Business schools help young professional athletes to make the leap to the business world

Competitive mind-set, discipline, mental strength, teamwork… Skills that elite sportspersons acquire throughout their professional careers should not be wasted, rather the contrary. Many companies are looking for people who have those psychological features, who are accustomed to working under pressure, holding positions of responsibility. Young people who can contribute a series of values that cannot be learned in college, but that require some training, such as that offered by some Spanish business schools through their masters’ courses and MBAs.

Eada is one of them. Based in Barcelona, the Associate Dean of Programmes, former pupil and former top water polo player, Jordi Díaz, is in charge of a project that aims to help make this transition easier, “which is not always easy”, from top-level sport to business. The school has signed agreements with the Sant Cugat High Performance Centre and the Union of Sports Federations of Catalonia to enable national and international sportspersons to benefit from a 25% discount on matriculation fees when they enrol in one of their programmes. Each year, between ten and twelve sportspersons “usually under 30 years of age, who are still competing or about to end their sporting careers and have university studies, an essential requirement”, come to the school to take a 600 hour MBA or master’s course on marketing or finance.

The best in the class

Díaz highlights that these young people tend to arrive at Eada “without being aware of the value of their sporting career because they have never worked, but it turns out that if they started out in professional sports at the age of 14 and they are now 24, they have accumulated ten years of experience in teamwork, perseverance, tolerance to pressure … “; experience that immediately plays in their favour as soon as they begin their studies. “They tend to be the best in the class because we use a small group, highly participatory method and this enables them to make the most of what they have learned from sport”, he says.

Students, such as the German karate expert, Stephan Schmitz, who says “a sportsperson can become highly involved in a project and can also teach others to manage extreme situations”, or the Catalonian athlete, Clara Remacha, who believes that “we have the ability to have a long-term view, of knowing where we want to go and what steps we must take to get there”. In her case, she considers that javelin throwing, a discipline at which she has been very successful, can boost her career in the advertising industry. “I think that if you know how to throw a javelin correctly, you can also launch a good marketing campaign”.

Training in the classroom is enhanced with an internship period in companies, which is highly valued by the students as they have the close support of the Professional Careers Department. This is the last stage before finally giving up their tracksuits and trainers in search of new and exclusively professional goals. “The hiring rate is extraordinary”, says Jordi Díaz.