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MBA

MBA Tournament 2024 – The MBA Olympics of Paris

MBA Tournament 2024 – The MBA Olympics of Paris

Each spring top business schools travel to HEC Paris to compete in both athletic and non-athletic events for a three-day unforgettable experience for more than 1600 students.

A group of six diverse students, wearing matching navy blue and white varsity jackets, smile at the camera. They are standing behind a table with a laptop and some papers, indicating they might be working on a project or event

The MBA Tournament (MBAT) is said to be the highlight of the MBA experience and the annual competition, May 9-11, 2024, marked a special moment leading up to the Paris 2024 Olympics. HEC welcomed 14 schools from across Europe to compete in over 40 activities from Basketball to Volleyball and new competitions included Arm Wrestling, Flag Football, Paintball, a Spartan Race, a Fashion Show and Steinholding (one holds a full glass of water in a stein mug far from one’s mouth as long as possible).

To pull this off is no easy feat and demands months of preplanning, by a total of 26 students leading the core team, with a budget of 750K euros. The entire event is student-led.

The unexpected, however, is to be expected. “No matter how well you prepare or think ahead, there is always something unexpected that happens and it’s about how you tackle those difficulties within a timely manner,” said Yue ‘Dora’ Zhang, MBA’ 25, from Canada, who worked on securing sponsors and managed social media promotion. “Even at Gala Night, we had an urgent meeting at almost 12am midnight to ensure students get back to their hotel safe and sound.”

MBAT Top 3 Winners

MBAT Trophy: LBS (1st), HEC Paris (2nd) and Oxford (3rd)

Dance Competition: HEC Paris (1st), Oxford (2nd), LBS (3rd)

Battle of the Bands: Cambridge (1st), IMD (2nd), Manchester (3rd)

Fashion Show: HEC Paris (1st), ESMT Berlin (2nd), IMD (3rd)

Jennifer Elie, MBA ‘25, from Haiti, said it was surprising to adapt to individuals’ work styles unlike her interactions with them in a class or social setting. “As a scientist, I definitely have a more analytical way of thinking,” said Jennifer, who managed operations and transportation, as well as social media. “One of the learning opportunities was trying to understand the process of a person’s mindset, knowing the way they tackle a problem was different from mine. Sometimes the outcome might not make sense to me, but understanding the thought process that led to it definitely helps to understand why that decision was made.”

MBAT is one of the highlight events focused on leadership, problem-solving, diplomacy, negotiation, strategy, marketing and customer appreciation. It is the one MBA activity where students must rely on the tools they learn across various subjects in the classroom for a real-world experience.

A group of nine cheerful people posing together, some holding musical instruments like guitars. They are in a lively indoor setting with stage lighting and equipment visible in the background, suggesting a musical performance or event

It’s exactly what motivated Shogo Kodama, MBA ‘25, from Japan, to join the MBAT core team to help attract sponsors. Prior to MBAT, Shogo worked for the Japan Sports Council for eight years. “[MBAT] was a deciding factor to come for HEC,” he said. “I wanted to know how students who have different backgrounds and come from different countries can cooperate with each other to operate this big event.”

Using his prior experience, Shogo and the sponsorship team were able to secure three major MBAT sponsors: Dassai provided water, Red Bull donated beverages, and MBA Ventures donated 1,000 euros.

Shivangi Kapoor, MBA ‘25, head of events and from India, said she had planned events for 100 to 300 people but never on the scale of MBAT. “Everything was new to me – and everything was fast-paced from how to reach out to people and know who would be performing at the dance competition, to the fashion show, etc.”

Shivangi pitched the fashion show, which has never been part of MBAT. “Paris is known as the city of fashion and people from around the world admire the fashion, so I thought that it is almost necessary and should be a part of MBAT,” she said. “It showed how fashion could be sustainable at the same time.”

The fashion show was a way to have a non-sport activity that brings out the creativity of people in a fun way, Jennifer said. It allowed students who are not very sports focused to still participate.

“It was very much about creating that impact and making sure all the participants have a great time,” Jennifer added. In addition to sports and fashion, there was also the Battle of the Bands and Dance Competition, as well as dance parties, followed by the grand finale, a masquerade party at La Felicita in Paris.

Shogo said he especially appreciated the bond he developed over the three-day event. It didn’t take long to get to know students well from the other schools. By the second day, he felt an even deeper bond. “They became my friends and I think these friendships will continue,” he said. “Those interactions on a personal level with MBAs from other schools is a bonus to being on the operating team. If I participated only as a player, the interaction wouldn’t have been as deep.”

Shogo’s dream career is to continue working for an international sports event and to host international events. He is already on track; he recently accepted an internship offer as a Brand Ambassador for a logistics company during the Paris 2024 Olympics this summer.

The team spirit is so high that everyone can’t get enough of it, Dora said. “Then at the end everyone is like, can we do it again even though everyone is so exhausted.”

“Overall, I think the outcome was really good because participants were very engaging, they are still posting pictures of MBAT,” Jennifer said. “I can’t wait for next year!”