Mortgage broker Brad Scott couldn’t run a full lap of the oval in late 2006. Since then, he has donned medals at two Paralympic Games and is on the road to Rio 2016
“Growing up with a physical disability [cerebral palsy], I always had low self-esteem, because I always felt like I didn’t belong,” says Aussie broker Brad Scott.
“And I have red hair and freckles, so I’ve got the trifecta,” he laughs.
Fortunately, the physical (and follicle) hurdles were no match for Brad who told The Adviser how he’s conquering the athletic track and the finance field.
Fed up with the football team he captained losing every game of the season, Brad knew something had to change. He had to face the music – his fitness was not up to par.
“As the captain of the team, you want to be leading by example – not getting everyone else to cover your arse,” he says.
Making the decision to increase his fitness, Brad took to running laps around his local football ground.
“How I started was that I went down to the oval one day and did a time trial of one lap to see how fast I could run, and I realised that it was very poor.
“So next time I did two laps, the time after that I did three laps, and then I kept on going from there.
“It was definitely a grind to begin with. It was a struggle.”
Brad started to see his stamina improve in his football games after about six weeks of running. Six months later, the boy from Bunbury, Western Australia was given the opportunity to attend a local talent search day where he was spotted by a scout.
From carpenter to competitor
On the back of the talent search day, Brad was invited to Canberra to compete in the underage nationals for running, and was subsequently offered a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
Accepting the scholarship and making the decision to uproot his life in Bunbury and relocate to Canberra was easy, Brad says.
“When I got offered the scholarship in Canberra at the AIS, I had the option of either continuing with [my] carpentry [apprenticeship] in Bunbury or to accept a full scholarship as an athlete at the Australian Institute of Sport.
“I thought well, how many carpenters are out there and how many people get the chance to represent their country?”
Less than a year after taking up running, Brad realised he could be good enough to compete in the Beijing 2008 Paralympics.
“I always dreamed of competing for Australia,” he says.
“Obviously I knew that it was going to be a very tough ask, especially with a physical disability.
“But when it became a possibility I was like, ‘Wow, this could actually happen, I could wear the green and gold’.”
Brad not only qualified for the Beijing Paralympics, but went on to win silver in the 800 metres.
Hungry for more, Brad trained and qualified for the London Paralympics four years later. It was in London that he experienced the highlight of his career – and it wasn’t actually winning bronze in the 800m or silver in the 1,500m.
“It's all been one big amazing journey but if I had to pinpoint one [highlight], it'd be the medal ceremony for my 1,500 metres in London – when I won the silver. My parents somehow snuck into the media area.
“The media was directly in front of the podium so you weren't looking at the crowd – you were looking just at the commentators and the photographers and stuff like that. But there, up a few levels, were my parents.
“My mum was teary-eyed and it was definitely the best moment because it felt like I was sharing it with my parents.”
Despite his impressive list of accolades, Brad says his greatest challenge was something he had to overcome within himself.
“The biggest challenge I’ve faced [in my running career] honestly would be believing in myself,” he says.
Now, recognising that his achievements are a direct result of his talent and ambition, Brad has built his confidence up and overcome this hurdle.
“What I've achieved in my running career doesn't make me any better than anyone else, it's just my way of living my life.
“Now, if I get into a situation, I'll back myself as opposed to second-guessing myself like I did many a time before.”
On his career as a mortgage broker, Brad says it wasn’t his first choice. Brad had initially pursued a career as a carpenter and then a personal trainer, but a growing interest in finance pulled him in a different direction.
“I actually went to Canberra and became a personal trainer like every second person in the country at the moment,” he laughs.
“But I was doing a sports science degree at uni and I had a realisation that actually, my whole life is going to be around sport. I'm going to become very one-dimensional here.
“I needed to become educated in different areas, so I started studying financial planning at uni. I found it fascinating and I just wanted to know more.”
Balancing broking and running has been surprisingly feasible for Brad. The flexibility that comes with being his own boss and choosing his own working hours has enabled him to fit his training schedule around his clients’ needs, and vice versa.
Although he is currently in the “heavy training load” in the lead up to Rio 2016, he has still been able to meet his clients’ needs.
“[Working as a broker] gives me the recovery time I need for the training sessions, but also gives me the freedom to work around clients’ timing as well.”
Brad says having to travel interstate for running competitions from time to time has not interfered with his job as a broker.
“Even if I have to have a face-to-face conversation with a customer to explain something or go through some scenarios, I can still do that via the internet.
“When I’m in Canberra I can still communicate with my customers, the lenders, and anyone who needs to talk to me.”
However, there are times when Brad has to prioritise and make tough calls.
“With my career in broking, I've got to ask myself, ‘Okay, this would be a good opportunity for my running but could it be detrimental to my broking?’
“I really weigh those options up and figure out what will be the best scenario.”
Brad says there have been many lessons he has learned in his running career that he has been able to use in broking.
One of the most important things he has learned in both careers, he says, is that foundation is key.
“In terms of sport, it’s about getting your body ready to handle the load and the intensity later on.
“It's the same with your broking. If you don't get your systems and your knowledge in place, to really be able to handle the days when it does become flat out, you're going to quickly find that you will crack at your weakest point.”
Brad’s work ethic has also benefitted from the discipline in his training.
“Obviously as a runner you need to put in the hard yards, literally, to get the results. It's the same thing with broking. What you put in is what you get out. And that's the best thing about it.”
One of the things Brad values about being a mortgage broker, which he likens to his time as a personal trainer, is being able to work with a client towards achieving a goal.
“I look at financial planning/mortgage broking and personal training as very similar.”
“You're taking someone from where they are, which is where they don't want to be, to somewhere they do want to be. And you help guide them through that process.”