Susan Dell is a savvy, hard working business woman as well as a wife, mother of four, and a multi-sport athlete. She is a co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of children in large urban areas around the world through health and educational programming. Susan blends her creativity with her business sense in her role as Chairman of the Board of Phi, a women’s clothing line that made its runway debut in New York in 2004. However, she doesn’t feel her business success would be possible without her fitness outlets, which she relies on heavily not only for the health benefits, but because it helps her deal with the daily stressors of life and it’s a good way to spend some time with her family. To say Susan is “fit” is putting it mildly. She competes in marathons, triathlons and cycling races and has been very successful at all three. She set the women’s course record in the 2006 Sea to Stars Mauna Kea Road Race; set the 2005 record on the Cooper Clinic Aerobic Stress Test for women aged 40-44; finished first place overall and set the women’s course record for the 2004 Kaloko Cycling Race; and completed the 2003 Ironman Triathlon World Championship.
PCPFSNews asked Susan about the work she does whether she’s wearing her business suit or her workout gear.
Q: Recently, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation gave a gift to the University of Texas at Austin to establish the Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, a core focus of which will be to conduct research that sheds light on environmental and behavioral aspects that affect healthy living. (This research will utilize existing information from the successful Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program, a K-5 and family-based program). Can you comment on the role parents or teachers play encouraging a child to be active?
A: It’s extremely important for all children to have mentors encouraging them in everything they do. It’s particularly inspiring when starting something new or trying to reach new levels of success. So many people can play a mentoring role to a child if they simply take an interest, ask questions, listen, and provide positive feedback.
Q: Your own children are very active. Is there anything you feel you have done to influence this?
A: The biggest thing Michael (Susan’s husband) and I do are to serve as positive role models. Our children see us try new activities, set goals for ourselves, and overcome obstacles. All of our kids have different interests and we support their individuality by letting them excel at what they do best. Each of them is very active and they play a variety of outdoor sports. As a family we do a lot of activities together such as running 5K and 10K road races, water and snow skiing, biking, tennis, swimming, and snorkeling.
Q: Given all that you are involved in both professionally and personally, how do you fit in your workouts or training runs?
A: After getting the kids off to school, my training is my next priority. It’s where I do my best thinking and strategizing and sets my day up for success.
Q: What kind of satisfaction do you get from being active?
A: Being active is a huge part of my life. Without doing something each day to maintain or improve my fitness, I feel my creativity would be negatively affected.
Q: Have you always been active or did there come a certain point in your life when you made the decision to be so?
A: My father, brothers and I have always been very active. We trained and competed in events together. I would say that I became very focused on being a competitive triathlete and cyclist in college, something I continue to this day.
Q: Are there any Austin area programs that you feel have been particularly successful helping children to be active?
A: The Marathon Kids* program because it gets kids started by taking small steps and then, before they know it, the kids have put in enough miles to complete a marathon. Anyone who has run a marathon knows what a great accomplishment that is.
PCPFSNews Worksite Wellness Update:
In an effort to spotlight the importance of worksite health, PCPFSNews featured Council member Paul Carrozza and the Corporate PE program he started in our winter issue. Paul and Texas Governor Rick Perry served as co-hosts of the Texas Coalition for Worksite Wellness (TCWW) CEO Summit, which recognized the importance of engaging company leaders in employee health and the ways to address the impact of employee health on the bottom line. The TCWW website has presentations from the summit’s speakers. In addition, the success of the summit helped lead to the establishment of regional “Ounce of Prevention” workshops, which are designed to help Texas businesses deal with rising health care costs.
Ohio continues to promote the Healthy Ohioans program (www.healthyohioans.org) and the Healthy Ohioans Business Council, which was established under the direction of J. Nick Baird, M.D.. One of the efforts of this Council is to recognize Ohio businesses that are committed to employee health through comprehensive worksite health promotion programs. For more information on Ohio’s Healthy Worksite Award and other efforts of its parent program, please visit their website.
*The Marathon Kids program is implemented in cities nationwide. The mention of the program here does not constitute an endorsement by the PCPFS or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.