From Swimming to NATO

Hope Sweetnam is a triathlon competing, NATO interning, Tribe swimming, Accounting major from Canada.  What about  Business has helped her succeed in so many different activities? 

Hope Sweetnam at the starting block

About Me

I'm a student athlete from Canada on the Tribe Swim Team. My major is in Accounting with a concentration in Management & Organizational Leadership. I will graduate with my BBA and a minor in anthropology in May of 2011.

I was extremely fortunate to grow up in two beautiful places, Bracebridge, Ontario, and Williamsburg, Virginia. I enjoy cliff jumping, pea soup, bagged milk, Canadian Oreos, triathlons, and Williamsburg. The W&M swim team is definitely one thing that gets me through tough weeks that would otherwise be very daunting. The forty-five of us spend a lot of time together and when our faces aren't in the water, we're always laughing.


While all the accounting courses that I've taken thus far have been challenging and demanding, each one has also been rewarding because of the combination of the effort required on my part, and the excellent instruction of the accounting faculty. The organization, preparedness, and communication skills of Prof. Geary, Prof. Irving and Prof. Prakash allows me, and also drives me, to succeed each semester. Varsity swimmers practice 20 hours a week during our August-February season and receiving a good-luck email from Prof. Irving the night before my first conference race perfectly demonstrates the degree to which our professors care about our overall well-being. Professors who understand an athlete's commitment and responsibility elicit tremendous respect and admiration from their students.

Hope Sweetnam interned at NATO Headquarters in the Netherlands

Defining Moment

This past summer I interned at the NATO Command, Control and Consultation Agency, based in The Hague. This Netherlands-based NATO organization provides integrated scientific, logistical, and information systems support to all theatres of operation, including the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. I worked under the Chief of the Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Capability Area Team. The major project I worked on was a Software Development Invitation for Bid (IFB) package that was sent to over 200 potential bidding companies from the 28 NATO nations. I audited a Type B cost estimate valued at over 14 million Euro, while cross-checking countless references. This greatly enhanced not only my understanding of costing in proposals, but also my knowledge of military intelligence information systems as well.

The unique critical thinking abilities that I had developed in the business program allowed me to critique these high level and complicated documents. The business principles classes that I had taken allowed me to speak intelligently when I met with the financial controller of the agency to discuss the specifics of budgeting in a customer-funded, not-for-profit organization.

Hope Sweetnam competing in a triathlon

Future Plans

After my summer abroad last year, I'm going to Ontario this summer to work for a local adventure store and guiding company and train for my first half-Ironman distance triathlon. I hope to intern for a Big Four accounting firm in the summer after my senior year, complete my Master's of Accounting in 2012, and seek full-time employment after that.  My Individual Program of Study (IPS) is setting me up well for success in the technical accounting world.