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Student Stories

Meet Mark Watson, MBA '23

Why did you choose Rice Business?

Aside from my outstanding experience at Rice University’s Diversity Preview Weekend, the stature of Rice’s Real Estate and Entrepreneurship programs played a significant part in my decision to apply to – and ultimately choose – Rice. As someone who aspires to make a transition into commercial real estate development and eventually start his own development firm, I wanted to be submersed in an environment that would regularly expose me to industry leaders so that I could learn how to not only start my own venture, but also scale it to a level of sustained success and impact in the communities that I hope to serve.

What are you most proud of from your time at Rice Business?

My proudest moment as an MBA student thus far has been successfully juggling external real estate opportunities while also being a Full-Time MBA candidate. Although being in business school is a demanding endeavor, with intentional prioritization and planning I’ve learned that you can leverage your MBA network to also explore auxiliary prospects that can exponentially transform your career and/or entrepreneurial trajectory. 

How has your Rice helped you in your career?

Rice immediately transformed my career trajectory by showing me the true power of a network. Prior to my business school experience, I was aware that one’s network could be of value, but I never truly understood the magnitude of that notion until stepping foot at Rice Business. From the various diversity networks that I am a part of (Toigo, Consortium, Management Leadership for Tomorrow) to being surrounded daily by such dynamic and successful colleagues at the business school who hold powerful connections from their past lives; I know that at any point in time I am only one or two connections away from reaching anyone of influence.

What advice would you give prospective students who are considering an MBA?

Although most will prioritize the quantitative aspect of the MBA admissions process when soliciting advice (ex. GMAT), the qualitative component of one’s candidacy to Rice Business is also of utmost importance. Rice Business prioritizes authentic individuals who seek to make impact through a collaborative work style and who are genuinely excited about Rice and all it encompasses. Those seeking admission into the Jones Graduate School of Business should be sure to refine their “why,” regarding not only their desire to enroll in a Top-25 business school but Rice in particular. In doing so, I’d recommend providing examples in your application highlighting life experiences that are unique, genuine and that can attest to your motivations for attending business school and this institution specifically. By refining your “why,” a candidate not only furthers their application, but also now has a motivational goal post to reference when enduring a rigorous course load throughout their matriculation. 

What do you think organizations should do better to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment?

One simplistic, but dynamic change that organizations can do to better build a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization is to fundamentally shift the order in which they prioritize the three elements of diversity, equity and inclusion to make sure that equity stands at the forefront. Organizations can accomplish this by first acknowledging that societal inequities exist within their firm – unintentionally or not – then clearly outlining motivations and establishing concrete goals; attempts for diversity and inclusion will be more sustainable and accepted at a higher clip within their organization with a well-established foundation. 

What suggestions do you have to work with allies within the workplace or at school?

Working with allies requires unfiltered and authentic safe spaces for communication. Only by creating a safe haven for idea generation, sharing of experiences and goal dissemination can the mission of the group and their allies be accomplished. 

In addition, allies should be treated as equal-bodied constituents whose opinions are valued and not belittled due to their “ally” status. When allies are treated as equals, they possess an added level of commitment and responsibility to the cause, above and beyond what they would have had if thought of as simply an accessory to a mission. 

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