A couple of weekends ago, over 1,500 students from Europe’s top MBA programs congregated in Jouy-en-Josas, a small town outside of Paris home to the HEC Paris campus. All had just two things in mind: bring glory to their schools, and pack as much fun as possible into 72 hours. Mission accomplished.
This hallowed weekend, a highlight on the IESE calendar each year, is the MBA Tournament (“MBAT”), organized each spring in France by HEC’s MBAs. The event is built around its sports competitions – with clashes in dozens of sports – from football and rugby, to less conventional events like baby foot (real-life foosball) and ultimate frisbee. But the event ends up being about so much more than just athletics, and we IESE students who partook in the 25th MBAT games certainly experienced that in a big way.
I (along Mike Kachmer) had the honor of organizing the IESE MBAT cohort of 45 students who excitedly set off for France. Many of our sports teams had been training for the better part of the school year – the salsa team, in particular had been working like crazy getting prepped for the event. Needless to say we were excited to put our talents to work and triumph for the school.
And boy, did IESE perform. Despite being a smaller travelling team compared to the likes of LBS (>200 students) and others, we turned in some amazing results on the field, including:
- 1st place – Touch Rugby (won final against Cambridge)
- 2nd place – Men’s Football (lost close final against LBS)
- 3rd place – Men’s Rugby
- 3rd place – Dodgeball
- 3rd fastest men’s runner, Cross Country – Keita Shimizu
- 3rd place – Foosball
- Fantastic performances from our teams in salsa, beach volleyball, rock climbing, and cross country
I was a co-captain of the rugby teams, and cannot tell you how proud I was of our performances. Despite being short on numbers and with a few players who hadn’t ever played competitive rugby, we gave every team we played a fight, and even walked away with the touch title. The lasting bonds our team now has with each other after MBAT are just one of the many things we’ll take away from the event.
When not competing in our own sports, we would make sure we rushed to the other sports fields to cheer on our fellow IESEans. In fact, those are some of the best memories of those days… enjoying cold beers in the sun on the sideline, wearing our crimson red and white with pride, and generally making as much noise as we could (banging on whatever random objects we could find, chanting “TE QUIERO IESE LOLOLOOLO”) to urge on our classmates.
And of course when the battles on the field were done, each evening, the second real reason we all signed up for MBAT would get going – the social aspect. The parties and social gatherings were immense – Battle of the Bands, sundown drinks by the lake around LBS’ famous double decker bus, and ridiculous costume parties. I’ll not share any other incriminating details about the parties though… These were opportunities to build friendships not just within the IESE hoard, but also to grow our network amongst the other top schools in attendance. MBAT is one of those rare opportunities that you get during the MBA experience to step outside of the IESE “bubble” and interact in a meaningful way with students from other schools. We learned what their programs were like, their lives in the MBA, and made commitments to organize more inter-school sports meetups. And as positive as the MBA experiences of others sounded, it still ultimately made me appreciate how lucky I am to have chosen IESE – how much the “fit” is right with the school.
If asked to describe the MBAT weekend in one word, I think it would have to be memorable. That fun weekend, spent with close friends and new ones enjoying sport and social, will certainly be one of those experiences that I always look back on as one of the pillars of the MBA experience.