2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Taylor Anne Adams, Rice University (Jones)

Taylor Anne Adams

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Elle Woods meets Leslie Knope with a touch of Beyonce.”

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: After a career in media and entertainment, I was inspired to create a social impact soap company in Mexico, collecting an invasive form of seaweed and using it to develop luxury soaps for boutique hotels.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Wake Forest University, B.A. in Communication, Sociology, and Film Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Managing Director, The Cannon

Where did you intern during the+ summer of 2022? Mercury, Houston Texas

Where will you be working after graduation? The Collectiv, Co-Founder and Chief of Staff

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Throughout my time at Rice Business, I have been grateful to get plugged into multiple areas of leadership. Some of the top roles I’ve held include: Mentor for the Junior Achievement Program; Team leader for the 2022 Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC); Team Coach for the 2023 VCIC Team; Teaching Assistant for the most popular entrepreneurship class at Rice Business; Lead Volunteer for the Rice Business Plan Competition; Co-President of the Entrepreneurship Association; Vice President and Co-Founder of The Arts Club; Board Fellow for Girls, Inc.; Forté Fellow; and 2023 Women in Leadership Conference President.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being able to lead a group of my peers as the 2023 Women in Leadership Conference President is what I am most proud of in my time at Rice Business. We raised all the money used to put on the conference and managed all marketing, logistics, and operations while delivering robust and powerful programming to 550+ women. Attendees ranged from students to high-level professionals. With over 15 sponsors and 30 speakers, we were able to provide an impactful personal and professional growth opportunity to those in our community.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Professionally, I am most proud of breaking into the venture capital industry. VC is notorious for its massive demand and minimal supply when it comes to job opportunities, and getting a VC internship during my first semester of grad school changed my trajectory. Beyond that, I was able to prove myself through my summer internship at Mercury and show that I had staying power in this extremely competitive industry. I plan to never stop learning, but getting into this world has certainly been a breakthrough.

Why did you choose this business school? My primary reason for choosing Rice Business is its commitment to entrepreneurship and its focus on supporting students throughout their entrepreneurial endeavors. Rice Business has been rated the #1 Graduate Program for Entrepreneurship (by Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine) for four years in a row and continues to live up to that ranking.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor has been Eleanor (Nell) Putnam-Farr. During my first semester as an MBA student, Nell taught the core marketing class. With her background in finance, economics and marketing, she had a unique perspective on consumers and the psychology around what drives their decisions. She creatively mixed qualitative and quantitative insights into her lessons and had us work on an actual marketing plan for a local business during our first semester.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course during my tenure at Rice Business has been New Enterprises. This class challenges you to think in ways that are extremely different from any other MBA class and stretches students out of their comfort zones. Rather than focusing on cases, you are challenged to identify a problem and propose a research-backed solution based on market research, customer interviews, and a lot of hustle. I enjoyed this course so much that I became the teaching assistant!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could go back and do anything differently, it would be to stick to a regimented fitness and health routine. I so often got carried away with cases, applications, interviews, and internships and let health priorities fall by the wayside.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Rice Business is that it is a school solely focused on finance and energy. While these two divisions are strongly represented among the students, there is so much more available to study and learn. The entrepreneurship programs at Rice are top-ranked and they even offer opportunities to partner with Ph.D. students to help commercialize technology right out of the Rice labs. While finance is a key part of the Rice Business experience, I would not say that it is the primary focus by any means.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? As a born and bred Houstonian, I am obviously a bit biased here. I did however live in North Carolina, New York City, and Los Angeles, so I have been exposed to other environments. Houston is not only the most diverse city in the United States, but also boasts an incredible arts scene, food culture, and top-notch medical research institutions. I love that you can get anywhere in the world from Houston as it really is a key international hub.

What surprised you the most about business school? Business school was a bit of a shock to my system. While I expected late nights and stressful moments, I didn’t anticipate how much I would be stretched as an individual. Upon entering business school, students have the choice to go all-in and dive into everything that Rice has to offer, or use the experience as a two-year hiatus from the working world. Rice encourages the former, and I’m grateful to have been accepted to a university that pushes its students as much as Rice does.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Outside of being myself, I believe fostering strong relationships with the admissions team and sharing your interest in being a part of the Rice Business family will give you an edge. Rice is a strong community, and they want students who want to be there. I was very clear about my ambitions and goals from day 1, and Rice has not disappointed when it comes to supporting everything I chose to do.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I most admire would have to be Mónica Hicks. She is the vice president of the Rice Business Student Association as well as a Consortium fellow and serves as an executive for Board Fellows. She has been someone I’ve admired since the first day of classes because of her fearless willingness to stand up for what is right and dedication to raising the voices of those around her. She is an absolute force to be reckoned with and holds herself up to a high academic, professional, and personal standard. She will not hesitate to help anyone in need and has a vested interest in making Rice Business an even more esteemed program.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items on my professional bucket list include:

1. Manage and run a successful venture capital fund that invests in impactful startups and founders.

2. Develop a scholarship for female business school students interested in entrepreneurship.

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

Since the day she matriculated as a Rice MBA student, Taylor Anne Adams has been an enabler of empowerment, an ennobler and champion of the entrepreneurially-inclined, and a leader committed to amplifying causes of distinction. Joining Rice Business from professional experiences in a high-growth startup and a Houston incubator, Taylor Anne has approached graduate business education with the focus of a venture capitalist and the diversification of a savvy investor.

Upon meeting Taylor Anne, it doesn’t take long to recognize she strategically invests her available bandwidth, from the first day of Rice Business’s “Launch” orientation program in August 2021 through her May 2023 graduation. With some 912,000 minutes available for allocation during her MBA experience, Taylor Anne has put her time in a diversified portfolio: leading our annual Women in Leadership Conference, serving on the instructional team for our popular New Enterprises course, cultivating entrepreneurial confidence among students in the Rice Business Entrepreneurship Association, and showing up for her peers as a friend, sounding board, purveyor of kindness, and knowledgeable leader.

As president of the 23rd annual Women in Leadership Conference at Rice Business, Taylor Anne brought to life the conference theme, Every Woman. Every Voice. In addition to personifying the aphorism that “no job is too small,” Taylor Anne led the conference in a way that brought visibility and recognition to the leaders she nurtured as conference president, and curated the conference content in a way that each participant (both women and men) concluded the day with a personalized empowerment experience, with sessions that helped attendees battle burnout, lead with purpose, advocate for themselves, and bolster their personal brands.

In more than a decade of leadership within business schools, I have known few other students who have had the cross-domain impact that Taylor Anne has, serving as both an exemplar as a student, and a leader in spaces within the school. In particular, future Rice Business entrepreneurs – including those who had Taylor Anne as a teaching assistant in New Enterprises, and members of the Entrepreneurship Association during her presidency – will continue to benefit from her selfless investment throughout their careers.”

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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