2022 MBA To Watch: Quy Le, Rice University (Jones)

Quy Le

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“1st Gen High-School Graduate. Vietnamese American. “Best Sense of Humor” Award – Rice MBA 2022.”

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Fun fact about yourself: My name is pronounced “we”, like the pronoun.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Montgomery County Community College – A.S. Business Administration; Temple University – B.B.A. Management Information Systems

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? GlaxoSmithKline – Product Owner, Deals & Contracts

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Fortive Corporation – Remote (COVID)

Where will you be working after graduation? Strategy&, PwC – Senior Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Technology Association – VP; MBA Student Ambassador; Sensei Program – Mentor

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Since 2019, I have been involved in Mitzvah Circle, a non-profit from my hometown that helps families in need get their necessities such as diapers and clothing. Throughout the MBA program, I’ve continued to help support the organization as our Salesforce Administrator. In just 2021, we’ve been able to serve over 28,000 families, helping over 115,000 lives. At Mitzvah Circle, I manage user access, build workflows, and create reports and dashboards to help serve the volunteers and leadership team. This work helps us track our inventory, donations, contacts, and all sorts of other data. It enables us to apply for grants and ensure that we are allocating our resources to those who need the most help. The project I most recently worked on was during spring semester of 2021, where I led the roll out of multi-factor authentication for our Salesforce instance.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I first transitioned to a more technical role as a data engineer, I was placed on a lighthouse project for our digital transformation process. It was a new role on a new project for me, so I ran into some issues, but I spoke up about my mistakes early on and we were able to resolve them as a team. It allowed me to quickly learn from my mistakes and pick up the technical skills needed to help move the project forward. We were a small team, but we left a large impact and part of my analysis helped identify over $100 million in misallocated gross profits. As a result of our work, we were recognized by the executive leadership team and highlighted as part of the company’s newsletter.

Why did you choose this business school? Like many others, location was a large driving factor in my decision to go to Rice. Prior to business school, I had spent my entire life in Pennsylvania. Because of the pandemic, my fiancée and I had the opportunity to move elsewhere. Location became one of our top factors. We wanted to find a school that had strong outcomes in a location with warmer weather, good cost of living, and being near a major city. I started by looking at a list of top MBAs in the South and narrowed it down based on cities we were interested in living in. As I researched MBA programs in Houston, it became apparent that Rice is THE business school in Houston. I had applied to only one other school, but Houston was a much more attractive post-MBA location and I wanted to have a network wherever I ended up. Rice made a lot more sense for us and it checked the box for all my other criteria such as cohort size, tuition, and job outcomes. I applied late in the process, so I never had the chance to visit Houston before taking the leap and moving down here but I have no regrets!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have participated in some case competitions. I self-selected out of case competitions because I didn’t think I’d do well and wanted to give my attention to recruiting. Looking back, I realize how much time I had to find a job and doing some case competitions would have given me some experience in problem-solving, regardless of placing or not. I think I would’ve really benefitted from the experience, and I would recommend for prospective students to not make the same mistake.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the common myths I hear is that Rice is mostly for folks trying to be in oil and gas. Sure, there’s a handful of students who go directly to an energy company or are aligned to that industry for consulting or investment banking. It partly has to do with our location as well. However, there’s plenty of companies in Houston that aren’t in the energy industry. An overwhelming majority of our class is doing something completely unrelated, such as the large portion of our students going into a tech company.

What surprised you the most about business school? This might be specific to Rice, but I was surprised at how well I got to know my graduating class. I didn’t have a traditional undergraduate experience, so I didn’t get to know too many people in undergrad. However, it’s different here at Rice. Our class is like the show Cheers: Everybody knows your name! It’s also more than just knowing faces and names; I’ve gotten to know my classmates more intimately than if I had attended a larger school.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think my career progression helped me standout. I only have around 3 years of work experience prior to my MBA, but I’ve made them count. Shortly after undergrad, I joined a Fortune 10 and spent around a year there in a non-technical role before I lateraled into a data engineering position and was also promoted. My career path has shown that I can take on both technical and non-technical roles at a level expected by large businesses despite my fewer years of experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I’m not sure how he does it, but Kedrick Shin is living in another dimension where he is unaffected by time. Have you ever met someone who wakes up every day to lift for an hour, then swims for two, then goes to all their classes, then plays basketball for another two hours, then goes home to do homework? Kedrick Shin is not human. Kedrick is a natural at anything he does and is graduating from the program at 25! He’s able to excel in all his classes without much effort and has the time to eat over 3000 calories a day and maintain single digit body fat. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this because it’s common to hear “Let’s see what Kedrick thinks” or “I bet Kedrick could do x” in conversation. He’s also always positive and willing to help others. When I grow up, I want to be like Kedrick.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I wasn’t particularly persuaded to go to business school by anyone, it mostly happened by chance. While in undergrad, I transferred schools and changed my major several times, which ended up delaying my graduation since I lost some of my credits. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I had to pick something and stick to it. I had an interest in tech growing up but had never thought about business. I ended up asking my good friend, Dung Mai, for his thoughts on a couple of majors and he mentioned that his uncle majored in Management Information Systems and enjoyed his job. I researched MIS programs in my area and found one that ensured my credits would transfer from a local community college, so I decided that I had to commit to it. I finished my associate’s degree and then transferred into the MIS program at Temple University, which happened to have its MIS program as part of the business school. The program had core business classes as well as tech courses with context on how it applies in a business environment and my eventual decision to pursue an MBA.

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

  1. Let’s be real. Retiring early
  2. Being able to start a scholarship fund

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has really blurred the lines between work life and home life. Even during my brief internship, I felt it was hard to fully be “off” from work. This wasn’t because of the company, but more so because there was no clean break between when I was in work mode and when I was in regular Quy mode. I think the pandemic will result in more permanent remote / hybrid work and will require employees, particularly fully remote ones, to be active in managing their careers and assertive in defining their work boundaries. A career is no longer just a 9-5 with a commute, it can be anywhere and almost anytime if you are managing it well and are aware of your options.

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

“I teach a quantitative marketing course at Rice called Customer Lifetime Value. Quy was an exemplary student in my course and a standout performer. Now what was even more impressive to me than his A+ grade was how he elevated the classroom discussion. Whenever we discussed a topic – whether technical or conceptual, Quy would bring in practical examples that shone a light on the essence of the discussion. He integrated other classmates’ views and thoughtfully took the class discussion to a higher level.

Quy comes across as humble and modest. Yet he involves himself in many aspects of the Rice MBA experience. He is a Rice Admissions Ambassador who gives his time to help find prospective MBA students who fit the Rice program and to help answer their questions. He is a Rice MBA Sensei who mentors first year international students to help them navigate their initial experiences in the program. He is also VP for the Technology Association to help students understand tech-related career paths. Last but not least, Quy also volunteers for the Mitzvah Circle Foundation, a non-profit in his hometown that helps families in need get help using government programs. He is a top-notch citizen of the Rice MBA program and gives within and beyond the program.”

Arun Gopalakrishnan
Assistant Professor of Marketing


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