Jim Barry ’84
When I grew up I wanted to be a fireman. In kindergarten we toured a fire station, and the firemen had a cake for us, so I came back and told my mom that firemen had great parties so that’s what I wanted to be. My mother not missing a beat told me that firemen had good parties but doctors had great parties. So it is safe to say I understood that I was expected to go to college when I got older.
As a high school student I knew I wanted to go into business, I was involved with entrepreneurs from a young age, my mom even had a t-shirt business, so it was everywhere in my life.
I decided to major in business for undergrad at Boston University. When deciding to come to the Jones School, I knew of Rice University and its good reputation. Boston University is a very large private university. We would have 500 people in a class, but I wanted an education that was a little more personal, and Rice fit the bill perfectly. I also received a scholarship from Rice to come here which is why I believe giving back is so important. Rice believed in me when I needed it and now for me it’s payback time.
When I went to the Jones School it was housed in Hermann Brown Hall and had one floor there. The class of 1984 was the last class to graduate out of Hermann Hall, my wife’s class graduated out of Herring Hall. We were a small class of about thirty people and the class behind us was about fifty. One of my classmates constantly called us the runt of the litter. At the time in Houston there was a down economic time in oil and real estate, there were many houses bought on spec and then didn’t sell. Rice Village was a dump, literally a dump. There were two restaurants and the rest was scary to be in. It is amazing to see how it has all changed.
I remember the great faculty we had back then, to name a few, Duane Windsor and Randy Batsell, whom I worked for as a research assistant. Al Napier was someone I worked for on weekends setting up computers for executives loading Dos and Lotus. Steve Zeff taught us all accounting. Eddie Williams comes to mind. I thought the entrepreneurship course was awesome. In my mind I had two business plans, one was a programming firm that did financial modeling, the other was a micro-brew, but the capital requirements were too expensive. I remember in school we had to learn IFPS, a main frame financial modeling program. You could use English to program and model and build the spreadsheet. Two major industries used it, energy and pharmaceuticals; and it did the Monte Carlo analysis which I think is still taught here. I worked as an admissions counselor for the Jones School and went to 50 colleges to talk to seniors about the Jones School. I ended up going to work for Execucom who made this program right after I got out of Rice and went to New York City to work for them in a building overlooking the Chrysler building. About five years later I started my own consulting business. Rice is where I met Subha, my wife. I was in the RMC looking for postings for apartments and I saw her come in and I knew she would be special in my life, and we have been married now for 27 years.
In my free time, I like to travel, I enjoy watching Yankees baseball of course, but I love watching it in general. I just started taking up bike riding which I like a lot. I enjoy going to concerts. When I was an undergrad I saw a load of very popular acts in bars in Boston. I saw bands like the Go Gos, Blondie, the Cars, and the Ramones. Recently I went and saw the Stones on their last concert with Bruce Springsteen, who I am a huge fan of.
Rice was very good to me and my family and will always have a special place in my heart. Our daughter graduated from Rice in 2010 and is now in medical school. Subha, my wife graduated in 1985 from the Jones School, one year after me. I serve as a member of the Jones Graduate School Alumni Association board, and being on the board is a great way to stay active. It is really rewarding to be able to represent the earlier years of the school, because 30 years ago things were quite different than how they are today. For the folks out of town who haven’t been back, I would encourage everyone to come out to our Jones School reunion this April 25-26! It will be a great opportunity to see how much things have changed. I look forward to seeing you all there!