The latest interviewee in our leadership spotlight is professional Rugby player and business leader, George Kruis!
George Kruis is Co-Founder of health, wellness & fitness brand, fourfiveuk. As well as being a founder, he is also a professional Rugby player; representing English national team with 45 caps to date.
He is currently in Japan playing for a Japanese team; with a view to returning to the UK once his contract ends.
George sat down with the Digital Leaders Club to discuss his career journey to date, how he balances being a founder and professional athlete and why injury setbacks have made him mentally stronger.
How long have you been a member of the Digital Leaders Club?
Why did you join?
I am on a steep learning curve when it comes to business, especially the digital side. To have a group that is set up with a shared purpose of helping each other is something that is ridiculously helpful. I also enjoy sharing and helping others so hopefully it is not only one way! In advance I appreciate the help and if I can do anything on my side please just shout.
What's your career journey been like to date?
I have played professional rugby for the last 14 years for Saracens, England and British and Irish Lions.
What is your current position?
Co-founder of fourfive (www.fourfive.com)
fourfive is a wellness company targeting people with an active lifestyle.
As a founder I am always looking for experienced people to talk/learn from but also hopefully offer something in return. Feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn – Georgekruis
We have a host of very interesting investors and contacts who work in the elite business, wellness and professional sport sectors.
What's the secret to being a high-level athlete and managing a business at the same time?
Balance and hard work/persistence. I have found I need to be smart enough when it comes to picking the times I need to properly put my head down and/or put my feet up. I am at the stage in my career where I am building for life after Rugby. Having been on the rugby players association for 7 years, player transition is a topic that I am passionate about and still needs substantial work on. I think starting my wellness company, fourfive, at 29 years old was ideal as it has given me a few years to play out my career whilst building into the next one. Too many athletes treat it as two separate sections, I believe there should be a well-planned crossover.
Tell us a bit about the interesting moments in your career so far
Plenty of highs in terms of European and domestic trophies and some large enough lows such as losing in the 2019 world cup final. One thing I have learnt (and still learning) is that the key is to enjoy the journey as the end result (eg a trophy / or a sale?) can be over very quickly!
Have you had any challenges in your career to date; and how did you overcome them?
Injuries have been the biggest challenge. Having had 8 operations it definitely helps you with your resilience training! I think what has definitely helped me overcome the setbacks has been making sure I have more to my life than just rugby. Although it is essential to chuck everything into rehab, training and playing there is so much downtime in professional sport which, if used smart enough, can help offset the mental weight of what you do in life after sport.
Tell us about your best success story
To have been in a position to have made some ridiculous memories and to use the hard work I have put into sport to benefit my position in the future to continue to make memories.
Are there any current industry trends you're excited about?
I am excited to see where health and wellness leads to and how personalised it will become in the next 5 years. I am also keen to see how medical cannabis develops when it comes to professional sport specifically.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Love to fish, do anything active, travel, meet new people and learn.
What's your plan for the future?
I have another year contract in Japan playing for a Japanese team, which is wild, and then I will come back to the UK for a last season whilst building the business.
What would you be doing (for a career) if you weren't doing this and playing Rugby?
By the grammar above.. I would not be an English teacher. I was studying the subjects to be a sports physio however seeing how hard they work day to day, maybe starting a business might have been easier!
Connect with George Kruis on LinkedIn