2019 MBAs To Watch: Barrett Moorhouse, Rice University (Jones)

Barrett Moorhouse

Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University

“Resourceful. Pragmatic. Determined. Striving to embrace complexity and persevere with enthusiasm and humility.”

Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX

Fun fact about yourself: My kindergarten teacher had a difficult conversation with my mom after I had trouble mixing colors in a pudding recipe. She was worried that I might not make it through high school. My color mixing skills are likely still subpar, but I think I have demonstrated improvement in other areas that she might not have accounted for.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Naval Academy, Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? U.S. Marine Corps Officer, 2012-2017

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I was a Climate Corps Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund. I worked with the U. S. Army Energy Team at Fort Bragg, NC to help them develop and implement their energy goals

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Rice Veterans in Business Association
  • President, Rice University Men as Allies in Rice Business Women’s Organization
  • 2018 Rice University Annual Outstanding Student Impact Award recipient for voluntarily organizing and executing rescue operations for more than 150 individuals during Hurricane Harvey relief effort

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was just being able to continue volunteering while I was at business school. My buddy from the Marine Corps, Cress Clippard, runs the Houston Travis Manion Foundation branch and got me connected with a few ongoing service projects that I have enjoyed. The organization allows veterans to do character development seminars and activities with underprivileged youth in a meaningful and impactful way. TMF is flexible with my schedule, so I was able to sign up the night before events and serve as a mentor to the students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Promoting my former platoon sergeant. He found out the day before he got promoted and wished I could be there. It was a school week, but I bought tickets, and within an hour I was on a plane. Most of our old platoon was there to see the ceremony. He and I put everything we had into building our platoon, and I was so honored to have been there to see the result of his efforts be recognized.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Alan Crane. He was my finance professor at Rice. To say teaching finance to me was a challenge is putting it mildly. He has a dynamic teaching style that somehow made finance approachable and comprehensible. I think all Rice MBAs can agree his exam was brutal, but I feel comfortable with the subject, so mission accomplished.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Enterprise Acquisition. The course exposed me to a different style of entrepreneurship. Professor Al Danto taught us how to value existing ‘For Sale’ businesses. We identified our ‘entrepreneurial DNA’ and I found that I am more of a ‘builder’ than an ‘innovator.’ This course taught me that being able to build on an existing business is also an option within the broader entrepreneurial scope.

Why did you choose this business school? The people. From my first interaction with Rice, the students and staff started to reach out to onboard me into the Rice community before I was admitted. They were genuine and supportive – and people that I wanted to be around. I found the perfect ecosystem that allowed me the opportunity to thrive.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself. Be humble. Be honest. Rice is full of some of the most genuine people I have met. Rice maintains a unique culture, year-over-year, by recruiting people who embrace who they are.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The myth about Rice is not so much the school itself, but the city of Houston. Most people think Houston is defined by the oil and gas and healthcare industries. It’s an incredibly diverse and thriving city full of people who value hard work and determination much more than your pedigree or who you know.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I had approached recruiting more as exploration instead of an endurance challenge. I was so concerned about whether I would get an internship that I failed to explore the career opportunities that were available to me after my MBA. If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s okay. To me, figuring out what you want to do and why during your MBA is a more important process than when to start recruiting.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Rice gave me the opportunity not only to explore career opportunities but to learn how to explore career opportunities. From the Naval Academy, you are toured around all the different career paths. Then, you choose one, run around in the woods for a few months to get selected – and that’s what you do. The rest of your career is mostly influenced by timing and chance. When I got to Rice, I expected a similar experience, so I wasn’t focused when searching for an internship. Fortunately, my internship with EDF was terrific. During my last semester, I decided to take a more relaxed perspective on recruiting and figure out what I want to do. I am still undecided, but I am excited about what might develop.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mike Mundey. He is one of the most thoughtful, humble, and intelligent people in our class. In addition to being a full-time student, he is a senior officer in the Army Reserves and runs the Rice University Veterans in Business Battle, the largest veteran-focused business plan in the country (shameless plug!). He has been a mentor to me in so many ways.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue an MBA? My mentor, Ted Looney, from the Marine Corps. He was my first company commander. He is an incredibly thoughtful and hard-working person. I watched him go through the application process and then earned his MBA about three years before me, so I got to learn from his experience and reflections as I began my journey. He is one of the most humble people I know, and he has had a significant impact on a lot of people’s lives because of his pragmatic approach to life that challenges peoples’ conventions and decision-making processes. He’s an investment banker, but always seems to make time to serve as a mentor, even if sometimes that timeframe is at two in the morning.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Pursuit of Happyness. It is based on the memoirs of Chris Gardner and his break into investing from homelessness. The film showed me that the skills and traits from your experience may translate better than you think when transitioning into an entirely new industry or field of work.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? I can’t think of one acronym in particular. I do think it is funny that military folks get a lot of grief for speaking in acronyms, but the reality is that business people speak in acronyms and shortened words far more than the military.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an FBI Special Agent. My grandfather was in the FBI for over 35 years. It was a career that I have always admired. I had an offer and turned it down to go to Rice.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worthless? I think this is still to be determined. Pricing seems at least to be a little more art than science. However, I do know that a solid investment is based on future returns. I’m pretty sure my MBA will have some pretty attractive ROI.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Well, I ran my first marathon while I was in business school. It was a lot, but I think the next target will be a full triathlon.

The other bucket list item is to go sky diving. I get asked a lot if I’ve ever jumped out of a plane. I guess it’s a military thing, but it’s not too common in the Marine Corps. I feel like I need to do it just to stop having to explain why I haven’t don’t it yet.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who might not have all the answers, but was willing to do anything to help you find them.

Hobbies? I enjoy fishing a lot. Fortunately, Rice is pretty close to my dad’s house in Port Aransas, TX, so I have been able to take a few more trips offshore in the past few years than I was able to in the Marine Corps. I also enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction. Also, my brother is one of the basketball coaches at Texas A & M, so I try and make it to as many games as I can.

What made Barrett such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Strong leadership and service experience are relative ‘tablestakes’ qualities for the best students in top MBA programs, so it takes something compelling to truly stand above the others. Barrett Moorhouse has done just that at the Jones School.

He led our Veterans in Business Administration (VIBA) organization, which is one of the largest and strongest veterans-related MBA groups in the country. Further, he took on the founding leadership role for our new Men as Allies group, which works with our Rice Business Women’s Organization as a male-led group focused on gender-equity. However, while both of these are strong accomplishments unto themselves, it was Barrett’s performance during and after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area with unprecedented rainfall and widespread flooding that sets him apart from the rest. First, in the midst of the storm, he jumped into action and joined an ad-hoc group of strangers to do water rescues in their sporting boat of people trapped in flooded homes. Then, he joined a crew of first responders to help guide people of all ages out of an apartment complex surrounded by floodwaters, by swimming with them (including a short stretch underwater) to safety. As if this wasn’t enough, he was then asked to command a sizable group of National Guardsmen and first responders to organize and execute a multi-boat operation that rescued over 160 stranded people in a 48-hour time period to get them to safety in shelters.

Barrett quite honestly lives for high-impact service and craves tough, challenging situations. He has done that for his country in the Marine Corps, for his school while at Rice, and for his fellow Houstonians during one of the most challenging times in our city’s history.”

Dave Van Horn
Professor in the Practice of Operations Management

Are you a friend of Barrett? Leave a comment to congratulate him.