2015 MBA To Watch: Kyle Rojas

Kyle Rojas

Kyle A. Rojas


Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

How is this for respect? Some 90% of Kyle Rojas’ classmates voted for him to receive an award for graduates who “best model leadership, exemplary service, and significant contributions to the Jones Graduate School.” A 12-year Air Force veteran, Rojas admitted school was initially a struggle. “I was at school over 12 hours a day and studying long into the night, only to sleep a few hours and get back to it the next day” is how he puts it, adding “I didn’t have much of a life during the first year, even on weekends and holidays!”

But Rojas persevered, earning the admiration of his classmates and the honor of being elected president of the Student Association. Distinguished by his “passion,” his “hard-work” and “service,” his extracurricular activities also included being an admissions ambassador, a veteran transition mentor and vice president of the operations club at Jones. He will work in Goldman Sachs’ Houston office after graduation.

Age: 31

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

Undergraduate School: University of Maryland University College (Attended 4 years while I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan from 2004-2008)

Undergraduate Degree: Asian Studies, with a minor in Japanese Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I served 12 years in the U.S. Air Force, with countless job titles. However, my main career titles were Jet Aircraft Crew Chief for the first seven years and Airborne Persian Farsi Cryptologic Linguist for the last five.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? FMC Technologies as an Internal Consultant in Houston, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Goldman Sachs as a Private Wealth Advisor in Houston, TX

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I looked for jobs after the military and realized there was almost no way I would be able to find a job in the location I wanted to live with equal or greater pay, equal or greater benefits, and equal or greater responsibility.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working full time in a job for which I had settled. Now, instead, I am working for arguably the best bank in the world. The Rice MBA did this for me, and I will be forever grateful.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I plan to work until I am no longer able, hopefully becoming a managing director at Goldman Sachs in a Private Wealth Management office within the next 10 years. After I retire, I hope to one day start/acquire my own business, build it and sell it.

Favorite Courses: Core Finance, New Enterprise (an entrepreneurship class), and Real Property (a real estate class)

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? Learning Persian Farsi and my performance on my first deployment are by far the professional achievements for which I am most proud. Completing my MBA at Rice with a good GPA is an academic achievement for which I am most proud.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My mom, Jill Pleick, and my wife, Nicole Rojas. My mom because I wouldn’t be alive and well today is she hadn’t put up with how crazy I was as a kid. My wife because she is hands down the biggest reason for my motivation and continued success, both personally and professionally. Both of these women deserve all of the thanks in the world.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Rice for numerous reasons. First and foremost is the support the school gives to military veterans. A Rice MBA is not cheap, and the JGSB gives generously to worthy veterans who are trying to make the transition into the civilian world. It also has a Military Scholars Program and other veteran scholarships. Second, Rice has a very small and intimate program and I love that tightly knit environment, which is similar to what I was used to in the military. Also, Rice is highly ranked, something very important when choosing a school. Finally, Rice is situated in one of the best economies in the nation right now (Houston, TX). My wife works at ExxonMobil as a Drilling Engineer in town and we knew we could make a great life for ourselves here.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Meeting some of the most motivated, hard-working and intelligent people that I have ever met. I have been amazed by my classmates.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? My most memorable moment was when we in the Veterans in Business Association brought six famous authors to speak at the Jones School on a panel called the Veteran Experience. All the authors were either veterans themselves or grew up in a military family, and we discussed how it feels to be a veteran in today’s world, as well as how that has impacted their writing. It was a very emotional night.

(The authors were: David Abrams, author of “Fobbit,” a New York Times “Notable Book”; William Broyles, a Rice alumnus, founding editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly, editor-in-chief of Newsweek, author of the war memoir “Brothers in Arms” and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter; Lea Carpenter, author of the critically acclaimed novel “Eleven Days”; Ben Fountain, award-winning author of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”; Bruce Jay Friedman, author of eight novels and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter; and Karl Marlantes, author of New York Times bestseller “Matterhorn” and winner of the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.)

Fun fact about yourself: I am quite possibly the happiest man on earth

Favorite book: Going After Cacciato, written by Tim O’Brien

Favorite movie: The Life Aquatic, directed by Wes Anderson

Favorite musical performer: Jack Johnson

Favorite television show: Boardwalk Empire

Favorite vacation spot: Santorini, Greece

What are your hobbies? Crossfit, swimming, golf, tennis, rock climbing, surfing (when I actually find myself on a beach), traveling, learning foreign languages, and sometimes just watching good TV shows when I get burnt out!

What made Kyle such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“Kyle is characterized by his selflessness, passion, and leadership…Somewhat uniquely, I can inform you that Kyle is the most well-respected candidate of the Class of 2015 Full-Time MBA. I can say that as Kyle, unknown to him, upon graduation, will be receiving the M.A. “Mike” Wright Award, [named after the] former Chairman of Cameron Iron Works…Mr. Wright established this award because it represents the attribute that he considered most valuable to a leader: winning the respect and acceptance of one’s peers. Kyle received over 90% of the votes of the Class of 2015 when we asked them to vote for “the person from your graduating class who best models leadership, exemplary service, and significant contributions to the Jones Graduate School.

A natural service-minded leader, Kyle quickly assumed a strong leadership role in the JGSB community [and] displayed extraordinary commitment across a varied number of arenas…If “80% of success is showing up” as Woody Allen suggests, then Kyle was nothing short of a success story here at JGSB as he was constantly the first person the first person to raise his hand when service was ever requested. Kyle has [not only] become the real heart and soul of Jones over the past two years, but he has also been its muscle.” – Jeremy Grace, Director, Full-Time MBA