2022 MBA To Watch: Alex Williams, Rice University (Jones)

Alex Williams

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Passionate, caring, determined, goofball.”

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been on two archaeological digs, one in Rome and one in Peru.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Southern California – B.A. Double Major Archaeology & Anthropology (Minor in Theatre)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Seismic Exchange, Inc. – Project Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Dell Technologies – Remote

Where will you be working after graduation? Dell Technologies – Senior Advisor, Merchandising

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Strategy Association Co-President, Admissions Ambassador, Communications Fellow, and Follies (sketch show) Executive Committee Member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud to have helped build community and connection within my cohort during a pandemic that has made fellowship more difficult. I act as a broker and a chameleon connecting with various people. As a result, I have functioned as a sounding board for multiple classmates involved in our student government and clubs leadership. I am told I do not conform to what people typically think an MBA student is. Status has never been a goal of mine in business school; I am just happy to be a part of the team and help however I can while promoting some fun along the way.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of achieving my PMP Certification at the age of 26 because I had to research the process, execute the application, take the exam, set a financial plan, and pay for all fees without my employers’ help while going through a difficult time in my personal life.

Why did you choose this business school? Being from Houston, Rice has an incredible reputation and provides an outstanding education. It is known for accepting exceedingly smart people. I knew I was going to go for it and apply.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Utpal Dholakia has been one of my favorite professors. He challenges us while being very fair in assessing our work. He always brings passion to his classes and expands people’s interest in whatever he teaches.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Rice Business has Partios (party on the patio) every Thursday. It’s a fun social event that helps students decompress, network, and get to know each other in another setting. Friendships, teams, and serious bonds have formed at Partio. Partio reflects that Rice Business is very serious most of the time, but everyone also still knows how to have fun, and that balance is important.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? As an Admissions Ambassador, I often tell potential or incoming students what I wish I had done differently. I wish I had understood that grades are not everything. The point of Rice Business’s exceptionally busy and challenging first semester is about finding balance, planning, and figuring out what matters most to you. That understanding would have alleviated the extra pressure and anxiety I was putting on myself (as a typical type A person). Everyone should try to do well in class, but learning is most important.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Rice Business is that everyone is crazy smart and intensely competitive. Everyone is legitimately crazy smart, but the “all competition all the time” myth is not true. I have made incredible friends during this program. We’re all in it together.

What surprised you the most about business school? No one feels like they have a traditional business background. I was so scared to be the only one without a “normal background,” but everyone felt that way, which led to immediate bonding between our cohort.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I had an interview question regarding a time when I was a leader and how I influenced my team. I spoke about a time I led a group on a project at my previous employer and a time I led a group of volunteers at our campus TV station at USC. Both leadership positions were rewarding. In the work team, I had to motivate people from cross-functional groups. Getting the cross-functional team united and aligned to accomplish our goal was the most satisfying part. Alternatively, the group at the TV station was all volunteers. Having a high retention rate for volunteers was also very gratifying because participants were not required to be involved. I believe speaking about both stories and how I valued each experience gave me an edge when applying to Rice Business.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have no idea how to pick just one. Sophie Randolph, Jasmine and Brandon Johnson, and Delaney Berman were running their own companies while in the program. Nathan Rogers, Rich Nebel, and James Williams are both great colleagues and parents. Elizabeth Walton, Gretchen Hopper, Akanksha Gupta, and Timm Wooten are fantastic and supportive teammates. I know I cannot include everyone, but I love my class.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father and mother most influenced my decision to pursue business. They both worked in business, and my father retired as a successful CFO. They are strong, loving, and supportive people that helped me along my path, even when I wanted to be an actress at 18.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My professional goals are to be a CEO and a good role model for women in the workplace.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I am not sure my view of a career has changed much since the pandemic, but I think many other people’s views have, which is terrific. I love that more people realize they need moments of rest, and even though I like being in the office, I appreciate that others like or may need to work from home. The pandemic and especially the well-executed dual delivery at Rice Business last year have taught me how to work in a virtual or hybrid team effectively. Seeing hybrid done well has been exceedingly helpful to visualize how future teams can function.

What made Alex Williams such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Alex Williams is emblematic of the peer anyone would want in their MBA cohort: intelligent, highly motivated, capable, and intellectually curious. Her superpowers, however, lie in the way that she consistently shows up for her class, eschews opportunities to claim credit, and adds just the right amount of fun or well-placed levity to any situation (an asset that we are especially positioned to value in our small, close-knit Rice Business community).

Alex is a difference-maker at Rice Business, lending her time and considerable talents to the present and future of the school – often working behind the scenes to create positive outcomes. As an admission ambassador, she nurtures the next generation of Rice Business MBA students, sharing her passion for our school, and reflecting the best of our community. As Strategy Association co-president, Alex has increased the suite of programming offered to students interested in business strategy, while advocating for funding for students to gain professional training in strategy-adjacent competencies, including Agile methodology.

Alex also helps her peers look and feel their best. Understanding the importance of communicating well, she has served as a communication fellow, conducting workshops on business communication, resume writing, and interviewing tips, while offering recommendations to her peers to improve their presentations and delivery.

Our MBA community — and those who connect with Alex in her multiple official roles, or as a kind, interested classmate — have benefitted immensely from a student who shows up in a way that values and honors others, and brings strength to our community.”

Adam J. Herman, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Office of Academic Programs and Student Experience
Rice University | Jones Graduate School of Business


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