Lessons in leadership for rugby legend Thierry Dusautoir

Elvera Bartels

Even at the commencing of his rugby union occupation, former France captain Thierry Dusautoir was imagining about the conclusion. “Being a expert rugby player is great — it is the finest factor that has took place in my daily life,” he suggests. But it can prevent at any instant, he adds, regardless of whether because of injury or anyone better coming up, so you “need additional weapons, like researching, to have additional options”.

It may possibly now seem to be astonishing that anyone so acclaimed at any time fearful about long term occupation opportunities — or had time to. While Dusautoir, 39, did not enjoy rugby until his mid teens, to begin with preferring judo, he turned expert in 2001 at 19, heading on to enjoy a successful occupation with French golf equipment these as Biarritz and Toulouse.

In 2006, he was termed up to the French national workforce, earning eighty caps in an global occupation that included some legendary moments. In 2010, he captained the French facet to Grand Slam victory in advance of foremost them to the 2011 Globe Cup ultimate, which they missing to New Zealand’s All Blacks. He was also named Participant of the 12 months in 2011, the second Frenchman to gain the global title.

But Dusautoir also saw pals struggle for a pair of several years immediately after leaving the activity even though they labored out what to do following. “I just needed to be the master of my daily life,” he suggests. With an eye on guaranteeing he would in truth have “options”, in 2008 he invested in his very first corporation, All My SMS, a textual content and voice messaging service. He now works in company enhancement and approach for the platform, alongside investing in other, mostly tech, providers with a husband or wife.

A dialogue with former global teammates Frédéric Michalak and Sébastien Chabal — the famously hirsute “caveman” — opened up the following option. Michalak and Chabal each begun EMLyon’s government MBA in 2019. Following listening to what they had been up to, Dusautoir was attracted by the notion that an EMBA could enable him analyse the providers to spend in, and better support his very own.

“I went to EMLyon because I needed tutorial tools to enable me take decisions and have additional self-assurance when [I was] heading to offer with anyone, chat about company or do possibility evaluation of a corporation,” he suggests. “I made use of to spend with my guts. Now I want to spend with my brain.”

Thierry Dusautoir: ‘I just needed to be the master of my life’ © Magali Delporte

A chemical engineering graduate, Dusautoir suggests it was “weird” heading back again to faculty in September immediately after fifteen several years. But he is currently savoring the networking and peer learning that appear with an EMBA. “It is really fulfilling to satisfy people from distinct backgrounds who are commencing some thing with you,” he suggests.

The sense of cohesion struck a familiar take note early on during the study course. In the course of the very first three-day study block, his bike was stolen even though he was out with study course mates for an evening. He was stunned that absolutely everyone needed to enable.

Thierry Dusautoir and his Toulouse team with the Heineken Cup in 2010
Thierry Dusautoir and his Toulouse workforce with the Heineken Cup in 2010

“I was like, ‘Wow, I have regarded you for one particular day and it really felt like some thing that I skilled in rugby — the solidarity,” he suggests. “I felt that some thing was commencing in between [us]. I would not say thank you to the thief, but it was a instant that confirmed me that probably I was acquiring into a new workforce.”

Dusautoir is currently learning and reflecting on the classes and his aged daily life. The very first block was on management, a subject he is familiar with. He suggests he doesn’t know that considerably about finance but “quite a bit” about management as the captain of a workforce. It has been exciting to take into account regardless of whether foremost a rugby workforce would have been less difficult with the expertise acquired from the programme, he adds.

For case in point, there was a tough instant in the 2011 Globe Cup when the French facet was nearly knocked out. Though the way the workforce bounced back again collectively is one particular of the proudest moments of his rugby occupation, Dusautoir suggests being the leader arrived at a particular charge. “I was imagining that probably if I had regarded this [about management] at this time, would it have been less difficult? Would I have had additional electricity for being a better player on the pitch? For the reason that I missing a whole lot of electricity controlling the men,” he suggests.

Though his management scientific tests manufactured him reflect on his rugby occupation, he intends to use his expertise as an elite athlete to satisfy the needs of his EMBA. “I am heading to use the identical recipe as when I was a player — so function really hard and attempt to locate better organisation with the family,” he suggests. “My wife is with me: it is not my choice, it is a pair choice and a family choice. I imagine that is heading to enable me a whole lot in this, because you simply cannot do just about anything by itself.”

Screening moments: Frédéric Michalak

Frédéric Michalak started a sport tech venture after finishing playing
Frédéric Michalak begun a activity tech undertaking immediately after finishing enjoying

“I do not have any regrets, so that is a very good factor,” suggests Frédéric Michalak, Thierry Dusautoir’s former teammate, reflecting on a rugby occupation that spanned nearly twenty several years. It is effortless to see why: in 2015, he concluded his global run as France’s foremost factors scorer, with 77 caps, three Grand Slam victories and participation in three Globe Cups.

But in 2019 Michalak switched to costing, compliance and macroeconomics on an government MBA at EMLyon. The prior 12 months he co-established a new undertaking, Sport Unlimitech, an initiative to bridge exploration, activity and entrepreneurship to establish activity tech, and commenced to take into account company faculty. Moreover being “curious”, he suggests he essential new tools to progress.

Those people techniques are currently being place to the take a look at. As well as learning a whole lot from fellow learners, Michalak is putting his official classes to very good use. Just as the study course coated disruption, Covid-19 struck. Even if your company objective was three to five several years ahead, he suggests, you had to act now.

“I was blessed to be in faculty at the time,” he suggests, introducing that he essential to respond and make a new company model for Sport Unlimitech.

But his information is to absolutely commit to the EMBA. “Do it because you want to do it and place 100 per cent on that. It is heading to be really hard,” he suggests, introducing that putting some funds away is a very good notion as it is high-priced.

An open head is also practical. “Travel, be curious, chat with people, attempt points, do erroneous, find out about that,” Michalak suggests. “You can find out a whole lot when you are losing.”

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