2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Raynelle Anwukah, SMU (Cox)

Raynelle “Raye” Anwukah

Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University

I was born a rebel, a contrarian, and a philosopher who naturally forges my own path.”

Hometown: Arlington, TX

Fun fact about yourself: In 2019, I created the design and structure of McKesson Corporation’s quarterly press releases, which millions of people, including investors and industry experts, can view on the company’s investor relations website.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Seattle University (Seattle, WA), BBA in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Homans & Associates Wealth Management (Hurst, TX)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? McKesson Corporation (Irving, TX)

Where will you be working after graduation? McKesson Corporation, Finance Rotational Development Program (FRDP) Associate (Irving, TX)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Cox MBA Merit Scholar
  • Forté Foundation Fellow
  • Cox Graduate Finance Association (Officer, 2018-2019)
  • Cox Graduate Honor Council (Member, 2018-2020)
  • Women in Business Association (Member, 2018-2020)
  • Black Graduate Student Association (Member, 2018-2020)
  • Adam Smith Society (Member, 2018-2020)
  • 2020 Business Leadership Center Cox Legacy Award Recipient (highest honor from the Cox Business Leadership Center)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It is a tremendous honor to receive the Business Leadership Center Cox Legacy Award in January 2020 for my commitment to leadership at SMU Cox. I am always striving to learn how to challenge myself and others when making decisions in group projects and presentations.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my time working at Homans & Associates Wealth Management. Within the first two months working at this wealth management firm, one of my supervisors, Bruce Homans, passed away from a sudden heart attack. Upon his passing, I immediately took charge as an associate portfolio manager and took care of our 200 clients. During my time as an associate portfolio manager, I allocated $60 million in client assets with consistent quarterly returns of 5% or higher by using fundamental research and technical analysis (e.g., alpha, beta, EPS, P/E ratios, etc.) to generate highly favorable risk-adjusted returns. I also streamlined five multi-strategy mutual-fund and fixed-income portfolios based on exposure to market volatility, realizing a twelve-month return of 17% in 2017. Lastly, I generated over $250K in monthly sales by developing marketing strategies for mutual funds and annuity products to current and prospective clients. I am proud of these accomplishments because realizing success at a firm brings me great joy.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school?  I enjoyed attending the International Festival, which is an annual occasion at SMU Cox. The festival is a celebration of cuisines, fashion, music, and dancing from around the world. The festival is a reflection of how Cox cares for and empowers all students, no matter where they originate from. SMU Cox is not just an institution for learning business acumen, but also a place to build character and evolve into a mature, confident human being. The Cox School builds leaders who are never afraid of being their true, authentic selves and sharing their culture and unique wisdom with others in their professional and personal lives.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose SMU Cox because of its diverse alumni network, access to key Dallas business leaders, quality of education and academic rigor, and opportunities to grow as a young, Black MBA candidate. Cox still has a small percentage of Black students in its programs, but I see this as an excellent advantage for both myself and the school. I benefit from networking with successful Black business leaders who attended Cox, as well as receiving coveted scholarship awards. Cox benefits from learning from me and other Black students with our constructive feedback on how to make the program a more welcoming environment for future Black students.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? For applicants wishing to attend SMU Cox, I advise them to network with current first-year and second-year students on the pros and cons of their experiences in the program. They should also network with a mix of full-time, part-time, one-year, and executive MBA students. Networking with Cox alumni is a huge plus as well.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Cox is that the program only caters to southern Caucasian students from high net worth backgrounds. I have to disagree with this myth, as there has been an increase in MBA candidates of color and international students representing countries in Asia, Africa, Central, and South America, and Europe. The increase in diversity has made Cox a more attractive program for prospective students of color, and it also enriches the school’s culture as a more inclusive environment.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jiman Hwang, SMU Cox Class of 2020 – Jiman Hwang is an international student from South Korea, a loving husband, and a father of two young children. Jiman and I developed a close bond during many rigorous finance courses in our first year of the program. Among my MBA classmates, I admire him the most because his appetite for knowledge is relentless. His kindness is unwavering. His generosity is unparalleled. We have worked together in at least five group projects and presentations, and his commitment to hard work, quick decision-making, and sharp attention to detail have challenged me to be a more skilled, well-rounded professional. Jiman struggles with his English skills, especially in writing papers and presenting information in front of an audience. I do not know what it is like to learn English as a second language, but I did admire him for his hard work in every task he did. Occasionally, I would help edit his final papers and teach him essential grammar lessons to improve his writing. Other times, he would help me with difficult financial modeling concepts on Excel or challenging derivative strategies to create a mock stock and options portfolio on StockTrak.com, an online global portfolio trading simulation. We learned to help each other grow. I will never forget our partnership.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My business colleague from Homans & Associates, Kay Melton, encouraged me to pursue my professional dreams and attend business school. Kay never attended business school and was unable to complete her undergraduate studies due to a family tragedy. However, she started as a secretary at a small wealth management firm and worked her way up to becoming a financial planner. While working at Homans & Associates, we had a heart-to-heart conversation about my career goals and dreams. I admitted to her that I plan to attend business school one day but was unsure of when to start applying since I enjoyed working as a portfolio manager. Kay told me that while I am still young and learning, I should take the opportunity to pursue business school sooner rather than later. She advised that since I had minimal personal responsibilities, had not yet married, and was not yet a parent, I should spend most of my time completing my business education and obtaining an MBA degree. With an MBA, my professional future will be bright. Her wisdom and insight prompted me to do extensive research on different MBA programs across the country. I am forever grateful to Kay for her kindness, understanding, and guidance.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Reach the C-Suite
  2. Become a Board Chairman of a Fortune 100 company

