2021 MBAs To Watch: Morgan Mitchell, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Morgan Mitchell, CFA

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

Pragmatic leader capable of balancing a goal-oriented mentality with a sarcastic sense of humor.”

Hometown: Carrollton, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: Business School has afforded me the opportunity to pick up a few new hobbies – namely smoking a halfway decent rack of ribs and migratory bird hunting.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Missouri State University, BS Biology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Brush Street Investments, LLC, Investment Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Guggenheim Securities, Houston, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Guggenheim Securities, Investment Banking Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Cox Career Fellow: One of six MBA students selected by Cox’s Career Management Center based on demonstrated strong leadership skills, technical expertise, and willingness to support fellow students with their career-related requests by partaking in individualized and personalized peer coaching, career event assistance, and ad hoc projects. One of my more personally-fulfilling undertakings was designing a presentation that provided better line of sight into the investment banking landscape.

Kyle D. Miller Energy Scholar: One of a select number of MBA students chosen for the Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Program due to robust academic credentials, demonstrated interest in pursuing a career within the energy sector, and leadership both within and outside of the Cox School of Business. As part of the program, Scholars establish professional relationships with industry leaders, mentor incoming students, and perform additional industry research. With respect to the latter, I’m currently working alongside the Director of the Maguire Energy Institute to further investigate the financial services sector’s response to climate change and how these decisions will impact the energy industry moving forward.

1st Place – 2020 National Energy Finance Challenge: Co-captained a five-person team that was given three days to evaluate a case and offer strategic solutions to current-day challenges facing the energy sector. The case was co-hosted by Chevron and the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business.

3rd Place – 2020 NAPE/TCU Energy Innovation Case Competition: One of four selected to represent Cox in a five-hour competition in which participants were required to analyze the implications of the wide underperformance of U.S. E&P equities in 2019 and create real-world solutions, develop a presentation, and present to a panel of judges made up of leaders from the industry and academia.

Teaching Assistant: Financial Accounting I, Finance Theory & Practice, Energy Project Valuation and Finance, and Managing Your Career

Additionally, I’m the President of both the MBA Energy Club and the Cox Golf Club and am fortunate to be a Dallas Gordon Rupe Scholarship Recipient. I also proudly serve on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee for Kids-U, a Dallas-based non-profit whose mission is “to improve the lives of low-income children by concentrating on education and issues that affect the whole child.”

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Without question, it was co-captaining a team of two second-year and three first-year MBA students who took first place in the 2020 National Energy Finance Challenge. Not only was the prize money a pleasant reward, but the experience also encapsulated the spirit of business school. This included the ability to incorporate lessons obtained from prior case competitions, classroom curriculum, and real-world experience earned from my summer internship to formulate a strong solution for the panel of judges, many of whom were seasoned industry professionals. Making the feat even more satisfying was the fact that this year’s competition focused on energy transition, a recent point of emphasis for the MBA Energy Club’s educational programming. Hopefully, by coming out victorious, prospective students will gain a better understanding that Cox’s Energy Finance Concentration is not solely focused on traditional hydrocarbon production but is also cognizant of the transition occurring within the energy sector.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was obtaining the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. As a biologist with limited (i.e. no) formal finance education looking to break into the world of finance, I believed the best course of action would be to jump head first into the CFA program in order to demonstrate to prospective employers, as well as myself, I was up to the challenge presented by the typical analyst role. With pass rates for each exam falling slightly shy of 50%, as well as being offered only one or two times per year, I followed a rather rigorous study program that included a vast amount of personal sacrifice. At times, it wasn’t easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I’m extremely proud of my perseverance and lessons learned along the way. Not only did competition of the program afford me the opportunity to break into the financial services sector, but the self-discipline developed throughout the two-and-a-half years of studying also served as an enormous asset for my MBA studies.

Why did you choose this business school? The decision to attend the Cox School of Business was predicated on its strong alumni network, especially within the energy finance space. While I knew I wanted to pivot from a generalist role to a more sector-specific function, I was unsure as to whether this would entail working in Dallas or Houston. Thanks to my research on LinkedIn prior to making my decision, I quickly realized that Cox had a strong presence in both cities and that graduates were more than willing to connect and discuss the program in greater detail.

