Why I’m turning to accountancy when my rugby career ends

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This weekend Kylie Leuluai lines up for Leeds Rhinos in rugby league’s Super League Grand Final. He is planning for life away from the field already by studying accountancy with AAT. Here he explains why he will swap tackles for numbers when his rugby career ends

I’ve been a professional rugby player for over ten years, but I’ve always wanted to work in finance. As a rugby player you learn how to take hits, but sooner or later the physical effects will force you to seek other career paths.

My first step to a career in accountancy

Three years ago I took the first step towards a new career in accountancy, and I haven’t looked back since. I was inspired by my brother, who works in finance, to take up accountancy as a route towards a calmer career. My body is starting to feel the damage of several years of engaging in a full contact sport on a professional level, and I want to challenge myself to do something mentally demanding as well.

I’m motivated by the challenge and wake up an hour and a half early to study before the kids get up. I’m naturally competitive and I see this as a chance to push myself beyond the physical exhaustion I’m so used to on the rugby field. While the boys are sleeping, and in the evening before going to bed, I spend time studying for my exams and reading the forums.

Fitting study into family life

AAT has been perfect for me with my busy schedule, trying to fit in family, work and studies. Rugby still plays an important part in my life and I think it always will. It has given me the chance to continue playing while studying and spending time with my family.

What I love about accountancy is its problem-solving aspect. Although I never worked with numbers before, I enjoy finding pragmatic solutions to difficult financial situations. AAT has allowed me to develop stronger club contacts and partnerships with accountants and other financial networks.

It also landed me my current placement at KPMG, where I work on audit and tax. Solving tricky financial issues is a challenging and rewarding job, and I look forward to developing my career away from the pitch.

Sport and accountancy

Sport and accountancy has been a winning combination for me. I believe sport is a bridge between people, and it has opened many doors. If it hadn’t been for sport I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was at my eldest son’s tennis lesson that I met Mike Linter, partner at KPMG.

Having a forum to develop practical skills alongside the theoretical grounding I got from the course has been invaluable. It has helped me understand and implement what I’ve learnt, and I really recommend combining theory and practice for anyone who has the chance to do so. Seeing theories and methods in their real context is the best way to learn.

Life after sport

My goal is to move back to New Zealand and use my new skills. The fact that AAT is internationally recognised will help me achieve what I want when I move back home. My wife and I are expecting another baby and I look forward to having a new job where I have energy left to play with my children, feel intellectually challenged and get to solve problems.

Changing career path was completely right for me, and AAT made it possible.

Kylie Leuluai is a retired professional rugby league footballer.

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