Harvard | Mr. Hedge Fund
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Mr. Future In FANG
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Mr. Investment Associate
GMAT 700, GPA 3.67
Darden | Mr. Tech To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Officer
GRE 325, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0
Kellogg | Ms. Public School Teacher
GRE 325, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Reform
GRE 331 (Practice), GPA 2.92
Kellogg | Mr. IDF Commander
GRE Waved, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Army Pilot
GMAT 650, GPA 2.90
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Yale | Mr. Healthcare Geek
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Against All Odds
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Hopeful
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Consulting Hopeful
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Google Tech
GMAT 770, GPA 2.2
Wharton | Mr. Senior Analyst
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Ms. Access To Opportunities
GRE 318, GPA 2.9
Tuck | Mr. Product Marketer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
London Business School | Mr. Midwest Engineer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.69

Meet The McCombs’ MBA Class of 2018

More graduates of the Class of 2016 went into tech than any other industry at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas-Austin. Courtesy photo

AN INTIMATE PROGRAM FLUSH WITH RESOURCES AND GROUNDED IN TEACHING EXCELLENCE

The motto at McCombs is, “What starts here changes the world.” As one of the nation’s largest public schools, the University of Texas certainly possesses the scope to do just that. Worldwide, you’ll find 450,000 “Texas-exes.” Among them are 92,000 McCombs alumni, a quarter of whom graduated from the MBA program. In fact, McCombs is known for close partnerships with other programs at the university, along with pooling resources at both the graduate and undergraduate levels to offer the widest array of expertise and service to business students. “We leverage that we are at a large university and there are many opportunities at the graduate level,” says Eric Hirst, the school’s senior associate dean and a professor of accounting, in a 2015 interview with Poets&Quants. “We really try to leverage that in terms of giving people opportunities both inside and outside the business school to customize their program.”

Despite being part of a large, resource-rich university, McCombs upends the stereotype by emphasizing teaching excellence that, in Hirst’s words, is “grounded in research and its relevance to practice.” Like Darden, hiring decisions at McCombs are based on teaching acumen first-and-foremost, a practice that reflects the program’s student first mantra. “When it comes to hiring,” Hirst emphasizes, “we ask ourselves, ‘Is this person going to be successful in both their knowledge creation and classroom?’ If they’re having a hard time in the classroom, they’re not going to be able to succeed in any other part of their job. So we make very conscious decisions on the front end. It’s about your people fitting in with the culture.”

This university-within-a-university concept, replete with a collegial, tight knit culture, tipped the scales in McCombs’ favor for Brannan. “Throughout the application process,” she reminisces. “I grew to simply love the people I met at McCombs, from the admissions staff to the current students. They really made me feel welcomed and excited to potentially join the community. I know that might sound generic, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be inspired and motivated by the people around you, which is what I found with McCombs. Also, breakfast tacos everywhere you look – it’s a wonderland.”

Contestant delivering his pitch at the Texas Venture Lab Scholarship Competition

ARRAY OF HANDS-ON PROJECTS A DREAM FOR CAREER SWITCHERS

Tacos aside, the intimate class size also clinched the deal for Lockhart. “I look forward to having a conversation with EVERY person in my class and getting to know everyone through the many clubs and activities offered. At graduation, I look forward to knowing every face that walks across stage, along with having a meaningful connection with many of those faces.”

The program also features some unique wrinkles. One is its MBA Investment Fund, the first of its kind, where students manage nearly $14 million dollars. McCombs also offers a separate Real Estate Investment Trust Fund (REIT), where student research determines where the fund invests. In addition, the school maintains fellows programs, a series of experiential learning partnerships where students complete projects and present their findings to sponsor companies. Think of it as an all-you-can-study buffet, where students can choose fellowships in areas like venture capital, clean tech, marketing, corporate finance, healthcare innovation, and operations.

Even more, first years must complete an MBA+ practicum, a customized program that includes personal coaching coupled with hands-on project experience to prep students for their summer internship. Past MBA+ partners almost read like a who’s who of business, including Adidas, Adobe, BCG, Deloitte, EY, PwC, Strategy&, and Under Armour. Such programming is particularly critical to students like Lockhart, who is looking to translate his military experience into either operations or corporate finance. ”As a career switcher, the ability to specialize in courses that focus directly on the field of my internship as well as the opportunity to gain much needed business interactions was very appealing to me.”

