The next MBA application deadline is March 25.

Department

Rundown

A roundup of news from Rice Business and beyond

New Faculty

Emily Prinsloo
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Diana Jue-Rajasingh
Assistant Professor of Strategic Management
Cyrus Aghamolla
Associate Professor of Accounting
John Wisneski
Assistant Clinical Professor of Management – Organizational Behavior

New Leaders

We are excited to announce recent updates to our faculty leadership team, reflecting our commitment to academic excellence and innovative leadership.

As of July 1, several faculty members have taken on leadership roles. Professor of Accounting Karthik Balakrishnan is now faculty lead of the undergraduate business programs, a role previously held by Alex Butler. We express deep thanks to Alex, who held the position for eight years.

 

Shiva Sivaramakrishnan, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Accounting, is academic director of healthcare programming.

 

Nicola Secomandi, the Houston Endowment Professor of Management – Operations Management, has accepted the new role as senior advisor to the dean on energy transition. His research on the trading operations of merchant energy firms provides valuable insights into the importance of investments in the energy transition. His work will be invaluable to the school as he researches one of the biggest issues of our time.

To see our additional new faculty and to read more about our leadership positions as of July 1, please visit business.rice.edu/new-faculty.

 

Commencement

Set against a gorgeous sunset backdrop, Rice Business’ 46th graduating class walked across a stage in the iconic Rice Stadium to receive their MBA diplomas. 466 students celebrated hard-earned achievements, acknowledged the support they received from loved ones and heard from distinguished speakers. Speaking at his first MBA commencement ceremony as president of Rice University, Reginald DesRoches encouraged students to

“Be curious — never stop learning. Be courageous — stand up for what you believe. And be respectful of others — use your degree from Rice to make the world a better place for all.”

And Dean Rodriguez ended by giving the Class of 2023 one final charge: “Remember that your work is not done here tonight. … I charge you to use your leadership to be inclusive and caring so that the magic of our community continues between us and beyond us long after you graduate.”

Congratulations to the next generation of Rice MBA leaders!

 

Winning Ideas: Blue Jeans and Green Machines

Rundown of Rice Business Competitions, 2022–2023
Rice Business is consistently ranked the nation’s No. 1 graduate program in entrepreneurship. Makes sense: We’re based in Houston, a hub of innovation. We organize various forums, pitch events and accelerators. Our faculty are world-renowned. And we are home to both Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

We also host some of the country’s biggest and best student entrepreneurship competitions, including:

Every Rice Business competition has a unique mission and focus. Some are large-scale. Others are more intimate. Taken together, they represent an unmatched ecosystem for networking and new student ventures.

While competition winners may come from other schools (shoutout to FluxWorks from Texas A&M), we want to celebrate the top teams and ideas that are getting their entrepreneurial start at Rice.

Rice Business Plan Competition (Rice Alliance)

Sygne Solutions (2nd place: $100,000)

  • The Idea: To forever eliminate “forever” chemicals.
  • The Impact: Consumers can drink water free of cancer-causing PFAS. Businesses and municipalities can comply with anticipated environmental regulations.

Tierra Climate (4th place: $5,000)

  • The Idea: To progress deployment of grid-scale batteries.
  • The Impact: Corporate buyers can boost their revenues by as much as 30%. The United States can scale its battery capacity to reach net zero emissions more quickly.

Napier Rice Launch Challenge (Liu Idea Lab)

Goldie (1st place: $50,000)

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  • The Idea: To help women find their perfect fashion fit, starting with jeans.
  • The Impact: Women of all body types can confidently buy jeans online. Retailers can reduce their online returns.

Tierra Climate (2nd place: $25,000)

  • The Idea: To progress deployment of grid-scale batteries.
  • The Impact: Corporate buyers can boost their revenues by as much as 30%. The United States can scale its battery capacity to reach net zero emissions more quickly.

Separion (3rd place: $15,000)

  • The Idea: To extract lithium from brines already produced by geothermal energy.
  • The Impact: Electric vehicle manufacturers can meet the demand for battery lithium in a faster, purer and greener way.

Tidepay (Outstanding Undergraduate Award: $5,000)

  • The Idea: To streamline the onboarding and payroll process for shipping companies.
  • The Impact: Unbanked and underserved seafaring employees can gain secure financial and logistical support.

Sygne Solutions (Audience Choice Award: $1,500)

  • The Idea: To forever eliminate “forever” chemicals.
  • The Impact: Consumers can drink water free of cancer-causing PFAS. Businesses and municipalities can comply with anticipated environmental regulations.
     

