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mba diary

Telfer School of Management’s team for the 2014 MBA Games.Bonnie Findley

Adrian Papara is a full-time MBA student at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, with an interest in management consulting. Previously, he held various roles in the financial and marketing industries and earned a bachelor of arts, with a major in economics, from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. In his spare time, he volunteers with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, raises funds for various charities and has a keen interest in recreational flying and automotive restoration.

I have noticed lately an increasing number of television ads for the coming Winter Olympics in Sochi. I am not an elite athlete, rather just an MBA student who has only fantasized about living the Olympic experience. Would it not be great if I could be the one up there on the podium biting on the gold medal while Canada's national anthem is playing in the background?

The reality is, winter sports – or just sports in general – were never my thing. I have a hard time keeping my balance when skating, and while playing soccer I tend to trip over the ball more often than not. When jogging and hiking do become Olympic sports, please sign me up!

The benefit of being an MBA student in Canada is that you can have a variation of the Olympic experience (on a smaller scale and minus the paparazzi), just like I did this month at the 2014 MBA Games, organized by the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

To give you some background, the MBA Games is an annual competition between MBA schools in Canada, following a tradition that began at Queen's University in 1988. Students compete for the Queen's Cup in events such as academics, spirit and athletics. In true Olympic fashion, this year's edition began with a fun, loud and entertaining opening ceremony and concluded with the closing gala and announcements of the winners, with competitions taking place in between. Our so-called Olympic village was the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in the city's downtown, opposite iconic City Hall.

In preparation for the Games, my school – Telfer at the University of Ottawa – assembled a delegation of 37 MBA students from across all cohorts (full-time, part-time, and French-language MBAs). For those taking part in the academics competition, preparation began as early as September of 2013 with enrolment in the case competition course, and we had representation in all the finance, strategy, marketing and sustainability contests. For the athletics competition, we participated in volleyball, dodgeball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee, the latter being the one in which we performed the best. The spirit challenge included a video competition for the most YouTube likes (click here for our school's video), an Inside Ride Race (a charity component in support of children and families with cancer), a scavenger hunt and other small challenges randomly announced through the MBA Games Twitter feed.

Aside from the competition, we had the opportunity to take part in night events and let off some steam at two conveniently located nightclubs in downtown Toronto: EFS and Set Boutique. The hotel hallways became alive at night, taking the party from room to room, allowing us to meet numerous fellow MBA students.

You probably noticed I haven't said much about my school's performance at the Games (click here for the list of winners Yes, I admit we did not win anything, but that was not the whole point. I remember the day before we left for the Games, our MBA program director said: "No matter how you perform, just remember to have fun." And that is what we did. After all, this was a lifetime opportunity to be part of the MBA "Olympics:" You only do your MBA once. I am glad to have made some new friends, strengthened bonds with my current colleagues and built lasting memories.

Credit is due to our MBA Games co-directors and volunteers at Telfer for their hard work and dedication so my colleagues and I could have a seamless experience at this year's MBA Games. I also wish to thank all my MBA colleagues across Canada that made this event a memorable snapshot of collegiality and friendship.

Adrian can be reached through his LinkedIn profile.