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  • Writer's pictureANNIKA Foundation

Stanford Grad Aubert Shines In Business World Using Skills From The Course

Golf and Shannon Aubert’s left wrist haven’t always gotten along.

Look back at any photo from her playing days at Stanford, and you’ll see it’s heavily taped.

“I’ve been dealing with it since my freshman year,” says the 2018 graduate. “I could’ve had surgery to try to fix it while in college, but I didn’t want to leave the team for six months. Instead, I opted for a heavy regimen of PT [physical therapy]. That’s how much I loved playing for Coach [Anne] Walker and with my teammates.”

The dream of playing golf at Stanford started when Shannon got serious about the game around the age of 13. As a child, golf was just one of the many sports that interested her as she moved around the world with her parents, both of whom worked for the Club Med collection of family-friendly resorts.

“I was born in France, but lived in Switzerland, Mexico, Morocco, Singapore, Indonesia and St. Lucia before coming to the U.S. for high school. My mom is from South Africa and my dad is from France, so I also had the benefit of growing up in a bi-lingual home. I consider myself very lucky to have been exposed to so many different cultures as a kid. It made it really tough to develop any prejudices.”

Despite her dad being a professional skier and mom an accomplished figure skater, Shannon gravitated to golf.

“My mom saw the potential for golf to lead to bigger things, and it was the one sport that really held my attention. I think it did because in other sports, when you’re on a team that isn’t very good, you may not have as much motivation to continue playing. But in golf it’s different, because every shot and every tournament result are totally up to you. My interest in golf led to me moving to Florida to enroll in the ANNIKA Academy.”

The ANNIKA Academy was, as the name suggests, founded by its namesake as a place for players of all skill levels to improve their games. Shannon was keen to learn from Henri Reis, Annika’s personal swing coach since she was 10 years old, and Kai Fusser, the fitness guru who’d helped take Annika’s training to the next level on the LPGA Tour. Shannon also was excited to enjoy frequent opportunities to interact with Annika. As an added bonus, the ANNIKA Invitational USA, then held at Orlando’s Reunion Resort where the Academy was located, became a “home game” for her.

“The clinics from Annika were always fun. I still remember her talking to us about the ‘think box’ and the ‘play box’ technique she used to help her focus on each and every shot. But the most vivid memory I have from the tournaments was a trip to Celebration Hospital where they took a picture of our faces to show the damage the sun was already doing to us as teenagers. It was eye-opening and something I think about to this day.”

As Shannon’s play improved, she caught the attention of all the big-time college programs. But Stanford was always the goal.

“My mom’s side of the family is very involved in the world of academia, so school was very important. Mom planted the idea of attending Stanford in my head at a pretty young age. Then when I met Coach Walker and future teammates like Mariah Stackhouse, Casey Danielson and others, I was truly sold. When they extended me an offer and I was cleared by the admissions department for acceptance, I was elated.”

Golf proved to be the easiest part of her adjustment to her next chapter in Palo Alto, saying a “driver was still a driver and a putter still a putter.” But time management and juggling the demands of studying at one of the world’s great universities was another story. Thankfully, she enjoyed an incredible support system comprised of advisers, coaches and teammates. In the end, Shannon feels her golf commitments actually helped her grow even stronger in the classroom.

On the course, Coach Walker built an atmosphere where there was healthy competition as players very quickly learned to be happy for one another’s success. For example, as a freshman, Shannon came flying out of the gate with a T-3 finish in her first event, the ANNIKA Intercollegiate.

“It was a relief knowing I could compete at that level; just because everything else was different, golf was still the same. And despite me being the new kid, my teammates were all so happy for me. Right off the bat, I experienced the positivity Coach Walker pitched when she was recruiting me. There were no cliques or drama on our team.”

As her playing career progressed, Shannon became the self-professed “queen of second place finishes,” joking that she threw tournaments on purpose so she wouldn’t have to give a victory speech, like Annika did as a junior. But while she never took the top spot in a collegiate event as an individual competitor, she still has many fond memories of her time as a Stanford golfer, from the team winning the national championship her freshman year, to playing Augusta National with her teammates, to forgetting six of her clubs in Palo Alto and not realizing it until arriving in Colorado for the Pac 12 championships.

As her time in college wound down, she then turned to what to do about her wrist, and how it could impact the next steps in her professional journey. After playing in some big national amateur tournaments post-graduation, she opted to have surgery in May 2019. Unfortunately, it didn’t do the trick, forcing her to have another surgery in February 2020. Shannon has taken her health issues in stride, however, choosing to see the silver lining in her circumstances.

“I’m getting to see if I truly miss playing competitive golf while gaining some ‘real world’ work experience. I didn’t want to try to go pro at 80%. While attempting pro golf isn’t out of the question at some point, I’m in no rush to come back. Once my wrist is healthy, I’m planning to play competitively on the amateur circuit and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

In the meantime, Shannon is putting her B.S. in Society, Science and Technology to good use, working as a strategy and analytics consultant for global professional services firm Deloitte out of its Miami office. She says that while she took classes covering coding, start-up thinking and engineering, more than anything else college taught her valuable lessons like how to learn, how to manage her time, how to work on a deadline and how it is acceptable to ask others for help when it’s needed.

“I work on a team, which I really enjoy and, before COVID-19, was traveling around the country to cities like Charlotte, Denver, San Francisco, Dallas and Austin. I was typically taking the first flight out on Monday mornings and then coming back home on the last flight on Thursdays. Given how much I’ve traveled throughout my life, that part has been an easy adjustment.”

Like much of the rest of the professional world, Shannon is currently working from home, waiting out the travel restrictions with her two dogs, a four-year-old golden retriever named Hermes and one-and-a-half-year-old Doberman named Hund (which, given the breed, is fittingly how one says “dog” in German).

As her wrist heals and she contemplates her golf future, she’s taking a very mature and measured approach.

“I’ve gotten so much out of being a Stanford alumna and have so many incredible memories from my time on The Farm. If the end of the road from my competitive career was two years ago, I’m OK with it.”

Whatever Shannon’s future holds, thanks to her refreshing perspective and impressive intelligence, it’s sure to be a smashing success.

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