Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Amy Tanguay, Rice University (Jones)

Amy Tanguay

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Aspiring HR professional. fosterer of kittens, sender of calendar invites, first of her name.”

Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself: When not in b-school, I volunteer with local animal shelters to foster kittens who are too little to be adopted. I’ve helped around 20 kittens find great homes.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Undergraduate: Southwestern University, English Literature and German Language and Literature double major

Graduate: University of Pennsylvania, Master of Arts, German Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: BMC Software, Inc., Proposal Manager

What has been your favorite part of Houston so far? Why? Even growing up in a Houston suburb, I’ve always been a fan of Houston’s arts and culture scene. Rice has a wonderful Arts Club that gets us access to some world class performances and exhibitions. There’s a lot of opportunity for live theater with Theatre Under the Stars, the Alley, the Ensemble Theater, Miller Outdoor, and the Classical Theatre Company. That’s to say nothing of our museums, both large (Natural Science) and small (Buffalo Soldier Museum).

And once you’re done with all that, we’ve got so many great places for food and drinks. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and we’ve got the food scene to go along with it! There are just so many great ways to have a day out. You can’t go wrong.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Rice Business MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Rice offers a lot of unique, hands-on experiences. The entrepreneurship program is a favorite and gives students chances to start their own businesses under expert tutelage. There are several classes devoted entirely to hands-on learning projects such as taking on a project for a local business or creating a marketing plan for one. My personal favorite, and what really pushed me to Rice, is the Rice Business Board Fellows program. It’s a competitive program you have to apply to that gives you the opportunity to become a non-voting member of a nonprofit board. You get to assist on projects while learning what serving on a board is like and meeting some really fantastic people. My board is Plant It Forward, an urban farming that assists refugees in starting up their own farming business. Getting involved with a totally different kind of nonprofit than I’ve worked with before is great. Obviously, I’m in business school to build a new career in HR. But, getting access to new ways to serve my community is so valuable to me. The wide-ranging ways to put your talents and skills to work for other people is a big part of why I’m glad I chose Rice.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rice Business? The Introduction to Strategy course we took during the first two weeks of school was short, but amazing. It provided such useful frameworks for thinking about the rest of our classes in the first term – Professor Koka really pushes you to question your assumptions, carefully consider tradeoffs, and clearly delineate your thought process. Besides that, I found the course very engaging and fun, like when we formed teams to bid on materials for packaging an egg so we could drop it from the second floor without it breaking. My team’s egg broke, but it was really cool to have thought through what objects we wanted, and how we’d develop our bid strategy.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Relatively early in my career, I was one of two project managers for implementing an applicant tracking system at a local staffing firm. It was a great opportunity to draw on skills I already had from my academic background (teaching, project coordination) and bring in new ones (software administration, stakeholder engagement). In this case, working in a small company gave me an incredibly valuable chance to step up and be a leader – while also learning about a new industry! I learned a lot, and we did a great job. Now, with several more years of experience and a semester of business school under my belt, I look back and feel a lot of pride, and also enthusiasm about the idea that I could lead the implementation even better now.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Getting involved with student leadership! I’ve never participated in school clubs or student councils or anything like that before, but part of why I came here is to push myself and try new things. I became a first-year representative in two clubs and have been elected to the Rice Business Students’ Association (student council). I never expected that, so I’m very happy with it. More importantly, it’s an honor and a joy to be able to work to make the experience better for my fellow students and the next class. Our student experience office’s staff are great to work with and so open to student feedback.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? I joined the Out and Allied Club, and it has been amazing! Rice is really welcoming to LGTBQ+ students, and the club is wonderful. Everyone in it is so genuinely warm, supportive, and helpful. Along with some awesome staff members from Rice, about 16 of us went to a national LGBTQ+ MBA conference in Washington, and it was an amazing trip. We all helped each other prepare for interviews and interactions with employers, and then celebrated together when some job offers were won on the spot! The conference would have been good no matter what, but going with those people made it exponentially better.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rice Business MBA program? Rice does several preview weekends (Diversity Preview Weekend, Women’s Preview Weekend). If you can go to one, do it. It’s a good way to meet people and catch the vibe of the campus – for instance, you might get to attend our weekly Partio (an outdoor event where we get to eat and socialize, frequently with employers who sponsor the event). On a related note, make sure you know whether you are eligible to participate in national MBA organizations (e.g., Consortium, Forte – look them up!).

Even if you can’t attend a Rice event for a given reason, talk to us students! Throughout my application process, I found it easy to get in touch with current students who were happy to share their time and insights. It gave me a good view into what the day to day was like, including the aspects of business school that were challenging. Students were extremely engaged and gave me specific advice for what I wanted to do. They put me in touch with others who could speak to those things, and they gave me valuable feedback on my application materials. That same helpfulness has carried on into the semester. At Rice, the community of helpfulness and collaboration is so genuine, from application through to classwork. Beyond that, it’s good practice for all the coffee chats you’ll be doing later on.


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