Michael Parcon is a second-year MBA student and the current Director of Athletics for the MBA student society. He was born and raised in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and graduated from Memorial University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Growing up, Michael played a variety of recreational and varsity-level sports, continues to be active on the local athletics scene and is an avid sports fan. Always looking for a new physical challenge, Michael completed his first full marathon this past May while on his corporate residency with the Royal Bank of Canada. You can read more about his personal story here.
What sports did you play growing up?
I was quite active in sports growing up, and played for my high school basketball, soccer and softball teams. During my leisure time, I was heavily involved with downhill skiing and became a certified ski instructor, and later a volunteer ski patroller. Once I got to university and, later, graduate school, I had the opportunity to join intramural and club level teams that competed in sports I never had the chance to play as a kid, such as wrestling, judo, ultimate frisbee, flag-football, volleyball and long-distance running. I even got the chance to apply my knowledge in these areas as the Logistics and Facilities Coordinator for the 2008 Newfoundland & Labrador Summer Games, where I oversaw the logistical operations of over a dozen different sports in six venues.
You are the Director of Athletics for the Corporate Residency MBA program. What sports did the Dalhousie MBA team participate in, and can you talk about how this experience has built strong relationships and adds value to the program?
For the fall semester, we competed in the flag football and ultimate frisbee co-ed leagues, and also participated in weekend tournaments for softball and 3-on-3 basketball. This winter, we’re playing in the basketball and volleyball leagues, as well as a dodgeball weekend tournament. We even fielded a floor hockey and basketball team to go head-to-head against other business schools at this year’s MBA Games in Hamilton. Always looking to give back to the community, we’ve participated as a team in charity fundraisers such as Run for the Cure and Inside Ride. On the recreational side, we’ve organized an inter-cohort dodgeball match, a surfing trip and a curling night.
The thing that’s great about an intramural sports environment is that we each get to reveal a different side of ourselves on the sports field. Though we often get closely familiar with our fellow classmates and their respective personalities in an academic and social setting, athletics and recreation fosters our competitive spirit and allows us to interact with each other through ability, teamwork, determination and heart. The majority of our MBA candidates are Type A personalities who are instinctively competitive, and we all relish any opportunities to bond as a team and compete against another school or program on the sports field. This has resulted in a stronger sense of community in our school. Though ours is a close-knit program, friendships are sometimes forged and strengthened between two people who may not necessarily be close in the classroom or at a social activity, but have something in common in athletics or who work well together as part of a team.
Can you tell us how intramural sports have helped you develop as a leader, both inside and outside the classroom?
As Director of Athletics and captain of the intramural teams, I learned a lot about the difference between ‘management’ and ‘leadership’. In my role, the concept of ‘management’ involved deciding what leagues to play in, getting registered with league officials, recruiting team members, liaising with other teams and making sure everyone has all the information to show up to our games on time. This type of team management required me to stay on task, be organized and communicate effectively with all involved.
‘Leadership’, however, represented more intangible aspects of the role. As captain and leader, I’m often faced with motivating our team toward a common goal, leading by example with a basic strategy to win, and walking a fine line between ensuring everyone is having fun and being competitive enough that we represent our school well. My central philosophy regarding athletics and recreation for the program is that we are all “students first, athletes second” so the academic demands of the program take precedence over anything else. My role is simply to provide a fun outlet for our students to relieve some stress on the sports field and foster a sense of teamwork and competitive spirit. In order to fulfill my role, I have had to develop the right mix of ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ that works for the team.
MBA students are constantly developing and honing their leadership skills, and the lessons I’ve learned with sports have helped me tremendously both in an academic and professional setting. Values such as learning and practicing new skills and abilities, triumph through teamwork and achieving your goals in the face of adversity with hard work, self-motivation and determination have all been transferable off the sports field. As a student, you are constantly challenged to learn and apply new material in a fast-paced environment; group projects and case competitions require tremendous amounts of teamwork and the cooperation of strong personalities; adapting and adding value to a new setting such as a corporate residency requires hard work, self-motivation and determination.
How has your experience with sports and recreation shaped your view and approach to the Corporate Residency MBA Program with Dalhousie?
When I was last featured in this blog, I spoke of how I was in the midst of my corporate residency with RBC and training for my first marathon that I ran in May. I ultimately concluded that training for such a physical challenge is the perfect analogy I can make when talking about my experience with the program, and it’s a view I hold to this day. Getting your MBA is a lot like training for a marathon: both are completely new experiences requiring you to learn and adapt to new skills, work harder than you ever have before, pace yourself and focus on a long-term goal, no matter how hard it may get. Some days will be good and others will be bad; some days can feel like a race to the finish, while other days you’ll find that slow and steady wins the race; some days you’ll feel like the task in front of you is impossible, and then you feel a sense of pride in your accomplishment; and sometimes you’ll question what you’ve gotten yourself into, but most times you’ll feel that you made the right decision. Ultimately, no matter what happens, the overall fulfillment comes not just from reaching the “finish line”, but from the overall experience itself.