Lessons in leadership for rugby legend Thierry Dusautoir

Even at the starting of his rugby union job, former France captain Thierry Dusautoir was thinking about the stop. “Being a skilled rugby player is terrific — it is the very best issue that has happened in my life,” he states. But it can halt at any minute, he provides, irrespective of whether mainly because of injury or a person better coming up, so you “need far more weapons, like studying, to have far more options”.

It might now seem to be stunning that a person so acclaimed at any time nervous about potential job prospects — or had time to. Even though Dusautoir, 39, did not perform rugby till his mid teens, in the beginning preferring judo, he turned skilled in 2001 at 19, heading on to enjoy a profitable job with French clubs these kinds of as Biarritz and Toulouse.

In 2006, he was known as up to the French nationwide crew, earning eighty caps in an global job that bundled some iconic moments. In 2010, he captained the French aspect to Grand Slam victory in advance of major them to the 2011 Entire world Cup remaining, which they missing to New Zealand’s All Blacks. He was also named Player of the Calendar year in 2011, the second Frenchman to get the global title.

But Dusautoir also noticed pals struggle for a pair of years after leaving the sport although they labored out what to do up coming. “I just desired to be the grasp of my life,” he states. With an eye on ensuring he would indeed have “options”, in 2008 he invested in his very first company, All My SMS, a textual content and voice messaging support. He now will work in enterprise enhancement and tactic for the system, along with investing in other, mainly tech, firms with a husband or wife.

A dialogue with former global teammates Frédéric Michalak and Sébastien Chabal — the famously hirsute “caveman” — opened up the up coming alternative. Michalak and Chabal the two begun EMLyon’s executive MBA in 2019. Just after listening to what they have been up to, Dusautoir was attracted by the strategy that an EMBA could support him analyse the firms to spend in, and better help his have.

“I went to EMLyon mainly because I desired tutorial tools to support me get choices and have far more self-self-assurance when [I was] heading to deal with a person, chat about enterprise or do threat analysis of a company,” he states. “I utilised to spend with my guts. Now I want to spend with my brain.”

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

A chemical engineering graduate, Dusautoir states it was “weird” heading back again to school in September after 15 years. But he is already taking pleasure in the networking and peer understanding that come with an EMBA. “It is seriously fulfilling to satisfy individuals from distinctive backgrounds who are starting off one thing with you,” he states.

The perception of cohesion struck a common take note early on through the class. Throughout the very first three-working day examine block, his bicycle was stolen although he was out with class mates for an night. He was stunned that anyone desired to support.

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

“I was like, ‘Wow, I have recognized you for one particular working day and it seriously felt like one thing that I seasoned in rugby — the solidarity,” he states. “I felt that one thing was starting off between [us]. I would not say thank you to the thief, but it was a minute that showed me that it’s possible I was obtaining into a new crew.”

Dusautoir is already understanding and reflecting on the classes and his outdated life. The very first block was on administration, a subject matter he is common with. He states he doesn’t know that substantially about finance but “quite a bit” about administration as the captain of a crew. It has been attention-grabbing to contemplate irrespective of whether major a rugby crew would have been less difficult with the know-how gained from the programme, he provides.

For case in point, there was a challenging minute in the 2011 Entire world Cup when the French aspect was practically knocked out. While the way the crew bounced back again alongside one another is one particular of the proudest moments of his rugby job, Dusautoir states being the leader arrived at a personal price. “I was thinking that it’s possible if I had recognized this [about administration] at this time, would it have been less difficult? Would I have had far more vitality for being a better player on the pitch? Due to the fact I missing a whole lot of vitality taking care of the guys,” he states.

While his administration research manufactured him replicate on his rugby job, he intends to use his experience as an elite athlete to satisfy the requires of his EMBA. “I am heading to use the identical recipe as when I was a player — so function difficult and attempt to uncover better organisation with the family members,” he states. “My wife is with me: it is not my alternative, it is a pair alternative and a family members alternative. I assume that is heading to support me a whole lot in this, mainly because you are not able to do anything at all on your own.”

Tests periods: Frédéric Michalak

Frédéric Michalak started a sport tech venture after finishing playing
Frédéric Michalak begun a sport tech enterprise after finishing actively playing

“I do not have any regrets, so that is a excellent issue,” states Frédéric Michalak, Thierry Dusautoir’s former teammate, reflecting on a rugby job that spanned practically twenty years. It is quick to see why: in 2015, he finished his global run as France’s major points scorer, with seventy seven caps, three Grand Slam victories and participation in three Entire world Cups.

But in 2019 Michalak switched to costing, compliance and macroeconomics on an executive MBA at EMLyon. The preceding year he co-founded a new enterprise, Sport Unlimitech, an initiative to bridge exploration, sport and entrepreneurship to acquire sport tech, and began to contemplate enterprise school. Besides being “curious”, he states he wanted new tools to development.

People competencies are already being set to the take a look at. As perfectly as understanding a whole lot from fellow students, Michalak is putting his formal classes to excellent use. Just as the class coated disruption, Covid-19 struck. Even if your enterprise aim was three to 5 years in advance, he states, you had to act now.

“I was fortunate to be in school at the time,” he states, incorporating that he wanted to react and develop a new enterprise model for Sport Unlimitech.

But his suggestions is to entirely dedicate to the EMBA. “Do it mainly because you want to do it and set a hundred for every cent on that. It is heading to be difficult,” he states, incorporating that putting some cash away is a excellent strategy as it is expensive.

An open thoughts is also practical. “Travel, be curious, chat with individuals, attempt matters, do incorrect, find out about that,” Michalak states. “You can find out a whole lot when you are shedding.”