Ernest Mayfield

Rice Executive MBA

Hometown (City and State): Beaumont, TX

Undergraduate School and Major (Include Graduate School if Relevant): US Air Force Academy; B.S. in Management

Employer and Job Titles: Air National Guard; Fighter Pilot & Director of Operations 138th Fighter Wing Detachment 1, Ellington Field

What led you to pursue an MBA?
I’ve chosen to pursue an MBA because I want to develop the key skills necessary to succeed in the business world and enhance the 20-year career I’ve built in the US Air Force. It is apparent to me that there are some interesting similarities and synergies between the commercial world and the military, and the Rice EMBA is helping me understand how to leverage my experience and expertise across both of them. It is providing me with critical insights through coursework, eminent professors and diverse classmates to enable me to increase my business acumen and prepare to successfully transition into the commercial business world.

Why did you choose Rice for your executive MBA?
The Rice Executive MBA program is the perfect fit – a world-class institution right here in the city of Houston. Participating in the Executive MBA allows me the ability to live, study and work in a large metropolitan city and learn from world-renowned professors that are not only knowledgeable in all aspects of global business but are also experts in the industries that are the backbone of our local economy. Physical connection to a first-rate facility and faculty was also a huge factor in my decision making. The campus of Rice University is beautiful, and it’s nice to visit with professors during mid-week to ask questions or discuss current events. I am also a first-hand witness to the transformative impacts of a Rice EMBA because I am married to a Rice Business graduate. My wife is a successful working professional, having built a career on the skills attained and network shaped by her Rice Business education.

What has been a highlight of the program?
By far the highlight, for me has been the interaction with my fellow classmates in the EMBA program. To be able to draw from the experience and knowledge base of such a high-quality group of working professionals at similar points in their career is important to me.  It helps me enjoy my class experiences that much more!

What has surprised you about the journey so far?
I am surprised at just how enjoyable going back to school is for me! My classmates and the great faculty create an environment where I am excited for class weekends. The coursework is presented by experts who are educational leaders in their field, and I find the topics interesting and relevant not only to today’s business environment but also my own sector in the Department of Defense. I’ve enjoyed identifying principles discussed in class and applying them back to my current work environment.

What advice do you have for prospective students? 
Be prepared to commit some time and attention to the program! Start working now to solidify good practices to help gain and maintain a strong work-life balance at home, in your workplace and at school. Taking on an EMBA at this point in your career is probably a large undertaking, but it is most definitely doable with the right focus and some solid support from family and employers alike. There is no time like the present!