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Flight Path

Half of the World Population Does Not Have Access to Clean Cooking feat. Dymphna van der Lans ’02

Owl Have You Know

Season 4, Episode 8

Rice grads end up all over the world, and Dymphna van der Lans is no exception. Dymphna has worked and lived in China, India, and Kenya and engaged with island nations in the Caribbean and the Indian and Pacific Oceans to support their transition away from polluting diesel fuels to renewable sources of energy.

Dymphna brings more than 25 years of experience managing and leading global development, energy, and climate initiatives in the nonprofit and private sectors. She is currently the chief executive officer of the Clean Cooking Alliance, and recently led international corporate engagement with the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate & Energy team.

She sits down with host Scott Gale ’19 to unpack her impressive career, her experience working internationally, developing an early appreciation for the Chinese language and culture, and her passion for the energy transition and climate initiatives.

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Episode Transcript

  • [00:00] Scott: Welcome to Owl Have You Know, a podcast from Rice Business. This episode is part of our Flight Path series, where guests share their career journeys and stories of the Rice connections that got them where they are. On this episode of Owl Have You Know, I sit down with Dymphna van der Lans, 2002 graduate of the Full-Time MBA program at Rice.

    Dymphna has an incredible background, which has led to her current role as the CEO of the UN's Clean Cooking Alliance. We unpack some of her impressive career, including prior roles at the Clinton Climate Initiative, her experience working internationally, and her passion for the energy transition and climate initiatives broadly. And of course, we talk about the role and impact of the Rice MBA on her journey. Let's get into it. So, Dymphna, welcome to the show. Just thrilled to have you here today.

    [00:52] Dymphna: Yeah, no, it's wonderful to be here with you, Scott. And I'm looking forward to the conversation.

    [00:55] Scott: So, I just want to cannonball in. You grew up in the Netherlands and have had this just incredible arc. We're going to explore that today. But I want to just, sort of, start with your early education before university. The things that you're working on now, as you look back and reflect, what are the things that really got you interested in those things? Like, what were some of the early sparks in your mind that inspired or motivated you down the career path that you've had?

    [01:25] Dymphna: Yeah, so, I'm from the Netherlands originally. I grew up in a relatively small town in the eastern side of our country, really beautiful place, went to a very nice high school, and really loved learning from a very young age. Actually, I'm very inquisitive. And I've always really enjoyed reading and exploring and just learning, like, the basic things in life. I'm the oldest of four children. So, I have three siblings.

    And when I was maybe seven or eight, my parents got me the encyclopedia, which was a thing back in the day. And they got the 24 different volumes of that encyclopedia, and they put it really low so that even at a young age, I was able to remove it from the shelf and just start reading and flipping through the encyclopedia. And I remember maybe being eight or nine, reading about a country. In this case, it was reading about China.

    And just as a young mind, because my world was still so limited to my family and my school and my, sort of, surroundings, I couldn't really comprehend that there was a country out there that was so significantly different from what my lived experience was. And so, I think that was, like, the first spark in my mind, is this realization at a very young age that I didn't know the world and it was there to be explored. And the first country I really had that with was China.

    And then as I progressed through elementary school and high school, and I was getting ready to start my, sort of, decision process around what I wanted to study, I started originally thinking I was going to do economics or law, very traditional choices, I think. I'm the first one in my family, on both of my dad's and my mom's sides, to actually go to university. So, I was a little bit on my own trying to figure that out.

    Like, what is actually out there? What do you want to do? What can you do afterwards with that? And so, I went to an open day at Leiden University, which is the oldest university in the Netherlands and a beautiful institution and went there to learn more about law specifically. And so, as I was walking the halls, there was this sign that said, "This is the room that you go to for Sinology."

    And I just happened to know that that was the study of Chinese because I had read so much about China. And so, I walked in and just felt like, "Oh, I'll just listen in." Sat in the back of the room, and Professor Edema, who was then the head of that institute, Sinology Institute at Leiden University, who's now at Harvard, he was giving that, sort of, introduction to prospective students and he said, "Well, you can study Chinese. It's really difficult. Very few people actually make it. But if you do your bachelor's, you can do a master's in Chinese economics and law."

