HEC Paris

Newsletter #23
March 2010

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Rugby star strives for excellence on the field and in the classroom

Executive Masters participant Sylvain Marconnet

When a serious skiing accident threatened to jeopardize his professional rugby career, Sylvain Marconnet wasted no time developing a new game plan. A member of French rugby team Stade Français and a key member of France’s national team, Marconnet had always envisioned having a career post rugby.

“As a professional athlete, I understand that you need training to be successful, no matter what the field. I saw preparing myself for a new career as a challenge.” Like any fierce competitor, Marconnet set his sights high, seeking out a prestigious, internationally recognized institution that could offer him the best education in his chosen field.

Skills for winning in any environment

Marconnet decided to pursue HEC Paris’ Executive Masters degree in Marketing and Business Development. There, he is acquiring the skills required to develop and execute strategic marketing and commercial development plans in an increasingly global business environment.

For Marconnet, the similarities between business and elite sport are clear. “Benchmarking, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, performance indicators—these are tools that we use both in rugby and in marketing,” he remarks. It wasn’t long before he realized that the qualities that win games on the field—humility, teamwork and camaraderie—would also serve him well in the business world. “We don’t all have the same function on the team or in a company, but we all have to work together to achieve a common goal,” he reasons.

Aiming high

When Marconnet enrolled at HEC Paris, his future as an athlete was uncertain. Now that he has bounced back from his injury and is once again in top physical form, he plans to stay in the world of sports and put his new skills to use on the field.

“I want to share my passion for the sport and bring new perspectives and techniques to the table,” explains Marconnet. “As rugby becomes increasingly professionalized, it’s important for the sport to develop strategically without losing sight of its roots.”

In the long run, Marconnet hopes to serve as a role model for young rugby players, showing them that a professional career after rugby is possible. In the short term, however, he has his eyes on the prize. “My goal is to win the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand and present my HEC Paris thesis the same year,” he reveals. “I love competition and this—to me—is a great challenge!”