Filipo Levi


You’ve worked hard, opportunities await you with a professional career, where do you go from here?

It’s not uncommon for sportspeople to question if they’re on the right path; or how long their sporting journey will be.

We take a look at the choices some of our players have made, and where they are now.


Pacific Rugby Players speaks to Filipo Levi, former international rugby captain, and now an Author, Leadership Coach and Professional Speaker.

The change to a new career can take a toll, and it is important to speak to people who understand what you are feeling.

Filipo said he was surrounded by good people who wanted to help, but they didn’t know how.


“My parents were there, they did not understand what was happening.

My wife didn’t understand what was happening.

My siblings didn’t know what was happening.

But they were looking at a different me, they didn’t know what was happening to me.”


At the end of 2012 Filipo’s contract with the Tasman Makos came to an end and he had a big decision to make. Not eager to learn another language, he turned down an offer to play in France.


His wife was happy in New Zealand, and had a career in fitness that she was passionate about. She had already followed Filipo around the world to Japan, Wales, Samoa and everywhere his career took him.


So what would come in 2013? Filipo reached out to rugby friends Josh Blackie and David Gibson who were now working for the New Zealand Players Association.


“These guys I knew through my time, through my career, I knew them. I had that trust. We bled together, we sweat together, we drank together, we ate together and these guys, I knew. Those relationships really matter.”


Meeting up with his friends for a coffee, they referred Filipo to a careers advisor. He then realised he needed to make some changes. This was an overwhelming and daunting task at first, and he wasn’t sure how a careers advisor was going to be able to help, or even understand his Samoan culture.


“Her process was really good. She was showing me a new way, showing me new industries that I had passion in. I saw it unfold in front of me within a few weeks. I came to realise I was more than just a rugby player. I had more to offer the world.”


His careers advisor finalised their meetings by putting together a plan with everything he’d communicated to her including his goals and industries he was interested in. This included key people from those industries.


“I told her, what do I do next? She said it’s yours! Take it, go, run, action these items. That was it!  I was so motivated because I had a plan, I had structure.”


The biggest thing he learned was to reach out for help because you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.


“Do reach out if you are looking for advice, whether it be financial advice, coaching advice, business advice. Do reach out. It is a process.”


Filipo wanted to be involved in education. He quotes Nelson Mandela by saying “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.


Following in his fathers footsteps, (who had also chased a higher calling and re-trained down south), he was changing his career and looking for work in the education sector.


Filipo’s first job in education was for a private training company which supported adult learners turning their lives around with education. It was a much lower salary than what he was used to, but Filipo didn’t mind as he was working in the industry that made him happy.


He got better at negotiating salaries and contracts. His next job in 2014 was working at a charter school in West Auckland with a higher pay and where he stayed for more than four years.


In 2017 Filipo joined the Professional Speakers Association of New Zealand and since November 2018 he has been working full time for himself as a professional speaker. During this time he also wrote a book, Tackle Your Success, written as a guide to changing careers.


To assist Filipo through the change from an admired and successful sportsperson to looking to another career, he looked back on advice he got from his father.


“One thing my father told me when I was growing up, all through high school and even now, is to learn to be Mr Fix It. You have to fix your own problems. It’s hard trying to fix other people but you have to look within yourself to actually take personal responsibility for what to do next.”


Filipo suggests that to be able to take personal responsibility, we need to have confidence. Confidence in the skills we have learned through rugby.


“Soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, all these words that corporate people use, rugby athletes and athletes in general are taught them. 


He says Pacific people have values about humility, being kind, speaking up and respect. To have confidence in these values is really important.


If you are in need of help and support, please contact us here

To purchase Filipo Levi’s book, click here

Watch the replay here


Article written by:
Samantha Shields & Vanessa Leota