Caroline Lee, BCEMBA 09, had never heard of the ABC reality TV show Wipeout when a friend applied on her behalf as a joke. Lee, however, had the last laugh when she won the July 15 episode of the show, which bills itself as the world’s largest extreme obstacle course.
Lee began to get excited when she got the invitation to audition. “I became serious about it. To me it was like a recruiting process,” says Lee, who assesses recruiting practices for Accenture.
“The screening interview is always the toughest one. I knew I needed to touch the eye of the producer,” says the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA alumna. An experienced triathlete who had competed in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon four times, she donned a striped prisoner’s outfit and auditioned with the line, “I’ve escaped from Alcatraz and I’m ready for my next adventure!” Lee was dubbed “Jailbreaker” on the show.
As a final qualifier, Lee needed to take a physical, and easily passed due to her triathlon conditioning and 12 years of competitive gymnastics. Just last year she was on a team of Berkeley-Columbia students who competed in Hawaii's Ironman.
But mental strength helped Lee conquer Wipeout's spinning dishes full of foam and dreaded “spiked whackers” (spiky walls that flip out suddenly and topple competitors).
“Once I made the decision to participate, I knew I wanted to win,” says Lee. “Other competitors seemed more interested in the chance to be on TV, but my MBA and Accenture training always have me thinking, ‘What is the objective? How do I want to accomplish this?’ My strategy was to assess each challenge carefully rather than thinking about how to maximize screen time.”
Lee notes that while competitors saw the obstacle courses ahead of time, the moving parts (see “spiked whackers” above) were a surprise. “There was a lot of improvising and figuring things out on the fly,” says Lee.
“You have to learn from the fall,” says Lee. Literally. “When you know you’re going to be dumped in cold water or mud every time you fail to anticipate, it’s a real motivator for changing your tactics instead of repeating errors. I learned to slow myself down and really think things through.”
Her episode filmed in January, which meant Lee had to sit on the secret of her $50,000 victory for six months until the show aired. Lee watched the show with friends, but already had her eye on the next target. “I’d love to be on Amazing Race,” she says. “It’s always fun to travel, and even more so with objectives and puzzles to solve.”
To watch Lee on Wipeout, visit abc.go.com/watch/wipeout/SH5568487/VD5576450/feed-jill.