Posts Tagged ‘sport’


MBA Sailing

Posted by: Inna Leontenkova

Prologue (skip unless you and I are acquainted):
The time since I last posted something was somewhat elongated – but not because of me moving country, changing jobs, pouring drinks at the Sundowners. I just could not determine how to better address a subject quite imperative to me – sailing – a very atypical setting for my decisive self. Apologies. The pressure was high as I hoped to paint the world of sailing through the lens I saw it and emphasize how much LBS has refined it (aka “sailing is awesome” and “LBS rocks”). Below is the best I could conjure up – hope my crew will share this view and that it’s not too “heavy” for a bubbly business school blog.

Mark Twain had said something most of us heard and what had been supposedly considered the “stay hungry, stay foolish” of the past: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” A funny thing is that not many realise that this is not where this motivating passage ends. Apparently Mr. Twain went on with “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Drea­m. Discover.” One of the biggest creative titans used sailing as a metaphor to inspire your behind out of the comfort zone, to create, risk, soak in what life has to offer!!! There must be a good reason to it.

This is all very nice – says my loyal reader – but what does it all have to do with a Business School? I tell you: a business can be compared to a ship (I am all about metaphors today). CEO is the captain who usually goes down with it in case of hitting an “iceberg”. Senior management and yacht racing crews share many job descriptions (strategist, tactician, navigator), for many of which you need specific qualifications from Royal Yachting Association and the like (think CFA, ACCA, MBA). Each specific type of a ship is different (here come the industry specifics); and sailing in different waters around the globe might affect your strategic set up e.g. due to tides (similar to cultural differences in markets); the list can go on. What I am trying to imply here is that a good sailor would make a good entrepreneur and vice versa. There are obviously exceptions to every rule, but when my billion-dollar idea comes to me – the first person I call will be someone from the sailing club.

And finally, sailing is one of the most social sports where your inter-personal skills are being truly challenged as you work-eat-sleep in a closed up space with the same bunch of a crew for days or even weeks in a row. For me that resulted in angelic temper (OK I am exaggerating a teeny-tiny bit), meeting amazing people and making true friends I can trust and have crazy fun with.

SO, if you are considering a business school education – maybe you could also try yourself in sailing? I have good news for you – LBS ranks number 1 for two consecutive years in the international MBA racing league! We go places – Caribbean, Mediterranean, Solent, Canaries, San Francisco, chilly Irish sea and luxurious Portofino Harbour – our sailors have done it everywhere.

BUT if you are considering becoming a sailor – maybe you should go to a business school as well? LBS Sailing club & Alumni (featuring Olympic rising stars, African charity entrepreneurs, Abercrombie & Fitch models, Everest climbers to name just a few) are there to give a helping hand and teach you all about what sailing has to offer – freedom, power, teamwork, competition, endurance… and dirty jokes.



While reflecting on the content of this blog post I was inspired by the below quotes you might also like – all about sailing obviously:
– “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable” by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
– “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” by Grace Murray Hopper
“You cannot control the wind but you can adjust the sail” a Yiddish Proverb
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea” abridged from Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s

Créer le navire,
ce n’est point tisser les toiles,
forger les clous,
lire les astres,
mais bien donner le goût de la mer

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If there were such things as “test drives” or “samples” on offer, people would be spared the excruciating challenge of choosing which Business School to do an exchange in or even give tens of thousands of internationally traded currency.

In the past 5 years I managed to attend 3 pretty hot schools – London School of Economics, Booth School of Business under the University of Chicago and now – LBS. So I can compare them across some important points; but I beg you to not ask for a ranking, OK? Finding flaws is a tough enough task already – they are all close-to-my-heart-alma-maters, and I will stand up for them against even minor offenders until the very end, like Hector for Troy.

Booth has 2 campuses – in downtown Chicago – for those who prefer combining work with pleasure evening courses; and a Hyde park campus on E59th, which is very south, if you know what I mean. So south that I once had to sleep in the student’s lounge because I was too scared to get outside and walk home.
The West End location of the LSE will make sure that by the graduation time you turn into a musical connoisseur. If only you did not have to run from one building to another under the rain to change lecture rooms.
Baker Street tube station is great for connecting with all the significant spots in London, while being in a quieter area, with a personal and private Regents park.

Booth can boast its access to the University of Chicago fitness facilities – think classic American football, basketball, baseball fields, boxing arena, full size swimming pool with 20 lanes, gym with at least 100 cardio machines and countless iron-lifting options, cheerleader team, etc! Everything you dreamed about (or saw in movies) and more, which can compromise the amount of time you spend in the library.
To work up a sweat from any form of team sport at LSE you will have to go to Berrylands (a berry-less village 25min away from Waterloo station on South-West trains). Training standards however make up for it in full.
Having a game of rugby in Regents Park, or a round of cricket on the Lord’s Grounds sounds super fun; going to a midget gym + swimming pool in the basement of the library – not so much. But I guess it works…

Booth did not live up to my expectations, I ended up not going to a single event.
No other place can compare to the quality and quantity of LSE speakers. Ever. The only problem is that here a concept of an “early bird” is taken quite literally – if you want to give celebrity speaker a listen – you need to come and physically stand/sit/lie in a queue. Sometimes for a very long time. Before dawn. I remember getting to the School at about 4a.m. only to find myself number 12 in a queue for Alan Greenspan (back in 2007 J), which was to open at 7. The best part is that all the speakers become exceptionally friendly when within the LSE walls, so if you dream of a Soros’s signature – you are guaranteed one after his lecture. Together with a photo. And a kiss.
LBS is a good cocktail of speakers and conferences across all industries, country leadership and even celebrities. Business and theory come holding hands to all the events. Students also ogranise industrial tracks around the world (e.g. entertainment track to Hollywood, high-tech track to Sillicon valley).

