International Rugby Star Jacques Boussuge Makes the Move to Investment Banking
Tell me about you growing up & your school days? At what point did you decide you wanted to be professional athlete?
I was born and raised in Paris. My adventure in high performance sport really began when I was 15 years old. I was scouted by the Lakanal High School which has a strong history of combining academics and sport, particualrly within rugby. From then on, I had a daily rhythm of rugby training and physical preparation, and it became clear as I developed I could create a career out of this.
What did professional sport teach you?
Professional sport has taught me that life is not the wonderland that we all dream about when we think about what the sports world is. In French we say “rugby school, life school” and it's true in the fact that you face some highly challenging experiences, such as injuries, unemployment, criticisms or meeting the wrong people. In this way pro sport taught me a lot that I can use now, both in my banking career but in whatever life throws at me.
At what point did you begin to think about a career after sport?
“Always”. I have always had a thought about my 'post-sport' career. It started with the choice of my first professional club, Montpellier. I chose Montpellier Rugby because it is one of the biggest French students city and I could attend a number of schools while being a rugby player. Then, I did my Sports & Science License, plus a Master at the Montpellier Business School then I pursued a Master Law & Business at the Sorbonne. I have always tried to be interested in the different jobs that I could have done after my career. Finally, I had the opportunity to choose the way to end of my career by landing at KPMG within their M&A team.
Education has always been central to your planning a career after. In your view, when should athletes be thinking about life after?
From the beginning. It is critical that sports people keep studying while competing despite it's challenges and what it demands of them. It is key that players use their network to meet individuals within the corporate world, learn from them and strengthen relationships that will be useful after their career. All of this must start as soon as possible and maintained wherever their sport takes them.
On retiring from you sport you enrolled on a MBA at the HEC in Paris. How useful has this been in your professional development?
I joined the MBA after three years of M&A at KPMG and creating the Sports business Unit. This first experience brought me a lot in terms of business knowledge. Joining the prestigious HEC school and pursuing a part of this program at Chicago Booth was a great experience for me too. Indeed, I lacked very high-level skills in finance as well as having a great academic brand on my resume but what I’ve learned at HEC and Chicago Booth was decisive for the rest of my career. Not only the academic quality but also the professional opportunity the MBA created: namely the Associate program at Bank of America as well as an internship at the Private Equity fund Advent International.
You undertook an internship at Bank of America last summer within Investment Banking. Following your internship, you were offered a full-time Associate role starting in the summer of 2021. Looking back at your transition from sport, what advice could you offer the next generation?
My switch to banking from rugby was a long road and I had to be prepared both academically and mentally to achieve it. As we prepare in sport and become expert, we must do the same in the next chapter of our career. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do, I can only refer to my personal experience. But I would highly recommend you start to think early about what you'd be passionate about doing outside / after sport, network any time you get the opportunity because maybe one person you will meet can change your life later, and study continually throughout your career. As say the French philosopher Voltaire “Cultivons notre jardin*” Cultivate our garden”.