2018 MBAs To Watch: Elena Engles Colom, Rice University (Jones)

Elena Engles Colom

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Voracious reader, dog obsessed, exercise enthusiast, baking fiend and avid antiquer.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Oklahoma City, OK

Fun fact about yourself: I have a chocolate chip cookie obsession, and I’m on a mission to develop a recipe for the best cookie ever.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Oklahoma, Bachelors of Business Administration

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? EnerVest, Ltd, Landman

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? ExxonMobil, Budapest, Hungary and Houston, Texas

Where will you be working after graduation? ExxonMobil, Controller’s Organization

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President of National Association of Women MBAs – Rice Student Chapter
  • Energy Club – Social Chair
  • Rice Energy Finance Summit – Operations Committee
  • Dean’s Student Initiative Committee
  • Corporate Ambassador
  • Recruiting and Admissions Ambassador
  • Team Coach
  • Communication’s Fellow
  • Volunteer with Jones Gives Back at the Montrose Center

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Every year, National Association of Women MBAs – Rice Student Chapter (NAWMBA) –and Rice Business put on the Women in Leadership Conference. This February was the 18th annual conference. Beginning in October 2017, I worked diligently with the external relations team, marketing team and executive board of NAWMBA to brainstorm conference themes and look into potential sponsors, keynote speakers, and panelists. With the help of the marketing team, we were able to completely rebrand the conference so that it was recognizable to people outside the program. The external relations team and the executive board were able to bring in 39 keynote speakers, panelists and moderators to fill 7 panels and 2 keynote speaker spots.

Our collective efforts were able to bring in over $30,000 in corporate sponsorship to help fund the event, with extra sponsorship funds going back to the members via a scholarship. All of our hard work and efforts completely sold out the event one week before the conference and even had a waitlist of attendees to be let in if there were last minute cancellations. It was at least the first time in recent memory that the conference was sold out. We had to play an operations jigsaw to make sure we could fit everyone in the spaces and not break fire marshal codes.

Throughout the day, our team kept receiving wonderful feedback from new and repeat conference attendees that it was the best conference they had attended at Rice Business. I’m most proud of this achievement because of the success the team wide effort achieved all of our conference goals and further brought Rice Business’s commitment and support of women in leadership for the forefront.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Right before starting at Rice Business, the commodity prices were still in the doldrums, and my company was exploring every avenue to try to increase cash flows to provide money to investors. One day, I had an email come through my inbox from a company interested in purchasing some minerals we apparently owned. After doing research and determining we actually owned the asset and reflected a zero value to them in the books, the fun began. I reached out to my network, asking around to find out what the current market values were out there for the area. After bringing together my research, I presented to my team and we decided to move forward with negotiations. Sometimes, negotiations are drawn out and due to my impending departure to Rice Business, a team member handled the back-and-forth with the potential buyer. The sale was ultimately finalized before I left, and we were able to sell the asset that was worth nothing on our books for $3 million dollars and return money to our investors. It was wonderful to know that I was able to provide important market intelligence from my business network to provide money back to our investors during such a low time for commodity prices.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA Professor was James Weston, my core finance professor. He was hands down the most difficult professor I’ve ever had and demanded a lot from his students. Personally, he set the tone for graduate school – at 8 am on the first day of core finance, he stated that everyone needed to act as if he was our boss’s boss and we needed to be engaged in every class. Additionally, he had an open door policy and was always available to help if you had questions about problem sets.

I was always in his office asking for help and guidance for the material, so we got to know each other pretty well. One day I was very overwhelmed with classes, recruiting and my impending wedding. I will never forget when he realized something was amiss and said let’s put away the finance and talk about what’s really going on with you. We had a heart-to-heart, and he helped me realize what I was recruiting for was not the best path for me. I realized at that moment that I was in the right program because the professors care about their students.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course was Brand Management, taught by Kathleen Harrington Clark. I loved Brand Management for two reasons. First, the material was very engaging and about something I knew very little about. Second, the guest speakers she brought in from across Houston and the U.S. to speak to us about their experience working in brand management were great. The biggest insight I have gained was from guest speaker Bill Sidwill, who is current leading the rebranding of the University of Colorado Healthcare system. During Bill’s presentation, he showed us how he was able to extrapolate how a company’s brand can account for 47% of what drives shareholder’s value and how it has an enormous impact on capital market expectations for its future growth. I look forward to every class with Kathleen because each class brings new marketing insights from marketing leaders.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose this school for three reasons:

1) I wanted to go to school with a small student population. For undergrad I went to a large state school and it took a while to get acclimated because I grew up going to small private schools. I knew in small school atmosphere, I could know 80% of my classmates, have a close relationship with my professors, and make an impact.

