2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Trent Alan Kostenuk, Rice University (Jones)

Trent Alan Kostenuk

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Passionate lifelong learner, visionary entrepreneur committed to achieving success and creating positive change through innovation.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Calgary, AB Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I took my motorcycle on a cross-country trip to visit top business schools I was considering, from Chicago Booth to Yale and MIT, before ultimately deciding on Rice for my MBA. It was an unforgettable adventure that allowed me to see the country and make an informed decision about my future.

What’s even better is that I now ride motorcycles with some of my peers from my MBA cohort on Saturday mornings, and it’s become a fun way for us to bond and connect outside of the classroom and in person. It has been an unexpected and rewarding aspect of my MBA experience, and one that I’m grateful for.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
BSc. Petroleum Engineering
Dec 2016 Dean’s List | Eresman Engineering Scholarship | Vice President Petroleum Engineering Honors Society

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Calgary, AB/Canada
Associates: Petroleum Engineering Technology June 2014
Phi Theta Kappa | Graduated with Honors | SPE Scholarship Recipient | AADE Scholarship Recipient

Where are you currently working? I am currently working as an entrepreneur, having incorporated my own energy consulting business last year. My firm is currently working for Amos Global Energy, an emerging markets energy startup with a focus on Latin America and West Africa. As an experienced professional with a background in engineering, field operations, strategy and finance, I felt that starting my own firm was the best way to leverage my diverse skill set.

In my current role, I work within the Energy Mergers and Acquisitions group to assist with valuing and structuring transactions, helping to grow the company’s assets in Latin America and West Africa.

Additionally, I am a co-founder of a tech-based energy startup that leverages cutting edge AI-powered technology to streamline the inefficient and error-prone process of mineral interest title procurement. Our innovative solution reduces the time and cost required to create a clean chain of title by over 90%, and we are excited to be revolutionizing the industry, ushering in a new era of efficiency and accuracy.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am immensely proud of my role in overseeing the planning and development of the first five wells as part of our joint venture in Guyana, South America, with Exxon Mobil and CNOOC, which is currently one of the hottest plays in the world. As the first junior engineer at Hess Corporation entrusted with such a responsibility, I played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of this high-stakes project, requiring close collaboration with our JV partners across different countries.

This project was not only significant in terms of its size and complexity, but it also received the majority of the capital investment for the company’s portfolio. My contributions to this project gained me high visibility within the organization and positioned me as the go-to person for technical expertise and guidance for the G&G team and leadership

I am proud to have played a key role in driving the success of this project and contributing to the ongoing success of our company. The fact that this project is one of the hottest plays in the world right now only underscores its importance and makes my achievement even more meaningful.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose this school’s online MBA program for several reasons. First, I wanted to obtain a top-tier MBA while still being able to manage my busy schedule. With frequent work travel and family abroad, the flexibility offered by this program is unparalleled. I am able to complete coursework and engage with the curriculum at my own convenience, while still gaining the rigorous and prestigious education that this MBA program provides. The live session component of each class also is structured in a way that allows for maximizing productivity and creating a more enriching learning experience. By learning concepts on your own prior to the live session, you can utilize class time more efficiently and engage in deeper, more meaningful discussions around the application of concepts and cases to our careers.

Moreover, Rice’s online program incorporates several in-person components, which ensures that I don’t miss out on the valuable in-person experience. I appreciate the opportunity to interact with my peers and professors face-to-face during these components, and I believe that this enhances my overall learning experience.

Additionally, I was drawn to Rice’s inclusive approach to the MBA program. The school offers ongoing mix and mingle opportunities where students from all MBA programs can network and engage with each other. I took advantage of this opportunity to the fullest and was able to interact with students from the Full-Time, Evening and Weekend, and Executive MBA programs, in many cases weekly. This diversity of perspectives and experiences has enriched my learning and personal growth during the program.

