NEOMA Business School retrains professional rugby players for when their playing days are over. Stéphane Dubreuille describes how due to the pandemic this is happening entirely online
At the start of 2020, faced with the difficulty of holding face-to-face seminars during the health crisis, NEOMA Business School’s Executive Education department proposed an innovative format to its new client PROVALE, the French national rugby players’ union.
Indeed, the career of an elite athlete is relatively short and they are often faced with having to rethink their careers after sport is no longer their sole profession. Therefore, the launch of this new online programme was designed entirely to respond to the professional retraining challenges of sportsmen and women.
The new programme proved to be well suited for professional rugby players, as they not only wanted to advance their management training, but they also demonstrated a real attraction for entrepreneurial adventures due to their goal orientated attitudes. This was also an ideal moment for NEOMA Business School, since the pandemic allowed the Executive Education team to completely rethink their teaching approaches. It also allowed them to create a tailor-made proposal online, taking into account the needs of PROVALE, but also the constraints linked to the economic and health environment.
Recreating human interaction
There were of course a few challenges to begin with. Firstly, the school had to create a fully digitalised platform that could combine both distance and relational skills. One of the major challenges in creating a digital platform is that it is hard to emulate human encounters, group work, sharing of best practices, networking, and so on. After all, these are the central dimensions that the participants in this type of programme are looking for in the first place.
It was therefore necessary to meet the expectation of human interaction on the course, despite its online nature. This was even more vital as the school was addressing an unfamiliar cohort, far from what the school was used to, which had to be trained not only in the curriculum, but also with an attractive pedagogical approach adapted for participants from professional sporting backgrounds.
As a result, the school deployed an innovative digital platform for PROVALE. It was specifically designed for them, combining flexible programming according to the constraints of the life of a top-level sportsman, customisable live online training content, and video capsules from teachers on the fundamentals of management.
The platform also included a dedicated team of experts to guide and advise them in their professional project. This included a 360° diagnosis at the beginning of the programme and support in drafting their business plans during the course. The programme also included forum spaces that encouraged exchanges and debates, as well as interactive tools for validating skills and real-life situations. Therefore, the challenge of incorporating human interaction, even in a remote format, was met.
This innovation has enabled the school to maintain its executive education development during this unprecedented health crisis by winning the loyalty of PROVALE, as well as being able to launch a new programme entirely designed to respond to the professional retraining challenges of elite sportspeople.
About the author
Stéphane Dubreuille is Director of Executive Education at NEOMA Business School.