Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Christina Tamayo, Rice University (Jones)

Christina Tamayo

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

I’m a driven and tenacious lady who loves connecting with people and solving problems.”

Hometown: Houston, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself: My husband is also getting his MBA at Rice, at the PMBA program. We’re both going to school with our 10-month old baby at home!

Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy (USMA), Engineering Psychology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Army, Military Police Officer

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? There’s a clear philosophy at Rice that prioritizes quality of relationships and learning. I’m excited by the diverse concentrations offered, particularly in energy and strategy. Focusing on quality education, rather than trying to stomp all your classmates to be ranked #1, makes the environment more conducive towards real, lasting relationships. The spirit of cooperation, family, and individualized success is palpable and tipped my scales to Rice.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? There are two activities that tie: Rice Women in Business and the Rice Mentor Collective. Both offer the opportunity to connect with a mentor that helps guide you in and out of school. My mentors do a great job at helping introduce me to ideas and opportunities I’d otherwise not known existed. I love the individual development that occurs when you interact with a mentor.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Rice? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? The fantastic support from the Career Development Office excites me about Rice Business. For someone like me who’s open to a lot of areas, they are a great resource to help you research and narrow your scope. I’m most nervous about learning to balance my home life with all the networking opportunities. I love people. My husband and I are both pursuing our MBAs at the same time, with him also working full time. Our 10 month-old daughter is the light of our life and we want to give her all the quality attention she deserves, while also being present for our MBA experience.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I worked on a project while in South Korea as an officer in the Army involving an emergency response plan. This included analyzing logistic chains, security, and integrating this plan into the broad Korean country level plan. Our team’s high level of shared understanding resulted in our emergency response centers performing with outstanding results during the Korean and U.S. Army rehearsal. We were complemented by general officers for our attention to detail and the new questions we raised. Our team was driving higher level commands to react to our ideas, rather than the other way around. As the plan chief, my team achieved fantastic success at both the operational and strategic level. I am most proud to have been part of such a high-performing team, working on a mission that had national-level recognition.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My career in the Army was drawing to a natural closing point, so school was a great way to qualify my military experience, while closing the gap on skills not available to me in my military job. I know I needed more robust financial analytical skills. An MBA was a natural choice to capitalize on my leadership strengths and grow my financial skills.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? You’ll find this either stupid or crazy, but it was Rice or bust for me. As a family, I was driven by my location for schools. Rice was the best available, in my opinion, being in the Houston area. I am always going to shoot my shot; great risk offers great reward. My backup plan was to go into the workforce, having enjoyed the privilege of spending several months at home with my baby daughter.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What do you want to do with your MBA?” This was tough, as I was still early in my transition process from the military during the interview. I had somewhat thought about where I saw myself in the next 2-5 years, but my imagination was still running. I had narrowed my interests to sustainability, but even that arena has broad applications with an MBA. It was tough for me to tell someone what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was going to school to explore just that!

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? Networking, getting ahead on readings and notetaking, and organizing responsibilities at home so that my husband and I can balance our lives in and out of school.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Becoming a parent completely changed my life. I’ve learned and am learning to be mega-efficient with my time for studying and networking. I have a greater emphasis on preparation and more confidence in my ability to perform. I remember I took my GRE/GMAT two months after giving birth. I had to plan out childcare and use my breaks strategically to pump breastmilk as the administrators didn’t allot any extra time for me to do that. For those who don’t know, if you’re breastfeeding and don’t regularly empty the milk out, you can get an infection. So, there I was worrying about my baby, getting an infection, AND scoring well! I was so proud that I was able to get a competitive score, while being a sleep-deprived mom. That has prepared me for business school by enhancing confidence in my ability to push through any academic challenge and make it!

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? Why? I am seeking a commitment to an ethical mission that’s solving a problem in the world. I want to find my place at the intersection of profitability and purpose. I’m looking to do good for the world on a large scale.

Pretend you have just graduated from business school. What will you need to have done to make your experience successful? I’ve needed the support from my family and friends. Without them supporting me and putting my mind at ease that my daughter is being watched by a village that loves her. I needed them to drop off meals and watch my daughter so both my husband and I could study late into the night. My family is the reason I’m able to accomplish so much in my career. I’ll also have needed to rely on my classmates and Rice support staff, as their networking connections and academic prowess has helped me invaluably on my journey. I’ll also have to thank my mentors, who I kept a consistent relationship with. They encouraged me and gave me the answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask!


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