    And I thought, "Huh? That'd be great. I'll just do three things at the same time. I'll do law and economics, but I'll also do something that I..." At the age of 17, when I was making that decision, I, sort of, intuitively, knew China was going to be a major economic player. And I knew it was going to be helpful for me to speak the language, but more importantly, like, understand how it works and how it operates and what their historical context is.

    And so, I came back home. And I said to my parents, "I'm going to study Chinese." And they're like, "Wait, what? Why?" And that time, people were studying Japanese, but nobody was doing Chinese. And so, they were like, "Okay, fine. It's your decision. You go ahead and do it." And so, that's what I did. I started at Leiden University studying Chinese in 1990.

    [04:54] Scott: That's beautiful. Awesome. And that eventually led you to the University of Beijing then. Is that, sort of, how that experience progressed?

    [05:00] Dymphna: Absolutely. So, at Leiden University, I started in 1990. We started with 90 students, 9-0. The, sort of, the first three, four years were so intense that if you missed one class, Professor Edema would, like, call your house and say, "If you're missing another class, we're kicking you out of the program," because every class, you did, like, I don't know, 20 new characters. And so, within three months, we had, like, the 1,000 character exam.

    If you missed the 1,000 character exam, you were out of the program. For four years, I did crew. I was in the women's eight. I think, for four years, I lived a little bit of, like, a monk almost. Like, you know, I would get up to row and then come back and study and study and study. And so, I enjoyed the repetition of both rowing and Chinese.

    Like, if you study Chinese, your hands need to know how to finish a character because you just learn it by writing it over and over and over again. And so, that sense of repetition just worked really well for my brain. And I did that. And then, when it was time to, sort of, choose what I was going to do for my thesis, I did an internship with a Dutch company called DSM.

    They asked me to do research around environmental protection laws in China and how they influence foreign direct investments in the energy industry, which is their background. And so, I did that. I studied at Beijing University for a year, did some research there, and then came back and did more research, and then ended up writing my thesis in Chinese and defending it in Chinese, and then graduating with, sort of, the master's in Chinese economics and law from Leiden in 1996.

    [06:38] Scott: What was it like spending time in China at that time? Can you, sort of, juxtapose, sort of, the China of today to the best you can with the China that you experienced in the, kind of, early/mid-'90s?

    [06:50] Dymphna: Yeah, there's almost no comparison. Like, even for me now, when I come back every time, and now I go back, I have a culture shock just because it's so different from the first time I went. I mean, the first time I went there was, like, just hardly any foreign students at Beijing university, for example. Like, it was just a small group of students. You biked everywhere. There was very limited opportunities to buy coffee even.

    Like, if you found coffee, that was, like, a big deal. But I loved it, you know. It was just a different environment. And it, sort of, really brought this entrepreneurship out in me. Like, I just, sort of, hustle. I just deal with the challenges that you're facing living in a campus in China with very limited services and other opportunities.

    But now when you go back, from an infrastructure perspective, it's better organized than Washington, D.C. where I live right now. And so, that difference is just really, really stark, I think. But what has never gone away is the air pollution. That is really, clearly visible as soon as you get to China. And then that part has obviously never gone away, but they've gone through a tremendous development journey, with its own challenges, obviously, but it's very, very different now when I go back.

    [08:02] Scott: That's amazing. No, thank you for sharing that. Just seems like a really beautiful experience to, like, establish that foundation early in life. You've since had the opportunity to live in a number of different places. Can you talk about how that early experience created or enabled this very global opportunity and perspective? Like, what continued to fuel that as you explored and lived in other locations or worked in other places?