NO BETTER PLACE TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR

If you asked the Class of 2018 for a show of hands on what excites them most about McCombs, the school’s locale — Austin, Texas — would certainly garner the most votes. The area has something for everyone. For entrepreneurs, it boasts a high tech startup ecosystem like no other, with recent smashes including Indeed and Golfsmith. In fact, Austin has a higher startup density than Silicon Valley, finishing first in the Kauffman Index’s ranking of startup activity, with 8% of the population being business owners. McCombs is a big part of the startup action in the city. “There are very few business schools built into the city like McCombs is built into Austin,” said Mabley in a 2015 interview. “There is a great symbiotic relationship with the city and the school – and a great way to send students out into incubators.”

This synergy was a major selling point for Hemphill, who plans to move into strategy at a large company after graduation. “I wanted to attend an MBA program that had a strong experiential learning component,” she states. “I felt that the best way to gain that experience was to live in a city that had a variety of company headquarters and startups of interest. I wanted to be in close proximity to companies I could learn from and network with, and the McCombs School of Business in the heart of Austin, Texas provided just that.”

Downtown Austin, Texas

Beyond being a hub for technology and innovation, Austin’s quality of life makes it a hot spot for work and play. The city consistently ranks among the best cities to live and visit, highlighted by its spacious parks, picturesque biking paths, rich food, and vibrant galleries and music scene. From hobnobbing at SXSW to watching the Congress Bridge bats come alive at dusk, Austin is a once-n-a-lifetime chance for students to kick back and let their “weird” side run wild. “Austinites, in general, are really inviting and welcoming,” observes Brazil’s Marcelo Degani Tschiedel. “Aside from that, the city is really beautiful, has great weather, food and many, many entertainment options. Live music lovers will feel right at home!” He isn’t alone in that opinion. “Let’s face it: Austin is a pretty incredible city, adds Adamo. “Amazing music, BBQ, and fit talented people – ‘nuff said.’”

HEART OF CAMPUS SLATED TO OPEN IN FEBRUARY

The Class of 2018 is heading into rousing times at McCombs. This winter, the school will open the doors to its new home — the 458,000 square foot Robert B. Rowling Hall — which will feature state-of-the-art classrooms and roomy gathering spaces to facilitate collaboration. Such comfortable amenities won’t make it easy for this class to leave. When they do, each carries a novel vision for themselves…and the world around them. Chandra, for one, is looking to become a player in renewable energy and cleantech through venture capital, “to help early growth firms in these nascent yet promising industries.” Kim Phung La, who climbed the banking ladder in Singapore, is more traditional with dreams of becoming an investment portfolio manager. Like many career switchers, Chelsea Jones, who majored in Radio, Television and Film as a UT undergrad, is hoping to work through a path to take. “My primary goal is to develop and nurture a set of skills and resources that will inform and enhance all of my future career decisions,” she explains. “It would be nice to achieve total clarity about “what I want to be when I grow up” over the next two years and to pursue that path with abandon, but I will be satisfied if I am able to learn as much as I can, maintain perspective, and ensure this experience (and investment) lasts a lifetime.”

In the process, Jones would also like to be remembered by her classmates for being “easy to work with, dedicated, reliable, adaptable, and that I add value regardless of the situation.” Lockhart hopes to make a similar impact. “I would like for my peers to say that I was passionate about every endeavor I pursued, professional in every interaction and fun-loving during social settings. I would also like them to say that I provided a unique perspective.” For Hairgrove, success will be measured by whether his peers could trust him “not to drop the ball and deliver when it counts.” He has an additional wish for his classmates as well: “that they had a chance to meet my wife, who is way cooler than me.”

DON’T MISS: THE STEREOTYPE-DEFYING MBAS IN THE CLASS OF 2018 OR

MEET THE TEXAS MCCOMBS MBA CLASS OF 2017

To read profiles of incoming McCombs students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

John Adamo / Austin, TX

Josh Berrington / Santa Paula, CA

Julia Brannan / Portland, OR

Abhinav Chandra / Mumbai, India

Landon Hairgrove / Colleyville, TX

Ashley Hemphill / New Orleans, LA

Stephanie Hobart / West Hartford, CT

Chelsea Jones / Sugar Land, TX

Sweena Kahn / San Diego, CA

Kim Phung La / Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 

Micah Lockhart / Dallas, TX

Marcelo Degani Tschiedel / Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil