2021 MBAs To Watch: Matthew Manriquez, Rice University (Jones)

Matthew Manriquez

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Seeking a positive difference everywhere I go, never too busy to help those in need.”

Hometown: Houston, TX

Fun fact about yourself: Houston runs deep in my veins. I am a 5th generation Houstonian on both sides of my family!

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Military Academy at West Point; Bachelor of Science, Systems Engineering with honors

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? United States Army – Combat Engineer Officer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Morgan Stanley, Investment Banking Division, Natural Resources Group

Where will you be working after graduation? Morgan Stanley, Investment Banking Division, Natural Resources Group

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Board Member, Jones Student Association  The purpose of the Jones Student Association is to maximize student access and opportunities, optimize learning, and ultimately, increase the value of the Rice MBA. I was elected by my classmates to serve as Career Development Chair to share concerns about career related issues with administration and CDO staff and to improve access to career/recruiting resources.

Co-President, Rice Business Veterans Association – The Rice Business Veterans Association fosters community among veterans, assists with the transition from service to business school, and serves the Houston area through philanthropic events. I have particularly enjoyed helping veterans navigate the recruiting process for internships.

Fellow and Liaison, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management – I help new enrollees adjust and make the most of their Consortium membership. I also help prospective students learn more about The Consortium.

School Captain, Toigo Foundation – The Toigo Foundation seeks to drive greater inclusion through the development and promotion of diverse leaders. As a Fellow and School Captain within the organization, I inform prospective students about the Fellowship and work to build ties between the organization and the Rice community.

Admissions Ambassador – Ambassadors are chosen to represent the school during recruiting events to spread the word about their Rice Business experience and to serve as a resource and connection for prospective students. As an ambassador, I have the privilege to add a personal touch to the application process.

Communications Fellow – Coached 1st-year MBA students on interview, presentation, and public speaking skills.

MBA & Undergraduate Ambassador, Service to School – As a volunteer, I provide college and grad school application counseling to military veterans and service members. My goal is to help veterans gain admission to the best college for them, while empowering each veteran to make informed decisions about their education.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud that I had the opportunity to be a keynote speaker at Rice’s 18th annual Veterans Day Ceremony. While the ceremony did not look like it has in years past, the fact that we made it happen — in person and remotely, persevering through challenges and adversity — was the perfect way to honor all service members past, present, and future. Throughout the ceremony, I could not help but think about my great-great-grandfather who served as a custodian at Rice after he immigrated to Houston form Mexico. Even in his wildest dreams, he probably never imagined that his great grandson would have the opportunity to speak at and eventually graduate from the university he served.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? There isn’t one achievement that sticks out during my military career. Instead, I take pride in the entire experience because every part of it, for better or worse, made me who I am today. I am proud that I was able to attend our nation’s premier leadership institution; I am proud of the soldiers I had the privilege to serve with; and I am proud that I had the chance to learn from so many people that embody the meaning of selfless service every day.

Why did you choose this business school? The culture at Rice Business is second-to-none. Culture is strange because you can’t touch it, can’t quantify it, but it is easy to know when you are in a bad or good one. Culture doesn’t show up in the rankings either. Throughout the entire recruiting process, I consistently had positive interactions with everyone affiliated with Rice Business, from admissions and faculty to current students and alumni. Everyone was so committed to helping me find the right place whether that happened to be Rice or not. I found that refreshing and throughout the process felt like more than a statistic. The familial feel starts with Dean Rodriguez and is interwoven into the fabric of the business school. I’m also happy to report that those feelings have only been reinforced throughout my time here.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? There are so many incredible professors at Rice Business, all of whom have made a lasting impact on me. One who stands out is Al Danto. Al teaches in our #1 ranked Entrepreneurship department, and I recently had the opportunity to take his Enterprise Acquisition class. I was impressed by his knowledge, experience, and energy (especially invaluable in a hybrid Zoom/in-person setting). The class helped debunk a lot of misconceptions I had about entrepreneurship and made the entire process much less daunting.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? An easy answer would be Partio – our weekly celebration to the end of the school week and an opportunity to build camaraderie between first and second years, faculty, and staff. However, I’m going to go another direction and highlight the Veteran Business Battle. VBB is the largest veteran-focused business plan competition in the country (more than $3.4 million in investment offers awarded to competitors over the last 5 years) and is entirely student-run.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? While I’m not really one for regrets, one thing that I would do differently if I had the chance would be to participate in some of the programs provided by Rice’s Doerr Institute for New Leaders (the country’s first professional leadership development program offered at no cost to all undergraduate and graduate students). I have been a student of leadership all my life and know there is always more to learn. I definitely missed out on an extraordinary opportunity!