    [08:28] Dymphna: Yeah, I mean, I officially, sort of, deregistered, I guess you would call it, in the Netherlands in 1999. So, when I started my MBA at Rice University in 2000, I officially, sort of, wrote myself out of being registered in the Netherlands, living in the Netherlands. And so, I have not been back and living in the Netherlands since 2000. So, we're getting at, like, 24 years now. And I don't know if it's just the original experiences for me.

    Like, my family, traditionally, like, we didn't travel much. I'm not from a diplomatic family or a Shell family or, like, none of that, but I've always really, really enjoyed it. And I think, I've just realized that I actually really enjoy figuring stuff out and finding myself in new places and just, like, trying to really quickly understand how the system works and how the people work and how I operate most effectively and efficiently in a different context that is not my own.

    And I'm very comfortable doing that. I'm excited about it, but it doesn't give me anxiety. Like, none at all. It gives me energy. And so, I think that has always really, sort of, driven me towards just being comfortable with exploring different cultures and working in different countries. I haven't lived everywhere I worked, but I'm always comfortable going to new places. I think I will share the biggest culture shock moving to a new country and a new place I have ever had was actually when I moved to Houston, Texas.

    [10:00] Scott: Oh, please tell me more.

    [10:02] Dymphna: I think of all the places where I've actually moved and lived to, including Beijing, and I lived in India for a while, the biggest culture shock was Texas. Like, I couldn't figure it out as easily as I thought I would be able to. And so, although I had two fantastic two years at Rice University and I loved it, loved it, loved it, there were days where I'm like, "I have no idea what is happening here." It's hard for me to make the interpretation of what actually is being said.

    And so, yeah, I think that was a big adjustment for me. Like, the big houses and all of that stuff. I remember we moved into our house, and we didn't have a lot of furniture because we're a little Scandinavian, I guess. And, like, our neighbors were, like, "When is the rest of your furniture arriving?" I'm, like, "This is it. Like, we don't have any more." So, it's just, like, that was always, yeah, that was always interesting to me.

    [10:50] Scott: I love that. There's this great, sort of, statement that resonates with me is, it says, "Travel not to see a foreign country, but to see your home country as a foreign country." How did Rice eventually come onto the scene for you? Like, why Rice? Like, why make the decision to come to Houston and experience that?

    [11:10] Dymphna: Well, I was already in Houston, because at that time, I worked for this energy company in the Netherlands, and they had a sales office and operations in Texas and the United States. So, we were already in Houston, in Houston, Texas. And so, once I had decided that I wanted to get my MBA, Rice was the obvious choice because of location.

    And for me, the decision personally to get an MBA was, although early on, I made decisions around really focusing on China and, like, becoming an expert on, like, doing business in China, I didn't want to be the China girl for the rest of my life. And I would find myself in business meetings at this company.

    And I was in the meeting to bring my expertise and observations around the joint venture deals that we were negotiating as a China expert, but I was never asked to do, like, my contributions as just, like, a businessperson, like, a generalist businessperson. And I found myself in those meetings so very often going, like, "Well, actually, I think I know how to do this."

    Like, I know how to make a contribution, but, like, I never had the courage, I guess, in a way, to use my voice in those meetings. And so, when I decided I wasn't going to be the China girl for the rest of my life, I felt that getting an MBA would help me find a different voice and find, sort of, like, my strength and, like, my ability to stand on my own in business conversations that weren't just about the fact that I understand China.

    [12:39] Scott: Can you talk a bit more about how that has played out now over time? Like, how the Rice experience has delivered that for you?

    [12:47] Dymphna: Yeah, it really, really has. And it was interesting. I think I realized that I was getting it really early on in my Rice experience. Like, I think within the first two weeks or something, I'm like, "This is it. This is my home. This is what I'm supposed to do. I love it. I get it. It's challenging, but this is the language I actually want to speak."

    And then instead of the Chinese, this is actually the language I want to speak. And so, I just totally, totally embraced the whole experience and just, like, gobbled it all up and just, like, did everything I could because all of that gave me so much more confidence. There's a thing about trusting your own instincts and your gut and, like, I think my ability to sense what's happening in a room and in the system.

