From Sports to Tech: Joan Kuhrmann’s journey as an athlete & woman in tech

Joan Kuhrmann, From athlete to woman in tech


Join Joan Kuhrmann, NTT’s Director of Program Management, New Ventures & Innovation, as she shares insights on her tech industry journey, covering personal growth, career advice for newcomers, and her unique experience as both an athlete and a woman in tech.

Joan Kuhrmann joined the New Ventures & Innovation Group (now Edge service division) as Director for Program Management in March 2022.

In this role, Joan is leading strategic project management efforts involving cross-functional teams and supporting incubation, strategic investments, and innovation activities across the NTT Group. She is also an instrumental member of the Tour de France delivery team where she acts as the Tour de France Femmes Project Lead and Advocate, driving the planning and delivery of the TDF Femmes technology stream within NTT Data’s overall program.

Joan has been working in the IT industry for 16 years and holds an MBA from the Georg Simon Ohm University in Nuremberg/Germany. She is based in Sydney/Australia and is passionate about cycling and traveling, enjoying an active and healthy lifestyle.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen striking similarities between women in sports and those in the tech industry.

From overcoming systemic hurdles to finding new and innovative ways to meet challenges, women undoubtedly face uphill battles, emerging even stronger as a result.

Whether it was riding my first race or walking through the doors of my first job, the excitement of embracing new challenges and experiencing growth firsthand motivated and propelled me forward. Along the way, connecting with supportive mentors, peers, and friends has enriched both my personal and professional endeavors. True success, in my view, stems from mutual support, fostering the next generation of innovators with lessons learned and perspectives we wish we could share with our younger selves.


I cannot stress enough the importance of continuous learning and skills development. Whether you’re coming out of school, making a career shift, or are a seasoned veteran, it is crucial that you’re always investing in your own growth and staying up to date within your industry and domain expertise. E.g. explore the latest trends, sign up for courses and webinars, and participate in industry forums and events. Active participation in learning not only builds confidence for tackling challenges at work but also provides valuable networking opportunities with like-minded individuals who are willing to share their experiences and insights.

In the early stages of your career, building a professional network is as crucial as staying current in your field. Throughout my career, mentors played a vital role in my journey, offering valuable insights and fresh perspectives on the challenges I faced. Especially for women, a diverse set of mentors, including both male and female perspectives, enhances the mentorship experience. Choose mentors who inspire, genuinely interest you, and actively support your journey. Cultivating a robust support network among colleagues and bosses within your workplace is equally important.

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Historically, women in sports have encountered disparities in funding, media coverage, sponsorships, and opportunities in general compared to their male counterparts. Similarly, women in technology continue to face significant challenges when it comes to career advancement, earning equal pay, breaking into leadership roles along with experiencing issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Despite efforts, representation remains a challenge for women in tech, with underrepresentation in both tech roles and leadership positions. Due to a multitude of factors, fewer women chose a career in IT or professional sports compared to men. Bridging these gaps requires time, allies, and policies, such as education and awareness programs to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment for women in tech.

Being a woman in either of these spaces is a significant accomplishment and if you’re just kicking off your career, kudos on your efforts thus far! The key takeaway from these parallel challenges is the ongoing need to advocate for yourself throughout your career. Break preconceptions for female athletes and IT professionals by challenging traditional gender norms and stereotypes. Your presence in the tech industry is paving the way and contributing to greater acceptance and respect for women in sports and the IT industry. Keep pushing boundaries!


A crucial lesson for my younger self: prioritize your health! Don’t sideline your mental and physical well-being on your professional journey. Giving your best requires taking care of yourself – exercise and making time for your mental health because your “output” is directly linked to your overall well-being.

One other piece of advice I would stress is to champion the work you are passionate about! Cycling has been a big part of my life, and when the chance to support the Tour de France delivery team at NTT came up, I seized it. Now, as the Tour de France Femmes Project Lead and Advocate, I’m living my passion by pushing for opportunities that align with my interests. NTT is proud to be part of launching the first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift in 2022 as the technology sponsor. Our technology lifts the profile of the women’s race and brings its fans closer to the action.    

Within the program our team brought women to the forefront of the Tour de France with Marianne; the first digital AI experience powered by ChatGPT. Marianne is named after Marianne Martin, the US cyclist who won the Tour de France Féminin, an early version of the women’s race, in 1984. You can learn more about the technology supporting the Tour de France here.

Finally, if you’re able to, I would recommend for people coming out of college or university to take a year off and travel to broaden your horizons. Meeting new people and encountering diverse perspectives will enrich your thinking, spark ideas and creativity! I dove straight into the workforce after university, but looking back, I wish I traveled more when I had the chance to do so.


What’s important to remember is that as a woman in tech, you are part of a community dedicated to fostering your growth and that of your peers. Reach out fearlessly – your next mentor or a fresh perspective on workplace challenges could be just a connection away.


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