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Staying Power

by Jessica Krom

Updated from original post that was published on 02/21/2020.

Rice Business Equips You To Excel In 21st Century Business

Looking for a job that’s future-proof? At Rice Business, we train you instead to make your own future, with first-rate foundational knowledge, expert technical training, practical experience -- and powerful relationships based on collaboration and shared values.

A stellar career today often includes both a traditional climb up a corporate structure – and the exhilarating, high-stakes launch of a startup. Rice Business, ranked #1 in Entrepreneurship in Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine and #5 in Finance by the Princeton Review, is exceptional for its blend of high-level classroom skill and practical training, said Professor Barbara Ostdiek, our senior associate dean. “Rice Business offers a balance of a traditional core curriculum focused on foundational and functional knowledge, wrapped in opportunities to apply that learning in real-time, guided practice,” she said.

An MBA Program That Listens To Students

The outcomes speak for themselves. Class of 2020 member Doug Fiefia, born in Tonga and raised in Utah, is heading to Google as a manager in customer solutions. At Rice Business, he said, one of his most powerful learning experiences has been in student leadership. In the school’s collaborative environment, even first-semester students are pushed to lead and shape campus groups.

“During the first year of my MBA, I realized there was no formal process for voicing student concerns and ideas,” Fiefia recalled. “I met with several stakeholder groups to try to resolve this gap and we came up with a tool called Owl Voice.” Feedback from the popular tool now goes to student officers, who respond in collaboration with staff, faculty and school leadership. “I’m grateful that I am part of an MBA program that listens to students,” Fiefia said.

Linking Business And Public Policy

Norma Torres Mendoza, also class of 2020, will be going to Ernst & Young. Torres Mendoza said she chose Rice Business for its many scholarship opportunities, its size and its partnerships with international universities. A key element of her education, she said, was studying Business-Government relations with Professor Doug Schuler. “He teaches us that business should not and cannot work isolated from politics and the external world,” she said. “He created a bridge between the business and public policy worlds and has reinforced my passion for international mergers and acquisitions. Furthermore, he continues to teach us that all of our business actions have consequences, and as business leaders, we must have a consciousness about the positive and negative effects of our strategies.”

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Bringing Houston To Rice Business Students

For all Rice Business students, interacting with Houston -- the fourth largest and most diverse city in the country – is an essential part of the program. A roster of short elective courses allows our students to learn directly from the city’s top-tier business leaders on key emerging business topics. These immersive, experiential short courses cover topics such as digital disruption in financial services, block chain as a new economic infrastructure, building the data-driven firm, SQL for managers, and commercial real estate in the new economy.

 “A benefit of sitting in Houston is our ability to tap phenomenal business leaders to bring their perspective and expertise to our students,” Ostdiek said. “At Rice Business, we are able to blend a tight-knit, elite university environment with this vibrant commercial center. We make a point of bringing Houston to the students.”

Rice Business fortifies this classroom experience with hands-on work. “Our students apply what they’ve learned on messy real world problems,” Ostdiek said. Second year Rice Business students can choose from a roster of specialized “lab” courses where small teams work on real problems for corporate clients or, in some cases, the students’ own new product ideas or business acquisition initiatives. Among these courses are the Wright Fund, a student-led investment fund, the Athena marketing group, and labs focused on health care operations, supply chain challenges, international energy entrepreneurship, new enterprises, and enterprise acquisition.

Prepares You For A Range Of Opportunities

Rice Business also prioritizes diversity. Both research data and practical experience agree: 21st century business leaders need to be able to interact with a range of colleagues, economies, resources and cultures. Our program includes a required Global Field Experience that includes consulting with companies and organizations in the host country. Students also have the option of studying abroad at a broad network of partner institutions.

On campus, the tight-knit collaborative culture ensures that professors know your name – and students from an array of backgrounds become lifelong colleagues. All are eligible to tap the Doerr Institute for New Leadership for free, expert coaching on professional and personal development. To Dominic Smith, class of 2020, this Rice Business network was crucial preparation for his new position at Wells Fargo as an investment banking associate.

"I am most proud of being selected to work in the Wright Fund," Smith said. The rigorous student-led equity fund, he said, thoroughly prepared him not only for investment banking -- but a range of other possible career paths. Meanwhile, outside the classroom, as Co-President of the Black Business Student Association, Smith joined his classmates in creating an innovative business case contest for local second graders. In addition to prepping and judging the students, Smith said, his team has set up a meeting for the second graders with executives from a Fortune 100 company. The topic? Their own goals as 21st century business leaders.


Interested in learning more about the MBA programs offered by Rice Business? Send us an email at

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