    Like, I had the language to apply that to different situations that I didn't have before. I always had the feeling that I was understanding it, but I never had the language to actually articulate what I was seeing or even articulate a vision for how to work through things. And so, there was one class that was called Power, Influence, and Politics. I don't know if they still teach it. Oh...

    [13:55] Scott: They teach a Power and Influence class. I don't know how much of the politics component is interwoven, but there's something.

    [14:01] Dymphna: But that was my class. Like, that was the class, because of all the drawings on the board as well that, like, connect different people and different situations, like, that is how my mind works. Like, I think in systems all the time. And I picked up the language to articulate what that actually means in a business context or an international context, I would say, at Rice. And it was just a fantastic two years for me.

    [14:26] Scott: So, Dymphna, one of the things that I wanted to make sure that we covered here today was your thoughts on mentorship as a woman in energy and working your way through all of these different roles. Can you talk a little bit about your perspective on mentoring other folks and women in the space?

    [14:43] Dymphna: Yeah. I mean, I think from when I started working really early on, I've always realized that what I needed most was actually the peers around me providing me with thoughts and observations around how I was showing up and what I was learning and how I was doing. And so, I think, very often, people think about mentorship as a... you either are a mentor or you're a mentee. And it's almost like a top-down, kind of, situation.

    I think my approach to mentoring has been much more around, sort of, like, lateral. Like, how do I find those women, in my case mostly, in my life who will not take any nonsense from me, who I cannot trick into making them think that I'm fantastic. And so, I think for when I mentor, I do a lot of mentoring. I never say no to a mentoring request. If a woman specifically asks me if I can mentor them or they can have a mentoring conversation with me, I will always say yes.

    But I found the real true power and, sort of, honesty to be in those peer mentoring conversations. And when you do those, to be explicit about it, this is not just, like, a friend or friends talking about something over a coffee. It is actually a fundamental question that you're wanting other people to filter back to you or mirror back to you that really maybe hindering you in your projection or your ability to execute or balancing your life as a mother has always been a big question for me as well.

    And for a long time, I was raising my daughter by myself. And so, those conversations are so important. And I would encourage anybody to, like, seek those out and be really thoughtful about them and ask good questions and really listen and reflect back on what that means for you in a position of leadership.

    [16:37] Scott: That's so important. Oh, thank you for sharing. Can you talk about your time and focus on renewables and, kind of, the alternative energy work that was, sort of, done? That's a really interesting time period. The aughts of, kind of, the 2000s. Would love to, sort of, understand how that, how that unfolded and what drove you in that direction.

    [16:56] Dymphna: Yeah, no, definitely. So, at BP, when I was there, I worked for them in Shanghai for a couple of years and I came back to headquarters on St. James's Square. And that was the period where Lord Browne, who was then the CEO of BP, launched BP Alternative Energy. They were the first major to do it. So, he was always an amazing visionary and an amazing leader to work for.

    But they were one of the first major oil companies or energy companies to do it. And the person who was leading that, Vivienne Cox, who was the CEO of BP Alternative Energy, had heard about me and what I had been... sort of, my career. And I was identified as a high potential for the company. And so, she offered me the possibility to do this job with her as the director of BP Alternative Energy. It's, like, distributed energy.

    And so, it was always renewable energy. And in my portfolio, it was all the renewable energy that wasn't grid-connected. So, as soon as it's not grid-connected, it was in my portfolio, which means, for example, that for a couple of years, we were setting up business units in India that was really focused on biogas and gasification. And so, you could use waste product from agricultural processes and stick it in this gasifier and out comes electricity pretty much.

    You can convert it and create power out of it. That's, sort of, how I moved into the renewable energy space. And I think once you've moved in the energy companies away from the traditional energy spaces to the renewable energy spaces, there is no way that you're moving back to the other side. After that, I stayed within the renewable energy space and energy efficiency for the rest of my career.

    [18:43] Scott: That, sort of, leads you directly to the Clinton Climate Initiative. How did you get involved as the CEO of that organization?