What is the biggest myth about your school? So many people are afraid that Rice is only for people who want to go into energy or live in Texas, but that is just not the case. While the school is certainly second-to-none for people with those preferences, the data shows that graduates entering the petroleum / energy space has consistently been below 20% with last year’s class only placing 12%. Consulting, financial services, and technology routinely outpace energy. And while it is true that most of the class will stay in the Southwest after graduation (I can hardly blame them for wanting to stay somewhere replete with opportunity and a low cost of living), people regularly scatter all over the United States and the world. Rice can be a great fit regardless of career aspirations or geographical preference.

What surprised you the most about business school? I knew when I started the business school journey that I would get the chance to learn from world-class faculty. There really is no shortage or brilliant minds in these halls. While they have certainly lived up to the hype, I was amazed by how much learning happens among classmates. In hindsight, this really should not have come as a surprise because the admissions team does an unbelievable job of fielding a class filled with high achievers from a wide variety of backgrounds.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I reached out to the admissions office to get some insight here, and they told me that being involved was a big differentiator. I attended information sessions, did campus visits, and tried to build a connection with the team and student body. By the time I applied, they already knew who I was! The bottom line is that it is always better to have a relationship than to just be a name lost in a sea of applicants.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Julianne Katz. She is everything right about the MBA experience. Julianne came from a theater and performing arts background. While she exhibited the entrepreneurial spirit by starting her own company before school, she lacked the quantitative background that many of our classmates possessed. We were in the same core team throughout our first year, so I had a front row seat into how hard she worked to prepare for class and grow. Before we made it through the academic punches Rice threw at us, Julianne sought ways to give back as a Board Fellow for Theater Under the Stars. As a second year, she has continued to seek leadership opportunities as President of the Women in Leadership Conference, Lead Communications Fellow, and Founder of the Finer Things Club. Since the moment she stepped foot onto the campus, Julianne has continuously made Rice University a better place.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? When COVID first hit last year, I think it is safe to say that the shift to an online environment was disruptive for students and teachers alike regardless of which school you attended. But I don’t think Rice University as a whole gets enough recognition for the job so many have done to ensure we could have classes in the fall in a hybrid environment.

I don’t know the full extent of the time, money, and effort that has gone into these improvements, but they are noticeable to say the least. In the classrooms, we have improved cameras so remote students can still see the professor and classmates, microphones that enable remote learners to hear, and IT support staff to make sure professors can focus on teaching and not technical issues. The university performed thousands of COVID tests per week to ensure that those that do come to campus can do so safely. It would have been easier to just go entirely virtual and leave the decision at that, but that is not how we do things at Rice. It truly is a snapshot into the passion that people have for this institution and its mission.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I honestly can’t point to one person who most influenced me. Rather, it was the stable of veterans who have leveraged an MBA for their own career transition. Early in my time as an Army Officer, I was unfamiliar with many of the different paths available. Later, I was able to talk to veterans who were previously in my shoes. Their selflessness and generosity with their time was invaluable and has motivated me to continue to pay it forward.

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

  • Acquire or found a business before I turn 40
  • Start a scholarship in my family’s name that will support first generation college graduates and veterans

What made Matthew such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Matthew Manriquez has been an invaluable addition to Rice Business. His connection to Houston and to Rice University spans five generations and is apparent in his desire to make both places better. While only in fourth grade, September 11 galvanized for Matt his knowledge that he wanted to be a force for good and started the path towards leading his peers into the challenges that were soon to come.

He graduated from West Point with honors and as a first-generation college grad in his family. He was commissioned in the Army as a Combat Engineer Officer, serving as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Human Resources Officer, and an Aide-de-Camp in assignments spanning Texas, South Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Since he joined Rice Business, his impressive accomplishments continue to stack up. He was selected as a Career Development Office Ambassador during his first year, inevitably serving as the first impression of his class for many companies. He recruited for investment banking; securing an internship and return offer with Morgan Stanley’s energy group, a highly sought after and much-coveted role. Not surprisingly, given his background in leadership, he gives back to his classmates and the community through his many roles as Co-President of Rice Business Veterans Association, board member of the Jones Student Association, Fellow and Liaison of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, School Captain of the Robert Toigo Foundation, Admissions Ambassador, Communications Fellow, and finally an MBA & Undergraduate Ambassador with Service to School. Beyond the Rice campus, Matt helped two high school students navigate the West Point admissions process and mentored underrepresented minorities and veterans through the MBA and IB recruiting processes.

I could go on. I have the utmost respect for Matt. If only I could duplicate him 180 times over, although lacking diversity, we would have the top-ranked full-time MBA program in the country, and my job would be a joy. He was chosen by the university to speak at the Veterans Day celebration on campus and gave this speech in November. His warmth, integrity, and authenticity have made Rice University a better place. We are so proud to have had him as a student and look forward to watching whatever is in store for his future.”

George Andrews
Associate Dean of Degree Programs


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