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Wednesday, May 03, 2017 at 12pm

MBAT: The Olympics of the MBA World

HEC Paris brings together competitors from b-schools around the world each year for its MBA Tournament (MBAT)

At HEC Paris, we learn a lot about business and leadership, not only from books and cases, but also from hands-on projects. The most complex project we are involved in during the program is the MBA Tournament (MBAT). Tarun Rangi, an HEC Paris MBA student and president of the MBAT 2017 organizing team, defines it as, “a unique, one-of-a-kind tournament that brings together the brightest folks from the top b-schools of the world and creates the ultimate potpourri of competitiveness, sportsmanship, fun and networking across three action-packed days.” Organized by HEC Paris MBA students, the tournament is the continent’s largest annual gathering of MBA students.


Started in 1991, MBAT is a deep tradition at HEC Paris and, every year, students put in a lot of effort to make the HEC community proud. Run by the HEC MBA class of 2018, the 27th annual MBAT includes 23 different competitions, from badminton, cricket and beach volleyball to rugby, swimming and tennis. But this is not only about sports, we also have fusion dance, salsa and a battle of bands! Diversity is a distinguished aspect of the MBA program and we take that very seriously.

What can MBA students learn from hosting a major event?

HEC Paris's MBAT is organized by MBA students

But why involve MBA students in organizing such a major event on top of our very demanding program workload? “The organization has been a very challenging and taxing role,” says Andrew Unsworth, vice president of communications. However, he adds that, “it has been very rewarding at the same time – we are applying what we have learned in our MBA courses, such as marketing, problem solving, operations, finance, ethics and, possibly the most relevant, organizational behavior.”

We think of MBAT as an intensive leadership program akin to managing a complex multinational organization facing fresh challenges and multiple constraints on a daily basis. It also provides us with a platform to test our decision making and collaborative skills in a multicultural environment.

Three key takeaways from HEC Paris’s MBAT team

What have we learned from this challenging and rewarding experience? Here are our three main takeaways:

1. Prioritization and time management: Working smarter (not harder) to enhance productivity! You will get more done in less time, even when there are time constraints and pressure. It has been fascinating to see how different people have managed their workload and the different components of planning MBAT while doing our rigorous and demanding MBA. It really emulates what we will face again when we return to the professional corporate environment.

2. Communication: Not only do your words send a message, it is also your attitude while communicating, your posture, etc. Communication is what separates a poor leader from an exceptional one. Moreover, it is really important to set in place clear communication channels early on to open up discussions between relevant parties and to be able to refer back to these communications.

3. Adaptability: in such a dynamic situation, we must be able to cope when things do not go as planned. And believe me, working with so many different suppliers and participating schools, there are always changes in requirements or last-minute modifications! As in a professional corporate environment, in MBAT we face new, unexpected, and urgent tasks, and as in many highly evolving and fast-paced companies, we accept new roles and responsibilities expanding our experiences and skills.


We are very much looking forward to welcoming our fellow MBA students on campus for the 2017 MBAT. The tournament will conclude with an elegant black-tie gala in Paris near the famous Arc de Triomphe.

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Silvana is an HEC Paris MBA student (class of 2018). She is a consultant in operations and implementations who is defined as a relationship builder and a collaborative team builder and coach. She is currently vice president of the consulting club at HEC Paris and case trainer for peers.

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