Gwen Jorgensen: From Tax Accountant to Olympic Gold Medalist
It’s not every day a tax accountant from Wisconsin wins a gold medal at the Olympics. But on Saturday, Aug. 20, Gwen Jorgensen, formerly of the EY corporate tax group in Milwaukee, became the first U.S. woman to do just that. Crossing the finish line with a time of 1:56:16, Jorgensen won gold in the triathlon.
Jorgensen, who earned a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and passed the CPA exam, didn’t even take up triathlon until after college. Jorgensen was a runner and swimmer in college, and was approached by USA Triathlon looking for college athletes they thought would be successful in the sport. At the time they contacted Jorgensen, she was still in school and had an offer from EY. She turned USA Triathlon down, but they convinced her to at least try triathlon as a hobby while she worked for EY. And, thus, a grueling schedule began: waking at 4 a.m. to ride her bike to the pool, swimming, and getting to the office at 8 a.m. After work, Jorgensen trained some more. And found that she loved triathlon.
With the support of one of the tax partners at EY, Jorgensen was able to work a flexible schedule that allowed her to travel for competitions, and eventually take time off to train for the 2012 Olympics in London. She fully intended to return full-time to EY after London, but, as any accountant or CPA knows, accounting is a full-time job. And so is being an elite triathlete. Jorgensen decided to pause her accounting career to devote her time to training.
Jorgensen says her time in accounting taught her lessons that apply in triathlon as well: don’t procrastinate, be flexible and fully invest in your craft, be it numbers or a grueling athletic pursuit. And those lessons paid off: Jorgensen amassed 13 consecutive victories in the ITU’s World Triathlon Series between May 2014 and April 2016.
Now that she’s won gold, the world will have to wait to see whether Jorgensen returns to tax accounting or continues a career in triathlons, perhaps as a coach. Regardless, the accounting community is proud to call one of their own an Olympic gold medalist.
Lauren J. Sternberg, Communications Manager-American Institute of CPAs.
Gwen Jorgensen at the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series in Stockholm courtesy of Stefan Holm/Shutterstock.