10 May 2010

Organized by HEC MBA participants, the MBAT is the largest annual gathering of international B-schools for the 3 day event. HEC MBAs test their leadership skills in a real-life setting where decisions, human relations and organization are key factors of success. Dan Harrison is 2010 General Coordinator, with Anne-Reine Lapeyre. Dan has given us his insight in to organizing such a large and monumental event.

Dan Harrison

“When I first heard about the MBAT, the first thing I thought of was how great it would be to lead a meaningful project within my MBA experience. I thought that it would be fun to work with some of my classmates whom I had just recently met on an event where we could play a few sports and have a good time. At that point, I did not realize how much of an impact this event would have on my overall MBA experience at HEC.

When the idea of running this event first entered my mind, I immediately spoke with my friend and now MBAT partner Anne to figure out how we could make this project ours and form a team we could rely on to get the job done. I learned a great deal about the importance of making the right selections for various positions not only from a job performance perspective but also to make selections both fair and transparent to the outside shareholder in this case our class. This lesson was clearly stated as the campaign to be elected as the MBAT managing team was both emotionally charged and extremely competitive.

Anne-Reine Lapeyre

Now on the eve of MBAT we are ready to see all the hard work that everyone has done come to fruition. Everyone will be able to experience the pride of showing what the HEC MBA entails and the great results that are achievable when people are motivated to work hard. But more than just the outcome, I know that I for one will be proud of what I have learned during this experience.

People do an MBA in order to become managers or increase their management and overall business skills. To those ends, I have learned a tremendous amount during my time leading the MBAT. It has been a wonderful opportunity to take what I have learned in the classroom and be able to directly apply those lessons in a real project with real expectations and stakeholders.

I have learned the need to manage people in different ways, even if they are performing the same function. It is imperative to treat all people who are reporting to you as individuals in order to gain their respect and work effectively. This is especially true in the MBAT where people are all of equal experience and status within the class. It was a real challenge to learn how to effectively deal with everyone especially given that our core team alone represented 7 nationalities with working experience across the globe. This challenge had a very steep learning curve at times but I learned that listening is the first step to communication. Additionally, it is helpful to define your communication strategy at the beginning as it saves time later.

As the planning progressed from the core team of 22 to the current team of 200, it became very apparent that the organization had changed and I needed to change with it. While we began in a very informal way with casual discussions and meetings, as time progressed, the organization of MBAT became more bureaucratic and more structured. As this change took place, I saw that it was necessary to step back from the minor details and trust the people who were working on different departments more. This was a great example of how to trust your co-workers and how to avoid micromanagement. It has been a huge challenge in this regard to feel both engaged and supportive of the project and team, while remaining outside of the minor details unless needed as a way to allow people the ability to solve problems themselves.

The last main lesson I learned is the value of keeping the big picture in mind. While things may be tough on a certain day or certain meeting, its important to focus on why you are doing something and the value that it will bring.

As they say, nothing worthwhile is ever easy and MBAT has proven that with many difficult situations and challenges. I have had the opportunity to lead a group of leaders in a task highlighting the great aspects of the HEC MBA. I have been able to see adversity in managing real business situations and used my newly learned skills to overcome them. Most importantly of all, I have been able to learn more about my classmates and develop a stronger bond with many of them that will last a lifetime. Overall, I consider the MBAT leadership to be the most valuable experience I have had during my MBA thus far.”

To read more about this years MBAT and see which schools are visiting, please visit the MBAT website

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