    [18:50] Dymphna: Yeah. So, actually, first, when I left the BP, I worked in private equity for a couple of years to look at this energy efficiency funds that we were doing and renewable energy funds that was focused on the Asia and China as well. And I did that because I felt, although I worked for BP for many years, the, sort of, the financial markets were not necessarily, like, really comfortable to me at that moment.

    And so, I felt it would be good to just understand the language that's associated with investments and fund management and the pension funds and all of those different entities a little bit better so that I could incorporate that as part of my portfolio as well. And then I moved to Washington, D.C. about 13 or 14 years ago, I guess, now.

    That's when I actually left the private sector and moved to the nonprofit sector and started working first for a think tank, the German Marshall Fund, always focused on energy and energy transition. And then from that, was headhunted to join the Clinton Foundation as the CEO of the Clinton Climate Initiative. And so, I worked for several years for President Clinton and Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, too.

    Within my portfolio, I was responsible for climate, energy transition, forestry, and oceans, which was really, really broad and super interesting. So, I had, like, climate energy, but they also had both of the major carbon sinks in my portfolio. And so, to be able to, like, use this systems thinking approach to all of those things at the same time was fantastic and just, like, a really, really amazing opportunity and a huge honor, obviously, to work for.

    When I was this young girl reading the encyclopedia in this tiny town in the Netherlands, in the eastern part of the Netherlands, and going to school, I was not envisioning in my career that I was going to end up working for a former president of the United States.

    [20:38] Scott: No, it sounds like a really incredible, sort of, opportunity certainly, but, sort of, a vantage point, if you will, to, sort of, see where, sort of, all of this was going. It's such an important topic. Is there a story that you could share working that closely with the Clintons? Is there an experience or a, or a story that you'd like to share of having spent time, just the experience of working with a former president?

    [21:03] Dymphna: I mean, it's humbling, right? And I think one of the things that really inspired me working for all of them, but specifically for President Clinton, is his ability to hold the whole space and his ability to be such a big thinker and constantly make those connections that, I think, somehow I can make but he just does it so quickly.

    And I think that that, sort of, ability to be fantastic listener but really able to just be passionate connectors, that is, like, amazing to experience and yeah, just, like, a real honor. You know, I think my mom was most proud of me when I did that job.

    [21:45] Scott: No, that's super cool. Such a unique opportunity.

    [21:48] Dymphna: Oh, for sure.

    [21:49] Scott: Then my understanding is that you spend some time with the World Wildlife Fund's climate and energy team. Can you talk a little bit about that experience there and then how you've eventually transitioned? I want to spend some time, of course, talking about the Clean Cooking Alliance.

    [22:02] Dymphna: No, after that, I went and worked for WWF here in the United States. They have a fantastic program that's called the Renewable Energy Buyers Association. And so, they work with the large corporates in Europe, but global organizations like Apple and Walmart and others to work with them to make sure that for their operations, they're actually purchasing renewable energy to power their own operations.

    And so, a lot of that has to do with policy and the right policy environment. That initiative originally focused on the United States. And they were looking for somebody to expand that to China, India, and Mexico. When I joined WWF, that was my responsibility to think through how to launch this in different... or extend it in these different markets.

    It's really interesting because you think that some of these approaches would be very similar, but obviously, it goes back to policy again and making sure that the right policies do exist for companies because in the end, it is also a commercial decision, right? There can be a target that they're putting out there. We're going 100% renewable, but it has to be something that they can actually do from, like, a cost-benefit perspective as well.

    So, working with the companies and the governments and the different provinces, if the countries are really big, like China and India, to make sure that these companies in their expansion are actually thinking about, “How do we power these operations from a renewable energy perspective.”

    [23:28] Scott: Very cool. You spent some time in some island nations helping with... they've got unique power needs and difficulties, some of which is the need for dispatchable energy. Some of them in, particularly, in the Caribbean that get hit by hurricanes on occasion and knock out the whole island's power, you've got limited space for landfill.

