On-Campus Interview Series: A Man Of Many Talents

This week I interview my section’s (NJ) former TOM professor, who, as you will see has a diverse and interesting set of sporting interests, although all of us in Section J know his real passion is operations at Toyota and Zara.

Writing an article about a former prof reminds me of the delicate balance that we journalists must achieve between writing witty, informative articles and not being caught in a dark corner by a former interviewee. To all those I’ve interviewed (and intend to interview) I have only one thing to say: ‘I have a lot of corners to hide in, and they’re all very very dark…’

Fact File: Andy McAfee
Height: 5ft 10 when the wind blows just right
Weight: 165 pounds
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Stubble
Marital Status: Single
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Drink: Mojito
Favorite Film: The Blues Brothers
Favorite Band: Elvis Costello
Nickname: Mac and A-mac
How Acquired Nickname: Natural progression from my name

Harbus: What’s your main sport?

Andy McAfee: Squash – I currently take two lessons a month and play 3-4 times a week when I’m in Boston.

Harbus: So what got you into playing Squash?

AM: A while ago I was working on a consulting project in Toronto, a place where squash is really popular so it made sense to pick up a squash racket and get involved. When I came to HBS I decided to make an effort to get better, especially as the squash courts were in the building next to me. I started lessons at Shad and was taught by Enamullah Khan (he’s affiliated with the great Khan squash athletes in Pakistan) who taught me a huge amount. I now get educated by Sharon Bradey at the Harvard Club, who used to play on the women’s tour.

Harbus: What has been your best sporting moment on the court?

AM: In squash, my best moment is yet to come, but I know exactly what it will be… …it will be when I beat Rajat Barua (NJ) at squash while he’s paying attention. (I’ve beaten him before, but it doesn’t count when he has an LCA case in his hand). My best overall sporting moment would be when I was at Sloan – when my team won the Intramural hockey championship.

Harbus: And your worst?

AM: Getting beaten by a 20 year old, 5 foot tall undergrad woman who made me look very, very bad at squash.

(Editors note – I can’t think of anything better than being beaten by a 5ft tall undergrad woman!)

Harbus: How about your best moment off the field?

AM: Celebrating with the Sloan team when we won the IM hockey championship – well I think it was good, I don’t remember too much of that day…

Harbus: And your worst?

AM: That would be when I played in the HBS Blades B-side hockey team. We had lost thirteen, nothing in our first game of the McArthur Cup, and the second team we played were much better. Lets put it this way – we just about caught glimpses of the puck!

Harbus: What other sports have you played?

AM: I’ve tried quite a few sports: Ultimate Frisbee – it’s soccer, but played with a Frisbee. When you drop the Frisbee you turn possession over to the opposition.

Yoga – I go to hot yoga in Cambridge which helps me stay flexible. The room is heated to 100 degrees and I drink at least 1/2 a gallon of water, but I still reckon I sweat out more than that!

Snowboarding – I used to ski but decided to take up snowboarding as I think they look a lot cooler! I’m too much of a wimp for East coast snowboarding so I make a couple of trips out West each year. I recommend both Vale and Beaver Creek in Colorado.

Harbus: But isn’t it hard to learn snowboarding?

AM: Yeah. You end up falling over a lot more; you don’t have poles to steady yourself and you can’t put your leg out for stability.

Harbus: I hear that you’re into motor biking as well, what got you into that?

AM: A few years a go an English friend was returning to the UK and he sold me his bike for a dollar! Last summer I attended the California Super Bike School which was great. I was taught by Keith Code, an awesome instructor who teaches racers at all levels. By my second day on the course I was dragging my footpeg on the asphalt – that felt great!

Harbus: Did you learn anything from Keith’s method of teaching that you use at HBS?

AM: He has a philosophy of accumulative learning and won’t drop you in over your head. He took a group of very different abilities and managed to get them to a similar ability level. It’s pretty similar to what we try and do at HBS.

Harbus: The biking sounds dangerous – have you participated in any other dangerous sports?

AM: Rollerblading. In Chicago I hung out with some semi-pro street-skaters which gave me a sense of bravado that didn’t meet my ability. I was on Michigan Avenue and saw a big (70 stairs) spiral staircase going down to the river. So I decided to skate down it. Backwards. I started off fine but then gathered so much momentum that I fell and managed to hit my head on the metal banister. I looked up to see the smiling tourist who had just videotaped the whole thing!

Harbus: So have you seen yourself on Americas Funniest yet?

AM: Not yet. I’m sure it will ‘surface’ if I’m ever famous.

Harbus: Do you have any advice for young athletes out there?

AM: Enjoy sports now. Your body will get stiffer, slower and more fragile as you get older. Anything you do for maintenance now (eg stretching and Yoga) is time well spent.

Harbus: On that note I think I’ll thank you for your time.

AM: Fantastic.