Meet The Texas McCombs MBA Class Of 2023

Hook ‘em Horns.

That’s the rallying cry at the University of Texas. At sporting events and airports, you’ll see Longhorn alums flash that signature sign: a pinky and index finger extended upward to show their solidarity with the burnt orange. This gesture reflects more than shared experience and school pride. It is a commitment to a set of values: Freedom, opportunity, discovery, and growth.

What starts here changes the world.

That’s the motto at UT. No surprisingly, this expectation draws thinkers, creatives, and doers —the kinds of people who embrace life. They ask questions and take risks. And they aren’t afraid to be weird or get busy, either. Maybe that’s why some of the school’s most famous alumni — Michael Dell, David Geffen, John Mackey — never graduated. The high was too tempting and the call was too urgent. Pablo Lopez-Lachman adopted this same spirit when he was a child. A banking analyst from Mexico, Lopez-Lachman joined the University of Texas’ McCombs School for his MBA this fall. That meant leaving the comforts of home and the safety of a salary. This wasn’t Lopez-Lachman’s first leap of faith. If there is anything you find at 40 acres, it is courage.

“During my childhood, my father showed me a massive reef,” he tells P&Q. “At first, I refused to dive with him because I was scared of marine life. He told me — it’s frightening if you think of it as “uncertain”, but it’s thrilling if you think of it as an opportunity to discover and learn. Since then, I face uncertainty as an opportunity, and I’ve found myself facing more “reefs and marine life” than ever expected.”

Like Lopez-Lachman, most Longhorns move beyond the reef. Ranked among the top research universities, Texas boasts nearly 500,000 alumni in 123 countries, not to mention every state in America. The McCombs alumni network is equally far-reaching — with business students accounting for roughly 90,000 graduates. No, neither Texas nor McCombs are considered regional schools. Still, many alumni choose to remain in Austin. After all, Silicon Hills has become a muse as much as a municipality.

Austin, Texas, has a great music scene

Keep Austin weird.

That’s the mantra for hipsters and heavyweights alike. Once a catch phrase urging people to buy local, it has evolved to embody the Austin culture that values free spirits, open-minds, and daring disruptors.  On the surface, Austin carries a strong Tex-Mex vibe. Think barbecue brisket and breakfast tacos — a place where ice cream is wrapped in tortillas and sausage is made from antelope and rattlesnake. On a deeper level, it is a place the entrepreneurial wildcat meets the rugged frontiersmen, a space that cherishes independence as much as possibilities in its own ways. The ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ Austin is also home to South By Southwest, Austin City Limits, the Moontower Comedy Festival, and (of course) Batfest. In the end, the real attraction is a booming startup ecosystem and deep corporate footprint that offers something to every aspiring business leader.

“Austin is currently a city in the midst of a grand transition,” observes Taylor Thompson, a McCombs first-year MBA student who was most recently a consultant with Accenture. “Austin is currently positioned to become a leading city in the tech and cultural space. Now, more than any other time, McCombs students have the opportunity to shape and claim equity in the formation of this emerging landscape. While large tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Tesla have announced plans to build major offices in the Austin area, I believe the real excitement lies in the auxiliary institutions that will follow. The once quaint Texas capital has already started to see the influx of conferences such as AfroTech and certain VC firms that previously did not leave the confines of the Bay Area. McCombs students have the opportunity to flourish in a robust educational environment and a thriving city in the process of responding to high growth.”

Austin holds a special allure for the McCombs MBA Class of 2023. Rick Dude, a startup founder, describes it as “the convergence of business, entrepreneurship, and technology, with a very strong get-it-done culture, typical of Texas.” His classmate, Pablo Lopez-Lachman, trumpets how 190 people a day move to Austin. Sure enough, MCombs is right in the middle of the action. Just four years ago, the school opened its spectacular Rowling Hall, a spacious and technology-laden architectural masterpiece that stretches 6 floors and 497,000 square feet. It is also located just blocks away from the State Capitol and the bustling downtown — a tribute to McCombs’ impact on the local business community.

“The University of Texas has played a critical role in preparing professionals to lead in the business scene,” Lopez-Lachman adds. “Given the fact that almost every company or startup in Austin has a Longhorn alum in it, the McCombs name is a great brand for networking in Austin and beyond.”

MBA Class of 2023 BBQ in the Texas Hill Country


Business-friendly and blessed with long summers and short winters, Austin’s success stems from talent — and UT is its biggest supplier. However, the city’s diverse mix of industries offers a platform where McCombs MBAs can gain a wide range of experience before graduation. One is the program’s Fellow program, which connects students and employers in areas like marketing, operations, and non-profit boards. Another is McCombs’ legendary MBA+ projects, semester-long courses where student teams partner with companies like ESPN, Dell, ExxonMobil, and Hershey. Want to know the best part about the MBA+ program? Students can take as many projects as they want and they can start first semester so they don’t have to wait to pursue their interests.

“As someone who hopes to transition from strategy consulting to marketing, I love the idea of being able to test theories learned in the classroom in real time through micro consulting projects,” explains Taylor Thompson. “The McCombs+ program also pairs students with seasoned business coaches that help them navigate pressing issues and refine skills needed to stay competitive in today’s world.”

