Making the Transition from Athlete to Business Owner: The Vital Role of a Support Network

Tom Williams, former Harlequins player and FutureProof Ambassador, sheds light on the challenges and triumphs of moving from professional sports to the corporate world.

Professional sports can be a demanding and overwhelming career path, often leaving little time or energy for personal relationships, development, and growth. For Tom, after 15 years as a player and coach with Harlequins, he made the difficult leap into the corporate world.

However, it was a rude awakening as he was unprepared for the realities of non-sporting workplaces. Navigating contacts who only wanted to speak to a “sportsperson” and leveraging his extensive network was tough. So, he started his own business delivering speeches to the financial sector, but the isolation soon took a toll on his health

“I craved the sense of purpose and drive that comes with being part of a team and made the tough decision to wind my second business down. The transition was traumatising as I doubted my value and constantly questioned my decisions. I wondered why my transferrable skills from the sporting world weren’t more appreciated in the corporate world”

“Through my experiential learning, I discovered the importance of having a toolkit and champions around me. Surrounding myself with a network that supports, challenges, and questions my decisions has been essential. I founded a running network for sportspeople, joined an athlete forum, and found my champions. Out of the blue, I called Tom May, who was incredibly supportive and sympathetic. Together with James Hitchman, we identified potential new pathways that aligned with my ambitions. 

“I truly appreciated the value they provided. With constant communication and updates, they introduced me to two fantastic businesses. Three weeks they got me the same number of interviews that I had manufactured for myself in the previous 8 months!

Through Tom’s journey, he’s learnt that creating opportunities to share your fears, successes, and challenges is crucial. Surrounding yourself with a group of champions who will advocate on your behalf is essential for success. 


“As an Ambassador for FutureProof, I’m excited to be involved in a series of seminars, workshops, and events to share my experiences and learnings from failures. There are champions out there who want to help, and the FutureProof team are leading the way”

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