It was without doubt the best moment of my MBA experience so far when Lesley informed me that I had been selected as MBA Games team captain. However, instantaneous jubilation soon changed to deep apprehension, as the challenges of this year’s games fully sunk in. The 2021 MBA Games had a very different flavour to previous offerings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the usual group of 40 enthusiastic MBA students based in Vancouver, we were a modified team of 18 spread across five continents and fourteen time zones, all walking, talking, and dancing in isolation. Whilst there weren’t as many components to the Games as usual, the logistics of competing with a team spread across all parts of the globe provided a daunting challenge!
The 2021 MBA Games kicked off with the Sports challenge. Strava become our virtual pitch, as we collectively walked, jogged, and ran toward a cumulative mileage that would be compared against our competitors. Everyone had to contribute a minimum distance, but what was amazing was how certain individuals went so far beyond this point. Motivation was provided with stunning walk photos from all corners of the globe, including the hugely entertaining challenge to find the most interesting wildlife (Rachel’s encounters with giraffes certainly trumped my encounters with a donkey on a nearby farm!).
At the same time, the Spirit challenge dance video was co-ordinated by a crack team of very willing co-captains, sending instructions and example videos for us to try to reproduce. Although some initially had hesitations to show off their ballroom best, everyone came together to contribute to a dance video that really captured the whole essence of the MBA games experience.
Case competitions still formed a key component of the competition. The cases provided by sponsors Proctor & Gamble and DataTalks were very thought-provoking, both based on the challenges of adjusting to the new virtual working world. Presenting to a panel of judges via Zoom was again a novel and nerve-wracking experience, but a great way to develop important skills to arm us for the virtual workplace!
With thousands of kilometres separation, it would have been very easy to have felt isolated from the team members. But one of the best parts of the experience for me was just how close it brought me to my cohort. Whilst it is undeniable that there is no substitution for in-person events, it was through the dedication, and willingness of the whole group to get fully involved in the Games, that made this experience more rewarding than I could have ever hoped.
This MBA Games wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support of Arjun Batta and Shelley Graham, both past Games captains, who helped guide the case teams through many dark hours! Also a massive thank you to Lesley McKay, without whose efforts in organising everything from competition entries, to virtual escape room practices and swag hook-ups, our participation simply would not have been possible.
A huge shout out to my co-captains Jarred, Janelle, Rachel and Aida for their tireless work on the Sports and Spirit challenges. Also, thank you so much Université Laval for your incredible efforts in making this competition so successful – the first time MBA Games has ever been hosted virtually. Finally, massive congratulations to the Schulich School of Business (York University) for their victory in this year’s competition, and we look forward to competing in Toronto in January 2022 (Covid-19 permitting!)
About the Author
With a degree in Engineering Science, David has spent the past five years working for technical organizations in Olympic Sport and Formula One. He is currently in his first year of the Full-time MBA program, and the 2021 MBA Games Team Captain.