Meet The Rice Jones MBA Class Of 2019

Ashley Arciero 

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Former space nerd and yoga teacher, creative and compassionate, lifelong learner, and lover of spreadsheets. 

Hometown: Originally Glencoe, IL, but Houston has been home for nearly 15 years. 

Fun Fact About Yourself:   I was on the 2001 University of Michigan Solar Car Team and crashed the car 17 days before our North American race from Chicago to L.A. We rebuilt the car and went on to win the race. 

Undergraduate School and Major University of Michigan, Aerospace Engineering 

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: 

NASA – Flight Controller and Project Engineer 

Self-Employed – Yoga Teacher 

Lululemon Athletica – Shift and Inventory Manager 

ARES Corporation – International Space Station (ISS) Safety Integration Engineer 

ARES Corporation – ISS Safety Integration Supervisor 

ARES Corporation – ISS Safety and Mission Assurance Manager 

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led an 18-month assessment of technical requirements for an existing safety system onboard the International Space Station. The requirements had multiple exceptions on record, requiring crewmembers to remember different constraints across the same system in order to perform daily operations, leading to confusion and frustration on a regular basis. Based on the assessment, I proposed a major update to give more daily operational flexibility without increasing risk and standardize the requirement across all 200+ components of the system. The change was accepted by ISS crewmembers, operations, and program management, and I was awarded the Silver Snoopy Award by the Astronaut Office in recognition of all the work involved. 

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Reach out to current and recent alumni to chat one-on-one outside of the information sessions or campus visits. Talking to students and alumni gave me a greater variety of perspectives on the program and helped me better assess whether it was the right fit for me. Being a mom and with my husband also starting the Professional MBA program at Rice Business, it was especially helpful for me to talk to other moms and couples in the program to understand how they have made it work for their families. Try to find other students to talk to with similar personal or professional circumstances who can speak to the specific perspective you may have and the experience you are seeking. 

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  The small class-size and the sense of the Rice family both on and off campus was very appealing to me. From everyone I spoke with during the recruiting and admissions process, I got the sense that Rice creates a very welcoming and collaborative environment of excellence among the students; that the program is agile and able to respond quickly to student feedback; and that the faculty get to know the students well. It is also clear that Rice has a very strong alumni network who are incredibly supportive of current students through their continued participation in alumni events and their responsiveness to students’ communication. Rice has an environment where I felt that I, and my whole family, would be welcomed and have the ability to make a positive contribution. 

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? As someone who is looking to change careers, academic and professional success will mean having more specific definition on future career goals and an internship that allows me to explore my interests in tech and analytics. In addition to strong academics and professional opportunities, success will also include building a strong network of friends and colleagues among my classmates, contributing to the community through student clubs and leadership opportunities and working to model a sustainable work/family balance. 

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