Meet The Texas McCombs MBA Class Of 2020

Travis Miller

University of Texas, McCombs School of Business

Passionate, creative leader driven to make a positive difference in the world.”

Hometown:  Round Rock, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I recently made an effort to summit Denali, North America’s highest peak, but was turned around 250 feet shy of the summit due to high winds and -40 degree temperatures. The journey was the real reward, though I will be back to attempt it again…if my wife approves.

Undergraduate School and Major:  United States Naval Academy / B.S. in Systems Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  United States Navy / Executive Officer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Serving in a high performing organization with some of the most talented and driven service members. My accomplishments pale in comparison to what has been accomplished by the men and women who I have served with and what we’ve done together as a team.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?  Authentic – it is extremely impressive to see the caliber of individuals who are at McCombs, their aspirations, inclusiveness, and drive to have impactful change.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Networking opportunities – though Austin is where I grew up, it has since transformed into an international hub of culture, innovation and unique opportunity. The combination of family roots and diverse creative energy around Austin were strong influencers for me.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Titans of Investing led by Britt Harris.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was interested in learning ways to more objectively problem solve, enhance my organizational leadership aptitude, and explore alternate ideas and paths to effecting positive change in the world. Fortunately, the U.S. Navy offers a unique program that afforded me this opportunity to attend a civilian graduate school.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?  Several senior officers in the military who have earned MBAs have expressed to me the benefit of an MBA in their leadership development and leading dynamic and high performing military organizations. Looking beyond military service, they highlighted how an MBA will complement my unique talents from military service for transitioning into the next phase of my professional life.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? McCombs School of Business was my primary choice and the only school I applied to Round 1 to prioritize my effort and focus my attention on the application.  If I was not accepted to McCombs, I intended to apply in Round 2 to Stanford Graduate School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business and then Harvard Business School as secondary choices.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I reached out to colleagues who were attending other schools like Stanford, Chicago and Harvard to get their thoughts on their school experience, along with traveling to the cities to better understand their respective cultures. I also reviewed the national school rankings and overviews, and ultimately discussed with my family the area we would like to live after the military in order to maximize the development of our network.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?  Following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy, I began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. During Hell Week, I developed pneumonia and was medically rolled to the next class. It was a very low point watching colleagues continue training and overcome immense obstacles while I sort of spun my feet waiting to start again. I read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl who tells his life story and philosophy on why some people make it and others don’t – he often referred to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and quoted, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” – this quote and Frankl’s philosophy defined the way I looked at things… that life is about the ‘why’ and not the ‘how’.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?  I am currently on active duty orders at McCombs and will continue with my Naval service following graduation.

Where do you see yourself in five years?  I will be nearing military retirement and considering future military and civilian career paths with my family.  I will definitely engage the McCombs Alumni to follow up on their successes.