Lessons in leadership for rugby legend Thierry Dusautoir

Truman Slate

Even at the commencing of his rugby union career, former France captain Thierry Dusautoir was thinking about the conclusion. “Being a specialist rugby player is good — it is the very best matter that has happened in my daily life,” he states. But it can cease at any minute, he adds, whether or not mainly because of injuries or somebody better coming up, so you “need extra weapons, like finding out, to have extra options”.

It could now seem surprising that somebody so acclaimed ever anxious about upcoming career alternatives — or experienced time to. Though Dusautoir, 39, did not perform rugby until his mid teens, at first preferring judo, he turned specialist in 2001 at 19, heading on to enjoy a productive career with French golf equipment such as Biarritz and Toulouse.

In 2006, he was identified as up to the French nationwide staff, earning 80 caps in an international career that integrated some iconic moments. In 2010, he captained the French facet to Grand Slam victory before top them to the 2011 Earth Cup ultimate, which they dropped to New Zealand’s All Blacks. He was also named Player of the Year in 2011, the next Frenchman to earn the international title.

But Dusautoir also saw mates wrestle for a pair of many years immediately after leaving the sport although they labored out what to do subsequent. “I just wished to be the grasp of my daily life,” he states. With an eye on making certain he would in truth have “options”, in 2008 he invested in his 1st business, All My SMS, a textual content and voice messaging company. He now functions in company enhancement and strategy for the system, alongside investing in other, typically tech, firms with a lover.

A discussion with former international teammates Frédéric Michalak and Sébastien Chabal — the famously hirsute “caveman” — opened up the subsequent alternative. Michalak and Chabal equally started off EMLyon’s executive MBA in 2019. Soon after listening to what they had been up to, Dusautoir was attracted by the idea that an EMBA could assist him analyse the firms to devote in, and better assist his own.

“I went to EMLyon mainly because I wished academic equipment to assist me acquire choices and have extra self-confidence when [I was] heading to deal with somebody, speak about company or do chance evaluation of a business,” he states. “I used to devote with my guts. Now I want to devote with my brain.”

Thierry Dusautoir: ‘I just wished 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 immediately after 15 many years. But he is by now savoring the networking and peer studying that appear with an EMBA. “It is actually fulfilling to satisfy folks from unique backgrounds who are starting off anything with you,” he states.

The sense of cohesion struck a familiar take note early on all through the training course. Through the 1st 3-day review block, his bike was stolen although he was out with training course mates for an night. He was amazed that every person wished to assist.

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

“I was like, ‘Wow, I have identified you for 1 day and it actually felt like anything that I experienced in rugby — the solidarity,” he states. “I felt that anything was starting off concerning [us]. I would not say thank you to the thief, but it was a minute that showed me that probably I was receiving into a new staff.”

Dusautoir is by now studying and reflecting on the lessons and his outdated daily life. The 1st block was on management, a topic he is familiar with. He states he does not know that considerably about finance but “quite a bit” about management as the captain of a staff. It has been exciting to look at whether or not top a rugby staff would have been much easier with the know-how gained from the programme, he adds.

For illustration, there was a hard minute in the 2011 Earth Cup when the French facet was virtually knocked out. When the way the staff bounced back again jointly is 1 of the proudest moments of his rugby career, Dusautoir states being the chief arrived at a own value. “I was thinking that probably if I experienced identified this [about management] at this time, would it have been much easier? Would I have experienced extra vitality for being a better player on the pitch? Because I dropped a good deal of vitality taking care of the men,” he states.

When his management reports made him reflect on his rugby career, he intends to use his expertise as an elite athlete to satisfy the requires of his EMBA. “I am heading to use the similar recipe as when I was a player — so function really hard and try out to discover better organisation with the family members,” he states. “My spouse is with me: it is not my selection, it is a pair selection and a family members selection. I feel that is heading to assist me a good deal in this, mainly because you cannot do anything at all alone.”

Screening occasions: Frédéric Michalak

Frédéric Michalak started a sport tech venture after finishing playing
Frédéric Michalak started off a sport tech undertaking immediately after ending taking part in

“I do not have any regrets, so that is a excellent matter,” states Frédéric Michalak, Thierry Dusautoir’s former teammate, reflecting on a rugby career that spanned virtually 20 many years. It is easy to see why: in 2015, he completed his international run as France’s top factors scorer, with seventy seven caps, 3 Grand Slam victories and participation in 3 Earth Cups.

But in 2019 Michalak switched to costing, compliance and macroeconomics on an executive MBA at EMLyon. The prior calendar year he co-launched a new undertaking, Sport Unlimitech, an initiative to bridge investigation, sport and entrepreneurship to establish sport tech, and commenced to look at company school. In addition to being “curious”, he states he needed new equipment to progress.

People techniques are by now being place to the exam. As properly as studying a good deal from fellow students, Michalak is putting his official lessons to excellent use. Just as the training course coated disruption, Covid-19 struck. Even if your company aim was 3 to 5 many years in advance, he states, you experienced to act now.

“I was fortunate to be in school at the time,” he states, adding that he needed to respond and build a new company design for Sport Unlimitech.

But his assistance is to totally dedicate to the EMBA. “Do it mainly because you want to do it and place one hundred for each cent on that. It is heading to be really hard,” he states, adding that putting some revenue away is a excellent idea as it is high priced.

An open intellect is also valuable. “Travel, be curious, speak with folks, try out items, do mistaken, study about that,” Michalak states. “You can study a good deal when you are losing.”

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