United States

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Joshua Baum


Assurance Senior Associate | Toronto, Canada

I am writing to Pursue My Passion beginning with a word and ending with a destination. Triathlon and Tremblant. Let me explain.

Soon after moving to Toronto in 2017, I began training for and competing in triathlons, mostly in the GTA. Then came Overdrive, a duathlon (run-bike-run) at Mosport raceway near Toronto. I had targeted it as a qualifier to go to the World Championships with Team Canada. Mid race, conditions deteriorated dramatically to near-freezing temperatures and rain that forced other competitors to drop out. I knew that if I had the mental toughness to stay in it, something great might happen. It did. I qualified for and competed in the 2018 International Triathlon Union World Championships in Denmark. I was on Team Canada. Knowing I was about to represent my country and go head to head against some of the best amateur athletes in the world, I threw myself into a strict training routine. I fell in love with the sport and it became part of my life. The following year, I qualified for and competed in the 2019 World Championships in Spain.

The Triathlon had an unexpected and surprising impact. I joined a community that had many professionals and high achieving individuals. Driven, accomplished people. In fact, it’s how I came to RSM. I met my teammate Matt Straatman while in Denmark who later referred me to RSM. Since then, my passion in triathlons has led to a significant growth in my professional network by connecting me with others on a deeper level, both inside and outside the firm.

I spent my youth going to summer camp at Mont Tremblant. Despite my asthmatic condition, I was healthy enough and got to have many great memories. Not all children are as fortunate to overcome their health issues and they miss out on this great experience. I have been able to use my passion for triathlons to help those less fortunate and fundraise for Camp Ooch, a summer camp for children with cancer. Through RSM, I have organized several fundraising initiatives for Camp Ooch from 10K runs to events such as our firms 50 person entry to the local Tough Mudder. Individually, I recently committed to ride non-stop for a 7.5 hour workday on a 1 mile loop of a local park. One hundred and sixty miles later I had reached my goal and raised over $700 for the camp.

As it turns out, there is a triathlon right where I went to summer camp: Ironman Tremblant. I intend to compete and win in my age group while raising money for Camp Ooch. I have been competing mostly at the shorter distances in triathlons but now I must make the leap to the longest distance triathlon: a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon run. Getting there will require next-level effort. I need the time and money to compete successfully. From training equipment to personalized coaching (I have been self-coached until now), all is set out in my detailed budget. The road must be meticulously planned out and flawlessly executed. The goal is achievable to attain within the current pandemic restrictions. Tremblant is easily accessible to me by car, which will allow me to achieve my goal of competing in a safe and responsible manner despite the current pandemic. Ironman has assured participants that it will go ahead on August 22, 2021 or, worst case scenario, in 2022, with strictly enforced health precautions. Luckily, the sport of  the Ironman triathlon is one that takes place outdoors and is completely individual in nature, conducive to socially distanced protocols.

I am aware and distressed at the toll that the pandemic has been taking on those around me. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on both the mental and physical health of many, leading to unfortunate consequences such as weight gain, substance abuse, anxiety and lack of sleep. I want to be someone that inspires others to dig deep and say, ‘if he can do it, then I can do it’. In fact, I have already been able to make an impact within my local office: I’ve inspired several colleagues to take up cycling and have been asked about purchasing an "Approved Bike". Receiving this award and having my story shared across the greater RSM network will give me a greater opportunity to inspire others.

RSM believes the five key characteristics we call the 5 C's are core to our culture, and I strongly believe this mission embodies these values. I am “Curious” to learn more about the science of endurance sports. I enjoy working “Collaboratively” with my colleagues to fundraise for worthy projects by engaging in fun and rewarding physical activity. I use my “Critical thinking” abilities to come up with creative and engaging ways to fundraise and raise awareness. I want to do this as an example to others because I “Care” about our community and its future and believe I can offer a way forward. Lastly, I want to find out if I have the “Courage” to meet this challenge.

Let’s do this!