2018 Best MBAs: Meredith Domingue, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Meredith Domingue

Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University

“A driven Army Veteran with a vision for success in all facets of my life.”

Age: 33

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Hometown: Texas City, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: I started the MBA program almost immediately after giving birth to my son.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Military Academy, Bachelor of Science in American Politics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Captain, United States Army.

I had the honor of serving in the Army for almost a decade. I began my military career as a Military Intelligence officer where I managed both manned and unmanned aerial vehicle collection efforts as a part of OPERATION Iraqi Freedom and OPERATION Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Then, I was selected to work as a Special Operations Civil Affairs officer. There, I served as Development Officer in Afghanistan where I worked closely with Special Forces teams and USAID. Later, I became a Team Leader and deployed to Chad. We were based out of the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena and traveled throughout Chad with our Chadian military partners. I am currently serving in the Texas National Guard.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Essilor of America, Dallas, Texas

Where will you be working after graduation? JPMorgan Chase, Merchant Services Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President of Veterans in Business, Orientation Co-chair, Cox Leadership Forum, Business Leadership Center Student Advisory Board, Student Ambassador, Graduate Policy Committee, Forté Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being Orientation Co-chair. Orientation is a rite of passage for many MBA candidates, and I believe it really sets the tone going into classes. Therefore, making this weeklong period informative, yet enjoyable, is crucial to incoming students. The three second-year co-chairs who led my orientation were awesome leaders and coaches throughout not only orientation, but also the rest of the year. I wanted to pay it forward and worked hard throughout the summer with my counterparts and administrators to make sure we welcomed the new class to the best of our ability. I cannot say we were perfect, but I do believe that overall it did give the new class a positive impression of SMU Cox, while still leaving time for some fun!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Although I am incredibly proud of the time I spent overseas, my most proud moment was a time that I had all odds stacked against me and still managed to persevere.

Timing and a little luck are uncontrollable factors in many professions, but particularly in the military. Unfortunately, my timing was not perfect when I transitioned into Civil Affairs. Frustrating as it was, I found myself with a little downtime and decided to make the best of it by enrolling into Jumpmaster School, where Airborne Soldiers learn how to inspect equipment, plan, and execute safe airborne operations. I believed it would be a time of personal growth for me, seeing that airborne operations were my least favorite aspect of the job. I did not have a reserved spot, and the window for a school was narrow. I managed to network my way into a slot, and so the three-week training began.

To my surprise, it was much more physically demanding than I had anticipated. We were required to “turn circles” frantically, in order to memorize the Jumpmaster Personal Inspection sequence (JMPI). This sequence is our last hurdle before we get into the air for our final assessment. Students are given five tries to complete the sequence in the allotted time, while taking care to note any equipment deficiencies (they are intentionally included), or they fail. The rate of success on first attempts is abysmal, and therefore extremely discouraging. Through hard work, persistence, and luck, I managed to complete the sequence on my first try. This was a defining moment in my life. I realized that I could overcome unfortunate timing and overwhelming obstacles by staying focused and working hard. I proved to myself that I could be a Jumpmaster, and I graduated at the top of my class or as the Army calls it, Honor Graduate.

In spite of a little bad luck and bad timing, I became the only officer in my company who was a Jumpmaster. My tenacity was evident to all, and as the only female in the company, my strength was apparent, too. I came out of that course confident to take on any challenges my team faced in Africa.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Susan Riffe, our core accounting professor, was my favorite professor because she had high expectations, but gave us thorough instruction and the tools necessary to be successful. I had her again for our Global Leadership Program and appreciated her friendly, calm demeanor throughout the class and during the trip. Again, she had high expectations of everyone, but took care of everyone along the way.

Why did you choose this business school? My husband and I were ready to be back home in Texas, so my search was somewhat narrow. The small class size at Cox piqued my interest. When I came for my interview, I felt comfortable and everyone was so welcoming. Ultimately, it was the people that made my decision easy. Not to mention, Dallas is an incredible city with abundant opportunities.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The modules move quickly! It is important to have an idea of what you want to focus on, but school is also the time to explore. So, stay open-minded, don’t stress about your concentration too much early on, and get out of your comfort zone.

