On the run (and swim and bike) with TSB’s Juan Navarro
30 August 2017
Posted by Geneviève Corbin
Juan Navarro is a guy on the run, literally. And working at the TSB started him on the habit.
His position with the Information Management team being his first desk job, he quickly found that he needed different habits and a bit more exercise, especially after sitting for over 7 hours per day. He took up running, and then the sport of triathlon, which is a combination of swimming, cycling, and running.
Work−life balance is a meaningful concept in today's society, but it's not easy when there are so many things tugging at you day-to-day. We're encouraged to have a lifestyle that balances our obligations and our ambitions, our responsibilities and our passions.
Juan Navarro strives for work–life balance every day: He's been working as an application architect at the TSB for over 20 years. He's also the father of a 10 year old boy—and an Ironman.
Ironman races are gaining in popularity, but to own the nickname Ironman, you have to complete the famous 226 km race that involves swimming 3.8 km, cycling 180 km, and running a full marathon (42.2 km of running)—one right after the other.
We recently caught up with Juan to get his take on work−life balance and what he's learned from the worlds of running and triathlon that he takes back to his cubicle.
So what is your definition of work−life balance?
The simplest way I could define it, in my case, is to make sure that you're meeting your core responsibilities so you can dedicate more time and effort to the things you like and the people you Iove.
For example, I have a great set of colleagues who depend on me, so I ensure I prioritize my work to meet their needs, and the same goes at home, I have a son who also depends on me so I always ensure to meet his needs. The key is to meet all those needs and at the same time try not to take work home, I use my training as a release mechanism for when I do feel overwhelmed, and just to think of how to achieve the day to day work-life balance.
What is your most memorable event at the TSB?
Definitely the Swissair accident in 1998. It was a terrible accident that involved a lot of work from the investigation team for many years. The TSB's work isn't always fun but it's very important for Canadians, and I am sincerely proud to be part of it.
What is the athletic accomplishment you are the most proud of?
I'd definitely say when I crossed the finish line of my first Ironman in 2012. The feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming; it is the ultimate gratification for months and months of training. When you set a goal of that magnitude, it gives meaning and weight to all the exhausting physical and mental efforts. It's an awesome feeling.
Do you think that this spirit of competition translates into your work?
It helps because first and foremost I know now where to draw the line. Also sport has allowed me to believe in my potential, especially with the type of work I do, which often demands a lot of research to understand new technologies in a very short time. Pushing myself to go further is something I can now relate to every day, in the office or outdoors.
Do you think that in order to succeed in life, one must somehow dismiss the idea of balance?
I do not know if being unbalanced is a requirement but I believe you need some level of sacrifice to live your dreams and aspirations. Career wise I've been very fortunate to have worked for the TSB since I was a student, and worked hard to progress and advance in my career. It has always allowed me to sustain a balance outside of work to achieve my goals and more recently to train harder as an Ironman.The only thing I feel I've been sacrificing is my body, if I can put it that way.
When will you throw in the towel?
I will never forget the man I met at the table at my pre-race dinner before my first Ironman in Lake Placid in 2012. He was a 78-year-old gentleman who had completed that Ironman as the oldest competitor for that race. You should have seen this man's energy, and he was in great physical/mental shape, it was definitely an inspiration. I see 80-year-olds do it all the time so why quit?
Finally, how do you manage it all?
Well, we try to have active vacations, that helps. I did the Escape from Alcatraz (famous triathlon in San Francisco), and hit Napa Valley afterwards. I also did a half-ironman race in Chile and then spent the rest of the time touring Southern Chile and visiting family. It seems most of my money goes to triathlon vacations now (laugh)!
Juan competed in his third Ironman race earlier this month in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Congratulations on your latest crazy endeavour, Juan!
Geneviève Corbin is the Acting Manager of Strategic Communications and Media Relations at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. She is an avid runner and mom to two toddlers. Helping to organize a news conference is sometimes hard, "but nothing compared to getting the kids to eat Brussels sprouts."
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