Winning an Olympic medal in alpine skiing at the 1998 Winter Olympics is impressive enough, but it’s just one part of Zali Steggall’s extraordinary career in sport and law.
After retiring from competitive sport in 2002, Zali trained to become a barrister specialising in sport and family law, and has since also been taking up a number of leadership roles in sporting organisations.
Earlier this year, she was one of three members on the Court of Arbitration for Sport tribunal members deciding if the International Olympic Committee controls access to the Olympic Games, following a last minute appeal by 32 Russian athletes asking the court to overturn a ban on them competing at the games.
To this day, Zali remains Australia’s most successful alpine skier, having competed at four Winter Olympics and becoming the first Australian to win an alpine skiing world championship title in 1999.
And while Zali hasa hectic schedule, managing her business as well as family life, she continues to stay fit and enjoy a number of different sports, and recently participated in the 100 kilometre Ultra-Trail Australia, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest trail race.
Zali is the latest to feature in our new Q&A series The Link, connecting you to the inspiring work, ideas and inspiration of women across different industry sectors.
Who and what do you lead?
Not really applicable in my work as a barrister but I am also a non executive director of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia and Sports Australia Hall of Fame and enjoy the responsibility of steering those organisations to bigger and better results.
What are you working on right now that’s got you really excited?
As a barrister, I work on many cases at a time and enjoy the challenge of litigation and working with instructing solicitors and clients to get the best possible outcomes.
What one issue is making you really angry right now?
Frustrated that there still isn’t equitable briefing at the bar and that equitable representation at board and executive level still has a long way to go.
Best piece of career advice you ever received?
You can have it all, you just need to know what to prioritise and when, there is a time for everything (career and family) and it is important to enjoy the journey, you don’t get time back!
What would you go back and tell yourself ten years ago?
Enjoy the kids while they are young, they grow up fast. Work out what you enjoy doing and focus on that, and get running, you are going to love the trails!
Biggest hurdle you’ve faced (or are still facing) in your career?
…How did/are you push through/work around it?
I always believe that hard work will get you there. No one achieves anything by accident, it takes planning, hard work and determination when things get tough.
How have mentors or sponsors aided your career?
I have been lucky enough to be exposed to amazing people through my sporting career and legal career. As an athlete and a professional, I always appreciate feedback. You need to be able to take any feedback and criticism and learn and grow from it.
What’s your favourite piece of tech?
My new Garmin Fenix 5. It has really helped me step up my training, collecting a lot more data/metrics than I had before and helps me understand my body and fitness levels better and plan my training accordingly.
What daily publications do you read or follow?
I promise I will read Women’s Agenda from now on!
What apps or tools do you use to help manage your day?
Just the usual, I am not a very tech savvy person.
Any industry associations you’re a part of or that you’d recommend to other women?
Women in Sports Law (WISLAW). is an international, non-profit association that unites women from more than 40 countries who specialize in sports law.
Got a woman to suggest who you’d like to next read about on Women’s Agenda?
Kate Palmer, CEO of the Australian Sports Commission.