For many professional or top level sportspeople finding a job that combines something you love with a promising, rewarding career is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.
However, not all sports careers can last forever, the good news is that sport professionals are highly sought after by employers in a number of sectors.
When the end of a sporting career is near, some sport professionals turn to media, commentating and presenting but many choose a different path, and with a relevant business qualification under their belt they seem to find the transfer from the track or pitch to boardroom much easier.
Studying for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to prepare for ‘life after sport’ is becoming a popular route to take. New Zealand international hockey player Hugo Inglis, who has combined his sporting career with studying for an MBA with Edinburgh Business School, explains:
“My aim was to gain business confidence. Strategy and leadership are two areas of interest for me, and it has been fantastic to be able to apply some of the learnings into the hockey environment, when playing for club and country.”
Hugo has been busy on and off the pitch and recently took part in the Commonwealth Games in Australia, where he won silver as part of the New Zealand team. He is an international veteran who played his first match for the New Zealand Black Sticks at 18, and has since played in 200 professional matches and represented his country at two Olympic Games, two World Cups and three Commonwealth Games.
“Throughout my hockey career I’ve tried to give as much back to the hockey community as possible in terms of coaching the youth, mentoring and assisting the various clubs and organisations that have supported me so far, and I hope to do the same in business. My career goal is to work for a company that centres its business model round making positive impacts in the world,” he said.
Hugo is still playing professional hockey in Belgium at Braxgata Hockey Club, where he also does some coaching for the club.
“There are a lot of innovative companies that have social ambitions that complement their ability to make profits. This is a side of business that continues to grow immensely year-on-year and there are great examples of organisations that are setting new standards in terms of social enterprise and placing the wellbeing of people and the environment alongside profits and good corporate practices.”
James Fleming, a Scottish Rugby 7’s player who also competed at the Commonwealth Games this year, is combining sport with MBA studies. James has an undergraduate degree in Sport Studies from the University of Stirling and believes sportspeople can be an asset to businesses:
“Alongside the MBA I have undertaken work experience opportunities where business leaders have frequently talked about the employability of sportspeople, and the discipline and team values developed as being priceless. This is however of little value without a 'business toolbox' or qualification. The concept of life after a playing career is a scary one, but I certainly feel more prepared.”
Although a career as an elite athlete is extremely rewarding, it does not last forever. Still young and full of energy, sportspeople explore different career paths that will allow them to fulfil their potential in a new role; and similar to their approach to a game or performance, they wouldn’t approach life after sport without preparing and planning for their future career. An MBA is just one route professional sportspeople take and many find that the business qualification enables them to find a way to make a living doing something they love again.