A year and a half before starting the Cambridge MBA, I was on top of Mount Kilimanjaro with forty other female football players, breaking the world record for the highest altitude FIFA regulated football game. Six months before the MBA, I was at the Dead Sea in Jordan, with my teammates, breaking the world record for the lowest altitude FIFA game. These feats were accomplished through Equal Playing Field, an organisation that advocates for more equality and opportunity for women in sport. In addition to breaking world records we trained over 1000 girls around the world to play football, raised money for training programs, and shared our message with over 1 million viewers globally through media and documentary coverage.

As a woman in business, these world record attempts mattered to me not just because I care about the cause but because I know that the implications of women playing sports goes far beyond their time on the pitch.  Women who play sports are more likely to excel in their careers – Ernst and Young and espnW found that 94% of upper level female managers played sports, with over half of the C-suite executives having played at a college level or above.  The study cited female athletes as showing more self-confidence, team-work, motivation, and ability to see projects through to completion than non-athletes [1]

As Sports Chair at the CJBS, I managed the massive undertaking that was the MBATs Tournament – a sports competition that draws MBA students from across Europe at HEC Paris, and that is arguably the most fun week of the MBA.  Men are vastly overrepresented in both business and sports in virtually every society globally, but the Cambridge women showed up in force to make an impression on the competition, both in terms of medals won and sportsmanship shown. 

The Cambridge MBA has prepared us to be future business leaders in industries that, unfortunately, are still very far from equitable. We all see the biased hiring practices, pay gaps, and dysfunctions within our firms.  Objective data has time and time again shown that more diverse companies are more profitable companies, and smart business leaders will find ways to bring more women and other minorities into leadership roles [2].

The day that I left Cambridge, I flew to Lyon, France, along with four other women from the MBA to break two more football world records with Equal Playing Field.  We played in the world’s largest 5-aside exhibition football game, and the 11-aside game with the most nationalities represented.  Three of the four women had never played football before, but they played anyway because:  equality takes work. They excelled on the pitch with leadership, team work, and resilience, which are qualities any recruiter admires and any Cambridge MBA shares.

Links – CBSC Sports Pagehttps://www.cbsclub.org/sports-mbat/

[1] Contributor, E. Y. (2014) ‘The Connection Between Women, Sports And Leadership’, Forbes, 25 November. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ey/2014/11/25/the-connection-between-women-sports-and-leadership/ (Accessed: 23 September 2019).

[2] Kay, A. (2016) Will Businesses Reach Gender Diversity In Your Lifetime?, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ey/2016/04/29/will-businesses-reach-gender-diversity-in-your-lifetime/ (Accessed: 23 September 2019).