Careers

Why this tech exec's big career regret has to do with golf

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Rhonda Vetere is an executive with more than 20 years of experience in business and tech. Prior to her current role as president of data and analytics at health care company nThrive, she served in leadership positions at JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Estée Lauder, where she was the chief technology officer for the beauty brand.

Like many professionals, Vetere has received lots of advice throughout her career on how to climb the corporate ladder and have meaningful success. While she put into practice most of the wisdom given to her, she says there is one tip that she wishes she had listened to earlier in her career.

"One of my mentors told me in my 20s to play golf and I laughed at him," she tells CNBC Make It. "I said I am from a sports background, and I do triathalons, but I am not a golfer."

Although the advice didn't make sense to her at the time, Vetere says she later realized that her mentor was trying to tell her that success is about more than keeping your head down and meeting deadlines. He wanted her to know that you also have to build relationships with people if you want to go far.

"I finally picked it up in my 40s and I wish I had done it sooner," she says. "A lot of things get done on that golf course that are not in a meeting room."

Rhonda Vetere, President of Data and Analytics at nThrive
Rhonda Vetere, President of Data and Analytics at nThrive

Former CEO of the Executive Women's Golf Association Pam Swensen agrees with Vetere and her mentor. She says that if she could give one piece of advice to emerging business women today, it would be to add golf to their skill set.

"Few, if any, activities can duplicate the power of golf to boost one's career regardless of gender," she writes for CNBC. "The game provides unmatchable networking time with clients, prospects and colleagues, including coveted access to senior management."

In a survey that included members from the Executive Women Golf Association, 79 percent of respondents agreed that they can get to know a person better on the course and 73 percent said that golf has helped them to develop new relationships.

"It remains important to provide women with greater access to the game and more confidence to leave the office for a few hours with colleagues and clients to gain the unique business advantages only golf offers," adds Swensen.

Vetere, who now plays golf on her summer Fridays, says the golf course opened her eyes to just how important out-of-office relationship building can be.

"Often times we think, 'Oh, I have to get this email out or I have to do this transaction,' and life is not about that," says Vetere. "It is about relationships."

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