Stuart Crockford, Rice University (Jones)

Stuart Crockford

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Humble leader and loyal friend, dedicated to the development and well-being of others.”

Age: 35

Hometown: Norfolk, VA

Fun fact about yourself:

I am huge fan of western movies such as Tombstone and McLintock! My all-time favorite actor/cowboy is John “The Duke” Wayne. I admire the humor and toughness his characters embody. I consider myself a strong role model for my kids and try to instill in them that same grit, but not take life too seriously. When it came time to name my boys, I may have taken my love of John Wayne a little too far and named them Duke and Colt.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Pittsburgh, BA in Urban Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? United States Navy, Carrier Air Wing 8, Fighter Pilot and Landing Signal Officer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Morgan Stanley, Natural Resources Group, Investment Banking Summer Associate

Where will you be working after graduation? Morgan Stanley, Natural Resources Group, Investment Banking Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Finance Club Co-President. The Finance Club is the largest club on campus, leveraging resources and alumni base to provide a value-added experience for students interested in the field of finance. The Finance Club trains and educates students for the recruiting and interview process. We work closely with the Career Development Office (CDO) to facilitate networking opportunities with Rice Business alumni and recruiters. During fall break, the CDO and Finance Club take students on a trek called Week on Wall Street. Students spend the week in NYC visiting banks and other financial institution that culminates with the ringing of the bell on the NASDAQ.
  • Rice Business Admissions Ambassador. Ambassadors are chosen to represent the school during recruiting events to spread the word about their Rice Business experience and to serve as a resource and connection for prospective students. As an ambassador, I have the opportunity to add a personal touch to the application process.
  • Rice Veterans Leadership Series (RVLS) Marketing Chair. RVLS is an annual event organized by VIBA in partnership with Baker Institute’s Roundtable Young Professionals to honor a nationally-known veteran. This event features veterans who have excelled in business, the arts and public service. Past speakers have included former Governor and first Secretary of Homeland Defense Tom Ridge, former Heisman Trophy Winner and CEO Pete Dawkins, retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral and SEAL William McRaven, and other distinguished veterans. This event is also intended to raise awareness of the growing number of veteran students on scholarship at the Jones Graduate School of Business.

This year’s Rice Veterans Leadership Series keynote speaker is former U.S. Army pilot and NASA Astronaut, Colonel Tim Kopra. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the greater Houston community has faced numerous challenges. Col. Kopra will share his insights and elaborate on why leadership in the face of adversity is relevant in the community, in the classroom and in business.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am extremely proud of the investment banking recruiting class of 2019. Rice Business placed 19 students in investment banking summer associate positions in Charlotte, New York City, and Houston. As a co-president of the finance club and with help of my partner, Scott Smith, we developed a program to coach and guide the class through the grueling recruiting and interview process. They did extremely well, and we placed almost 20% of the Rice Business Class of 2019 in these highly competitive internships.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? 2014 Landing Signal Officer of the Year. I served as the Senior Landing Signal Officer (nickname: paddles) during the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier 2014 combat deployment to the Middle East. The ship and air wing answered the call to kick the door in on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We operated at an incredible pace for almost 90 days during the heat of summer, testing the limits of our equipment and people. On the days I wasn’t flying, my job was to safely guide pilots and their aircraft aboard the ship in almost all conditions. We brought all our aircraft and their crews home, an incredible accomplishment for the team. I am proud of the award, but the real reward came from the pilots. Nothing compares to the unique bond and trust developed between paddles and pilot. They trust your voice and judgement to get them home at night. The reward typically came in the form of a handshake and a “thank you for getting me aboard, Paddles.”

What was your favorite MBA Course? Veteran Business Battle Venture Capital E-Lab with Al Danto. Rice Business Veterans in Business Association (VIBA) host a business plan competition for veteran-owned businesses. Investment offers in the forms of loans or equity investments will be negotiated by the investment team and the business owners following the competition. Since 2015, finalists received more than $1.7 million of investment offers. Students in the class worked closely with the applicants, providing guidance and advice to help them win a spot in the competition and then ultimately secure funding from investors. It was a pleasure to work with veteran-owned startups, gaining practical valuation experience and helping them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Why did you choose this business school?  Even though I was part of a giant organization, I always operated in small, tightknit squadrons. I was looking for the same family type of feel in a business school. Rice had exactly what I was looking for, it was small. My class is only 110 students! I was also looking for a strong alumni base. Do not discount the size, Rice has a potent and borderline rabid alumni base. The cherry on top was the strength of the veterans group in the business school. VIBA is a powerhouse organization. We run two marque events for the school, Rice Veterans Leadership Series and Vet Biz Battle. I found the perfect ecosystem that allowed me the opportunity to thrive.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Go for it! The MBA experience is truly life changing. It is an investment in your future. Understand the commitment you are making and dive in head first. Take the time to research the strengths and weaknesses of the schools you are considering. Rice was that place for me! Rice Business has the infrastructure and support system I needed to reinvent myself.  