These consulting projects extend beyond McCombs. Addie Olsen Rasche touts the Texas Venture Labs Practicum (TVL). Here, McCombs spend a semester with an Austin startup alongside UT graduate students from other schools.

“It’s a rare opportunity to work alongside other entrepreneurial students in law, engineering, and natural sciences programs while also being side-by-side with company founders to solve a meaningful problem,” Olsen Rasche writes. “The Austin startup ecosystem is on fire, fueled by what seems to be a weekly influx of new founders and established VCs flowing into the city. TVL offers a unique peek into this world, with the ability to network, receive funding guidance, and apply MBA coursework — market validation, competitive analysis, price modeling, and more — in a real-world setting.”


In some ways, the TVL will be a return to Olsen Rasche’s roots. After all, she had co-founded a concert, festival, and event product startup as a Tulane undergrad. Unlike most college startups, Olsen Rasche produced a success story — a company that was attractive enough to be purchased by the world’s second-largest live entertainment company.

“We dove headfirst into a trial by fire in the zany world of concert promotion and taught ourselves the business. We built up to promoting and producing 150+ events per year ranging up to 40K attendance as well as ownership of a large-scale festival and venue supporting hundreds of staff and vendors. After six years, we were acquired by AEG Presents and became the company’s 16th regional office. It was rewarding to see our hard work pay off — and to finally have access to the financial and resource support we needed to continue growing our dreams and supporting our people.”

Olsen Rasche isn’t the only person to create something from scratch. Rick Dude grew Rocket Dollar’s IRA product to $360 million in assets. On top of that, he close an $8 million dollar Series A round.  Colton Williamson’s creative outlet was film. He served as an associate producer for A Hidden Life, a movie set during World War II that was premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

“I had spent the prior three years working on a project that I was passionate about and believed in, alongside an unbelievably creative team, and all under the guidance of a brilliant director,” Williamson explains. “All the hard work of those years paid off instantly upon the close of the curtain. The project had been stressful, and I think I’d half-forgotten how emotionally impactful a great work of art could be (especially after having seen it 20+ times up to that point). Upon the credit scroll, I turned to my wife (then fiancée) who was crying along with much of the audience, and I naturally and finally started to tear up, too.”

The film also spurred Williamson’s interest in business. At the premier party, he watched distributors bid over rights over cocktails, which ultimately resulted in an eight figure deal. “Fascinated by the process, but feeling decidedly lacking when it came to the skillset required for such work, I started to look into pursuing an MBA,” he adds. “Long term, I would like to enter the world of content distribution, especially as it relates to smaller independent films. The process of filmmaking has been democratized by digital production techniques, but getting any particular work seen has become extraordinarily difficult.”

Rowling Hall at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business


Miki Yumiyama came to McCombs for a similar reason. As an undergrad, she studied aerospace engineering before becoming a project manager in the nuclear power industry. After watching projects close due to financial issues, she became proactive and returned to school so she could learn how to make finance work in the energy markets.

“Many energy-related projects have faced financial difficulties for various reasons,” she explains. “Texas McCombs is known for its fabulous Energy Finance concentration, and Texas has a huge market in the energy industry. Therefore, I chose the Texas McCombs MBA which will help me to build a bridge between the finance area and my engineering background.”

Novo Manzoor also cut his teeth in project management. From his home in Bangladesh, he led a global team of developers, analysts, and designers on a project involving the Zurich Airport. “The project encompassed different types of devices (order kiosks, online portals, display screens), payment gateways, and even a mobile app,” he tells P&Q, “I had the pleasure of taking a leading role in everything from shaping the initial pitch to the client, to designing prototypes and testing the final solution. My team delivered such a successful product that it has already been partially expanded to the Geneva Airport, with more future expansions on the horizon.”


H&M and Ralph Lauren are brands whose identities are global in scope. And Alexis Arnold managed their digital platforms before leading the global social media efforts for Gap. When COVID hit, she rose to the occasion, turning the Gap brand into a means to promote mental health and inclusivity.

“When social distance kept us apart, we clung to digital proximity. When we saw sweatsuits and restless kids, we saw each other more closely. When our options seemed most limited, human imagination proved to be infinite. I was inspired by authenticity that created connection, and creativity in service of community. In my work, my team and I transformed our platforms into escapist destinations with uplifting, entertaining content to offer distraction and comfort in an increasingly uncomfortable world.”

Arnold wasn’t alone in shouldering the leadership load in trying times. Looking no further than Carson McReynolds. “I had the privilege of being a Company Commander of a UH-60 Black Hawk Assault unit for two years as my last job in the Army. I was the leader of a 51-person team and we deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, together for 10 months. During our deployment, we successfully flew over 3,500 combat hours performing a wide variety of missions across most of southern and western Afghanistan. Serving my country overseas in combat was a huge honor for me. The biggest accomplishment of my career was being able to bring each one of my 51 teammates back home safe to their loved ones after an extremely dynamic and difficult deployment.”

Pages 2-3: Interview with Tina Mabley, Full-Time MBA Director

Page 4: Profiles of 12 members of the Class of 2023

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