Lessons in leadership for rugby legend Thierry Dusautoir

Even at the beginning of his rugby union occupation, former France captain Thierry Dusautoir was…

Even at the beginning of his rugby union occupation, former France captain Thierry Dusautoir was thinking about the end. “Being a skilled rugby player is fantastic — it is the most effective detail that has happened in my existence,” he says. But it can stop at any moment, he provides, irrespective of whether mainly because of injuries or a person much better coming up, so you “need extra weapons, like studying, to have extra options”.

It could now look stunning that a person so acclaimed at any time apprehensive about long term occupation options — or experienced time to. Whilst Dusautoir, 39, did not participate in rugby until his mid teens, originally preferring judo, he turned skilled in 2001 at 19, heading on to enjoy a thriving occupation with French clubs these types of as Biarritz and Toulouse.

In 2006, he was referred to as up to the French nationwide staff, earning eighty caps in an intercontinental occupation that involved some legendary moments. In 2010, he captained the French side to Grand Slam victory in advance of foremost them to the 2011 Environment Cup ultimate, which they lost to New Zealand’s All Blacks. He was also named Participant of the Year in 2011, the 2nd Frenchman to gain the intercontinental title.

But Dusautoir also saw good friends wrestle for a few of several years soon after leaving the activity although they labored out what to do following. “I just required to be the master of my existence,” he says. With an eye on guaranteeing he would indeed have “options”, in 2008 he invested in his to start with business, All My SMS, a textual content and voice messaging services. He now is effective in business enterprise advancement and strategy for the platform, alongside investing in other, mainly tech, organizations with a husband or wife.

A discussion with former intercontinental teammates Frédéric Michalak and Sébastien Chabal — the famously hirsute “caveman” — opened up the following alternative. Michalak and Chabal both of those started out EMLyon’s executive MBA in 2019. Immediately after listening to what they ended up up to, Dusautoir was captivated by the plan that an EMBA could assistance him analyse the organizations to commit in, and much better assist his individual.

“I went to EMLyon mainly because I required educational resources to assistance me get selections and have extra self-self-assurance when [I was] heading to deal with a person, speak about business enterprise or do risk examination of a business,” he says. “I used to commit with my guts. Now I want to commit with my mind.”

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

A chemical engineering graduate, Dusautoir says it was “weird” heading back to school in September soon after fifteen several years. But he is presently experiencing the networking and peer studying that arrive with an EMBA. “It is genuinely satisfying to fulfill people today from unique backgrounds who are starting anything with you,” he says.

The perception of cohesion struck a common notice early on for the duration of the class. All through the to start with a few-working day review block, his bicycle was stolen although he was out with class mates for an evening. He was astonished that absolutely everyone required to assistance.

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 recognised you for a single working day and it genuinely felt like anything that I seasoned in rugby — the solidarity,” he says. “I felt that anything was starting among [us]. I would not say thank you to the thief, but it was a moment that showed me that maybe I was getting into a new staff.”

Dusautoir is presently studying and reflecting on the lessons and his aged existence. The to start with block was on administration, a topic he is common with. He says he doesn’t know that much about finance but “quite a bit” about administration as the captain of a staff. It has been fascinating to take into consideration irrespective of whether foremost a rugby staff would have been a lot easier with the know-how obtained from the programme, he provides.

For illustration, there was a difficult moment in the 2011 Environment Cup when the French side was nearly knocked out. Although the way the staff bounced back jointly is a single of the proudest moments of his rugby occupation, Dusautoir says remaining the leader arrived at a individual price tag. “I was thinking that maybe if I experienced recognised this [about administration] at this time, would it have been a lot easier? Would I have experienced extra strength for remaining a much better player on the pitch? Since I lost a whole lot of strength taking care of the guys,” he says.

Although his administration research made him replicate on his rugby occupation, he intends to use his expertise as an elite athlete to fulfill the requires of his EMBA. “I am heading to use the very same recipe as when I was a player — so function really hard and check out to obtain much better organisation with the spouse and children,” he says. “My spouse is with me: it is not my option, it is a few option and a spouse and children option. I think that is heading to assistance me a whole lot in this, mainly because you can not do something alone.”

Tests periods: Frédéric Michalak

Frédéric Michalak started a sport tech venture after finishing playing
Frédéric Michalak started out a activity tech venture soon after finishing taking part in

“I do not have any regrets, so that is a excellent detail,” says Frédéric Michalak, Thierry Dusautoir’s former teammate, reflecting on a rugby occupation that spanned nearly 20 several years. It is quick to see why: in 2015, he completed his intercontinental run as France’s foremost factors scorer, with 77 caps, a few Grand Slam victories and participation in a few Environment Cups.

But in 2019 Michalak switched to costing, compliance and macroeconomics on an executive MBA at EMLyon. The former 12 months he co-founded a new venture, Sport Unlimitech, an initiative to bridge investigate, activity and entrepreneurship to develop activity tech, and commenced to take into consideration business enterprise school. In addition to remaining “curious”, he says he essential new resources to progress.

Those people techniques are presently remaining put to the exam. As nicely as studying a whole lot from fellow college students, Michalak is putting his official lessons to excellent use. Just as the class protected disruption, Covid-19 struck. Even if your business enterprise aim was a few to 5 several years forward, he says, you experienced to act now.

“I was blessed to be in school at the time,” he says, adding that he essential to respond and generate a new business enterprise product for Sport Unlimitech.

But his suggestions is to absolutely dedicate to the EMBA. “Do it mainly because you want to do it and put 100 per cent on that. It is heading to be really hard,” he says, adding that putting some income absent is a excellent plan as it is high priced.

An open mind is also valuable. “Travel, be curious, speak with people today, check out issues, do incorrect, find out about that,” Michalak says. “You can find out a whole lot when you are getting rid of.”