A DOWN YEAR IN APPLICATIONS
Long-term, the Jones full-time MBA program is focused on boosting enrollment by 20%. Looking ahead to the 2018-2019 cycle, the goal will be to increase applications. Last year, Rice suffered one of the biggest application drop-offs in a down year across the board. In particular, applications plunged from 813 to 587, a steep 28% fall. Despite this, the program boosted enrollment to 120 students. The trade-off? The acceptance rate rose by 12 points to 39%.
The application decline reverberated across the Class of 2020. Average GMATs, for example, slipped five points to 706 – a number that still edged out in-state rival Texas McCombs (703) and Duke Fuqua (704). That downturn also extended to the percentage of female and international students, which went from 34% to 31% and 31% to 23%, respectively.
In another major change, 37% of the class holds STEM degrees according to school statistics, a 25% decline over the previous year. The biggest beneficiaries were social science majors, who accounted for 24% of the class. The percentage of business majors also rose from 22% to 24% with the incoming class, with humanities taking up another 8% of the seats. Among professional backgrounds, the biggest bloc of students – 19.5% – worked in manufacturing. The class also includes a sizable proportion of students who cut their teeth in professional, scientific and technical services (14%), public administration, government, and the military (12%), health care and social assistance (7.5%), educational services (6.5%), and finance and insurance (6.5%).
ENERGY IS A BIG DRAW
While applications were down, employer interest in Jones grads continued to rise. Like previous years, the school enjoyed high placement – to the tune of 94.5% of 2018 graduates accepting offers within three months of graduation. The class also fetched starting bases at $113,287. By the same token, 70% of the class landed signing bonus and other compensation, with the former averaging $25,589. That’s a strong start for a class where over one-in-five graduates ultimately end up in the c-suite according to the school.
Not surprisingly, energy recruits a high number of Jones MBAs. That’s just the nature of the region, which encompasses nearly half of the oil and natural gas workers in the United States. The area is also home to an army of engineers and scientists, many of whom work for middle market service providers and suppliers who handle everything from conducting geological tests to supplying machinery like well heads. Indeed, this concentration of industry talent and might – heavily clustered in the “Energy Corridor” just west of downtown – creates a virtuous cycle that maintains growth across the spectrum.
Not surprisingly, this ecosystem enables Rice Jones to offer expertise and opportunities that few business schools can match in the energy field. “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, says Michael Morales Tenorio, who comes to the MBA program from Halliburton. “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.”
SPONSORS THE WORLD’S LARGEST BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION
However, the program is hardly restricted to “oil-and-gas” – a misnomer that’s rebuffed by the Class of 2018’s choices. While 19.8% ended up in energy, many students chose finance (22.1%), technology (17.4%), and consulting (15.1%).
“It is true that energy fits into Rice’s wheel house,” says Stuart Crockford, a member of P&Q’s 2018 Best & Brightest MBAs. “If you want to be in energy, there is no place better. Rice also has strengths in finance, health care and entrepreneurship. The Rice campus is directly across the street from the largest medical facilities in the world, Texas Medical Center. Rice Business also touts a #2 national ranking in entrepreneurship lead by the Rice Alliance acting as a catalyst for launching successful tech ventures through education, mentoring and networking connections.”
Indeed, the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship acts as the hub of startup activity at Jones. A university-wide program, the alliance has helped nearly 2,500 businesses get started over the past two decades, with firms raising over $7 billion dollars during that period. It also houses OwlSpark, the school’s accelerator, and sponsors the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC). The largest competition of its kind, the event traditionally attracts over 40 teams that compete for over $2 million dollars in prizes each year. However, the event also acts as a major springboard. Over the past decade, funding for competition alumni has skyrocketed from $90 million dollars to $1.91 billion. This includes 28 exits that have yielded $583 million dollars in exit dollars.
ONLINE MBA PROGRAM TAKES ROOT
While the Alliance and the RBPC have been long-standing staples of the Rice MBA, the program has recently rolled out new offerings certain to help define the program in the future. The first is the MBA@Rice, the school’s new online MBA program. Both hybrid and highly interactive, MBA@Rice taps into the school’s faculty’s expertise and teaching excellence to extend the school’s reach far beyond Houston.
“The MBA@Rice, welcomed our first cohort in July,” says Dean Peter Rodriguez in a statement to P&Q. “We are reaching working professionals who would not be able to earn their Rice MBA without this option. This first cohort has 26 students with 81% from Texas, a 65/35% male/female split, and average work experience of seven years. These students are just the right mix to strengthen and deepen our programs.”
