Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PCA: Choudhry thrives in growing IT industry

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Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association

Former cricketer finds career satisfaction in fast-moving world.

Shaaiq Choudhry has urged more cricketers to pursue a second career in the fast-growing IT industry, as he spoke to the PCA during the Association’s 2021 Futures Week.

Choudhry, 35, had a lengthy professional career in the game, spending nine seasons with Warwickshire followed by Worcestershire between 2007-15. During that time, he made 75 senior appearances, scoring 959 runs and taking 64 wickets across all formats.

Despite a promising start to his professional career, first team opportunities became limited for the spin bowling all-rounder, so moving on into a second career was never far from the forefront of his mind.

Fortunately, Choudhry had already laid the groundwork for his future career in IT, earning a BSc Hons in IT from the University of Bradford shortly before signing his first professional contract with Warwickshire.

As a result, Choudhry has gone from strength to strength since leaving the game, advancing through graphic design and analyst roles to become an established software test engineer.

Despite having realised his lifelong dream of becoming a professional cricketer, Choudhry says he has gained as much – if not more – satisfaction from his second career and overcoming the obstacles associated with transition: “I’ve always lived quite an active lifestyle training and playing cricket. Going from that to sitting down nine hours per day takes a toll on your body. It took some time to get used to that and compensate for the lack of movement.

“Having said that, going into IT has probably been the best move I’ve ever made – I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’ve probably been more successful in IT than I was in cricket. There’s so much work out there, it’s lucrative and you can develop so quickly. It’s also very flexible in terms of working practice.

“I was lucky enough to get a job off my first interview, and now, six years later, I’ve set up my own company working as a contractor, and I’ve taken on a project with the Home Office via another consultancy. It’s flown by but I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Achieving satisfaction in his second career didn’t happen overnight for Choudhry – the former cricketer continued to build experience and make the most opportunities that came his way during his playing career.

“I wasn’t blind – I was always quite realistic that cricket was going to come to an end, so I always worked on things outside of the game to develop myself and my skills.

“I did coding in my free time whilst I was playing, and the PCA and my PDM Lynsey Williams were a great help in making me realise that I had to do those types of things. It paid off massively because my CV was up-to-date and I’d developed things on the side. If I hadn’t done that, then I would’ve struggled a lot more upon retirement.

“I was also sponsored by a graphic design company in Worcester, who were great and were keen to give me some work experience. I would go there once or twice a week in the off-season and they would give me tasks to do to help me upskill.

“It gave me the experience of real-life work which was invaluable. The doors were open and they said we could come down and sit at a desk whenever we wanted. Taking opportunities like that was so important for me.”

Choudhry is keen to share his expertise with current and former professional cricketers as part of Futures Week, and he finishes with a message for individuals who find themselves in his shoes.

“Prepare yourself for it. The worst thing you can do is wait until the very end, panic and then try and find something to do. You’re going to end up doing something you don’t want to do.

“So you need to get yourself going, explore your options and find things that interest you. Your next career is probably going to be the longest out of the two.

“I’m still trying to develop myself – there are so many opportunities out there and maybe one day I’ll switch careers again. You should never put all your eggs into one basket, so make sure you give yourself a good headstart when switching careers.”

Shaaiq is happy to speak to PCA members who are considering a future career in IT. Please contact communications@thepca.co.uk for further information.

Futures Week shines a light on the area of personal development and career transition among PCA members. The two-day Futures Conference forms the centrepiece of the initiative and both are part of the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP). Click here to find out more.

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