2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Daniel Petterway, Rice University (Jones)

Daniel Petterway

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“I’m just a regular person who believes in working hard and treating people right.”

Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana

Fun fact about yourself: A fun fact about me is I have a twin sister.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Xavier University of Louisiana

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? EY

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? EY-Parthenon

Where will you be working after graduation? EY-Parthenon

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: As a second-year MBA student I’ve had the honor of serving on the Rice Business Student Association as Social Co-Chair. Within this role, I am responsible for over 25 events such as Partio (Party on the Patio), two tournaments, a holiday party and the Rice Business Gala. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a social co-chair is creating an environment conducive to the fostering of lifelong friendships through social activities.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Competing in the Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) is something I’m most proud to have been a part of during my MBA. About a year before joining Rice Business, I remember vividly watching a student named Sophie Randolph pitch her startup, Green Room, at NRLC. During the pitch, you could hear her passion and dedication to her venture. Afterward, the excitement continued with Kyle Judah talking about the entrepreneurship community they were building at Rice; this was the defining moment I knew I wanted to join Rice Business. Once I was accepted into Rice, I was granted the opportunity to learn from them in person, develop my startup, and start the formation of my entrepreneurial journey. Throughout several revisions of my idea, countless feedback sessions, and valuable mentorship along the way, I was able to compete in NRLC 2022: a full circle moment and crowning achievement in my MBA career.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? An achievement I am most proud of so far is making the successful pivot into consulting. After working with a small business owner during my undergrad studies, I knew post-graduation I wanted to work in consulting. Spending time in the workforce and building on my professional tool kit; prepared me to not only bring value to future clients but also to my coworkers.

Why did you choose this business school? Another fun fact about me is Rice Business was the only business school I wanted to attend and the only school I applied to. My first in-person encounter with Rice Business was with a staff member named Kayln Speck at a coffee shop in Dallas, Texas. Over the next hour, we discussed Rice as a community dedicated to helping students achieve their career goals and a place where the entrepreneurial mindset isn’t just a nice term used on pamphlets. This conversation combined with the proximity to family made Rice Business a clear choice.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course at Rice Business is The New Enterprise. The New Enterprise is a semester-long class designed to give students the space to experiment and potentially launch a business venture. During this class, I had the privilege to work with my co-founders on our venture, RedStryng, a business-to-business SaaS company focusing on collaboration as a tool for growth. Throughout the semester we conducted customer interviews, developed our marketing presence, and successfully brought together two businesses in separate parts of the country.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite Rice Business tradition without a doubt is Partio! Partio is a party on the Rice Business patio, which takes place every Thursday after class. In my role as Social Co-Chair, I’ve had the privilege to co-facilitate every Partio and create a safe space to decompress through camaraderie, laughter and most importantly food. Each Partio is themed, with some of my favorites being carnival, Diwali, and pets; these themes are designed to ensure each Thursday is unique and offers the student body something extra to look forward to. The best part of Partio is the opportunity to host prospective students and share the culture of Rice Business with them.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? This is a tough question for me to answer. I believe that each person I’ve met and the experiences I’ve shared have shaped me into the professional I am today. If I were to adjust these encounters or completely remove them, who knows what my experience would’ve been? Therefore, there isn’t a single thing I would change about my MBA experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the biggest misconceptions of Rice Business is once you graduate you will go into the energy or energy transition space, which isn’t necessarily true. Located in the energy capital of the world, Rice has strong roots in this industry; however, it has been my experience that you can also move into consulting, banking, technology and venture capital roles that work in different sectors across the country.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The food! Houston, Texas is the fourth largest city in the United States and is consistently among the most diverse cities in the country. Therefore, you can find any type of food or drink you can imagine! From Vietnamese – Louisiana-style crawfish boils to Ethiopian Dulet, there’s a flavor here for you in Houston.

