Chris Quirk




New Zealand





By Chris Quirk

Lift Off of a Social, Sporting MBA

I thought this year I would write about a not so academic side of the MBA. Many people know that a great benefit of an MBA is the networking that you gain access to, both with the class, with alumni and with the speakers. Many people also understand that a 12 month MBA is an intense year of work to prepare for the challenges ahead. One question I did hear a lot while waiting for the start of the MBA (other than “Wow, Oxford?”) was “Will you have time for anything else?” A number of times I also heard from outgoing students, “There’s a lot going on, you’ll have to decide what to do!” I believe that it must possible to have a life outside of the MBA and these writings will cover the trials, tribulations, successes and sacrifices of one who is trying to combine a reasonably ‘highish-level’ sporting life, a social life and the life of an MBA Student. The Social, Sporting MBA.


A bit of background, I guess, would be appropriate. I’m from New Zealand but for the last four years I’ve been living in Australia. I’ve raced triathlons for much of my life, most recently a few years of racing Ironman distance races (including the Hawaiian Ironman, shameless self promotion there), so sport has always been a big part of my life. I’ve also always enjoyed the social aspects of life in metropolitan cities and the student life at the University of Canterbury. Unfortunately I tend to enjoy both sides of life equally which has led to a few internal conflicts along the way! Most often manifested in trying to drag myself out to an early morning training session after a less than early night out. I’m a Mechanical Engineer by training so I am quite handy with numbers but I feel there is no way to quantitatively solve these problems. My ‘focus’ tends to swing a little bit, during school I was focused on training, during my undergrad it may or may not have changed to social and in the last few years it has swung back (a little). I’m sure the addition of an MBA into the crucible will lead to many interesting conflicts throughout the year. This is an MBA write-up so I should probably get to that!

3, 2, 1 Launch!


There are two things that spring to mind when I think about the MBA Launch and the pre-launch phase. A Space Shuttle launch and the start of a triathlon, I’ll use that because it is what I’m familiar with (the triathlon, not the Shuttle). In both cases it is very quiet. There isn’t much noise and there isn’t much movement. Behind the scenes, however, the preparation is quite chaotic. The vast majority of us have come from outside the UK and have had an administrative nightmare, it has been hectic trying to sort out the visa, flights, places to stay, what to pack, what to leave, reading the pre-readings, etc. Of course, you don’t see the other people going through that so on the surface the school seems quiet.

Then Launch morning. It was still quite quiet for me, taking a taxi to the school with some guys from Hertford College. Walking up to the door the noise built until:

Day One, 237 New Faces and Stories

Day One, 237 New Faces and Stories

It was a sudden rush of noise, faces, names, past careers, future careers, backgrounds and that was just the first five minutes! Much like a shuttle launch or a triathlon, the preparation now made sense and the purpose was clear. The Launch was an intense three weeks of lectures, networking, the pub social networking, guest speakers and workshops. Some of the highlights are below;

Singing on the SBS Roof

Singing on the SBS Roof

Lecture One

Lecture One

There was a lot to take in and it’s not for the faint hearted but something tells me that won’t change anytime soon.


A large part of life at Oxford is the College that you are a student of, in my case Hertford College. We are members of the MCR (Middle Common Room) along with all the other post-grad students. The Launch itself is quite hectic but we’ve also been attempting to join a number of College events. Although it does make life very busy, the College events are a great way to take a break from the avalanche of MBA related things.  The Hertford MBA’s (a name we’re already well known by in the College) have managed to make a selection of the events:

A Formal Exchange Dinner with Pembroke College (in the Hertford Dinning Hall, next week we have the away leg in Pembroke)

A Formal Exchange Dinner with Pembroke College (in the Hertford Dinning Hall, next week we have the away leg in Pembroke)

Hertford Bar

An MCR Bar Night to get acquainted with the Hertford Bar and the rest of the MCR

There has also been a Jazz Night, the first BOP (College Party), Quiz Night, Beer Pong Night and a host of other things I forgot to take photos of or that we had to miss.

Triathlon/Cross Country

Somewhere in amongst all of this I have managed to find and begin training with the Oxford University Triathlon Club (OUTriC), Oxford University Cross Country Club (OUCCC) and the Oxford University Cycling Club (OUCC). It is nice that the acronyms are easy to remember but at the same time it gets confusing! These guys and girls run a pretty full training week, often with multiple sessions each day, which does make it easy to pick and choose a timetable that can fit with the MBA schedule. They’ve had a few good BBQ’s too as part of the early stages of getting to know everyone. The training areas around Oxford are also exceptional (from a running and cycling perspective). There are some amazing locations to run through, the Thames has a path that runs for miles along side it and the University parks and meadows are beautiful to run around. I will try to post some shots of the different training areas once I’m not struggling to breathe and keep up with some of these athletes. The mix of MBA, College and training events have come up with a few clashes already. It doesn’t look good when you’re out on the first run or ride and end up returning home solo because you can’t keep up due to activates the night before (I should say and not or because it may’ve happened more than once). As a side note it is also amazing to run on the Roger Bannister Athletics Track where the first 4 minute mile was achieved!

The amount of sport that the MBA’s do is also amazing. I know there is a Cross-Fit gym that has taken more than 10 MBA’s and the Oxford Half Marathon attracted about 15 of our MBA’s to run which was awesome! And even better it was quite a nice day for the run as well, which I’m told is not always the case in Oxford!

Meeting the OUCCC for a training run near the Radcliff Camera, it’s amazing to run around Oxford!

Meeting the OUCCC for a training run near the Radcliffe Camera, it’s amazing to run around Oxford!



If I had to sum up the experience so far in 5 words they would be Hectic, Gorged and Lack of Sleep. It has been intense and non-stop but at the same time it has been really fun and a really new experience, unlike any I’ve had before. I will definitely need to learn to budget my time because as much as I’d like to take a break Business Finance Lecture 1 is up in 30 minutes.

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