“Most fulfilled when helping small businesses thrive. Founder of a company that does just that.”
Hometown: Richmond, MA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I recently acquired a Skoolie (school bus converted to an RV). While some folks live in these full-time, my partner and I will use ours to facilitate road tripping, weekend adventures, and to be our home away from home when touring (my partner is a musician).
Undergraduate School and Major: Harvard University – African American Studies; Language Citation in Haitian Creole
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: I’ve been working at my own company, Crescendo Management, as the Founder and Managing Partner.
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?
As an entrepreneur it was important that I be in an entrepreneurial environment. I found this type of environment at Rice alongside myriad resources available to me will help me propel my entrepreneurial pursuits forward. Courses like the Entrepreneurship Labs, as well as resources such as Rice’s Lilie Lab, Owlspark and the Rice Alliance provide opportunities to work on growing my business while in school. This was a crucial part of my school selection.
CLASS SIZE & COMPOSITION
I love being part of tight-knit communities. I was looking for a program with fewer than 200 people per class to ensure I’d be able to really get to know my classmates and build a strong network. I also love how much intentionality Rice puts into composing its class. Communities with a rich diversity of experiences and perspective challenge you to grow and define your own belief system. Folks come from so many different backgrounds and the international representation is impressive.
I moved to Houston about two years ago thinking it would be a stopover before attending business school. I was looking at schools mainly in the Northeast (where I’m from). I fell in love with Houston. It is the 4th largest city in the US, yet due to its vastness feels like a collection of neighborhoods each with their own personality rather than a large city. It’s also exceptionally diverse. I’ve loved living here and was excited that Rice checked all my boxes and meant I could stay in Houston.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? Board Fellows. I’m excited to take part in Board Fellows, which matches students with area non-profits to be non-voting board members. I’ve always been passionate about being an involved community member and feel that using my ever-growing business acumen to help nonprofits succeed in effecting change is a no-brainer.
What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Rice? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? Most excited!? Don’t make me choose … right now, my main focus is the people. I love meeting new people and building intentional communities. I love learning not only from my professors and in the classroom, but also from my peers and I know that is going to be a challenging and fun part of the MBA experience.
I’m most nervous about questioning myself in unproductive ways. The entrepreneurial path is the one less taken and at every turn the majority of my peers will be travelling well-worn paths as they pursue consulting and IB, etc. I know the established career resources will be heavily weighted toward those paths and I’ll need to work hard and maintain that gutsy (or is it crazy) grit to stick to my goal of growing my own business.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Starting as a temp Executive Assistant at Xola, a post Series A startup building booking software for businesses offering tours and activities, and leaving three-and-a-half years later as the Director of Customer Engagement & Success.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? In the startup world over the last 3.5 years I’ve learned a lot in the scrappy, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of way. As I look to grow my own company, I want to pair that knowledge I’ve gained with a more formalized skillset to increase my chances of success as an entrepreneur.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? The year prior I applied to Stanford, Harvard, and Tuck (Dartmouth). While I got into Tuck, I chose to re-apply to schools the following year in search of a better aid offering. This time around, I applied to Rice round 1 and was accepted with a full ride as a Forte Fellow and chose not to apply to additional programs given Rice hit my entrepreneurship goal on the head and offered an exceptional scholarship.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Tell me about a time you failed.” A classic question. It became difficult to answer not because I’ve never failed – I’ve had plenty of those. Rather, it was a really niche experience in my industry that I failed to extrapolate and explain leading to confusion on the interviewer’s part.
What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I’ve been working for myself this summer and taking time to relax, explore, and spend time with family before diving into school full tilt. I’ve allocated about an hour a day for the month leading up to school to get all my ducks in a row (brushing up on quantitative skills, setting up my mac to run windows, pre-reading, getting a parking pass, picking up my ID, and all the other little tasks that start to pile up).
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? When I was applying to schools, I had planned to continue working full-time at my current employer until a month or so before classes began. I had, however, started a business, Crescendo Management, doing freelance work for musicians and small businesses. After my acceptance, I realized how much I was getting out of running my side-hustle and realized I’d regret not putting more time into running my own company before school started. I took that leap and have spent the last several months building Crescendo. This has prepared me for business school in several ways: I’m more comfortable taking calculated risks and leaning into the scary yet exciting world of running your own company; I am even more motivated to learn because I have an even better understanding of my knowledge gaps heading into the program. I’ll be able to apply my learning in real time to my business as I plan to continue working with a few clients while in school.
What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? Why? I plan to continue working for myself. It’s important to me that I can build a customer-centric and data-driven organization and I hope those are attributes are attractive to other MBAs seeking employment down the line!
Pretend you have just graduated from business school. What will you need to have done to make your experience successful? I will need to have been an active part of building community. Especially given we are at least starting online, I want to be super intentional about fostering connections within my class and the program as a whole. If I look back and can say that I helped bring people together to have conversations and build relationships they may not have otherwise, I’ll consider my experience a successful one.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE RICE JONES MBA CLASS OF 2022