What is the biggest myth about your school? My understanding of Cox was that it was a very finance-heavy school. Although I do think this is true, the opportunities for business analytics, marketing, real estate and other concentrations are great as well.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Because I started school as a new mom, attending many of the networking and more social events in the evenings was not very easy. I have made lasting relationships, but I wish I had been able to get to know more of my classmates and take better advantage of professional mentorship opportunities throughout our two years.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most is Domenica Fuller. She is one of the kindest, most fun-living, and intelligent people that I know. Beyond her sweet personality, she has grit. She is a girl who has faced tremendous loss at a young age. Her background is in journalism, covering news stories in dangerous places, so business school was not a traditional path. However, with the encouragement of her dad, she began in the one-year, Fast Track MBA program. After a long, tough battle with cancer, her dad lost his battle with cancer a few months into her program. She continued pursuing her MBA, no longer for herself, but to honor him. To my great pleasure, she transferred into the full-time program where I had the opportunity to work with and get to know Domenica. Then this year, she unexpectedly lost another close family member. Despite her grief, she is determined to graduate in May and make them both proud. Her strength, and the way she gracefully fights back, is truly an inspiration to everyone who knows her. I’m lucky to call her my friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? “This is a fun question because I want to say that my dad, a small, family business owner, is the person who influenced me most. Oddly, in many ways, watching him work so many hours with so much risk and uncertainty “just to make money” is part of why I did not want to go into corporate America. However, what I witnessed first-hand during military deployments is how much stability and security are dependent on people having the opportunity to provide for their families. I learned that business and economics are inherent components of what make the world go around. After an opportunity to attend a weeklong course at Mendoza School of Business as part of my military training, I knew there was so much about business that I was completely ignorant of.

I realized that the purpose of business might be all about making money for some people, but for many people, it is about protecting and providing for the people they love. My dad did that to the utmost. He has been the biggest supporter of me going back to school. We chat about some of the challenges he has at work and I get to share some of what I am learning in class. After some growing up and gaining perspective, I recognize what an exceptional role model my dad is for me.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…navigating corporate America blindly.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would fund more international trips. We have several optional treks and courses with foreign travel available that I would provide scholarships for if I could.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Travel to Croatia and ice wine tasting at Niagra-on- the-Lake, Canada.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as a reliable friend and driven leader who has strong personal values and a determination to get the job done.

What is your favorite movie about business? Moneyball. I love how this movie showed that looking at the right data and using statistics can change the game. To be successful, your gut can be important, but analyzing the right data should support it.

What would your theme song be? “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen sung by Idina Menzel

Favorite vacation spot: Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels, Texas, is my favorite family vacation spot and anywhere tropical with my husband.

Hobbies?  Traveling, cooking, and play-dates at the park with my son

What made Meredith such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“The fact that Meredith Domingue is a West Point graduate is impressive on its own, but she shines for another reason, too. She began her MBA program immediately after giving birth to her son. Quickly, she proved herself to be driven, dedicated and efficient. By handling all of her new responsibilities—both personal and professional—with grace, she earned the admiration of her classmates. Meredith stands out as a role model for her peers, personifying an MBA candidate who takes advantage of all that the program has to offer, and she makes the most of each experience. Throughout her time in the program, she has consistently been asked to take on a variety of leadership roles: student ambassador for Admissions, Student Co-Chair for Orientation, President for Veterans in Business Club, and Graduate Student Representative for the Cox Program Policies Committee. In my many years of working with student leaders, I’ve never met another MBA candidate quite like Meredith. Without hesitation, I can say that she is an elite student leader setting an exceptional standard for those that follow. Great things are on the horizon for Meredith when she joins JP Morgan this summer. SMU Cox is so proud that she will be representing our school for years to come!”

Marci Armstrong, PhD

Brierley Endowed Professor and Director, Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement



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