Overall, I believe that Rice’s online MBA program offers the perfect balance of flexibility and in-person engagement, and I am excited to be part of this community.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of being in an online MBA program was the diversity of the cohort. Unlike a traditional in-person program, the program is comprised of students from different regions, industries, and cultures to come together and share their experiences. I was able to connect with folks ranging from the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, NYC, Japan and Germany, on an ongoing basis which led to much more enlightening perspectives in conversation and project work. In addition, many of our live session instructors were professors of practice who also worked in industry and taught at other prestigious MBA schools across the country. This combination of academic and real-world experience and diversity of perspectives made our discussions much more practical and enriching.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising thing about the online learning environment was how efficient and effective it was, without compromising on quality. The flexibility of the program allowed me to learn at my own pace and schedule, and the ability to re-watch lectures and review material made it easier to grasp complex concepts. Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement and collaboration that was made available across the MBA cohorts and programs. By taking advantage of in-person social and networking events, I was able to have the best of both worlds – a flexible and efficient online learning experience with the added benefit of in-person interaction and networking opportunities.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? My best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program is to make a concerted effort to connect with classmates and build a strong peer group. This will maximize your success and enable you to leverage each other’s strengths while building upon each other’s weaknesses. During my program, I was fortunate to have a tight-knit group of classmates with whom I stayed close with throughout the entire program. We were able to support and help each other along the way, which contributed to our overall success. So, my advice is to actively engage with your classmates, attend networking events and make an effort to build relationships that can enhance your learning experience.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would suggest that online MBA programs offer increased cross-optionality for taking in-person elective classes with other professional and full-time programs, if desired. By doing so, interested students can benefit from an even more immersive and dynamic educational experience, gain exposure to a wider range of perspectives and expand their working networks.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My online education has been instrumental in helping me develop a more well-rounded skillset combining my technical operations and engineering skills with education and training in finance, M&A and strategy. I have been able to contribute to a wider range of projects and initiatives within my organization. For example, I have been able to help evaluate the financial feasibility of new projects and investments, provide strategic guidance on potential acquisitions, and contribute to overall business planning and forecasting. Without the skills and knowledge gained through my education, it would not have been possible to take on these new challenges and responsibilities. Overall, I believe that my online education has been critical to my success in my current role and has helped me become a more well-rounded industry specialist.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Thanks to my online MBA program, I was able to make a successful transition to a new organization (and business function) and earn a promotion shortly after in a new role. Specifically, I was promoted to a more senior role within the areas of finance, strategy, in energy mergers, and acquisitions. My online education provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to take on new challenges and responsibilities in these areas, which helped me stand out as a valuable contributor in my new organization. Overall, I believe that my online MBA program has played a key role in my professional development and has already helped me achieve many of my career goals.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I pursued an online MBA program for several reasons. First, I wanted the flexibility that online programs offer, especially since the pandemic has now accelerated the need for digital leadership skills. With an online program, I could balance work and family commitments (in Canada) while still gaining valuable leadership experience. Second, I found that many full-time and professional programs were transitioning to online formats during the pandemic, but they were often less established and robust compared to dedicated online programs. By choosing an established online MBA program, I could be confident in the quality of the program and the support available to me. Finally, as the situation improved post-COVID, I was able to transition seamlessly back to the U.S. and spend more time on campus as things opened up. Overall, I believe that pursuing an online MBA program was the best choice for me and provided me with the flexibility, quality and leadership development opportunities that I needed.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: 25-30 hrs.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to leverage my energy skillsets and network to make a positive impact on the quality of life of those living in the countries where we operate. I believe it is essential to consider the impacts of our development on the communities we operate in, and I plan to achieve this by investing in and expanding local ecosystems. This includes supporting local communities by improving access to healthcare facilities, creating high-paying jobs, promoting sustainable agriculture, providing access to clean water, and improving education and working conditions to build a more sustainable future.

I also intend to continue pursuing my entrepreneurial passions, leveraging the skills I gained in my MBA program, particularly in enterprise acquisition and building new ventures. During my participation in a New Enterprise accelerator at Rice, I gained valuable experience in launching and scaling new energy tech startups, which I plan to use building my own energy tech business. Furthermore, I plan to apply the skillsets I acquired in my enterprise acquisition class and EA lab to acquire and build businesses that have a positive impact on people’s lives, such as a men’s holistic health clinic or other alternative healing practices.

At the core of my motivation is a passion for people and improving their quality of life. My ability to connect with and inspire others, combined with my technical expertise and business acumen, make me uniquely suited to achieve this goal. I look forward to leveraging my skills and experience to make a meaningful difference in the world.


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