2020 MBAs To Watch: Dominic Smith, Rice University (Jones)

Dominic Smith

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Fun-loving nerd who enjoys cooking and athletics. A well-balanced, optimistic dreamer who loves challenges and family.”

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Fun fact about yourself: I played collegiate basketball at Morehouse and competed in track and field at Morehouse and University of Michigan

Undergraduate School and Degree: Morehouse College B.S. Mathematics; University of Michigan M.S.E Aerospace Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Wood Group, Subsea Controls Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Wells Fargo Securities Houston, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Wells Fargo Securities Investment Banking Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: As the Net Impact Co-President, Black Business Student Association Co-President, and Finance Association Diversity Chair, I’ve had many opportunities to do community work throughout the city of Houston. Our Net Impact chapter volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, where we were responsible for packaging donations for families throughout the city. Also, Net Impact organized a fundraiser to help a children’s hospital near the Democratic Republic of Congo purchase a new oxygen generator.

The BBSA has developed and proctored a case competition for second-grade students at a local school. The second graders are given a crash course in the development of a business idea that parallels their current reading of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. BBSA will help the students develop their projects and judge the entire competition. Also, the BBSA has arranged fireside chats with executives from a Fortune 100 company to discuss their goals on diversity and our role in progressing this. Pretty Cool!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being selected to participate in the Wright Fund, a student-led Equity Fund, at Rice Business. It is a highly competitive process that looks at your current grades and your mission statement. The Wright Fund, by far, had the most academically rigorous course load, but also the most fun and rewarding. It thoroughly prepares you for many different career paths including investment banking.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition is our year-end “Follies” show. Every year, the students host a show where we get a chance to make fun of each other and professors as well. The jokes are all in good taste, but it shows that we are able to relax and take a joke. I love that professors join in on the fun and are able to laugh at themselves as well.

Why did you choose this business school? Rice is very unique in its offerings. I know many people like to say the small class sizes and the high touch environment. Rice’s presence in Finance, Energy, and Healthcare was the major game-changer for me. Rice has an amazing alumni base in each one of these fields that cannot be denied. Also, Rice Business always strives to be better in every way possible. Whether expanding its network into new industries or giving students a voice in curriculum, I think choosing Rice was my best decision.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? BE YOURSELF! I know this sounds cliché, but the last thing you want is to be somewhere that doesn’t accept you for you. Classes are not only built on academic performance but also personalities. It will be hard to maintain a “representative” for two years in an MBA program. Rice wants your authentic self to drive the class forward. Imagine you being wanted for you and knowing that their belief in you is not based on a false representation of you.  

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the main things I heard prior to coming to Rice was how antisocial the people could be. Everyone would be socially awkward, but that is so far from the truth. Everyone here has been very nice and sociable. The school hosts a social event called partio (party on the patio) every week for the MBA students. This was the main myth-busting event for me.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have taken more trips with my classmates. Despite this being a graduate school, bonds are formed out of the classrooms. I didn’t get the opportunity to travel abroad with my classmates due to injury or family. If I were to do it all over again, I would set a high priority on this.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I would easily choose Ashley John. Ashley is brilliant and caring. She has been at the forefront in trying to improve Rice. At the beginning of the school year, Ashley came to school injured. However, this did not affect her attitude at all. She maintained a smile and persevered through arguably the most difficult semester. Ashley is more than willing to help anyone and everyone at any time which I admire. I could go on and on, but I will stop here by saying that she is by far the most impressive. I find myself trying to channel some of those qualities in my day today.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I couldn’t narrow this down to one individual. I would have to say Natalie Smith, Rice Business alum and my wife, as well as my mentor, Eric Lyons, were by far the most influential people. At one point, my career was not advancing as I had hoped, and I did not particularly see any other route from my current position. Natalie had recently completed her MBA and began work as a consultant. I quickly noticed our trajectory would be different in the coming years. She would encourage me to take control of my career, pursue my dreams, and suggested an MBA due to my analytical and personal skills. My mentor, Eric Lyons, did the same. He would tell me about all sorts of amazing career opportunities that would be available to someone of my skill set as well as an organization called the Consortium that could help me pursue my MBA. Mainly, both of them were my biggest cheerleaders and advocates. They formed a village specifically aimed for my betterment.

Hobbies? Cycling, Cooking, Basketball, Swimming, Anime, Writing, Random Math Problems, Travelling, Triathlons, and Mentoring

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

“I am writing to submit my recommendation on behalf of Dominic Smith. I have known Dom for a little over a year and a half now, since he was a student in my first-year MBA course (Financial Accounting). As the MBA program at Rice emphasizes a close faculty/student relationship, I have socialized with Dom outside of the classroom at many academic and social functions. So, I feel confident that I can gauge his talent, capabilities, and personality.

Dom is a great student. Not only did he perform well in my course on the graded assessments, but also he was consistently an active participant in the classroom discussions. He was well-prepared for the topics covered in the lectures but really expressed the desire to understand the material on a deeper basis. Although Dom has a very good GPA, I believe he is not simply concerned about earning high grades but about learning and understanding in order to be an effective and thoughtful business leader.

In terms of personality, Dom is very warm, genial, and yet still assertive, which is not an easy balance. I teach the first introduction most of the MBA students have had to a somewhat quantitative business course. Many of the students come into these sessions a little intimidated and insecure. I really appreciate people who are willing to step out and ask good questions early. It sets a great example for the rest of the class, makes the other students more comfortable in asking questions, and greatly improves the learning experience of all the students. Dom began my course by leading in this way. This sets him far above most of the other students I have taught at Rice and at MIT. He made my course better for all of his classmates.

Additionally, as a second-year student, Dom provided free tutoring for several of the first-year students in my class. My understanding is that he overheard them discussing having difficulty in the course and offered his help. He did this despite having his own busy schedule, a job waiting for him as an investment banker, and not be compensated for it. Overall, Dom has performed well at Rice Business, and I believe that the school and his classmates have benefited from having him here.”

Brian Akins
Assistant Professor of Accounting


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