Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Mark Watson, Rice University (Jones)

Mark Watson

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Sports and real estate enthusiast who loves being a natural broker of relationships.”

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: While a member of the Tampa Bay Rays Front Office, I was blessed to be a part of the 2020 American League Championship Team and receive a ring as part of my efforts.

Undergraduate School and Major: Jackson State University (Business Management)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Assistant, Baseball Development (Tampa Bay Rays Front Office)

What has been your favorite part of Houston so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? My favorite part about Houston is the food and diversity. Houston is full of culture and adventure, and this is amplified when looking for a place to eat while in the city or while taking advantage of the plethora of events that take place throughout the week. I especially love how Houston is a city designed for everyone, irrespective of your race, gender, religion, etc. This environment of inclusivity and cultural immersion are just two of the many reasons why Houston is such a phenomenal place to learn and grow!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Rice University MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Aside from my outstanding experience at Diversity Preview Weekend, the stature of Rice’s real estate and entrepreneurships programs played a significant part in my decision to apply. As someone who aspires to make a transition into commercial real estate development and eventually start his own development firm, I wanted to be immersed in an environment that would regularly expose me to industry leaders. That way, I could learn how to not only start my own venture, but also scale it to a level of sustained success and impact in the communities that I hope to serve.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rice Business? The club that I have enjoyed the most so far while at Rice Business is the Black Business Student Association (BBSA), whose mission is to enhance the professional, academic and personal experiences of its members and the recruitment of black business students into the Jones Graduate School of Business. BBSA does a tremendous job of providing a safe space and community for its members, while also equipping its constituents with the necessary resources to be successful at Rice Business from day one. Through various campus events and the installation of an extensive alumni database, the organization has cultivated a thorough recruitment preparedness program that continues to expand.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Although not a single moment in time, I am most proud to serve as a mentor to so many diverse, early-career baseball professionals through a developmental program that I established while working with the Tampa Bay Rays. This program is centered on data analytics, labor economics, and computer programming and is focused on finding the next generation of extraordinary front office minds. Over the course of its life, the program has helped over 15 diverse professionals break into Major League Baseball with an intention of doubling that number by 2023!

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? My largest accomplishment as an MBA student thus far has been successfully juggling external real estate opportunities while also being a full-time MBA candidate. Although being in business school is a demanding endeavor, with intentional prioritization and planning, you can leverage your MBA network to also explore auxiliary prospects that can exponentially transform your career and entrepreneurial trajectory.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned as an MBA student so far? The true power of a network is the most surprising thing that I’ve learned so far as an MBA student. Prior to my business school experience, I was aware that one’s network could be of value, but I never truly understood the magnitude of that notion until stepping foot at Rice Business. These networks range from the various diversity networks that I am apart of (Toigo, Consortium, MLT) to being surrounded daily by such dynamic and successful colleagues at Rice Business who hold powerful connections from their past lives. I know that at any point in time I am only one or two connections away from reaching anyone of influence.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rice University MBA program? Although most will prioritize the quantitative aspect of the MBA admissions process when soliciting advice (eg. GMAT), the qualitative component of one’s candidacy to Rice Business also carries utmost importance. Rice Business prioritizes authentic individuals who seek to make an impact through a collaborative work style and who are genuinely excited about Rice and all that encompasses it. Those seeking admission into the Jones Graduate School of Business should be sure to refine their “why,” regarding not only their desire to enroll in a Top 25 business school but Rice in particular. In doing such, I’d recommend providing examples in your application highlighting life experiences that are unique, genuine, and that can attest to your motivations for attending business school and this institution specifically.


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