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Making Adjustments – Starting Out in Business with David Wallace
For 15 years, David Wallace was a familiar presence on the rugby pitch, representing Munster, Ireland and the Lions with distinction. As a two-time Heineken Cup winner and member of Ireland’s historic Grand Slam winning team of 2009, David is someone who reached the very pinnacle of his sport.
Since retiring from rugby nearly five years ago, David has embarked on a career in business, opening a number of vintage style sweet shops in the Munster region. We caught up with David to discuss his transition from the rugby pitch to the boardroom.
Moving from a career in rugby to a career in business must have been a culture shock. How did you adjust?
“I would say I’m still adjusting, four years on! I suppose I threw myself into everything that came my way, which was good and bad in equal measures! I think coming from a professional environment helped, because you’re used to working so hard and you have all that energy to put into something else. I was just eager to start my new career.
I threw myself into a few things after I retired from playing, which was a fantastic learning curve for me. Even simple things like getting out and meeting people was brilliant, because you are in a bit of a bubble when you’re playing professional rugby. It was a great experience at the time and very refreshing too.”
Was there anyone you looked to for inspiration when you moved into business?
I was about 36 or 37 when I retired from rugby and by that stage a lot of my friends had been involved with various businesses, so I was able to get good advice from them. I also had the benefit of having a mentor assigned to me when I was in the Irish set-up. We were linked up with established businesses people who gave us guidance and advice.
I was lucky enough to be assigned to Jim Barry, Managing Director of the Barry Group here in Cork. I still meet up with him regularly and he’s always been a great sounding board for ideas. I probably didn’t always listen to his advice, even when I should have! That’s probably a big learning point for me!”
What key advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’re very good as a nation at helping each other. You’ll often find that people will be more than happy to offer you advice, so it’s important not to be afraid of trying all avenues. Look at the contact list in your phone, you’d be surprised! Every contact you make can lead to two or three more.”
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