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Organisation, Rigour And Less Time On Social Media – Antoine Lecourtois: NEOMA Business School

Antoine Lecourtois
Antoine Lecourtois

Determination, resilience, an appetite for success and a dedication to self-improvement. Such qualities can be typically found on the CV or personal statement of anyone seeking to gain entry to the C-Suite – a seat at the table in the boardroom. The same skillset can also be found in the locker rooms and on the courts and pitches of any sport in the world – from ping-pong to football.

Indeed, professional athletes share a skillset and an attitude akin to many of the most successful and ambitious leaders in industry today, so it’s hardly a surprise that so many of the world’s sporting elite find their way to business education, and excel at it. Whether to satisfy their consistent desire for professional growth and improvement or to set in place a plan B – a way to continue their legacies when their sporting glories are behind them, business schools around the world are opening their doors to students from less stereotypical backgrounds such as sports, recognising the value such individuals can bring.

In this BlueSky Thinking mini-series, we sit down with sporting stars around the world, transforming the attitudes, values and ambitions developed through lifelong competition to the classroom. Here they share how their own experiences have helped to shape their futures, and provide learning opportunities for those around them

Name: Antoine Lecourtois

School: NEOMA Business School

Programme: Master’s in Management

Nationality: French

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did your journey in competitive sports begin? How have you grown as an athlete over the years? 

My name is Antoine. I’m 20 years old and I’m a PGE student at NEOMA Business School’s Rouen campus and a high-level basketball athlete for Rouen Métropole Basket. I started basketball at the age of 10 after trying many other sports. This sudden urge to start basketball came to me because my father played it when he was younger and I was always taller than most people my age.

I started at a small club down the road but it was really in 2019 that I started playing at a high level. It was a very special year for me because I had to combine high-level sport with basketball seven days a week and get my baccalaureate which I finally got with honors. Then at the end of this trying year, I had to make a choice between going on to higher education or continuing in high-level sports.

After several conversations with my family, I finally decided to enrol in a preparatory class ECS and therefore put basketball aside. But, during the summer holidays, I received a call from a club in the Le Havre region offering me to play at a high level while considerably reducing my training hours, as I was no longer in the training centre. I accepted this opportunity and played for this club during my two years of prep school.

Finally, last summer, once I knew that I was accepted at NEOMA Rouen, I looked for a club to continue my passion and that’s when I joined Rouen Métropole Basket.

Studying and training for competitions must take up a lot of time. How do you balance your busy timetable, so that you are able to perform both academically and athletically?

It’s true that this is a question I’m often asked, but as I said before, I’ve been playing basketball at a high level for four years now, so I’ve established a habit of precise organisation, rigour, and above all priority management. To tell the truth, it’s not that complicated. You just have to waste less time on social networks, etc.

To give you an idea of my rhythm, I get up in the morning, do my day at school, and then go straight to basketball. I do my training then I go home, eat, and then I do my homework or important things that I didn’t have time to deal with during the day. Finally, after I’ve done all that, I lay in my bed, watch videos, and go to sleep. This rhythm of life suits me quite well actually: I’m a person who likes to be stimulated and not just sit around doing nothing, and the combination of physical and intellectual stimulation suits me perfectly.

“I’ve been playing basketball at a high level for four years now, so I’ve established a habit of precise organisation, rigour, and above all priority management.”

The only drawback of this rhythm of life is the time devoted to my family. Given that I am alone in Rouen, have training every day of the week and matches every weekend, with trips of two or three hours sometimes, it is complicated for me to go back on a weekend to see my family.

Are there scholarships/schemes/facilities at NEOMA that have helped you keep competing in sports while studying? If so, how have they helped you?

Yes absolutely, NEOMA has put in place various arrangements to help me combine sport and study, including leniency for certain absences when I had important deadlines, and opportunities to follow up with professors if I had any difficulties. NEOMA also offers a special scholarship for students who are sporty.

Business and sports are both highly competitive environments. Have you found there are advantages from having a foot in both worlds? And if so, how have these advantages shaped your time at business school?

High-level sports and the business world are two very similar entities. Indeed, they are two competitive environments that require common values such as respect, determination, and even ambition.

In my case, I learned a lot about myself, my ability to adapt, and especially my response to new challenges. Moreover, participating in high-level sport helped me develop qualities that are essential in the business world, such as teamwork, resistance to stress, and work ethic.

All these aspects were obviously present throughout my year at Neoma, as we participated in a lot of group work activities. This allowed me to work throughout the year and pass my first semester without needing to catch up at all.

Finally, what are your future plans? How do you see your time as a sportsperson shaping the rest of your career? And how will your studies also provide career opportunities in the short and the long-term? 

First of all, I have plans to work in the field of finance. I have found an internship as a financial auditor at KPMG in my hometown, Le Havre, which starts in January 2024. From then on, I will have to put my career as a top athlete on hold.

However, I will not stop playing basketball because I will return to my preparatory class club so I can continue to develop my athleticism and intellect. I will therefore lose my status as a high-level sportsman but I will still continue to play at a high level. I hope to continue this balance between sport and the professional world for as long as possible because it is essential for me to have a sport to engage in. It allows me to escape from the daily stress and keep in shape. This is, I think, essential if you want to succeed in your professional career.

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