MBA Tournament 2023

A Community Exercise in Leadership

What is MBAT?

The MBA Tournament, or MBAT, is an annual three-day event traditionally attended by top business school students from across Europe. Also known as the MBA Olympics, this year it was attended by MBAs from across the world, with students joining us from NYU Stern and National University of Singapore. With competitions including Basketball, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball, Weight-lifting, Rowing, Soccer, a variety of video games, card games and Chess, there is truly something for everyone.

Organized entirely by HEC MBA students, the 2023 MBAT Core Team consisted of 31 students who dedicated their time to the organization of this legendary event, while juggling their coursework. Many members of the team say that the possibility of working on MBAT was a factor in their decision to study here. “When I found out about it, I knew it was something I needed to do, wanted to do, and would best complement everything I would learn during the MBA,” says Victor Heaulme, president of the Core Team, who says that people leadership has long been one of his deepest interests. The lessons garnered from putting together such a large-scale event, from beginning to well past the end, will no doubt stick with participants in their future professional endeavors.

That, and the networking possibilities are endless. Participants get to meet with other MBAs, both on the court (or on the field, or in the gym, etc.) and in the events that take place once the day winds down. MBAs meet and exchange information with students from all across the world, and hey, who knows what could come of the contacts they make in the name of MBAT.

“We were a group of 31 regular students who decided to organize ourselves in a particular hierarchy, giving leadership responsibilities to certain members, and for this to work, it takes a great amount of discipline and respect. Thankfully, we had an exceptional group who made this hierarchy work smoothly.” – Phil Guiton, MBA ’24

The Core Team is just an “ordinary” group of MBA students

Or so they say. Anyone who attended MBAT 2023 could see the superpowers being unleashed. But what Phil Guiton, Head of Operations for the Core Team meant when he said that, was profound. Members of the group didn’t have any particular experience in event planning, and it was “difficult from an operations perspective: for example, I had to learn how to converse with specialist vendors regarding tent rentals, bus contracts, and food and beverage distribution.”

Vendors, tents, buses, food and beverage… for 1500 people.

Phil zipped around campus for three days, dealing with everything that came up. If you crossed his path, he was a mere blur, always half-jogging, communicating with team members as he went. But it wasn’t only the 31 Core Team members providing support on the ground. More than 100 volunteers played a role in the daily operations of MBAT, running events among a myriad of other tasks.

“Oh yeah, this was amazing, people had a blast.” – Phil Guiton, MBA ‘24

“A highlight for me was the last day of the event, when things were wrapping up,” says Phil. “I walked around the campus for a bit, with no destination or task in mind, nothing to fix. I stopped by a few games at the tennis courts and saw how efficiently the volunteers were running their events, how much fun the players were having, and how good our team was at being present on the ground. It was my first real peek at what the experience had been like for the participants, and I thought to myself ‘Oh yeah, this was amazing, people had a blast.’”

Setting a standard for sustainability

The Core Team created three pillars to focus their MBAT 2023 goals: Sustainability, Inclusivity and Safety. “We built our standards based off the UN ESG standards and built out activities for the event. These standards can now be passed down to future MBAT teams,” says Allison Steen, VP of Pillars for the Core Team.

“Our goal for the event was to show business students from around the world how to incorporate sustainability in events by making it fun, practical and educational,” says Allison. The team contacted a local company called Solar Sound System Paris, that specializes in alternative energy source party equipment. Using two stationary bike generators, a sound system, one solar panel and two batteries, the pedaling energy of students powered the music of DJ JYPE. They could even engage in some environmentally friendly competition by tracking the input of both bikes on an energy board. “I think this was an awesome way for people to learn about alternative energy sources, do good for the environment, move their bodies to some good music and meet new people,” says Allison.

In an effort to reduce the presence of single use plastic, the Core Team also provided reusable MBAT cups for students to use throughout the event (and take home as a keepsake afterward).

“Coming to HEC I wanted to learn about sustainability. I wanted to learn what sustainability means, how to implement and how to incentivize others to join along, and I think my MBAT experience taught me exactly that.” – Allison Steen, MBA ’24

As far as safety was concerned, documentation was comprehensive and community members volunteered as Guardian Angels over the course of the three days.

Efforts for inclusivity included providing vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meal options. Cuisines from all over the world were represented across various food trucks. Another inclusivity highlight was the joyous Pride Parade that wound (or rather danced, to lively music that traveled with them) across campus on the Friday, led by members of the LGBTQIA+ Club.

MBAT 2024

Organizing such a large-scale event was no small feat, and those who helped make it happen will remember it for a long time. But would they do it again? “I’ve bounced back and forth, depending on the day,” reflects Phil. “I realize that I acquired exactly the experience I was hoping to during my MBA, and the sense of accomplishment has remained with me since the event, coupled with a responsibility to my school and my classmates. So, taking the good with the bad, I would definitely do it all over again.”

The enthusiastic 2023 Core Team has already released a video hyping next year’s MBAT, a passing of the torch to the next group of students who will be called upon to bring the 2024 crowd what they all come for: a friendly, safe, inclusive space for competition, global networking opportunities, and an incredibly good time.

In the meantime, participants will continue to reflect on the sweat, tears and terrific show of teamwork that made this year’s event so successful:

“A massive shoutout to every single MBA volunteer that helped in some capacity during MBAT 2023. The Core Team gets a ton of praise, but you may not realize how pivotal the 100+ volunteers were to make this event happen. Those that took shifts during parties, worked entire days at the volleyball courts, organized the rope pull with no prior experience – it doesn’t happen without you.” – Victor Heaulme, MBA ’24

With that, we’ll see you next year, here in Jouy-en-Josas.


For more about the MBAT and other examples of ways the HEC Paris MBA puts classroom-learned leadership theory into practice, visit our website, and stay tuned for more information about MBAT 2024!