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From the field to the boardroom

January 16, 2024

Gabby Ludzker, CEO RAPP UK

When I was 14, I took a trial judo class against a much taller, older boy. And the feeling of effortlessly launching him through the air into a crash mat against the wall was exhilarating! I’m not sure what that says about me, but it led me to take up Aikido in my first semester of university, and I quickly became obsessed, training for hours every week and attending seminars at home and abroad on weekends. At 30, I resigned from my agency and moved to Paris to train full-time for three months with my favourite sensei, culminating in the passing of my black belt exam.

Without a doubt, this has translated to making me a resilient leader. But, to be honest, going from never having done sports to training six hours per day every day nearly broke me physically and mentally. However, carrying on (my teacher nicknamed me La Tueuse - The Killer) and the sense of achievement at the end gave me a taste for relentless perseverance that has never abated.

It deepened my love and desire for teamwork. Aikido may be a martial art, but it translates from Japanese as ‘The way of love’ because to defeat your opponent, you have to use their strength against them.

But more importantly, it taught me that there are no limitations to being smaller, shorter, female or different in any way. Precision, vision, ambition and bloody hard work will get you victory on the mat and in the meeting room.

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