Second Year in a Row: Rice Business Wins the CQA Investment Challenge

This year, for the second time in a row, a team of Rice MBAs won the Chicago Quantitative Alliance Investment Challenge. In this competition, student teams manage a simulated hedge fund from October to March, applying portfolio management skills, and then present their investment team, philosophy and performance. The challenge gives valuable real-world experience, enhances students’ resumes and creates opportunities to network with leading industry professionals. First place also receives a cash prize of $3,000. Congratulations to “The Owls of Wall Street”: Aramide Ajayi ’23, Amro Elhag ’23 and Chris Lopez ’23!

 

MBA@Rice Turns the Big 5!

This academic year marks the five-year anniversary of MBA@Rice, Rice Business’ online MBA. Here is a look at the program over time:

50
Unique Course Offered
440
Graduates Over the Last Five Years
280
Currently Enrolled Students
132
Veterans Enrolled over the last Five Years
  • 19 core classes
  • 21 elective courses
  • 10 Rice Residential courses

Companies at which MBA@Rice grads are currently employed:

  • Chevron Corporation
  • Amazon
  • McKinsey & Company Inc.
  • Oracle Corporation
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.

 

Jones Scholar Award

The Jones Scholar Award is an academic honor conferred by the faculty on students whose cumulative GPA at the time of graduation is in the top 10% of their graduating class. Each graduate of Rice Business completes a rigorous set of courses, develops a robust complement of skills and knowledge, and refines their capabilities in leadership, critical thinking and problem solving. The Jones Scholars comprise a group of students who have performed exceedingly well — with high distinction — in completing a challenging curriculum.

Dylan Ahonen
Natalie Angelaki
Gregory Baker
Ayushi Bansal
Grant V. Blazina
Ashley Elizabeth Britt
Jeff Carr
Theodore Case
Kevin Clegg
Andrew James Corman
Taylor Daczyk
Rohail Dadwani
Shibin Daniel
Zach Dansby
Carson Dorsey
James Duval
Matthew Edwards
Amro Elhag
Lindsey Ellertson
Chinedum Peter Ezeakacha
Adam Forness
Daniel Grant
Gabrielle Guttman
Michael P. Hand
Arwa Hasanali
Kade Horton
Christopher Hudson
Adam Johnson
Allen H. Johnson III
Galen Joneja
Maria Kalina
Chukwuemeka Kanu
Nicholas Khater
Mo Khosh
Brett Kingsley
Josh Klesges
Trent Alan Kostenuk
Joseph Lagasca
Donald L. Leach III
Victoria Rachel Levy
Mingyuan Li
Rebecca Loureiro
Bernardo Martin Mancuso
Catarinella
Manuel Manzanares
Miguel Marquez
Andrew J. McCooey
Shannon Miftari
Daniel Moore
Shawn Michael Murphy
Tom A. Nelson
Alex J. Oubre
Daniel Paschel
Travis Peterson
Monica Pope
Brian Power
Jonathan Powers
Shehrina Rais
Blaine Warren Rogers
Shane Rowley
Sanjay Sahasrabudhe
Reynaldo Saludares
John Sandness
Trevor D. Smith
Rameshbabu
Songukrishnasamy
Everett Vaughn
Daniel Whaley
Brendan S. Whipple
James Woodward
Stephen Wright

Learn more about the Jones Scholar Award.

 

Coming Together for Houston

Faculty, staff and students at Rice Business came together in the spring for a day of service during the Rice Business Gives Back event.

Volunteers created and packaged letter-shaped crayons for Crayon Club, a program of the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. The crayons were then distributed to children in the outpatient clinic, where they were able to curate their own collections, spelling their names with crayons.

In addition, our community members helped to feed 25,000 families experiencing food insecurity in the Houston area by volunteering with the Houston Food Bank, which is responsible for delivering food across 18 counties and serving 1 million Houston neighbors who are food insecure.

Pictured below is work by Aviia Urdiales, 17, which was submitted for Making A Mark® presented by The Periwinkle Foundation, an exhibition of art and creative writing by children touched by cancer and blood disorders at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center. Says Urdiales: “Growing up, I didn’t really enjoy visiting hospitals. … But I remember enjoying the statue of a cow on the first floor, as well as the blue one next to the elevators. The cows inspired a character taking care of the ‘child,’ the duck, by serving them ice cream.”

 

Outside the Classroom

Alumni Offer Five Tips for an Unforgettable Rice Business Experience

As every MBA student quickly learns, business school can only be understood by experiencing it. Even with a well-crafted road map, it’s only by facing trials and tests, collaborating with classmates and applying classroom concepts to real-life scenarios that the MBA program makes its impact on you.

While your academic work lays the foundation for your professional growth, there’s an entire world of opportunities and experiences waiting for you beyond the classrooms and textbooks.