The fiercely loyal network was further solidified once I matriculated and is exemplified through my interactions with an individual that became my mentor, in addition to becoming my boss. While initially on campus to host the undergraduate Superday, he took the time to respond to a random LinkedIn message and was willing to meet me for coffee. After passing the initial “airport test”, he exceeded my expectations by ensuring I was in constant contact with multiple individuals at Guggenheim. By the time the firm’s Superday rolled around, I truly believe I had met with nearly all the firm’s Associates, Vice Presidents, and Managing Directors. Without the introduction and mentorship, the recruiting process would have been much more challenging. In summation, I cannot overstate the importance of a strong alumni network and am extremely thankful to be a part of the Cox family.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Art Selender, who taught Derivatives and Quantitative Trading Strategies. Not only did Art have an outstanding academic and professional pedigree, but he also had an innate ability to simplify complex material into easily digestible lessons. Furthermore, he incorporated real-time market environments into his curriculum, which helped promote the “experiential learning” pillar of the Cox School of Business and was greatly appreciated. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in his FINA 6205 class during the recent GameStop / Robinhood pandemonium.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Boulevard is SMU’s version of tailgating, as the event promotes the social side of attending Cox. It provides students an outlet to grab a cocktail or two, meet family members (including the four-legged ones), and take a break from studying in Collins.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I were to complete business school over again, I’d allocate more time to reflect on the personal growth and achievements. Business school moves exceptionally quick, and it’s extremely easy to get bogged down in outstanding assignments and extracurriculars, where you’re simply attempting to stay afloat. However, for the betterment of one’s mental health, carve out some time to acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One myth about Cox is that the school only places well for jobs in Dallas. While a vast majority of the students intern or accept full-time roles in the DFW-Metroplex, some of this is due to sheer number of opportunities available and companies that come on campus to recruit. For students looking to explore other cities or states, that goal is achievable. In addition to placing in Houston, I know of several students landing internships in New York, California, and Washington. The Cox network is quite strong and fellow Mustangs are more than willing to provide support to get you where you want to be.

What surprised you the most about business school? It was the velocity at which the program operates. Even with graduation quickly approaching, it feels as if just last week we were partaking in orientation.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? It was internal reflection and due diligence of the school. Utilizing the MBA for a career change meant that I needed to ensure I was applying to and matriculating at the right time and at a program that would afford me the opportunity to pivot into my ideal job. As such, I spent a substantial amount of time reaching out to current students and alumni, all of whom were extremely helpful and served as a strong network base once I decided to enroll at Cox. I earnestly believe the initial leg work provided a quantifiable head start on the recruiting front.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jimmy Landes. I mean, how many former NFL players do you get to spend time learning valuation methodologies with? Couple that with the fact that he studied “rocks for jocks” (his words, not mine) in undergrad and how can you not admire the guy? In all seriousness, Jimmy’s one of the hardest-working guys I know and, is constantly looking for ways to expand his knowledge base. He’s the type of guy I’ll find in the Energy Lab reviewing an Excel modeling class, not because it’s a course requirement but because he’s wanting to capitalize on all the resources afforded to us at Cox.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? From an educational standpoint, there was minimal disruption. Cox’s faculty and staff did a tremendous job implementing various procedures to ensure the quality of schooling received wasn’t negatively impacted. In fact, I owe a huge thank you to the Business Library for providing remote Bloomberg access, as this aided me numerous times throughout my internship. Obviously, from a social aspect, there is a bit of sadness when you consider that five of our eight modules will be hosted in some variation of a virtual / hybrid medium, limiting the interaction with your own cohort. Still, sometimes you just have roll with the punches thrown by a global pandemic.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My wife, Mattie Eiland Mitchell, who also earned her MBA at Cox. As my confidant and best friend, she patiently stood by my side throughout my CFA journey, and was generous enough to allow me to constantly voice my career ambitions. As these evolved over time, she was a huge proponent of applying to business school. I can confidently state that, without her support and encouragement, I would never have applied to Cox.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Promote greater sustainability within the energy sector and serve as a group head at an investment bank.

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

“Morgan immediately distinguished himself among his peers of our top business students when he arrived on campus in 2019.  Given Morgan’s desire and commitment to a career in energy investment banking, he sought me out during orientation to discuss and formulate a plan to achieve his career objective.  I quickly realized that Morgan is extremely intelligent, thoughtful, diligent, hard-working, and very committed to his goals.  I was fortunate not only to provide career advice to Morgan, but to have him in two of my courses: Global Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Accountability: Ethical Leadership & Corporate Social Responsibility. Morgan was always prepared for class, consistently contributed outstanding insight in both courses, respected diversity of thought from other students, and maintained the highest level of professionalism and integrity. I have had the privilege to work on Wall Street for over 20 years at such firms as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup prior to joining the academy and working with, what many consider, the “best and the brightest”. Today, I am the Associate Dean and a Finance Professor at SMU Cox School of Business where I have responsibility for approximately 1,600 Graduate students and our Executive Education business. It is with this context and insight that I state unequivocally that Morgan is one of most exceptional individuals I have encountered in my professional and academic careers.  I am confident that he will be an outstanding representative of SMU Cox School of Business and I am honored and delighted to provide my highest level of recommendation for Morgan Mitchell.”

Shane C. Goodwin
Associate Dean of Graduate Programs & Executive Education
Professor of Practice in Finance


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