Michael Morales Tenorio
“Just a boy from Hawaii trying to uncover the amazing things life has to offer.”
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Fun Fact About Yourself: My introduction to business started at 10 years old when my parents started their own nursing home company.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Hawaii. B.A. Chemistry.
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Halliburton, Service Operator.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Although I’ve spent the last five years working in the energy industry, my biggest career accomplishment comes from helping my parents get their nursing home business off the ground. I was 10-years-old when they started that venture. For the next 15 years, I balanced school, the family business, and my own journey to find my industry. It wasn’t the easiest route, and I learned a lot of hard lessons along the way, but to see the benefits that the business provides my family today makes all those past sacrifices worth it.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I would say that the quality that best describes my Rice MBA classmates is the “total package.” They’re not only talented, but also hard-working. That combination is clear when you learn about their past accomplishments and their journey to get to Rice. A lot of them could have easily rested on their laurels but their commitment to lifelong development has led them to Rice.
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? The key factor that led me to Rice Business was its strong connection to the energy industry. As someone looking to make the transition from energy operations to energy finance, I knew that my school of choice had to have a strong energy presence. When you take in all the factors of academic rigor, reputation and location, it’s hard to find a better energy school than Rice. Rice is located in Houston, the energy capital of the world. Whether you plan to go into business development, finance, or human resources, energy employers are just a stone’s throw away.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I look forward to hopefully participating in the Board Fellows Program. Board Fellows allows MBA students to participate as non-voting board members in a local non-profit for a year. MBA students are able to gain insight into what board service entails and get a feel for community service avenues that they may be interested in post-MBA. I believe this is an amazing opportunity to be able to give back to the Houston community.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve always known that I wanted to run my own business one day. Growing up working in a small, family business, I thought that grit and effort alone would be enough to learn the skills needed to scale a company. My past five years at Halliburton showed me how much I didn’t know. I realized just how complex Big Business is. If I ever wanted to run my own show and scale that business significantly, I knew that I needed to improve myself intellectually.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I looked at all the factors, both quantitative and qualitative. Numbers-wise, with the career path I’m targeting, the decision made sense. That didn’t lessen the fact that this was still a huge financial investment, however. So, what sealed the deal for me was that I looked 10 years into the future and asked myself: “Would I regret this if I didn’t go?” The answer was yes and so I made the jump. You can always make more money, but you can’t buy time.
What other MBA programs did you apply to?
- University of Texas [McCombs]
- University of Pennsylvania [Wharton]
How did you determine your fit at various schools? For me, I knew what I wanted to go into before pursuing my MBA. I wanted to go into energy finance and so that really narrowed down my scope of schools. I knew that my target school had to either have a strong energy recruiting pipeline, a good finance program, or both. With this mindset, I created a first draft of potential schools. I dissected each school’s website to get a feel for what each school was like, the type of students they attracted, and what industries their candidates eventually went into. There are so many good resources out there that came up with a simple Google search, but the ones that I used are US News and World Report, Businessweek, Poets and Quants, GMATClub, and Clear Admit. From here, I shortened my list and made it a point to visit the selected schools in person. Campus visits were a game changer. You can read all you want, but nothing beats seeing and feeling the energy of the program in person. After my campus visits, it was pretty clear which programs I could see myself being a part of.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I consider two events my life-changers and they both came at a young age. My dad was a doctor in the Philippines, but when my parents made the sacrifice to give their children a better life in America, my dad was unable to convert his MD to practice medicine in the states. This put tremendous financial pressure on my parents. If it wasn’t for their perseverance to pick up the pieces and start a business, I don’t know where my family would be today. Growing up working in a family business and watching my parents sacrifice everything early on forged the grit to be relentless in my pursuits.
The second event is that I grew up with a younger brother who was born with a development disorder called Trisomy 18. Watching his pain and struggles growing up put life into perspective for me. The journey to make your dreams come true is a long, hard, and sometimes lonely process. You sometimes find yourself having inner talks, trying to decide if what you’re fighting for is achievable, but when you realize that other people are fighting battles to just see the next day, you get a reality check. Chasing dreams has taken me from the beaches of Hawaii, to the -40˚ temperatures of the Canadian tundra, to the beautiful campus of Rice. It wasn’t always easy, but it’s a privilege that I’m blessed to do.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to become an investment banking associate who concentrates on energy coverage in Houston.
Where do you see yourself in five years? If all goes to plan, I should be finishing up my third year as an investment banking associate. Hopefully, I’ll know Houston like the back of my hand and have picked out a part of the city that I have chosen to call home. I hope to be a full-blown Houston sports fanatic with a palette for the best barbeque in North America. Most importantly, I hope to have created a great group of Houstonian friends that I can navigate this next chapter of life with.