Mary Matranga

MBA for Professionals Class of 2016 - Evening

Hometown: Tyler, Texas

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Texas at Austin, B.A. Art History

Employer and Job Titles: JCP Investment Management, LLC, Director of Operations

What led you to pursue an MBA? After graduating from college with a B.A. in art history, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career outside of the art world. Like many college grads who venture outside of their major, I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted to pursue. I went down a somewhat meandering path, which included running my own business and teaching first grade, before joining a small but growing investment company, JCP Investment Management. From the very first day I started at the company, I learned everything I could about JCP and the finance world and realized pretty early on that I wanted to learn how to invest and manage our portfolio. However, I knew that with a degree in art history and no formal training in finance I needed to go back to school. So about eight months after starting at JCP, I applied to Rice’s MBA for Professionals program. I chose the Professional program because I felt that it was important to gain industry experience while obtaining formal training in finance and general management. I also liked the fact that what I learned in the classroom would complement and accelerate what I was doing at work. 

Why did you choose Rice for your professional MBA? I chose Rice for several reasons. First, this program is much more integrated with the full-time program than other schools in Houston. This was important to me as I wanted the full MBA experience, which includes clubs and organizations, a beautiful university setting rather than a satellite campus in a hotel or office building, and access to the same electives and professors as the full-time program. In addition, I wanted to broaden my alumni base and therefore didn’t want to go to the same school as my undergraduate alma mater.

What has been a highlight of the program? There are really too many highlights to mention, but some of them include the people, the collaborative learning environment and all of the skills that I’ve learned. If I have to pick just one highlight, then it would have to be the people. From the admissions team, to the program coordinators, professors, other staff members and students, I have sincerely enjoyed getting to know everyone. The business school is like a big family; I feel like I’m home when I’m at school, and I’m not sure it gets better than that. In addition, my fellow classmates have all challenged me in the classroom and impressed me with their dedication, drive, and ability to “keep it together” as they juggle the heavy course load, work, family and friends. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my peers and can’t imagine going through a program without having such a tight-knit and dedicated community.

What has surprised you about the journey so far? The most surprising part is how much I’ve learned. Of course I started the program with the intention of learning a lot, but I never could have imagined the transformation that I would undergo over the next year and a half (still have another semester to go). Coming into the program I knew very little about business, accounting and finance. After completing my first accounting course I was able to go back to work and start working with our fund accountants and reviewing our portfolio books. This is one example of one class, but this same outcome has repeated for me as I’ve finished courses illustrating the high-caliber learning environment created by the course material, professors, and students throughout the program. 

What advice do you have for prospective students? The best advice that I can offer prospective students is to attend Rice Admissions events and get to know the Admissions team, the professors, current students and alumni. I would setup coffee chats with several current students and alumni who you meet at the events to try and get a better idea of what the program entails and if it is the right fit for you. Getting to know alumni and students will give insight into how the MBA experience has influenced and progressed each person’s career journey and business skills.