What surprised you the most about business school? The most surprising part about business school is the level of support I’ve received. I consider myself blessed to be surrounded by a cohort on whom I can bounce ideas and a faculty and staff I can turn to for career advice. Occasionally business and business school can be seen as an “every person for themselves” endeavor. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that is not the case!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? When applying to business school, I always advise bringing your authentic self to the application. Therefore, I cannot present any individual item up for consideration. Understanding my core values and doing the due diligence to ensure alignment with my school of choice; helped craft my application and ultimately led me to Rice Business.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Charismatic, ambitious, and kind-hearted are a few qualities I would use to describe Patrick Okorafor. Patrick was one of the first classmates I met at Rice Business, and I immediately developed an admiration for his work ethic and life motto of continuous improvement. I’ve personally witnessed Patrick teach students subjects he was familiar with and lead teams through difficult assignments. On top of being an excellent student while in the program, Patrick owns and operates his own business, 610 Smokehouse, and became a father to a beautiful baby boy. Patrick is someone I am truly grateful to call a lifelong friend.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? When considering my career bucket list, two items come to mind; First, I would like to be a partner at a consulting firm. Second, I would like to be featured on a Forbes list.

What made Daniel such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“I am writing this letter to highly recommend a student, Daniel Petterway, who has consistently gone above and beyond in showing up, stepping up, and building a lasting community of founders and innovators on our campus. I have had the pleasure of working with Daniel during his time at Rice Business, and I can confidently say that he is one of the brightest and most capable students I have had the pleasure of teaching, mentoring and observing from the sidelines.

Throughout his time at Rice, Daniel has consistently challenged himself to take on new projects and to push himself outside of his comfort zone. He has shown an unwavering commitment to excellence and to continuously going the extra mile to bring together diverse people to create a cohesive community. Daniel started down this path before his MBA even began, by throwing his hat in the ring for the unknown, participating in the first ever Future Founders Summit and connecting and collaborating with over 65 incoming graduate students from every corner of the campus. The bonds that Daniel formed over that weekend have carried through his years on campus, and he has in turn imbued the mindset and mentality of being a builder of connective tissue across his MBA classmates.

This same theme of being a connector of disparate dots was seen even in the ventures that Daniel explored during his time at Rice, in the many courses and programs offered through our center (the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation & Entrepreneurship). His initial idea was to bring together artists and designers across genres and geographies to collaborate on developing new fashion products. When that vision needed to adapt based on feedback from the market, Daniel evolved the idea to focus instead on helping to bring new fashion designers into the limelight and their first retail stores. After many iterations across several months, and countless hours that Daniel spent on the street and in stores building the relationships and connections needed to make this a reality, he landed his first designer a distribution deal with one of the most prominent streetwear stores in Houston, setting him up to generate thousands in new revenue.

Most importantly to me, and what might never show up on a resume, is that Daniel went out of his way to share his hard-fought lessons, network and advice with his peers – bringing an authenticity and vulnerability to those discussions that lent his words a greater gravity and weight that made an undeniable impact on their audience.

One of the most impressive aspects of Daniel’s character is his ability to adapt and excel in a variety of contexts. He has demonstrated his ability to work effectively in diverse teams as he explored several venture concepts, navigated complex problems and bureaucracy to organize 20+ events for the community on campus, and took on leadership roles in organizations like our Student Run Venture Fund. His ability to think critically and solve problems creatively is truly exceptional, but still pales in comparison to his ability to convene a team of people to pursue a common vision of executing on his grand ideas at an even higher level than they thought themselves capable. That true essence of leadership is one of the things our community will most miss without Daniel here next year.

In addition to his academic achievements, Daniel is also an exceptional person. He is kind, empathetic and has a deep appreciation for cultural differences. He is committed to serving his community and is always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need, or those who similarly strive to make impact on and off campus.”

Kyle Judah
Faculty, Rice Business
Executive Director, Liu Idea Lab for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Rice University


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