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? My colleagues will remember me as a young woman who came to SMU Cox to learn the importance of risk-taking, the diversity of thought, and unconditionally loving others whose lifestyles and life perspectives utterly differed from mine.

Hobbies? I enjoy discovering new music within the various rock subgenres (classic rock, grunge, post-grunge, hard rock, 1960s psychedelic rock, 1960s garage rock, early 1990s shoegaze, indie rock). Also, I am currently learning more about minimalist, vegan, and bohemian lifestyles. Lastly, to deepen my spirituality, I study and practice Nichiren Buddhism through reading the Lotus Sūtra (the Nichiren Buddhist scripture), prayers and chanting, and meditation.

What made Raynelle such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“In her nearly two years in the SMU Cox Full-Time MBA program, Raynelle “Raye” Anwukah has shown incredible resiliency, leadership, and growth. From our first interaction in the fall of 2018, I could see how driven she was. Raye was focused on academics and had very high expectations for herself. Midway through her first term she experienced a few personal setbacks and had to refocus her energy in a way that helped her achieve balance. She never faltered academically and instead took that opportunity to develop deeper connections with her faculty and peers, creating a community that revolved around more than academic development.

Raye has also exemplified extraordinary leadership skills. She is a merit scholar, a Forté fellow and an officer in five Cox graduate clubs. She has also won the Business Leadership Legacy Award for her dedication and participation with our Business Leadership Institute. More than that, Raye sincerely cares about her peers and strives to build an inclusive and supportive environment. She worked closely with me over the past year to create more opportunities for student feedback and involvement, more robust club engagement, and more focused support for underrepresented students at Cox.

In addition to her contributions, Raye excelled during her internship with McKesson and has accepted a full-time role with them in their finance rotational development program. She also served as a peer judge in our annual PepsiCo case competition, mentoring new students throughout that process. Raye takes every opportunity to help students understand that learning takes place inside and outside the classroom. She shows them how to embrace the community and get the most out of their education. I strongly support Raye as one of the best and brightest MBAs and know she will go on to do great things post-graduation.”

Megan Murphy
Associate Director, SMU Cox MBA Student Services


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