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Entrepreneurs 101, day nine – ahead of the game

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Nick Farr-Jones made his name as Australia’s rugby union World Cup captain of the Wallabies that not only won the 1991 World Cup but also brought home the elusive Bledisloe Cup in 1992. He goes down in legend as one of the code’s greatest captains but his life of outstanding achievements did not cease when he hung up his boots.

Many sports stars never cross the bridge from elite sporting achievements to business success, but Farr-Jones is made of different sort of stuff. So, what are the special inputs that explain the exceptional output that he’s been producing in sport, the law and finance?

Farr Jones stopped playing in 1993 but he summed up his non-sporting history this way: “After a decade in the legal industry and then 15 years in investment banking, I have now had a little over a year in funds management,” he reveals.

Life after rugby

After rugby, Société Générale became his new field of dreams and for many it would have been a dream come true being based in Paris for four years.

“This gave me an unique opportunity to disappear for a while after a very busy time involving family, legal work and rugby,” he explains. “The chance to be at the belly button of Europe and experience everything that it had to offer was a chance in a lifetime but also afforded me the ability to simplify my life, especially having two young children at that time.”

Farr-Jones has now embarked on a new challenge as a director at Taurus Funds Management.

“We are a boutique funds management team dedicated to the resources sector,” he says. “Our goal is to build one of the leading global resource asset management businesses and be the provider of choice of investment management products for investors looking for exposure to the sector.”

One of the arms of the business is a resources fund with a goal akin to wanting to beat the All Blacks but Farr-Jones is used to scaling those kinds of giddy heights.

“The fund aims to provide investors with a risk-managed exposure to the commodities and resources sector,” he points out. “The aim over an extended period is to generate absolute returns of 15 per cent per annum with low risk meaning the product typically has lower volatility and drawdowns than one might normally experience when investing in the resources sector.”

Business lessons

Farr-Jones is often a celebrity speaker on the business seminar circuit, outlining how the lessons from rugby at the highest levels are applicable to anyone in business or in life generally.

So, what is he motivated by in this new endeavour?

“Playing a role in a team, seeking the success that we set out for and rewarding our investors with achieving and exceeding our stated investment targets,” he says. “Making sure that we enjoy what we do and have fun along the way keeps me getting out of bed with my feet spinning also.”

Farr-Jones’s story of success in rugby was a slow-burn experience – he wasn’t in his school’s first XV in his last year at school! So, what are the sporting lessons that can help most business people wanting to kick big goals?

“No doubt patience and perseverance are two vital factors that are required when seeking to grow a business,” he suggests. “I always believe it is essential to also develop a team of people with a variety of skills and disciplines and simply stick to what you do well and trust those around you to fill the voids. Ultimately, this is team.”

His final words should be noted by any would-be high achiever: “Success is largely preceded by years of what might be termed blood, sweat and maybe a few tears. Also, don’t be ‘scoreboard focused’ but understand the process to achieve the long-term, consistent success you aim for individually and collectively. I leant from sport that if you get the process right then the scoreboard generally looks after itself.”

Published on: Tuesday, January 04, 2011

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