What was your biggest regret in business school? I do not really have regrets in my life or about my business school experience. It has been an incredible journey leading to a dream job, life and career. If I had to change one aspect, I would make time to broaden my academic load. I was too narrow and hyper focused on recruiting for investment banking and taking primarily finance class. There were classes about social enterprise, marketing or law that I opted not to take.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Elena Engles. She is one tough person. Elena has a personality that lights up the room with a passion for people and an overt determination. She took on a leadership position as president of NAWMBA, hosting a Women in Leadership conference at Rice Business. The event was an incredible success and over-subscribed with standing room only. Elena is compassionate and has the unique ability to recognize her weaknesses without deterrence, further harnessing her strengths to dominate in everything she sets out to accomplish.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My decision to leave the Navy and completely change careers was easy, but the actual execution for someone with a family is a hard road. I could not have accomplished any of this without a rock-solid support system by my side. My wife makes it all happen. She encourages me to leave my comfort zone and pursue my ambitious goals. We took on this challenge together, and none of it would have been possible without Rachel. She has made sacrifice after sacrifice, acting as a single parent while I am living on a ship to putting the kids to bed allowing me time to study. This is what we do, and I couldn’t be more thankful for her support and the opportunity Rice Business has given us.       

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an airline pilot flying the friendly skies.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Rice Business is a well-oiled machine, and Dean Rodriquez has pushed this school to the next level. I heard a finance professor of mine say, “Rice Business is a Ferrari, and Dean Rodriquez is Mario Andretti.” This school is a diamond in rough. It has consistently moved up the rankings and is now considered a top 10 school. I think we are on the right path, and I wouldn’t want to mess with Dean Rodriquez’s magic.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? My wife and I have found a home in Houston, but I still have the desire live and work in NYC. My wife is from New Jersey, and her family is deeply entrenched in the area. Moving to NYC would move us close to family but also accomplish a career goal. The Rice network in NYC is growing and becoming more influential. I would love to be a part of that network and continue to promote our brand.

Owning a business. Rice Business has a world class entrepreneurship program featuring Rice Alliance’s business plan competition, which is the largest and richest graduate business plan competition, and an entrepreneur concentration academic path. I am currently taking Al Danto’s enterprise acquisition lab. The class brings in Rice Business alumni who have purchased a business with self-funding or work with search funds. As a student, we work directly with alumni to find, value and eventually purchase a small business across almost all industries. The class has shown me that it is possible to accomplish, but more importantly the network is available to help me make it happen.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Stuart was an inclusive leader and a loyal friend who unselfishly gave his time and energy, showing that he cared for his classmates and wanted the best for them.

What would your theme song be? Indiana Jones Theme Song

Favorite vacation spot:

Belize! For two reasons besides the fact it is beautiful, has wonderful people and Southwest Airlines flies direct from Houston.

  • My first overseas deployment had been particularly rough for me. As the most junior pilot and the new guy, I was also assigned to be the replacement pilot for one of my flight school classmates, Jeremy “Suge” Wise. Jeremy was tragically killed in a midair collision. Not only did I have to prove myself, I had to enter a delicate situation, which turned out to be a lonely and trying time. It was my first combat deployment so my decisions in the jet had real consequences and landing on the ship at night isn’t easy. I applied personal pressure on myself to perform at my best. I was emotionally spent and a little battered after this deployment. After I returned home, Rachel and I took a long vacation to Belize. For both of us, that remote destination represents a place of healing and relaxation.
  • World class fishing! When the fish aren’t biting, the fallback plan is to fish for bone fish. I don’t know of any other place on Earth where bone fish are the backup plan.

Hobbies? A fishing rod in my hand with a big bass on the end of the line is my happy place. I use fishing as an opportunity to decompress and engage in light competition with my adversary, the largemouth bass. I can enjoy the outdoors while using an analytical thought process to catch these fish. I keep making small adjustments and trying new techniques until I get that bite and land the big one. To me, there is nothing more relaxing.

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

“Success in any organization is advanced in many ways, but none is more effective than word of mouth. Broad admissions qualifications are well known to a small group in MBA programs with the Dean typically learning only about a subset of the most desirable group. We hear about the all-stars and the students the admissions teams most want to attract. Making that group is supremely difficult. More difficult still is being the one the rest of the organizations talks about once we get the whole class on campus. That’s when I learned about Stuart Crockford.

Stuart took a roundabout path to a straightforward goal for MBA students: landing a job in investment banking. Along the path at Rice, Stuart managed to stand out for his broad engagement, pragmatism, enthusiasm and the ways he left everyone proud of what we do. We focus on a culture that is attentive, responsive and kind, and Stuart exemplifies each of these traits in all his relationships. Sometimes diversity in experiences leads to a highly advanced EQ and that seems to be the case with Stuart.

Stuart majored in Urban Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and received an NROTC Scholarship. Straight out of Pitt, Stuart entered the US Navy Flight School graduating in the top 10% of his class of F-18 pilots. He ranked 1st among student naval aviators during advanced flight training, earning a “Top Hook” award. Stuart was immediately deployed for combat operations and remained a combat pilot for 8 years, from 2008 to 2016. His final role with the Navy was that of Senior Air Wing Landing Signal Officer/Safety Department Head, where he was selected Atlantic Fleet Landing Signal Officer of the year. In that role, Stuart supervised more than 2,000 landings of fighter jets aboard the USS George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier. I don’t know this to be true, but I seems that the experience of coordinating large teams for such a challenging and important daily task somehow led Stuart to become incredibly adept at the type of interpersonal relationships that make him a wonderful classmate. He brings that skill to his role at president of the Jones School Finance Club and to all his service to VIBA (Veterans in Business Administration) and to the Rice Veterans Leadership Summit. Stuart is an absolute gem of a student and leader at Rice.

Stuart has been a terrific contributor all around Rice and has made a tough transition look very easy. We are delighted to see Stuart win his dream job at Morgan Stanley and are also quite proud his accomplishments and his many successes at Rice.”

Peter Rodriguez
Dean and Professor of Strategic Management

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018