Ally Hogg, from rugby to Barclays
When former Scotland rugby player Ally Hogg retired from the professional game, he found himself at a crossroads. Almost one year on, the former Edinburgh Rugby and Newcastle Falcons player has swapped flanking for banking as a Wealth Manager at Barclays. He tells us about the transition from sport to the corporate world – and why it’s important to remember that “it’s only a game”.
"I had a lot of great moments in my career, and when I finally hung up my boots it was emotional. I was running off the pitch with a huge lump in my throat, desperately trying to look normal."
It’s an emotional moment as Barclays colleague Ally Hogg reflects on his rugby career – one that saw the former Edinburgh and Newcastle Falcons player represent Scotland 48 times.
Hogg enjoyed great success on the field – representing his country in the Six Nations Championship and scoring a hat-trick in the 2007 Rugby World Cup – but reveals he hadn’t initially expected to pursue a career in rugby.
“Back then, the professional game was nothing like it is now,” explains Hogg. “I was all set to accept a place at Edinburgh Napier University before I was offered a professional contract. And, to be fair, it was an easy choice.”
It was that contract offer that kickstarted a 16-year career in the game. In his first eight years at Edinburgh Rugby, he made 127 appearances – before moving south to the Newcastle Falcons.
Initially it was tough for Hogg during his first season at the Newcastle Falcons, which he referred to as a ‘dogfight’. What was the issue?
“Well, we weren’t very good!” laughs Hogg. “I had wanted to challenge myself in a different environment and it was tough. We were relegated in my second season, but we came back stronger than before and got ourselves promoted.”
“When you’re winning games it’s easy,” he continues. “Everything else gets brushed under the carpet. It’s when you’re losing that you're tested most. That’s when the magnifying glass comes out, performances are analysed and it starts to get stressful.”
Despite playing at the highest level of rugby, Hogg takes a refreshingly relaxed approach to competitive sport – something he thinks may have ruffled the feathers of some of those he played under.
He says: “At the end of the day, it is just a game. It’s not the end of the world if you lose.
“Would that outlook have wound up some of my coaches? Probably. But there is a lot of stress involved in professional sport, and it’s important to keep perspective and look after your mental health.”
Life after rugby
Despite playing professional rugby until May 2018, Hogg had been mapping out his next move for some time. Knowing he wanted a career in financial services, he made the time to get work experience in the sector and obtained a degree in Business Management from Northumbria University – all while still playing professional rugby.
“As far as I was concerned, the day after I retired from rugby I needed a job,” says Hogg.
And when he applied for a role in the Barclays Wealth Management team looking after the portfolios of high-value investors, he was lucky enough to get one.
Hogg explains: “As a youngster, I don’t think you necessarily realise the transferable skills that rugby teaches you. I may not have had much experience in the corporate world, but I know how to manage people, lead teams and get the best out of others around me. These skills are integral to the working world, no matter what your profession.”
He continues: “And with Barclays, it just felt right. They offer a lot of support and training, which was something that really appealed to me.”
Accepting a role with the Newcastle-based team in August 2018, Hogg confesses he had one fear: that rugby might no longer be part of his life. He needn’t have worried. Through his new role at Barclays, he hosts networking events for current rugby players who are thinking about their next move.
“That’s a part of my role I really enjoy, helping out the younger guys and advising them on the importance of planning,” he says. “I tell them it’s no good waiting until you retire. You should be making the most of your high profile and getting out and meeting people.”
So do clients recognise him from his playing days? “Some people love to chat about my career and others apologetically tell me they don’t watch rugby,” he says. “I tell them not to worry, neither do my kids!”
*Image credit for main image: Chris Lishman