It’s easy to be average – it’s hard to be outstanding

Michael Hefele was a centre-back whose clubs included Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest. He now works in the commercial and coaching team at Huddersfield Town, as well as studying with VSI Executive Education. To find out more about your options studying with VSI Executive Education, have a look at their CEO of a Sports Organisation course or the MSc Sports Directorship.

A lot of people play football or work in the football industry. But I wanted to go one step further, to challenge myself, to get better; to try to be outstanding at what I do.

I’ve always been in the football industry. Football is my life and it gave me a lot. I worked very hard to arrive here and I want to stay in the football industry – for me it’s the most beautiful environment that I can imagine. Football gave me a lot and I want to give football something back.

One of my mentors was a player, and then he became a manager and now a sporting director, and that’s how I got inspired to go down this route and not just be a manager or coach, but to progress and put my stamp on a football club in its culture, philosophy and vision. I want to influence how we do what we do, why we do this, and how we do it at a club.

A lot of people say they want to achieve in sport, but they don’t do it. It can be hard, and when you’re fatigued and it hurts, a lot of people stop. Then some people go further, they suffer more, then they go further. I want to be someone who always pushes themselves to be one step better.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve gone down the academic qualification route, to study towards my MSc Sports Directorship with VSI Executive Education.

In football you don’t need a qualification. You’re either good or you’re not good. But in my career after playing, you need to have some qualifications to be different from the rest. With the experience you have you can show you have academic qualifications, and that you are trying to develop yourself. You have a strong starting point to move in any direction that you want to go.

You never know what will happen, particularly in football. Things change so quickly! You could never write a five-year career plan – it would be nonsense. That’s why I want to learn as much as possible – to prepare myself for anything.

I’m doing my coaching licences, the UEFA licence, and learning the management side of football. These days you need to equip yourself with different knowledge, courses, and have different thoughts into your head. This is why I chose this course, to help me one day become a sporting director. I want to go into management and coaching, then after this into the sporting director role.

Right now, it’s good to have everything in my pocket, and I feel far more confident about my next steps because of everything I’m learning from the MSc.

I hadn’t realised how many transferable skills I learned from my football career until I started this MSc. I thought football isn’t for the intelligent people of the world! But I see it totally differently now.

The dressing rooms are so diverse, with the backgrounds of each player, where they’re from, their culture, religion, ethics, and to bring everyone aligned so that you fight for a common goal. This has to do with leadership skills, you have to bring everybody into your boat and you know how to treat people, how to speak with them. You have to learn how to bring everyone with you.

We have a great set of guest speakers on this course and the leader, Dr Ian Lawrence, is unbelievable in his breadth of knowledge – I enjoy every session with him!

The cohort of other people on the course are really impressive. You have ex-players, academy managers, scouts, analysts; one thing that unites us is that we’re all willing to learn and hungry. You can see we’re all ambitious in our careers, and as we all grow in our careers we can continue to help each other. The network I will gain from this will be so valuable.

To find out more about your options studying with VSI Executive Education, have a look at their CEO of a Sports Organisation course or the MSc Sports Directorship.