2020 MBAs To Watch: Andrew Hoverson, U.C. Irvine (Merage)

Andrew Hoverson

University of California Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business

“I’m driven by a deep curiosity about life and a need to explore its offerings.”

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Fun fact about yourself: My first child was recently born on January 30, 2020!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Pennsylvania State University – Bachelor of Science (BS), Finance – Magna Cum Laude

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? United States Marine Corps – Course Chief, Close Quarters Battle School

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? I interned with Cargill as a Commodity Trading Intern in Minneapolis, MN

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working with ExxonMobil as a Financial Analyst in Houston, TX

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Merage Fellow
  • Michael Johnson School Spirit Award
  • President – Merage Veterans Association
  • Graduate Student Work Study – Assistant to the Convener – Orange County Veterans and Military Families Collaborative
  • Finance Committee Member – Southern California Veterans Business Network

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of receiving the Michael Johnson School Spirit Award. This award is for special recognition of a first-year student for outstanding efforts and contributions in support of the community. I’m especially proud of it because in order to receive the award, a student must be nominated by a peer and then voted for by faculty and students. It just means so much more when awards come from your peers.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the three years I spent in Chesapeake, Virginia as a Close Quarters Battle Instructor. During my time in this role, I was able to supervise the education of 1,882 Marines and Sailors in dynamic, 360-degree live-fire environments. The sensitivity of their work and the impact each individual was capable of having on matters of national security and geopolitical uncertainties meant that every interaction with the students was potentially critical to ensuring they were effective at carrying out their respective missions and to increase the likelihood that they came home alive and well to their families.

I was fortunate to serve as the Course Chief and Curriculum Developer for the school, and am proud to have worked in conjunction with our staff and adjacent units in the Marine Corps Expeditionary Operations Training Group, Naval Special Warfare, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to update our curriculum, ensuring our students were able to maintain relevancy and increase personal safety upon entering their respective operational environments.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor at Merage is Vijay Gurbaxani, Director of the Center for Digital Transformation at the Paul Merage School of Business. Professor Gurbaxani teaches a course called Edge in which students analyze and discuss business strategies in the digital economy and how to leverage technologies at various stages in a business cycle in order to drive technology-enabled change. I loved that every discussion was relevant to the current business environment and required looking to the future in order to understand the why behind the decisions we see being made by both incumbents and startups around the world. Professor Gurbaxani challenges his students to think and encourages the sharing of a multitude of ideas and opinions on a given subject. At the end of every class session, I felt as though my ability to think critically had evolved a bit more, rather than feeling like I had a new list of terms and figures to memorize.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The best event at my business school is the Center for Digital Transformation’s Road to Reinvention Conference, also known as R2R. The conference features conversations with executives, technology leaders, and leading academics on topics such as disruption, innovation, and responsibility in a digital era enabled by technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).

The 2019 conference featured speakers such as the CEO of Adobe, the CEO of Ulta Beauty, the CEO of Acorns, the Global Chief Brand Officer of Taco Bell, the CIO of Allergan, the Director of Engineering for Google Accelerated Science, and many others. This year I’ll be volunteering at the conference. Of the speakers who have been confirmed, I’m most excited to hear the CIO of T-Mobile and the Global VP of Data and AI for Visa.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Merage in order to leverage the realizable synergies between what I learned in my Finance degree and Merage’s specialization in Digital Transformation. I wanted to learn more about the application of predictive and prescriptive analytics in finance and the realities behind data management and utilization.

On a lighter note, it was important for my wife and I to be in a place we enjoy. Being at Merage allows us to live in Newport Beach, where I can walk across the street and be at the ocean. Merage is a great program in an incredible location, making it easy for me to decompress when school or job-searching gets stressful. My wife is happy here too even though I am busy pursuing an MBA.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? It’s important to develop a variety of connections to a program as you move through the application process and make your eventual decision on where to go. For me, that meant getting on campus when and where it was possible, and speaking with current and former students. Connecting with the veterans at Merage was a significant factor in my final decision. Reach out to those you have common interests with at a school, whether that’s through the Financial Management Association, Consulting Club, Challenge for Charity, or the Veterans Association. You’ll know it’s the right school when these people make you feel welcomed and excited to attend the program.

