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Chandra Crawford reacts after her race during the women's World Cup 1.3 km free sprint final in Canmore, Alta., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

As a gold-medal Olympian, Chandra Crawford knows a thing or two about preparation and stamina to arrive first at the finish line.

She applied those same skills to writing the graduate management admission test (GMAT), required for her entry into the executive MBA program at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business. She starts the two-year degree this weekend.

Ms. Crawford, who won gold in cross-country skiing at the 2006 Turin Games and seven World Cup medals (two of them gold) in her 14-year skiing career, saw the EMBA was "the best option" to hone her social entrepreneurship expertise as founder of Fast and Female.

She set up the non-profit organization in 2005 to encourage girls and women aged 9 to 19 to stick with competitive sports instead of bowing out, as many do, in their teens. The hope, she says, "is that 25 years from now, girls will stay in sports through their teens and we will have a big pool to draw on for Olympic sports."

Her organization offers day camps and other opportunities for participants – 8,618 in Canada, the United States and other countries over the past nine years – to rub shoulders with Olympic and other elite women athletes.

When Ms. Crawford used Twitter to inform followers about her EMBA plans, the Graduate Management Admission Council that administers the GMAT asked her to write a blog about her preparations for the grueling, 3½-hour exam.

Last spring, having selected Haskayne in her native Alberta as her preferred school, Ms. Crawford discovered she had just one month to prepare for the test. In practice sessions, she knew she was "bottom of the barrel" in math but strong on language and written skills.

She says her Haskayne advisors suggested she use that knowledge to team up with classmates with complementary skills.

As for the test, she says, "I treated it just like a race day."

The day before, she relaxed and set out what she would need for the test. On the morning of the GMAT, she consumed "the right amount of coffee and a protein-rich breakfast" and did some exercises to get the blood flowing.

During the exam, she used a sports psychology technique to refocus her efforts after any perceived stumbles.

"Everyone will fall and have a bad stride," says Crawford, who retired from competition this year. "Whoever can refocus faster is often going to come out ahead in the overall scheme."

After completing the test, she learned her score of 540 was above what she needed to enter Haskayne.

Prior to the official start of school, she and her classmates submitted their first assignment – an assessment of their own businesses – that gave her insights into her organization. "If we can create a strong business in terms of Fast and Female, then it will continue to serve girls into the future," she says.

Executive education program adds a heart-healthy focus

The incoming class of executive MBA students at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business in Montreal arrive this month for a newly revised program designed to leave a lasting impact on their minds – and bodies.

The updated program includes a new component developed in collaboration with the university's Perform Centre, a research facility that promotes preventive health strategies.

Students will receive personalized health and fitness advice, access to Perform's workout facilities located in the same building as the EMBA program and one-on-one leadership and career development training from certified professional coaches. The healthy lifestyle component is intended to complement the usual menu of management education in the 20-month EMBA.

"If you are taking on more responsibility and leadership, you have to make sure you have everything else to follow with it," says Jordan LeBel, who became director of the school's executive MBA program last May, after the university approved the refreshed program. "It may imply changing your lifestyle."

The EMBA program, aimed at rising professionals in their mid-30s and 40s, takes in about 25 students a year. With a new recruitment strategy under way, Prof. LeBel says he hopes to expand the program a little without losing its intimacy.

"This is a program for people who are not about making money at all costs," he says, a mindset he describes as "very much in the genetics of Concordia and the John Molson School of Business." He adds, "The world has got into enough trouble from people who are all about making money at any cost."

A professor of marketing, Prof. LeBel is a 2013 3M National Teaching Award winner whose course offerings have included an undergraduate elective on the marketing of food. A former chef and restaurant reviewer, he has a vintage cookbook collection that dates to 1974.

Perhaps not surprisingly, orientation week for the incoming EMBA class is scheduled to include sessions on wine tasting and food pairing, body posture and voice along with a live case study and a panel on managing one's career.

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