2) In terms of a ‘fit,’ I felt most at home at Rice Business. Each interaction with students, alumni, employees, and professors was so positive that I knew it was the right place for me.

3) During the application process, each time I called, the recruiting and admissions team knew who I was, what we spoke about last time, and made me feel as though I was already a part of the Rice family rather than just an application number.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Have a good idea of your post-grad career path and how an MBA from Rice Business can help you get there.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A myth I had heard was that no one outside of Houston would know about Rice Business. When I went on recruiting trips across the country, and met other MBA students, they knew about the program and its great reputation, especially our rise through the rankings.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not going to more Partios (weekly parties on the patio) to catch up with my classmates and get to know them better outside the classroom.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I most admire is Katherine Dextraze. Not only is she one of the smartest people I know, but she is the most driven. She came to Rice Business knowing she wanted to go into investment banking in New York City, and with laser focus and many recruiting trips to the Big Apple, she was able to land an internship at her top bank then ultimately a full-time job. She is also a wonderful friend who is always there to lend an ear and provide amazing advice.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My husband, Alex, most influenced my decision to pursue business in college. He was and is currently working full-time and getting his master’s in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech and has always known I wanted to go to graduate school. He helped me realize business school would open doors for me to explore opportunities that wouldn’t have been available to me when I was a landman.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…enrolled in a Master’s of Industrial Engineering program.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience?

Though Dean Rodriguez has done amazing work over the past two years and is implementing some great changes, I’d like to see more gender parity of students enrolled in the program. We increased our female population from the class of 2018 to 2019, but we still have some room to grow.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

1) Explore New Zealand

2) Own my own business

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who helped raise the profile of the women enrolled in the Rice Business program to the Houston business community.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short – Don’t blindly follow the herd or be blinded by how wonderful things seem, do your own legwork and research and understand what you’re getting into.

What would your theme song be? Cake – The Distance

Favorite vacation spot: Bonaire.

Hobbies? Baking, spending time with my husband, spinning classes, and teaching my Labrador new tricks.

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

“Elena Engles is an inspiring student, an inspiring person. In her two years at the Jones School, she has actively sought challenges and purposefully created opportunities. She has impressed me not only by what she has taken on but by how she has taken it on.

Rice Business is heavily oriented towards student-led co-curricular programming. Elena has provided pivotal leadership on several initiatives, including the Rice Energy Finance Summit and the Women in Leadership Conference, two of our flagship events. As President of the Rice Business chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs, Elena not only led the design and execution of a Women in Leadership Conference that broke all records, she also re-envisioned the depth and breadth of NAWMBA’s role in the school, actively coordinating with leadership of other clubs to have a greater impact for all students.

Elena was also involved on a daily basis in the many student roles that allow us to deliver a high-touch program. Elena has demonstrated her personal commitment to the success of her of all Jones School students by serving as a recruiting and admissions ambassador, a team coach, and a communications fellow. Elena was also instrumental as a member of the new Dean’s Student Initiative Committee. This group of students is working hand-in-hand with school leadership, the student body and faculty to push the Rice Business to achieve our aspirations to deliver a premier MBA education and experience in a tight-knit community operating in a culture marked by integrity, respect, excellence and professionalism. In each of these roles, Elena gave back to Rice Business and in these roles her touch is now woven throughout our community.

Elena stands out inside and outside the classroom as a leader, as a team builder, as supporting cast and, always, as a difference maker.”

Barbara Ostdiek

Senior Associate Dean of Degree Programs and Associate Professor of Finance and Statistics





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