In a fresh approach to talent sourcing, we have joined forces with basketball club, Reading Rockets, to support career ambitions of its men’s and women’s captains.
The club, a staple of Division 1 national league basketball for over 20 years, has discovered plenty of talent over the years. Hollywood actor Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy, Mad Max Fury Road, The Great) once played for the club in his early teens, showing that careers can flourish off the court, as well as on it.
Now, working together with the Reading Rockets, we are nurturing the future careers of two of the club’s biggest names, men’s captain Ben Dixon and women’s captain Candela Hermida Nuñez. In turn, we are deriving benefits from the unique approach our new recruits are bringing to the SQN squad.
The origin of the link between SQN and Reading Rockets dates to the London 2012 Olympic Games period, during which now-Managing Director Chris Hughes attended a Rockets match. Initiating a conversation with Director of Coaching Matt Johnson over Twitter, Chris was impressed by the long-term vision of the club to enter the British Basketball League and subsequently offered his PR and communications counsel.
In recent years, Chris has mentored the club’s social and digital manager Todd Lindley, as well as discussing with Matt how to support the career goals of its captains Candela and Ben in business/marketing and design respectively.
The recent growth of our agency has opened new opportunities for people with those skillsets. We have also seen an important role in supporting athletes alongside competitive sport with a view to helping them adopt a longer-term career view.
Candela, who graduated in business and psychology from Buckinghamshire New University, joined SQN in September 2021 and leads our marketing in her role as Graduate Executive. Ben, a trained architect, works with our in-house Studio team, specialising in graphic design and 3D animation. The captains both teamed up on our recent rebrand, proving themselves to be MVPs in agency life just as they are so frequently on court for the Rockets.
“One of the changes I have seen over the years is that achieving success in high-performance sport is not a matter of chance,” said Candela Hermida Nuñes. “To achieve sporting excellence a series of factors are necessary and one of the biggest factors is the support received by not only fans but also the club, the team and for many the external companies we work for. I am so thankful for the opportunity that SQN and Reading Rockets has given me to continue to grow both athletically and personally. Nowadays, it is hard to find organisations with strong values and the support to their employees as SQN.”
Ben Dixon added: “Life after sport can be a daunting thought for many athletes, especially when your career has spanned many years. You can begin to question what your skills are, and if they are applicable to the workplace. I believe it’s super important for athletes to use the time that they are fully supported by sport, to venture into new areas of life and try to find something they enjoy and can pursue well after their time in sport is done. It has been really nice to find that for me at SQN. It’s a business that gives me a lot of creative freedom and is also willing to teach me aspects of workplace life that I have never experienced, showing me the exciting possibilities of life after basketball. For the Reading Rockets to help organise this partnership and show this kind of care for a player off the court is truly a rarity. I’m very thankful to be a part of this club, and it’s hopefully something that can be adopted by more sporting teams and businesses in the future.”
Reading Rockets Director of Coaching Matt Johnson said: “The partnership with SQN originally started as a friendship connection via a Rockets Men’s D1 game with Chris and his son, and quickly developed into something that blends the feelings of both of our entities authentically. Wanting the best for your players and staff is always the aim of all institutions. In his role, Chris has always been a leader in his field and his unselfishness and ability to make others feel like they are of value means that SQN is a wonderful place for us to recommend to any of our athletes and players. From a Rockets perspective caring for our players has always been at the core of our existence and this partnership is a wonderful example of that. For Ben and Candela this marks their wonderful ability on the court and in business. We are all committed to ensuring they can balance both of their skills and abilities wherever possible.”
SQN Managing Director Chris Hughes commented: “We place great emphasis on work-life balance and encouraging our colleagues to develop themselves personally as well as professionally. They are values shared by Reading Rockets, whose selfless support of their athletes has led to Candela and Ben becoming such valuable players in our agency. We have long recognised the importance of supporting athletes into their second careers, and we’re proud to have the two Rockets captains in our squad. Their determination and tenacity are just as evident in the business as on the basketball court. I’m continually impressed by Matt and the Rockets management, their relentless pursuit of the highest standards in all areas of their operation, just as we strive to achieve in ours.”