Make It Work: Wahoo’s Stacy Perlis Forged Her Own Path
How Wahoo's Director of Finance created a career she loves—plus her tips for managing the balance of work and training.
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Atlanta-based Stacy Perlis was thriving in her first few years out of college: She had earned her Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) designation and landed a position as a senior tax consultant for Deloitte, the largest professional services firm in the world. Eager to get back into fitness after tearing her ACL late in college, Perlis first tried a spin class, then a half marathon, and eventually a sprint triathlon. She trained for and competed in the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Augusta triathlon as part of Team In Training but was miserable in her day-to-day career grind. “I’d gotten healthy and lost weight, but I was still not loving the type of job I was doing,” she says. “I started searching for companies in Atlanta in areas that I had a passion for. I looked into travel companies, fitness companies, health food companies—I literally just kept Googling things and eventually came across Wahoo Fitness.”
Perlis’ discovery came late in 2014, when Wahoo was still relatively small. There were no jobs posted, so she took fate into her own hands. “I put together a PowerPoint of ideas and was basically like, ‘Hey do you want to hire me? I’ve got some really cool ideas in this space about what you could do with your products.’” The email caught the attention of the Wahoo executive team, and two days later Perlis was having lunch with them. Two days after that, she had an offer letter. Despite some pushback from those around her who thought she was crazy to leave such a stable career, Perlis took the job. “I decided to go for it,” she says. “If not now, then when?”
With Wahoo still in its infancy, Perlis took on finance responsibilities and also became the product manager for bike computers. Now that the company has become a power player in the fitness technology industry, she’s shifting out of that product management role and is focused full time on her role as director of finance.
With her career and athletic pursuits in full harmony, 30-year-old Perlis has finished three Ironmans and several half-Ironmans since starting with Wahoo. This year she is focusing on sprints, a century ride in Lake Tahoe in June, and then a half-Ironman in the fall before jumping back up to the Ironman distance in 2020. “This year is about smaller races to focus on speed and strength to get better for next year,” she says.
While Perlis’ career fit is directly tied to the sport she loves, she encourages triathletes who are looking for a better balance to think broader. “It doesn’t have to be a job in the triathlon industry,” she says. “Find a company where you believe in what they’re doing. It makes a world of difference.”
Stacy Perlis’ Tips for Managing a Balancing Act
Train in the Morning
The hours before you take a seat at your desk should be prime training time. “There are too many days where I get ‘caught’ working,” she says. “Getting a workout done before I get to work is the only way to guarantee it’s going to get done.”
Plan the Big Weekends
Endurance training requires some long and hard weekends. Perlis says she puts them on her calendar far ahead of time, like she would any other big event. “Then I know better than to do things like plan a business trip where I get home late on a Friday night,” she says.
Look at Your Overall Year
As someone whose work demands sync closely with her company’s fiscal calendar, Perlis knows better than to plan a race that would require a heavy focus on training in the last and first quarters of the year. “I have a lot of friends gearing up to do Ironman Santa Rosa in May and I would love to be there, but being in charge of finance, I know that