2018 MBAs To Watch: David Laborde, Rice University (Jones)

David Laborde

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain’s quote and my life motto.

Age: 37

Hometown: Katy, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I was the #1 tamale salesman in my cub scout troop growing up. My prize? An awesome bow and arrow set that my mom quickly confiscated.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BS Applied Mathematics, Texas A&M University

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Executive Brand Director, Salata Restaurants

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Kalypso Consulting, Dallas, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Innovation Consultant, Kalypso Consulting

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Maureen & Jim Hackett Scholarship, Out & Allied Club – President, Consulting Club – Mentor, Net Impact Club, Retail and Consumer Goods Club, Adam Smith Society, Leadership Communications Fellow, Admissions Ambassador

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my term as president of the Out & Allied club, the LGBTQA group on campus. This was the first outwardly gay leadership position I have held, and I wanted to bring awareness to our club throughout the school. Throughout the past year, we have put on events such as OUToberfest (partnering with the Beer Club to celebrate National Coming Out Month and Oktoberfest), setting up a photobooth with #loveislove for our school’s Valentine’s Day party, and organizing a partnership with the newly formed Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

However, the club’s involvement with the ROMBA (Reaching Out MBA) Conference was my proudest achievement. 12 LGBT students attended the conference, 100% of Rice Business’ LGBT community, with 10 of those 12 holding conference leadership positions. Small, but mighty, we were a powerful force among 70 universities. It was incredible to see a group of students from a traditionally conservative state showcase their pride and leadership, not just within my club, but on a national level.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of taking the leap to go back to school full time. I had been out of the classroom for over 13 years, so the entire process was daunting. My new education began with the GMAT, which knocked me on my butt. I studied very hard. On my third official try, I surpassed the score I needed. When I received my score, I was shaking because I couldn’t believe it. That process–failing, studying, failing (and yet trying gain) taught me not only did I have a lot left to learn, but that I shouldn’t doubt myself because I could hold my own.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Connie Porter, who taught my marketing research class. There was a lot of work, and Connie has a lot of energy. She challenged us to keep up with her. In the process, I learned a lot about the proper way to gather research information while maintaining my creativity.

What was your favorite MBA Course My favorite course was ALP (Action Learning Project). On small teams, we acted as consultants, helping a company solve a real problem. I learned so much–data analytics, consumer insights and market research. Mostly, I learned how a smart, hard-working consulting team can enact real change in a company. This class fueled my desire to further explore the consulting industry.

Why did you choose this business school? Growing up in Houston, I knew Rice was a world-class university where all the brightest students went. When I decided to get my MBA, I wanted to challenge myself and only applied to “reach” schools. After touring and meeting the students and faculty at Rice Business, I realized the people here weren’t only brilliant, but also full of Texas friendliness and warmth. I was ecstatic to be admitted.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Visit the campus and sit in on a class. You get a taste of not only the caliber of professors and curriculum, but the culture of the school. Rice Business is a very small program and we get to know each other really well–fellow students, faculty, and even administration. There can be a lot of long hours spent together, so you need to find a program where you enjoy the culture.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many outsiders believe that Rice Business is only an oil and gas industry school, which is completely false. While the energy program is strong, so are the finance, operations and marketing concentrations. I have been amazed by the breadth and reach the faculty and administration have in all areas of business.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not taking advantage of the more exotic travel opportunities with my classmates. China, Colombia, Mt. Kilimanjaro…they went to some very cool places!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are some really awe-inspiring people in the Rice Business Class of 2018, but I truly admire Katherine Dextraze. Katherine is a force to be reckoned with. First, she is brilliant. She has a nuclear engineering degree from Georgia Tech AND a master’s in medical physics from UT MD Anderson. After working in biomedical startups, she realized the need for more business acumen, leading her to tackle yet another degree. After graduation, she is off to New York City and the intensely male-dominated investment banking world, which I have no doubt she will quickly conquer. Since the first day I met her, Katherine has amazed me with her intellect, quick-wit, and genuine friendship. I am excited to see where her journey leads.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My former colleague at Salata, Jenn. As we were preparing for a big meeting with the company’s owners, she brought up debt-to-equity ratio and I had no idea what she was talking about. It was then that I knew if I wanted to continue to grow as a business leader, I needed to bridge the gaps between my experiences and my knowledge.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…continuing to steer the Salata restaurant brand as Executive Brand Director for Salata. Salata has a very bright future and I have been thrilled to watch them continue to expand while I have been in school, but I am also excited for the new adventures that await me after graduation.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? The deans at Rice Business have an open-door policy and act on student’s suggestions as often as they can, so there is not a lot I would change that isn’t already in the works. But if I was in charge, I would double down on the number of classes offered that involve solving real businesses problems, continuing the experiences I received in ALP. Having that real-life experience while still under the safety net of school is invaluable to learn and take risks at the same time.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Visit Montreal, Canada and to cook with Emeril Lagasse.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone who brought smiles to their faces, was a good team player, and opened their minds to a different way of thinking about people in the world.

What is your favorite movie about business? Hidden Figures – While it isn’t exactly a business movie, it reiterates a lesson I learned in school–not to prematurely judge someone. Rice Business does an incredible job of putting together a diverse, inherent and acquired, cohort each year. My classmates have reminded me that whether you are from a different country or have different sexuality, no single aspect of who you are is big enough to overshadow your true capability. Give someone the tools they need and watch them shine.

What would your theme song be?Invincible” by Kelly Clarkson

Favorite vacation spot: Providence Town, Mass.

Hobbies? Cooking, softball, and spoiling my three nieces and nephews

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

“Authentic. Engaged. Creative.

These are the three descriptors that come to mind when thinking of David Laborde’s leadership style and his numerous contributions as an MBA student at Rice Business. He is a FORCE that has made a major impact by fostering awareness and education to help us build a more inclusive community.

As the Out & Allied president, David had a vision to not only champion the LGBTQA community with clever and unique programming; he made it his mission to build alliances with other student clubs and the broader community. His accomplishments include:

  • Rallying our largest contingent of attendees for the 2017 ROMBA conference. Ever proud of representing the school, David took the time to compile a post-event report for the deans and administrative offices highlighting the accomplishments of his fellow classmates.
  • Volunteering, as well as, encouraging his classmates to participate at the Montrose Center (a local LGBTQA non-profit) for our “Jones Gives Back” community event.
  • Leading the effort to produce a video about the Out & Allied club to post to our website and to use in recruitment efforts so that prospective students know that they are welcomed and embraced.

David cares deeply and has exceeded expectations regarding his commitment to Rice Business. He is mindful of the many issues of inclusion important to Rice Business and has been a strong supporter of additional initiatives such as serving as an admissions ambassador; volunteering as a moderator at our annual Diversity and Inclusion conference; and setting an example as one of the few male allies at our Women In Leadership Conference.

David is leaving a strong legacy to build upon. I wish that I could package some of his “magic” so that we would ensure that many more students would be as passionate, influential and thoughtful as he has been. He is special and has exemplified inclusive leadership.”

Lina Bell

Director, Diversity and Inclusion





Comments or questions about this article? Email us.