilege of being surrounded by such qualified, and impactful mentors like I was.

Through my athletic career, I took on many public speaking engagements as well as worked part-time at RBC in the marketing department. Upon completion of my sport, I initially felt drawn to marketing and partnerships and it wasn’t until a few months into the role, that I started to wonder about running my own business.

After a few months of consideration, and months of piloting the possibility of running my own business, I launched Head to Head. Today Head to Head promotes mental resilience and overall wellness through Olympian led mentorship programs. We connect Olympians with schools, sports clubs and young people across Canada to share the life lessons they learned in sport.

Favourite person to follow on social?

@_headtohead, Head to Head Canada J
I’m a fan of Brené Brown too. She’s pretty dang wise!

What is one dream you’ve seen fulfilled?

Olympic Games Final in 2012, and Olympic Games Women’s Swim Team Captain in 2016. Also, the World Championship medal I won in 2011 was huge for me at the time.

Now, I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done to help young Canadians and Canadian Olympians. My company has generated over 130K $$ that is going directly into the pockets of Olympic athletes, which is a big deal for many of them!

What is your best way to tame your nerves before a work event?

Preparation! Deep breathing, smiling, visualization and self-talk all help a ton. I like to put things into perspective and remind myself that if this doesn’t go as planned, it’s totally okay!

What is the last big change you made in your life?

I move quite a bit, so maybe this isn’t a big change, but I just moved from Toronto to Kingston, to change up my lifestyle a bit, get out of the city and see what I like about living in a smaller town!

What’s your favourite ‘icebreaker question’ at a networking event/best conversation starter?

“What do you enjoy spending your time doing?”

I like to learn more than just about a person’s job. I find it very interesting to learn how people like to spend their time otherwise! I also enjoy asking people what they do to keep busy, depending on the lifestyle they live, and the city they’re from the answers to this question can range from explaining their career, to diving deep into their passions outside of ‘work’.

Favourite Quote?

It’s not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable – be an ally, use your privilege in a way that will benefit the people around you.

Martha McCabe

Founder and President of Head to Head    |    @_headtohead    |     |    @marthmcc