With so many competitive programs out there, fit is everything. If you find yourself interested in digital transformation, applied innovation, or business and economic development, then look into the various centers associated with the Paul Merage School of Business (Center for Digital Innovation, UCI Beall Applied Innovation, The Cove, and the Center for Real Estate), to decide if this is what you want out of a business school experience, and be prepared to successfully communicate what exactly is grabbing a hold of you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about my school, in my opinion, was that my access to various industries and companies would be limited when compared to a school in a more densely populated city such as Seattle, Los Angeles, or New York. That just wasn’t the case though. Not only is Orange County incredibly economically vibrant, but the program also does a great job of bringing top employers to campus and of helping us travel to relevant conferences, expos, and company sites around the country. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is in our back yard. Rather than dealing with living in the city, I can drive 30 minutes to attend an event there and then return to my life at the beach without the traffic. Merage has all of the access with none of the hassle.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Following my international residential in Japan, my wife took a trip to Portugal with her family. She’s a Portuguese citizen and I’m currently in the process of learning the language. As a result, I’ve been looking forward to going to Portugal with her family for quite a while now, but did not join them on this trip because I had just been in Japan for school and classes was picking back up.

If I could go back in time, I would have gone. Those attending business school need to take every opportunity to explore before they go back into competitive and demanding professional roles. If an incredible opportunity presents itself, suffer through the late nights and tight timelines in order to get your work done and make it happen. That time is going to pass no matter what you do, so you might as well spend it doing extraordinary things.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Zoe Shiovitz is a total rockstar. She is the Co-President for UCI’s Challenge for Charity, which is something she was already well suited for as she spent time early in her professional career in a refugee clinic in Tel Aviv that served over 100 patients per day. Clearly, community service is something she really believes in.

She’s passionate about process improvement and accepted a full-time offer from Amazon following her summer internship as a Senior Program Manager. Zoe is someone who leads by example, is highly sought after for group work because of her intelligence and work ethic, and always seems to have a smile on her face. She’s definitely one to watch and I’m glad I’ve been able to work with her during our time at Merage!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father was the biggest driver of my pursuit of business in college. He grew up poor on a farm in the state of Washington, served in the Army, and used the GI Bill to study business at the University of Washington. When his GI Bill funding ran out, he pumped gas during the day and worked as a janitor during the night in order to provide for his wife and daughter and to pay his tuition. Through his sacrifices and dedication, he earned his MBA from the University of Washington – Foster School of Business and went on to have a successful career in finance.

I’ve always said that my dad is The American Dream. He went from nothing to something, and his understanding of business was a critically enabling factor.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? As my start date with ExxonMobil approaches, I find myself working to leverage my military background in order to develop and expertise in Energy Security. Professionally, I’d like for this to eventually lead to a fellowship with a leading energy research hub such as Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies, or MIT’s Energy Initiative.

In the near-term, I’d like to complete an expat assignment with ExxonMobil. Energy is a global need and ExxonMobil has operations in over 40 countries. Having been to 22 countries between my personal and military travels, I understand the perspective that is gained from new cultural experiences. An expat assignment with ExxonMobil would allow my family to continue our love for travel while providing me with first-hand knowledge of energy needs and operations in both developed and developing/contested regions. I view this as a critical component of my professional development.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as honest, humble, hard-working, dependable, and fair.

Hobbies? My hobbies include CrossFit, skiing, and reading philosophy.

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

“Andrew possesses an extremely rare combination of skills, capabilities, and experiences, which coupled with his commitment to learning, made him an exceptional contributor to the Class of 2020, and more importantly, to the Merage School as a whole.

When Andrew joined the Merage School, he was a Marine Corps veteran, who arrived with the leadership capabilities and work ethic that military officers often possess. Andrew brought much more. His experience, ranging from counter-insurgency to humanitarian aid, gave him a perspective that few in school have. It enables him to be analytical, agile, and empathic.

My class is focused on how managers and companies must adapt to external forces – technology, globalization, geopolitics – that are outside a firm’s control. It is a fast-paced, discussion-oriented class. Andrew was always well-prepared and able to contribute to the discussion in meaningful ways, drawing on his experience leading amidst uncertainty and his ability to reason and act quickly.

The Merage School is focused on preparing leaders for a digitally-driven world. Andrew epitomizes the capabilities we are trying to instill in our students. After taking many relevant classes in his first year, he obtained an internship with Cargill, where he used his newfound knowledge in Commodities Trading. He has already obtained a job with ExxonMobil as a Financial Analyst, and is determined to work in the area of Energy Security, which is, of course, a societal imperative.

He continues to support his peers by serving President of the Merage Veterans Association.

Andrew has continued to interact with me after taking my class, and I am continually impressed by him – his values, his work ethic, and his desire to do well for himself and his family, and for our country. I cannot think of anyone more suited to this recognition.”

Vijay Gurbaxani
Director, Center for Digital Transformation and Taco Bell Endowed Professor of Information Systems and Computer Science


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