Here are five ways to optimize your Rice experience outside of the classroom:

  1. Embrace the subtropical outdoors
    Houston’s Gulf Coast climate provides ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors year-round at spots like nearby Memorial Park and Hermann Park. Take advantage of parks, trails and recreational activities to de-stress and recharge. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will help you excel both academically and socially.
  2. Network in the world’s energy capital
    Houston is the energy capital of the world. While you’re at Rice Business, you can attend (or co-organize) conferences like the Rice Energy Finance Summit (REFS) and build meaningful connections with industry professionals. These relationships can open doors to internships, opportunities and valuable insights.
  3. Get to know Audrey’s
    MBA students lead busy lives and sometimes need caffeine and a quiet space to focus. Whether you prefer a latte or Americano, at Audrey’s in McNair Hall you’ll find great music, coffee and conversation.
  4. Embrace Houston’s diversity
    As the most diverse city in the United States, Houston has a wealth of cultures and experiences. Step out of your comfort zone to try new food (we suggest Chòpnblok, Traveler’s Table and Xochi); explore vibrant neighborhoods (the Museum District is a must-see); and attend cultural events (such as the Bayou City Art Festival every October). Engaging with the city’s diverse community will enrich your global business perspective.
  5. Make the most of the Texas Medical Center (TMC)
    As the world’s largest medical complex, the Texas Medical Center presents unique opportunities. Work with researchers and professionals on projects, internships or joint ventures. Here you’ll gain an edge in industries like healthcare, biotech and pharma.

 

The Ties that Bind

First Sonnenberg Scholar Named

June 20 marked five years since Annabel Massey Florescu ’20 and Andrea Edmundson Bryan ’20 lost a friend in a tragic wingsuit BASE jumping accident. Their friend, Alex Sonnenberg, was 38.

Alex’s career began in the U.S. Navy, where he worked his way into the SEAL program and then was hand-selected to join the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the top 1% of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians. During his 13 years of service, Alex was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, five Joint Service Commendation Medals (two with Valor) and the Navy Achievement Medal. He went on to earn an MBA at the Wharton School of Business and took a job in Houston with SCF Partners before becoming the CEO of an oil field services company.

Image
William C. Racz, the inaugural recipient of the Alex Sonnenberg Scholarship, a full scholarship for active duty personnel or veteran military personnel.

Annabel and Andrea wanted to remember Alex’s passion for living, recognize his service to the military and honor his impact on the Houston business community. So, they got together with Annabel’s father, Craig Massey; Donnie Young; and Adam Brock to establish the Alex Sonnenberg Scholarship, a full scholarship for active duty personnel or veteran military personnel to earn their MBA at Rice Business. This fall, a member of the online MBA’s Class of 2025 will carry forward Alex’s memory as the first Sonnenberg Scholar.

The recipient is William C. Racz, a Houston native and active duty United States Navy Seal senior chief petty officer.

Having been deployed five times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve, William continues to safeguard the nation against global challenges. He graduated summa cum laude from Norwich University with a B.S. in strategic studies and defense analysis. William’s list of accomplishments includes being a Joint Special Operations University Enterprise Management graduate, a certified United States Navy SEAL instructor and Master Training Specialist, and a member of the Rice Business Veterans Association.

The most remarkable detail of all? William and Alex were friends connected through their naval service in special operations. “His departure has left a void in our lives, but his spirit and legacy continue to inspire us,” William said.

Learn more about the Sonnenberg Scholars Program at business.rice.edu/scholarships/sonnenberg

 

Leading By Example

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg

Rice Business’ top leadership award is named for M.A. Wright, former chairman of Cameron Iron Works, founding chair of the Rice Business Board of Advisors and longtime friend of Rice Business. Students nominate peers who have excelled in leadership and exemplary service and have made significant contributions to the Jones Graduate School of Business. Here’s a look at this year’s winners — and their best advice to become better leaders.

MBA for Professionals, Evening: Heather Ragsdale
Heather Ragsdale worked in a variety of marketing roles for nearly a dozen years, the bulk of them at S&P Global, an information and price reporting agency in the energy markets. In the wake of the global pandemic, Heather had an opportunity to reflect on her life. “I realized that I had become comfortable in my current company, and that I wasn’t maximizing my true potential.” Heather saw that getting her MBA was an opportunity to learn about and experiment with new fields and industries. At the business school, she focused on entrepreneurship and strategy. She relished The New Enterprise class, during which she and classmates designed an app to help bar patrons avoid long lines to order beverages. Beyond the class assignments, the course installed fundamental principles that could easily translate into any job. After a Global Field Experience in Lisbon, and a stint as vice president and first-year representative for the Rice Business Student Association for Professionals, Heather successfully switched not only job functions, but also industries, and is now a product manager at HP Enterprise.