    How do you get, sort of, energy on the island, waste off the island, all these things? Can you, can you share just briefly a bit, a bit about, sort of, your work in these island nations and how some of those challenges are maybe unique to other countries you've worked in?

    [24:01] Dymphna: Yeah, I mean, all of those challenges exist. And at the same time, there's a huge opportunity for these nations because the system they have to think about is quite clearly defined. It's contained within the island, right? And so, the system you're designing for already exists within the islands.

    And so, we did a lot of work with the utilities specifically in these islands to help them think through their energy loads and how to negotiate these new renewable energy projects that were being created specifically around solar and some floating solar as well in the Seychelles and other opportunities that they were exploring, so just to make sure that the contracts were negotiated fairly and equitably.

    But what's interesting is, like, I don't know, but, like, as a systems thinker, I really enjoyed working with the island nations because it's such a contained system, which was really, really fantastic, and some great leadership there, political leadership in different parts of the world, as well, that they continue to show.

    [25:01] Scott: Yeah, it seems like a really interesting microcosm of, kind of, what could work in some learnings that could be applied, sort of, more broadly. So, tell us about the Clean Cooking Alliance. What is it? What's its mission? What is clean cooking?

    [25:15] Dymphna: Yeah. So, the Clean Cooking Alliance, it's a global NGO. And so, it was started more than 10 years ago with the mission to really make sure that by 2030, there's universal access to clean cooking. So, I think it probably would surprise many of the people listening that half of the population currently in the world does not have access to clean cooking.

    And so, they still depend on preparing their food every day over a three-stone fire with firewood that have to be collected by the women and the children, and increasingly further and further away. Just as they have to walk further and further away to get water, they have to go further and further away to get firewood, and then bring them back with, like, huge risks to their own health and wellbeing as well. And then they have to cook over an open fire.

    And the smoke and the inhalation impacts their health immediately. And the health of the woman, the health of the children in the kitchen with her, the health of the unborn children is impacted by the smoke inhalation. And so, my organization, we're about 50 people. We work with a whole bunch of different partners to make sure that countries in the Global South are thinking about how they're transitioning to access to clean cooking.

    We work with companies to help them... We're already providing these solutions to help them continue to grow. We work with the governments directly. We work with, sort of, adjacent ecosystems to help them think about what it means to have access to clean cooking and how you think about clean cooking projects. It's fantastic work.

    It gets ignored all too often because for people, it doesn't feel like an energy issue. It's a household issue. It mostly impacts women. So, it often gets overlooked. And my job is to make sure it doesn't and gets funding. And you mentioned, sort of, population growth earlier on. And so, for clean cooking, we're barely keeping up with population growth in our excess numbers.

    And so, that has to change. It's unacceptable to me that in this day and age, when I can check my washing machine at my phone and my fridge will tell me if I'm running out of milk that we're still letting people die, like, millions a year by cooking over open fire. So, that's what we do.

    [27:22] Scott: That's super interesting. And I think that it is underappreciated that there's literally billions of people on the planet that are cooking over open flame, whether it's biomass or animal dung or something as, like, a source of fuel. What are some of the solutions being deployed to address that?

    Is it just access to electrons? Is it powering? Is it, sort of, like, a local, you know, a propane stove is a big step forward? Can you talk us through, sort of, like, what are the steps that need to be taken to, sort of, work somebody into a cleaner cooking, kind of, environment?

    [27:54] Dymphna: Yeah, for sure. So, if you think about the trajectory from, like cooking over an open fire, towards what would be the ultimate goal, which is using electricity for e-cooking. So, you use electricity to do all of your food preparations, which is a goal for not just the Global South. It's a goal for the United States and for Europe as well. And except for California. Nobody's really set any targets around that.

    But that whole trajectory, it's going from open fires to improved cook stoves, so the stove itself becomes better and more efficient, to improved stoves that use briquettes so that then the fuel source also becomes more efficient, so you have a better stove and more efficient fuel sources. And then there's a suite of other options that are available, including biogas, for example.

