2018 MBAs To Watch: Willie Dennis, Texas A&M (Mays)

Willie Dennis

Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

Someone who has a passion for business and an even greater passion for people.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Killeen, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I modeled for the Gerber Baby brand as an infant while living in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University of Texas at Arlington: Double Major – Bachelor of Science in Economics, Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

Exxon Mobil – Revenue Accountant

Multiview Inc. – Financial Reporting Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? I spent my summer at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey as an Investment Banking Associate working within Leveraged Finance and Technology & Services.

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m currently weighing my options, targeting opportunities within finance and strategy where I’ll be able to apply my experience in an entrepreneurial capacity down the road.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholar – Recognized as a “Best and Brightest” business school student within the state of Texas.
  • MBA Peer Mentor – Selected to mentor and provide guidance to 1st year MBA students on career and recruitment process.
  • MBA Advisory Board: Student Representative – Selected by the MBA class to act as representative to the MBA Advisory Board Committee.
  • Student Advisory Board Committee – Selected as the class representative to the MBA Programs Office.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automotive Case Competitor – Acted as team lead for the Fiat Chrysler Automotive National Case Competition.
  • The Big Event – Day of Service & Volunteering.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m extremely proud of being inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame as a scholar. The recognition and opportunities that one is afforded through the organization is tremendous and I’ve already been able to see the impact of the achievement both personally and professionally. I’m grateful that Mays’ faculty and staff nominated me for the award and fortunate enough to have made it through the committee’s selection process as well.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’d have to say my time at Multiview Inc. brought about a large amount of professional growth.  While there, I was able to work directly with upper level management on a daily basis. One project that I managed was the royalty payment process for third party companies that we worked with. When I first came on board, the process took about 3 weeks out of the month to complete. My senior accountant and I were able to work together and streamline multiple parts of the accounting and payment process cutting down the time of the payment process to 4 days! This impacted the business tremendously since this was such a major factor in our profitability and reporting each month.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I’d say there were two professors who really impacted my time at business school, Professor Janet Marcantonio and Professor Philippe Hercot. Professor Marcantonio was a great resource and played a major part in developing my leadership skills and my understanding of the people around me. She taught me the importance of having balance within business for both the numbers as well as the people. Professor Hercot had a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding the venture capital and investment banking space and shared quite a few jewels with us throughout his course. Every single class was challenging but he always made himself available for help regarding the material, even on weekends!

What was your favorite MBA Course My favorite course in business school was Operations Management taught by Rogelio Oliva. Ironically, operations was my least favorite subject during my undergraduate career, but Dr. Oliva made the subject extremely interesting and showed the real world impact that changes within operations can have on a company. I’ve never met a professor so passionate about their specialty subject and every minute in class was “entertaining” to say the least!

Why did you choose this business school? Texas A&M has world-wide recognition and that played a major part in my decision. I was also intrigued by the growth of Mays’ program and the increase in its rankings over the last few years and that was something I wanted to be a part of. Lastly, Mays has arguably one of the best ROI’s you can come across from a top ranked business program and that for me sealed the deal.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself and be able to tell your story in a unique way. Understand what you want to accomplish by going to business school, particularly Mays, and be able to deliver that message to the admissions committee as well.  Also, let the admissions committee know what type of impact you can have on the program and how you plan to be a part of its continued success.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth I’ve heard regarding Mays is that the individuals who attend are mostly pursuing careers in energy or in Texas when in actuality it’s the complete opposite. We have a wide variety of students with an even wider variety of career interests and employers could potentially miss out on some extremely talented candidates because of this myth.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not fully taking advantage of opportunities outside the business program such as our Center for Entrepreneurship and 3 Day Start UP.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most from our program is Arko Basu. Arko is an all-around great guy who also happens to be an Indian international student. Arko came to Mays to pursue his MBA with the dreams of one day working for Microsoft and he turned those dreams into a reality. He’s a great example of what it means to be someone who’s driven and someone who has a vision for where they want to go in life.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents taught me from an early age to dream big and do even bigger. Although neither of my parents are in business, they are some of the most business savvy individuals I’ve ever met and fortunately I think they passed on a bit of that intellect to their kids.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…probably be working on passing the CFA exam.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I think Dean Jones has done a tremendous job with our program since he’s assumed the position. I don’t believe you’ll find a program that’s more connected with the students and is as open to feedback from current and former students than Mays’ MBA program. One thing I believe would be beneficial for the students is to make studying abroad a requirement for graduation. My experience abroad was truly life changing and I believe there’s great value in having that experience.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. To mentor and provide opportunities to youth from my hometown.
  2. To travel and scuba dive in 20 different places across the globe in the next five years.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like to be remembered as someone who envisions the possibilities of the future and motivates others to see those possibilities as well.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Pursuit of Happyness. The movie really symbolized the importance of hard work and what it truly takes to succeed.  It’s helped me realize that no matter what you’re going through, there’s always someone else that’s worse off or less fortunate. Continue to roll with the punches and eventually you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What would your theme song be? “God’s Plan” by Drake

Favorite vacation spot: The Netherlands

Hobbies? Scuba diving, traveling, and drawing

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

“When Willie walks into a room, energy rises, motivation increases, and creative ideas start to flow. The definition of confident humility, he excels at seeing the big picture and driving toward results, while caring deeply about giving others the opportunity to learn and grow. He listens with an open mind, makes sure all voices are heard, and brings his best effort, not just on “game day” but every day.

Inspiring others with a positive spirit is one of Willie’s greatest leadership assets. So often we heard members of the Class of 2018 say “Where there’s Willie, there’s a way.” You know you’ve found a leader when he becomes a mantra in a class of competitive MBAs!”

Janet Marcantonio, Ph.D.
Executive Professor, Mays Teaching Fellow

 

DON’T MISS THE FULL LIST:

100 MBAS TO WATCH IN THE CLASS OF 2018