Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Aquib S. Yacoob, Rice University (Jones)

Aquib S. Yacoob

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Social impact strategist and a creative living in Houston, TX!”

Hometown: Queens, NY, USA | Berbice, Guyana, South America

Fun Fact About Yourself: I had a table saw in the middle of my NYC apartment for years and made furniture from scratch.

Undergraduate School and Major: Colby College, Independent Major: Human Rights and Social Change

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Women’s March, Director of Special Projects

What has been your favorite part of Houston so far? Why? The diversity! Houston looks today what the population of the U.S. will look like in 2050. It’s hard to get a sense of what that means until you’re here on the ground. The vibe and culture are very distinct. It’s beautiful. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else in the US. Growing up in Queens, New York, I take great pride (and always will) in being from the most ethnically diverse place on the planet. But moving to Houston made me realize how segregated our communities are in NYC. I remember the first time going out with friends from Rice. It was during an “accepted students’ weekend,” and we went to a queer bar with our Out and Allied Club. I remember looking around the space, seeing a large mural of Houston’s queer history, Rihanna playing in the background, and being surrounded by all body types, many gender expressions, and so much ethnic diversity. I felt a sense of belonging and ease that I didn’t know I was missing. It’s simply beautiful.

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? I was drawn to Rice by the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (The Lilie Lab). Through Lilie, Rice offers an MBA where risk and bold innovations aren’t only encouraged but also structurally supported. I began my career in the social impact space when I was 14, following a passion for making my community and our planet safer. After nearly 15 years in the non-profit sector and many tremendous career and social impact policy wins, I found that the non-profit model alone cannot create the structural, root-level changes my communities and our planet need. I came to grad school to help model new ways to think about and do social impact work, and I wanted an MBA program with an appetite for experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking. I found that at Rice through the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rice Business? This is really nerdy, but my favorite class so far at Rice is Data Analysis. Never would I ever have guessed that I would love data science or playing around with Excel as much as I do. The class, taught by the incredibly hilarious and personable James Weston, has shifted how I consume the world. Data is everywhere, from quick trips to CVS to listening to political podcasts or booking flights. Everywhere.  I will never consume data the same way ever again. Taking James’ class made me a much more critical and creative thinker. But I’m only one semester in so far – I’m excited about other nerdy surprises.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In the past few years, I helped to scale a community gun violence prevention project from my childhood neighborhood to the White House, and I helped to build and sustain the largest feminist resistance movement of my generation. It’s a toss-up between the two.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I’ve struck a healthy balance between school, self and family. I’m really proud of this. Since I can remember, my career has been defined by cycles of high burst energy, followed by burnout. The MBA program structure forces you to break that cycle and confidently stand in your choices.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? I don’t know if there is one particular best memory, but rather the overwhelming sense of community I found at Rice Business and the friendships I’ve made. I remember my first trip on a wildly cold and rainy winter weekend. Rice was hosting an open house. During the day, we had incredible conversations and, in the evenings, danced the night away with first- and second-year students. I felt I had found my people. A few months later, during the Consortium’s Orientation Program in Aurora, Colorado, I met some of my classmates – and that overwhelming sense of community and belonging was there again. And again, it was present when I moved down to Houston and started classes. As a non-traditional MBA student from New York City, I honestly didn’t expect to find this strong sense of community at a business school in Texas. But I was very wrong. It’s cheesy to say, but at Rice Business, I feel like I belong here.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rice Business MBA program? Be yourself. There are many incredible MBA programs out there. Look for your people and remain open to surprises along the way. Check out affinity programs (like the Consortium, ROMBA, Forte or MLT), get to know the folks working in the admission office – at Rice Business, they’re truly the best – and finally, take every opportunity you get to meet with the current students (be it on zoom, on the phone or in person on campus). See if you can find your people here – I suspect you will.



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