Rodriguez also notes that school is expanding its Rice Business Worldwide programs, including its Global Field Experience, which is required for all MBA students – including those in enrolled in the online MBA@Rice. Taken during the first year, the Global Field Experience has added Mexico and Peru to its roster, which will focus on social enterprise and Fintech respectively. “In recent trips to Brazil and Colombia, students engaged in consulting projects, gained exposure to another country and culture, participated in a service project and forged closer bonds with their classmates,” Rodriguez adds.
The Global Field Experience also supplements the school ever-popular Action Learning Project (ALP), another experiential favorite of Rice MBAs, past and present. ““My favorite course was ALP,” says David Laborde, a 2018 P&Q MBA to Watch. “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.”
“BORDERLINE RABID ALUMNI BASE”
Stuart Crockford (’18) jokes that Rice Jones boasts a “potent and borderline rabid alumni base.” That’s ‘rabid’ in a good way, with Jones MBAs and alumni traditionally giving the program the highest marks in surveys conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek and Forbes. One reason may be the tight-knit communities formed at the school, one where classmates get to know everyone, including professors, and can make an impact. Dean Rodriguez boils it down this way: “Size, intimacy, small but mighty, intentional, makes the connections deeper and long lasting.”
“Rice Business is intentionally small,” Rodriguez adds. “Located on one campus and in one building, our students and professors are able to gather and work together. This level of intimacy makes the connections between classmates deeper and longer lasting. This small size does not lose out on the benefits of a big school.”
The culture and class size also played a big part in Sarry Dahdah’s decision to join the program. “I wanted to go to a school where I can make meaningful and genuine relationships over the duration of the program. It’s also important to participate in as many activities as possible, and with a small class size there is no excuse not to get involved in at least one major activity per semester. Whether that’s a case competition or an international trip, there are enough opportunities for everyone to get involved in and new avenues to explore that probably haven’t been considered before.”
RETURNING TO VENEZUELA TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
One of these avenues is community involvement. Kori Li, for one, is “excited” to be representing Rice as a member of the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Committee. This assignment is part of the school’s Board Fellows program, designed to expose MBA students to leading community leaders and high level decision-making. That was another unique wrinkle of the Rice MBA that appealed to Michael Morales Tenorio.
“Board Fellows allows MBA students to participate as non-voting board members in a local non-profit for a year,” he says. “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’s next for the Class of 2020? Ashley John plans to transition into the tech field, where she can focus on improving “the way people live and work.” Norma Torres Mendoza is already plotting out her run for City Council in Houston. At the same time, Michael Morales Tenorio is looking forward to working in investment banking – and enjoying a big group of friends in the Houston area.
For Francisco J. Alvarez Rincon, the Rice MBA carries a profoundly personal purpose. “My decision to pursue an MBA lies on a desire to look for opportunities, have a vision and take risks to bring prosperity to underdeveloped regions. In the long term, I intend to help rebuild Venezuela. After years of corruption have left its institutions and infrastructures crumbling, I hope to be one of the many to bring the skills and the means to make this once rich and beautiful country shine again.”
What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.
|Sandra Alistair||Bangalore, India||RV College of Engineering||TPV Technology|
|Francisco J. Alvarez Rincon||Caracas, Venezuela||Illinois Institute of Technology||Woodhouse Tinucci Architects|
|Sarry Dahdah||Amman, Jordan||University of Bath||Consolidated Contractors Company|
|Ashley John||Missouri City, TX||Stanford University||Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston|
|Kory Li||Buffalo Grove, IL||Washington University in St. Louis||Anheuser-Busch Inbev|
|Karen Meyer||Saline, MI||Michigan State University||Population Services International|
|Gary Miller||Philadelphia, PA||University of Illinois||U.S. Army|
|Michael Morales Tenorio||Honolulu, HI||University of Hawaii||Halliburton|
|Norma Torres Mendoza||Queretaro, Mexico||Rice University||IDEA Public Schools|
|Miles Weinberger||Walnut Creek, CA||Gonzaga University||Aspiriant LLC|
|Yina Zhang||Beijing, China||Renmin University of China||China Chengxin International Credit Rating|
|Munirah Zulkifli||West Haven, CT||University of Malaya||Shella Malaysia|