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Career

Strong Lead

by Janice Kennedy

What kind of boss do you want? What kind of boss do you want to be? At Rice Business, we believe leaders come in an array of styles, professional roles and personality types. What they share is the ability to bring out the best in coworkers, subordinates and even their superiors. They also display a singular skillset grounded in Rice Business values: empathetic and collaborative leadership. 

It's a distinctive formula, prized by top recruiters because it leads to effective work teams committed to their communities. In the words of Rachael Goydan, managing director of enterprise operations at Deloitte Consulting, "Rice graduates are now an integral part of Deloitte's fabric, making a strong impact through their excellent problem-solving skillset, broad business exposure and collaborative style of working." 

To nurture these skills, Rice Business offers leadership training through academics, such as Professor Jing Zhou's groundbreaking instruction on innovation, with personal coaching at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, in practice during the Capstone Courses and Action Learning Project, via the Global Field Experience and, finally, through opportunities to lead peers in team experiences and conferences. 

A Consistent Theme in the Rice Business Experience 

"The MBA experience provides a psychologically safe sandbox for students to strengthen themselves and impact their organizations, industries and society at large," said Adam Herman, executive director of the Student Program Office. "In the entire Rice Business experience, there's a through-line that helps students recognize the importance of making decisions affirming, listening to and valuing a variety of stakeholder groups." 

The impact of this experience is concentrated, thanks to the intentionally small community at Rice Business, where students are both colleagues and leaders. The high-achieving student body includes 174 full-time MBA students, ensuring a collaborative and intimate academic journey. The average class size is just 40 people, with a 9:1 faculty ratio. 

At the same time, Rice's leadership classroom literally is the world. The semester-long Global Field Experience, part of the core curriculum for full-time, professional, executive and online students, creates small teams to work on consulting projects abroad with students, companies and NGOs. 

The goal: fostering durable, productive professional relationships with overseas businesses and colleagues. Integral to this is a service-learning project, more formally known as Creative Practice, designed to forge bonds and deep understanding in the communities in which students may one day do business. During one GFE in Brazil, Rice Business students went so far above and beyond expectations for one struggling client that the business' income rose by 400 percent. 

Building Empathy Close to Home

Rice Business students also contribute closer to home, through the popular Action Learning Project for full-time students, a 13-week, team-based consultative project, in which student teams provide detailed, actionable recommendations for a company facing major challenges, and the Capstone Program, in which second-year student teams from the Professional and Online MBA programs creative comprehensive strategies for nonprofit community organizations and corporate partners. 

Overall, Rice Business ensures that teamwork and an ethic of public service are ingrained in almost everything students do from the beginning of their MBA journey, said Abbey Hartgrove, director of Global Programs and Experiential Learning. 


Rice Business Values at Work

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Julianne Katz
Julianne Katz Rice Business Class of 2021

Julianne Katz (MBA '21) is a good example of these values at work. As President of the 21st annual Women in Leadership Conference at Rice Business, she took advantage of one of Rice Business' many student leadership opportunities, managing a 15-member committee that worked with 13 corporate and organizational sponsors to launch a high-impact, widely-attended conference during the pandemic. Under Katz's leadership, more than 1,300 attendees, both in Houston and around the globe, heard from more than 45 expert speakers. In addition, Katz was a Rice Business Board Fellow, taking part in a program that engages full-time, professional and executive MBA students as non-voting board members at more than 50 Houston area nonprofits -- again, learning leadership skills while making a difference at the grassroots. 

Access to Professional Quality Leader Development

Rice Business students are also able to access university-wide resources provided by the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, such as one-on-one and group coaching as well as multi-session workshops. The Doerr Institute uses evidence-based practices with an emphasis on measuring impact to develop students cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally to effectively lead themselves, teams and organizations. "The Doerr Institute was the missing piece of the puzzle of my personal development during my Rice MBA journey," said Sujeev Chittipolu (MBA '21). "The variety of programs at Doerr helped me target and strengthen my skills to become an effective leader. I am seeing improved results at school, at work and, more importantly, at home." 

Quizi (Chu) Liang, who graduated the same year, added, "I never had a professional coach before the Rice MBA program and it opened my eyes to a different world of leadership development. Working with the Doerr Institute has helped me gain confidence, convert my weaknesses into strengths and feel proud of myself and my culture." 

Through intensive exploration and reflection, two years of classroom instruction and a smorgasbord of extracurricular and international opportunities, Rice Business conveys a message: leadership is a lifestyle and an ongoing character development process. Few skillsets pay off so well over time, many alumni often say.

"Actively working to make yourself a better leader is not always a comfortable proposition," Herman said. "Becoming a better leader should push you, and -- sometimes -- should feel like a challenge. In addition to the coursework you'll complete in business school, it is important to take advantage of a mix of opportunities that will allow you to shape a bespoke MBA experience, tailored to forge you into the leader you want to become." 

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