    So, if you have a farm with animals, you take the manure, you put it in the biogasifier, and then you can use that for cooking as well. So, biogas, bioethanol, ethanol, LPG. And so, you go up to that chain towards, ultimately, at some points in the future, a grid that's powered by renewable energy that allows people to cook not using gas or anything.

    [29:04] Scott: It's really inspiring. Learning a ton here. If people wanted to learn more about it or to get involved or to support, is there a mechanism for that? Or what's, sort of, the best way for people?

    [29:15] Dymphna: Yeah, it would just be through our website. And then there's a general outreach that people can do. And if they mentioned my name and Rice, then my team will make sure I get it as well. Yeah.

    [29:25] Scott: Okay. Super. Yeah, we'll include some of that information in the show notes. I wanted to, sort of, ask here as we're, kind of, wrapping up. In 10 years, you know, it'll be 2033. We'll still have some time to go before, sort of, reaching the Paris Agreement and all these things.

    There's so many different scenarios that are, kind of, playing out. In 10 years, do you feel like there's, sort of, something that's on a path that's going to really lead to this future energy system that we're all talking about? Or, sort of, what will, what will be different about the world 10 years from now?

    [29:58] Dymphna: I do. Like, I'm a very optimistic person. I think you have to be if you're in this space. So, I do think we're on the right path. I mean, speaking to the issue that I'm focused on, I can really, really feel that things are shifting in the system right now.

    And if we do make progress on just, again, on my issue on clean cooking in the next three years, I have no doubt that the impact of that will be so significant that seven years after that, other organizations, global organizations, will go, like," Actually, we can see how it's working." It's not difficult to solve. Like, it's actually not that difficult to solve.

    And so, proving that out at large scale, moving away from pilot projects, and proving stuff out at large scale, and showing other organizations that have the power and the money that it can be done is what will shift all of this. And so, I have no doubt that it's possible. It's not that difficult, but it requires... Like, I cannot have another person say to me, "Oh, we'll do a pilot somewhere." Like, that, we have no more time for pilots. Like, we're done with pilots.

    [31:04] Scott: Yeah. It's time to scale, it's time to scale.

    [31:06] Dymphna: It's time to scale people, for sure, for sure.

    [31:09] Scott: No, that's awesome, that's awesome. All right. So, this has been a ton of fun, Dymphna. I've got, kind of, one last question, is just if you're having a conversation with somebody that's considering a Rice Business experience, what kind of advice do you give them as they, sort of, make that decision?

    [31:24] Dymphna: Yeah, I think, to me, it's not just about, like, choosing Rice or another school, it's really, like, once you're there, fully embracing it. And just, like, it's a privilege. It is a privilege. I could never understand people who wouldn't go to a class and be like, "Oh, it's fine. I'm skipping class." I'm like, "How are you skipping class?"

    It's a privilege to be there. It's an amazing institution. There's going to be amazing professors. There's going to be some amazing peers. And so, you just got to, like, go for it. And, like, this hunger for knowledge. It's not just about being able to say, "I have my MBA." It actually matters what you're learning. Like, the learning part of it actually matters.

    And so, mentor other people. Like, just go for it. Like, there's so much you can do once you're there. I wish I could go back. When I was thinking about this conversation yesterday evening over dinner with my husband, I'm like, "Maybe I should just go back."

    [32:18] Scott: Well, come back for alumni reunion and come spend some time. Dymphna, it's been a real privilege to spend some time with you today. Thank you for coming on the show.

    [32:26] Dymphna: Oh, it's been wonderful. Thank you. I appreciate it. Good questions! Liked it.

    [32:31] Scott: Thanks for listening. This has been Owl Have You Know, a production of Rice Business. You can find more information about our guests, hosts, and announcements on our website, Please subscribe and leave a rating wherever you find your favorite podcasts. We'd love to hear what you think. The hosts of Owl Have You Know are myself, Scott Gale, and Maya Pomroy.

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