“Health and fitness are just part of my DNA. If I don’t work out multiple times a week, I feel off kilter,” says Robert Wickham ’93, who believes that every day of life is a new game.
An athlete since he was a boy in Trinidad, where he twice played on the national cricket team, Wickham had heard that Americans don’t play cricket, so when he came to MIT, he decided to play squash.
“Some of my best memories and best friends at MIT came from the squash team,” says Wickham, who in true team spirit recently rounded up three former teammates, pooled their resources, and together named a squash court at MIT. When he and those friends played at MIT, the varsity team was one of the best in the country.
“Naming the court has given us a lot of collective pride, and it also has been fun,” Wickham says. “It’s been a great way of saying, ‘Hey, we were here, and we cared.’ It’s like being a student and etching your name on a tree. You come back a couple decades later and say, ‘Look, here are our names!’”
Wickham says that those former teammates — Matthew Trevithick ’92; Graham Fernandes ’93; and Safroadu Yeboah-Amankwah ’93 — now live in various cities across North America. And whenever Wickham is in one of those cities for business, he makes it a point to arrange a squash match with each of his friends. “It’s a great way to stay in touch,” he says.
Wickham earned an MIT bachelor’s degree in 1993 and a master’s degree in 1995, both in aeronautics and astronautics. After a stint with the Boston Consulting Group in New York, he worked on business development for Go Fly, a British airline. After earning a degree from Harvard Business School in 2000, he joined Empirix, a Waltham, Mass. software company where he was director of sales until 2008, when the company was sold to Oracle. He is now responsible for Oracle’s 10-member sales team that sells system management software.
“There’s a lot of fulfillment knowing that you’re working to move the needle in a positive direction,” says Wickham, who has served on several Institute committees and also has served as a member of the MIT Corporation. In addition, he is a member of the MIT Alumni Fund Board and is chair of the William Barton Rogers Society, a community of Institute supporters. He also works to promote sports.
“Considering the rigors of an MIT education, sports are an important physical outlet for mental health and well-being,” he says. “Athletics is a great complement to an intense work environment. Days when I’m physically active, I feel more alert than days when I am not.”
When he first came to MIT, Wickham was advised by a coach to only play sports he could pursue for life. Now, he says, “I play squash every week. I play tennis, golf, and teach spinning.”
His passion is to provide sports opportunities for others at MIT, he says. “I like to give money where there’s potential for the gift to multiply.
“Maybe one day, a shy, physically undeveloped kid who comes to MIT will be encouraged by his roommate to play squash, and in that experience will find confidence and will become a tycoon of American business.
“That,” he says, “would be cool.”