Sandra pictured left after achieving her personal best deadlift of 175kg
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Sandra takes the weight of the world off her shoulders by powerlifting four to five times a week. She also competes regularly, holding Lithuanian squat and deadlift records in the 72kg category, and has been invited to represent Lithuania at the European Powerlifting Championships in December this year.
Her own personal best to date has been a deadlift of 175kg, which she completed in October 2017 when she shared the platform with the then strongest woman in the world, Donna Moore: “For comparison, she lifted 245kg! I firmly believe that one day I will be able to lift 200kg. I don’t believe in limits.”
Powerlifting is a strength sport, whereby three attempts are made at maximum weight on three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. “The goal of my training is to get as strong as possible, relentlessly focusing on perfect technique,” says Sandra.
Sandra is focused and devoted to both wealth management and powerlifting, but work is her priority: “It sounds cheesy but I enjoy it so much, I would do it for free. Luckily I don’t have to!” She has recently joined Brown Shipley from Seven Investment Management as a senior client manager, with plans to broaden her skills to include financial planning.
Her ambition to work in finance was shaped both by geography and politics: “I was born in Lithuania in the Soviet Union during the time of perestroika. Not long after that, Lithuania became independent. As a very young country, Lithuania does not have deep roots in the financial services sector. Our first commercial bank ‘Second’ collapsed after three years due to criminal activities and lost millions of savings. However, this did not stop me pursuing my dream job in finance. I moved to the UK ten years ago, where I obtained a master’s degree in economics from the University of Edinburgh. I became a British citizen last year and can now officially call Scotland my home.”
"Inequality makes me angry and I channel that feeling to lift the weight!"
Sandra’s interest in powerlifting came relatively recently: “I had never been a sporty person. At school I used to skip PE and at university the only lifting I did was a glass of wine! I started CrossFit in 2015 and shortly after that my coach ‘discovered’ me, and I began powerlifting three years ago. In many ways, my coach plays a similar role to my manager at work. He monitors my progress, we discuss areas to improve and he helps to prepare me for competitions. I am a very competitive person and standing on the platform certainly gives me more motivation.”
Most athletes use a tried and tested method to get psyched up and in the correct frame of mind, pre-competition. Sandra is no exception: “Before the competition I start using visualisation techniques – close my eyes and imagine successfully completing the lift. I use meditation and breathing exercises to keep calm. And just before entering the platform I listen to loud angry music and think of inequality. The latter makes me angry and I channel that feeling to lift the weight!”
The UK has an active female community of powerlifters, but Sandra has experienced some negative remarks for her hobby: “There is a stigma about women in lifting and quite often I receive the backhanded compliment “but you do not look like a powerlifter”. We may compete against each other on the platform, but after the competition we are supportive of each other. There is an annual female-only competition called Nodumbelles Women’s Open Powerlifting. At my last competition in Edinburgh we had a full female platform: female judges, female spotters and loaders.”
Sandra’s competitive powerlifting requires discipline, hard work, persistence and patience – all skills transferable to work. “Most importantly I feel strong and it is empowering knowing that nobody can push you around!
“I see many similarities between wealth management and powerlifting. Both require consistent hard work and when you have the odd bad day or training session, you must let it go. Similarly, with investing, time and compounding do the heavy lifting; and when the markets tumble, you don’t quit. We are in a long game here.”
This article was originally published in the July 2019 print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'.