On-Campus Interview Series: The Greatest Athlete at HBS?
Every once in a while you meet that kind of freak athlete that makes you feel fat, slow and uncoordinated. Rafa Guida Masoni (OC) is nothing short of a sporting genius. He tears the opposition apart with deft passing, hard tackling and incisive running on the rugby field. He also kicks 50 yards with both left and right feet. He scored 27 goals in section soccer, and is brilliant at tennis and squash. He recently took up golf, and has already worked his handicap down to the low teens. And to top it all off, he is a true gentleman, a diligent scholar and he’s also unfailingly modest. I caught up with the maestro in The Grille to find out the secrets of his success, and have a chat about his illustrious career to date.
Fact File: Rafa ‘Maestro’ Guida Masoni
Height: 5 feet 11 inches
Weight: 181 pounds
Marital Status: Married
Favorite Food: Asado (Argentine BBQ with many
different cuts of beef)
Favorite Drink: Sao Cola (beverage made by his family company in Argentina)
Favorite Film: Braveheart
Favorite Band: U2
Nickname: The Thief
How Acquired Nickname: My teammates told me I was too slow to play first division, but I somehow made people miss tackles, and stayed in the top level for 15 years, so they think I must be a ‘thief’ somehow.
Harbus: How would you respond to claims that you are the greatest all-around athlete at HBS?
Rafa Guida Masoni: The reason for that is that I have good press, because I don’t think I’m the best athlete. It’s just thanks to people like you and Michael Wharfe (OC) who call me ‘Maestro’ in the Harbus.
Harbus: We still think you are the greatest, so let’s go through your record.
Harbus: What is your win-loss record in tennis since you came to campus?
Harbus: In squash?
Harbus: In table tennis?
Harbus: In IM soccer?
Harbus: So your overall win-loss record in social sports is 47 wins and 1
loss, and STILL you claim you’re not the greatest?
RGM: [Smiles modestly. Makes no further comment]
Harbus: You are in fantastic shape and play every sport well – what advice would you give to our readers?
RGM: I think there’s something to be said about starting sport early and sticking with it. You have to do something regularly. It’s not good enough to do one month and then stop for two months. And you should play whatever sports you enjoy. Some people like individual sports, some enjoy team sports. I’ve never once been inside a gym or ever lifted weights, but some people enjoy that.
Harbus: And what sport do you prefer to play?
RGM: I enjoy team sports, and rugby is my favorite.
Harbus: Why is it your favorite?
RGM: It’s a great team sport – there is a position for everyone to play, whether you are fat, light, tall, short and so on. It’s a very social game and you get to bond with your teammates. It’s not a game where ‘stars’ win games – you really need to work together to win games. Also, it’s a physical game – while you can get into fights on the pitch, you’ll still have a beer after the game. I like the camaraderie.
Harbus: In 15 years of rugby, does any one moment stand out for you?
RGM: In club rugby in Argentina, we qualified for First Division with a small club (45-50 people) playing against many huge clubs of 100-120 people – this would be like Harvard playing one of the big American football teams and holding their own. Since I’ve been at HBS, the best moment was probably in the Quarter-Finals of the MBA World Cup at Duke. We were playing Ivey and I scored all the points in a 13-0 win that took us to the Semi-Finals.
Harbus: Are there any moments that you’d rather forget?
RGM: My team was relegated to the 2nd division, and we had a chance to get promoted to the 1st. We needed three points from the remaining three games. I was Captain, and somebody deliberately stepped on my hand after five minutes. The fourth metacarpal in my hand popped out of my skin and then popped back in again. I played the rest of the game with a broken, bloody hand and we won. However, I went to hospital immediately afterwards, missed two games, which we lost, and didn’t make it back up to the top division.
Harbus: And you’ve seen a lot of the world through rugby – has anything especially exciting happened while you’ve been on tour?
RGM: My club was on tour in Penang and we went to a bar. We were working our Argentine charm and started making friends with the Malay girls. One guy comes over and tries to kick us out. We thought ‘there’s 30 of us, and five of them’ so we stayed put. However, he came back with around 60 guys and they chased us out of the bar and ran through the streets behind us shouting and actually shooting guns at us. We ran back to our hotel and went to our rooms. There we were – rugby ‘macho men’ – cowering while the mob was outside. They eventually lost interest in the siege and we lived to play on. Although we didn’t go back to that bar!
Harbus: What do you like to do when you’re not reading cases or playing sports?
RGM: I like reading books – I read The Da Vinci Code recently and it was great. I consider myself a social guy and like hanging out with friends. I also like to travel a lot and some of my favorite places are Hayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Cape Town and France.
Harbus: And we hear you have a special fondness for blondes?
RGM: Yes. Blondes with blue or green eyes.
Harbus: Was this a problem for you in Argentina?
RGM: I think you always like what you don’t have. I’ve had lots of girlfriends since I was 16 and every one was blonde – from the very first to my lovely wife Melina.
Harbus: We have also seen you steer OC to an undefeated run in IM soccer. Were they good times?
RGM: Definitely. IM soccer turned out to be more competitive than I thought, and we put together a really good team. We got lots of support from Section C. It was nice to contribute to the Section and be recognized as such.
Harbus: Do you care to comment on the sickening foul that was put on you by a certain MKT professor in the Grand-Final?
RGM: No comment. The best team won on the day.
Harbus: Let’s finish with one business question. What would you do about the Argentine economy?
RGM: For now, it’s improving already. It’s rebounded and is growing at 10% a year, although some sectors like tradable goods ad tourism have benefited more than others. I’d try to improve the distribution of income, because the devaluation brought social problems and inflation, which is really a tax on the poor. Wages froze, inflation rose, and real wages went down. At the same time, I’d provide incentives for other sectors to grow – in particular by reforming the tax system and promoting investment. Argentina should look outside to export. We have the resources, so we just need to learn to generate some value-added on those and export them.
Harbus: Maestro, thank you very much for your time.
RGM: Thank you.