MBA for Professionals, Weekend: Teddy Tilahun
Teddy Tilahun studied marketing with a minor in sales at the University of Houston, then landed a job as an applications specialist at Emerson Automation Solutions, a Fortune 500 company that makes products and provides engineering services for industrial, commercial and consumer markets. From there, Teddy switched gears, moving into various sales, product manager and business development roles at Emerson around industrial automation. In 2020, he decided to get his MBA. “I wanted to refine some of my skills and learn new ones to continue to improve myself,” he says. His strategy classes at Rice, for example, helped him think outside the box when it comes to tackling complicated business scenarios. Teddy was president of the Rice Business Student Association for Professionals for the class of 2023 and focused on enhancing the student experience with community engagement opportunities and through work on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. He was also a Rice board fellow and worked with the Houston nonprofit Plant It Forward. Since last spring, he has a new role at Emerson, global product management and industry director, where he gets to focus on innovation through product solutions for the energy sector.

Full-Time MBA: Daniel Petterway
Daniel Petterway majored in finance at Xavier University in Louisiana, a historically Black university. After graduation, he worked in finance at Neiman Marcus and later Ernst & Young. Getting an MBA was always a goal, but he wasn’t in a rush. Then, his mother died from pancreatic cancer. “After she passed away, it was a wake-up call,” Daniel says. “With whatever I wanted to do, my mom would always say, just go for it.” Soon after, he applied to Rice’s MBA program and graduated with concentrations in strategy and entrepreneurship. During his favorite class, The New Enterprise, he and a team of classmates created a collaboration tool to help entrepreneurs in the art space. Daniel took on a campus leadership role as Rice Business social co-chair, planning the business school gala, and he was active in the Black Business Student Association and Entrepreneurship Association. Later this year, he will start his new role as a senior consultant at EY-Parthenon in their strategy and transaction group, Ernst & Young’s global strategy consulting arm. In the meantime, Daniel is scratching his entrepreneurial itch by investing in startups and buying real estate with the Mandala Investment Group, which he co-founded with Rice classmates.

MBA@Rice: Ashley Britt
Ashley Britt came to a career in accounting naturally — her parents and siblings all work in the field. The Houston native attended Louisiana State University, where she earned her bachelor’s in finance. In 2015, after a few years in various industries, Ashley made the switch to the energy industry. She joined retail energy supplier Spark Energy, ultimately serving as manager of the operational accounting department. In 2020, she took a role as controller with electricity provider APG&E. At around the same time, Rice’s MBA program came onto her radar. “I always knew what the Rice name stands for,” she says. “It’s the top of the top.” At the business school, she focused on corporate finance. “After working in management, I saw almost immediately how to apply lessons learned at Rice to my daily work life.” At Rice, Ashley was president and treasurer of the Rice Business Student Association for the online MBA and a member of Rice Business Women’s Organization. Her MBA helped her secure a new role she started after graduation as financial controller at renewable retail energy supplier Octopus Energy.

Executive MBA: Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin’s parents worked in the travel industry, and he grew up between Mexico City and Houston. At 18, he started working for US Airways, now American Airlines, as an airport check-in and baggage agent, eventually working his way up to Mexico managing director. After that, Larry served as the youngest CEO and executive vice president of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, taught university courses and worked in a variety of roles focused on finding executive talent. His current job is president and chairman of the board of The American Society of Mexico, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that strengthens ties between Mexico and the U.S. socially, civically, culturally, and in business and politics. Larry had a degree in business from Anahuac University in Mexico, but in 2020, he decided he wanted to sharpen his skills. At Rice Business, he tapped into his contacts to bring key business leaders to speak to students. He also arranged for a Rice Business cohort of executive program colleagues to attend The American Society of Mexico’s first binational convention, which drew thousands of attendees, including CEOs and political leaders, from the U.S. and Mexico. The skills he learned at Rice have been invaluable to both his full-time job and his consulting work. “The lessons I learned from professors and colleagues played a very important part in shaping my intellect so I can be a better executive and a better leader,” he says.


This Year’s M.A. Wright Scholars Offer Their Top Tips to Become Better Leaders:

Empower people. It’s not always easy to entrust someone with an important task that they’ve never tried, but demonstrating your confidence in their abilities by giving them stretch assignments will help build motivation and empower people to find skills they didn’t know they had.
— Ashley Britt

Surround yourself with people who have different backgrounds and perspectives than you.
—Daniel Petterway

Lead to help others, not to help yourself.
— Heather Ragsdale

Have vision. Think positively. Embrace teamwork.
—Larry Rubin

Empower employees. Trust in your teams and give team members the resources they need to accomplish their goals.
— Teddy Tilahun

 

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