Nirmala Swayambunathan

MBA for Professionals Class of 2014 – Evening

B.S.,Business Management, Case Western Reserve University
Program Planner, Lockheed Martin


Prior to joining the Jones School, I was selected for the Finance Leadership Development Program at Lockheed Martin. In this program, participants are given opportunities to rotate through three different positions within business operations. I completed rotations in capital planning, financial planning and analysis, and program finance.

During the MBA selection process, I was considering three schools in the Houston area. I knew for a fact that I wanted to attend school while still working full time. My choices were narrowed down to UT Austin, Texas A&M, and Rice University. I attended each school’s version of Women’s Preview Weekend. Rice was the last stop on the journey and that weekend made me confident that the Jones School was where I wanted to be. I was most attracted to the type of people that made the Jones School feel like home for me. I realized that Rice cared more about delivering value to students than devoting all resources to managing a brand name. I felt confident that after two years, I was going to graduate with an exceptional set of skills to help me become a leader.

Leading up to Immersion Week, Rice University personnel did a great job of setting expectations. I came into Immersion thinking it would be incredibly demanding and frustrating but I left the experience realizing that this was the best possible way to understand what the next two years would be like. The experience also helped us bond with our teammates and figure out everyone’s strengths early on. My favorite part of Immersion was Strategy Class with Professor Haiyang Li – we were able to learn so much in a very condensed period of time.

I never realized how much I could really accomplish given this level of responsibility. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much I’ve grown both personally and professionally since August. I have also seen an immediate return on investment at work. Just the other day, I was having a one-on-one with my manager on how to manage conflict within my group and used tactics I learned in Organizational Behavior.