Bonding through running
For some at JP Morgan, putting on their running shoes has helped them get to know their colleagues better
When Steven Billiet first formed a running group in his company three years ago, his only intention was to prepare his colleagues for the annual JP Morgan Corporate Challenge in Singapore – a 5.6km run.
Little did the 47-year-old know that he would also ignite a passion for running in the office.
Since then, the initiative by Billiet, JP Morgan’s CEO of Asset Wealth Management for Asia, has transcended its initial objective and morphed into a regular activity.
The group now comprises seven to eight runners, who go for 6-7km runs twice a week.
Billiet said: “The runs proved so valuable from a team-building perspective that we kept them going year-round, increased the frequency to twice a week.
“The group has grown in size and there is a greater sense of camaraderie among the runners in the office and beyond.”
For JP Morgan employees Claudia Phuah and Alvin Leow, the appeal of combining their passion for sports with the chance to interact with their colleagues outside of work was what drew them to join the running group.
That has been the greatest benefit of the running sessions for Phuah, who exercises four to five times a week.
Said the 27-year-old: “I saw it as a great opportunity to do something that I love while catching up with colleagues whom I don’t get the chance to interact with every day.
“We’ve grown closer, which allows us to interact more effectively with one another at work.”
Getting fitter as a result of the runs doesn’t hurt either.
Leow, 28, shares his sentiment, adding that Billiet pushes them to do better.
He said: “He knows that we’re capable of surprising ourselves if we push our limits, so he encourages and helps us in that way.”
Even though some corporate sector employees may say that work leaves them with little time for other activities, Phuah and Leow believe in maintaining a balance.
For Phuah, exercise is part of her lifestyle. She said: “I always believe that if you have the time to eat, you will have the time to exercise. I often have a busy schedule on weeknights but still squeeze in my exercise routine.”
Said Leow: “Even when I’m busy, I always make time to exercise. It helps me keep balanced, relieves stress... I haven’t had to make any major sacrifices along the way.”
Not surprisingly, Billiet’s team swept all the internal awards during last year’s JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.
They were the fastest JP Morgan team, while Billiet was the fastest male runner and Phuah the fastest female.
This year’s event takes place on Thursday (April 26), and needless to say, they are raring to go again.
This will be Phuah's third time taking part. She said: “It’s a lot of fun. It’s an experience that brings people together.”
Billiet added that it is an event for all, saying: “It’s a great opportunity for me to connect with JP Morgan’s clients, employees and people from the community outside of the office in a healthy environment.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a competitive runner or you walk the course, everyone is there to have a good time. We support each other and have a good time at the end of the race.”