Many lecturers at Booth are held by its Nobel prize winning alumni, who cover all the material in class to such extent that no books are required to get a top mark at the exam.
Attendance at the LSE was obligatory, but majority of time was spent on deeply theoretical concepts as well as guidance of how to approach self-studying.
LBS lectures (at least the core MiFPT ones) are the most engaging and fun I have ever come across. Really.

Self study
Booth has the best study area, kept pitch-dark and thus extremely quiet. Assignments are marked very quickly and the results uploaded to the web portal almost immediately (IT services are outstanding). There is also always an option of studying on the beach.
LSE is known for its largest in the world Business and Social Science library with a famous spiral staircase. It is open to LBS students as well, as both schools are under the umbrella of the University of London.

Booth MBA exams seemed like a vacation – you are even asked to put your name on every page of the paper.
LSE scores for the toughest exams, most of which take place in summer, even if a class was in autumn. Anonymity approaches MI5 standards. Getting a distinction is next to impossible.
LBS only allows to re-sit the core courses, but some electives will give you a take-home exam.

…to be continued

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I don’t expect there are many inter-school rivalries which are separated not only by country borders but also by large bodies of water and by language. But for LBS, our most competitive sports matches are played only after showing our passports, crossing the English Channel, and mastering the phrase “parlez vous anglais?” For INSEAD is our greatest rival on the field (and possibly off too) and nothing is quite as satisfying as vanquishing these baguette eating, wine swirling opponents.

Perhaps this particular rivalry is merely an extension of the long history shared between Britain and France; a history of Napoleonic proportions. For the 70 men of the LBS Rugby Club who set off from St Pancras and were destined for the INSEAD campus at Fontainebleau, it was certainly a matter of pride in maintaining our dominance over our French neighbours. Now, what goes on tour usually stays on tour. And anything that occurred after the Eurostar rolled out from the St Pancras platform should not be uttered here. But, on this occasion, a tantalising taster should be shared.

The match began with INSEAD lining up opposite us to sing their school song. Or something along those lines. My French is shocking enough that I didn’t understand it. Perhaps that was a good thing though, as I imagine they sang about their expected vanquishing of us.

How wrong they were. They may have come out strong at the start (or was that us playing weakly, still recovering our mojo after the previous night?) and they even had the first opportunity to score points with a penalty kick almost directly in front. But the boys from Baker St valiantly regained their composure and slowly but surely the gears of LBS rugby stirred into dominating action. The result? LBS 51 – INSEAD 7. A resounding victory!

Now, I must say, INSEAD were very gracious in defeat and we joined them that evening for a post match function in Fontainebleau. There’s always something special about sitting shoulder to shoulder with people you’ve just spent 80 minutes trying to tackle to the ground; it was great to actually converse with our MBA brethren there. And we’ll be looking forward to the rematch against the INSEAD lads when they travel past the white cliffs of Dover to do battle with us on our own turf early in the New Year.

It was on this optimistic note that we departed INSEAD for the cultured city of Paris, where we took delight in the pleasures of the Parisian nightlife. Or perhaps it was us who were entertaining the Parisians. By the early hours of the morning the French women were somewhat perplexed by these handsome lads roaming the streets in their navy blazers and straw hats, but they couldn’t get enough. And, so I’ve been told, more than one woman swooned in the presence of these men.

I will stop there before I say too much. Needless to say though, the next day, like the Duke of Wellington in victory at Waterloo, we returned triumphantly to Baker St with pride and success notched on our belts (and possibly elsewhere).

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The annual alumni sailing challenge

Posted by: James
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The alumni had issued their challenge; can this year’s students beat them in the annual alumni sailing challenge?  It had supposedly been done only once before – and then, the rumour goes, largely because the students had a medal winning/America’s Cup sailor to guide them to victory.  The odds were stacked against us.  One of our crew acknowledged the only boat he had ever been on was a ferry.  But we approached it with optimism and a sense of fun.

And fun we had.  The regatta was spread over a series of races on the Saturday and Sunday.  We met on Friday night for some team bonding over pizza and beer.  And then had an early start on the Saturday to practice tacking and gybing and getting everyone use to their positions.  Then, at 10.30 we were off – over the start line and racing for glory!

There’s no need to go into the details of the races.  Though we did have a blast.  There was constant confusion as a barrage of sailing vocab was yelled across the boat – it not always accurate (yes, I’ll take the blame for that).  But the important thing is that we were moving forward and we weren’t last.  We even succeeded at sailing the spinnaker up.  That was great to see the big bag flying and moving us even faster forward.  The final result? The alumni won – not just against us, but against the entire fleet of 17 boats and took home the trophy for doing so.

On the Saturday evening we went out for a dinner with the alumni and this was our real opportunity to get to know them better. It’s a small but strong club where the alumni really make their presence known – this is essential for learning from their experience on the big boats and for lending us a skipper.

I’m looking forward to more racing with the LBS Sailing Club.  And next time we meet, the alumni better be watching out.  We’ll be close on their tail for victory!

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