2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Max Meeks, University of Texas (McCombs)

Max Meeks

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Engaged entrepreneur and adventure advocate with a passion for finance, sustainability, and business innovation.”

Hometown: San Marcos, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to high-performance racing school twice – many people
think great lap times are about speed, but the key to winning is forward vision and measured movements.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Texas Christian University, BBA in Finance with an Emphasis in Real Estate (with honors)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Texas Capital Bank as Vice President, Relationship Manager within the commercial real estate group.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? MetaProp (Venture Capital firm), it was a hybrid role between Austin and New York (I was in NYC most of July 2023).

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working full-time on my HVAC energy efficiency startup, AirMax, as CEO and Co-Founder.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Selected to be a Founder-in-Residence within UT’s Texas Venture Labs – This allowed me access to university resources to help advance my startup, AirMax.
  • Pitched my startup in UT’s December 2023 pitch competition and won three awards: 2nd overall, Best Energy Innovation, and Best Elevator Pitch.
  • Selected to join McCombs Ambassador Committee – interacted with prospective students as an ambassador of the McCombs MBA program.
  • Won 1st place in Texas for the ULI/Hines Real Estate Case Competition
  • Selected to be a Board Fellow – worked with Austin Parks Foundation for one calendar year.
  • Graduate Real Estate Society – VP of Recruitment
  • Equal (LGBT+ organization) – VP of External Relations
  • Participated in CleanTech Group

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being selected as a Founder-in-Residence within the Texas Venture Labs office. This achievement allows me to further the entrepreneurial spirit of McCombs and live out UT’s slogan of “What Starts Here Changes the World.” It is a highly selective process and allows me to take part in activities such as fireside chats with entrepreneurs and one-on-ones with investors. These activities have been a highlight of my time in the MBA program.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the role I played within Texas Capital Bank during the pandemic. COVID took a massive toll on the hotel industry; low occupancy rates and negative cashflow led many hotels to begin defaulting on their loans. Given our $523MM hospitality portfolio, Texas Capital Bank’s senior leadership was eager to act and quickly created a dedicated team to address this situation. Despite being the youngest in my role, I was asked to join two others to help lead this effort. Our mission was to provide the borrowers financial relief, but ensure that the bank did not lessen its position or lose a single dollar. In this experience, I learned that when negotiating with people, you have to discover what is important to them, and then draw on empathy to find common ground. The human aspect in business is pivotal and is what allows us to influence a path of action within a company.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose McCombs School of Business because of its recognition for being an entrepreneurial launch pad. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, it was apparent that UT’s slogan “What Starts Here Changes the World” was more than words to the faculty, staff, and students. After studying the career paths of successful business leaders, I noticed a common thread – many of them attended McCombs School of Business and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Joshua Alexander. I took his New Venture Finance course in Fall 2023. He is a very charismatic professor and thrives in high energy discussions. Joshua has deep experience in startups and has found fantastic success. He has an incredible way of deconstructing venture capital into bite size pieces that students could easily understand. Joshua also approached everything with a sense of humor. He was a constant reminder that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? It’s difficult to choose only one class as my favorite. An impactful class that comes to mind is Leading People and Organizations, taught by David Harrison. This course provided insight into how to join an organization in an effective way, build collaborative teams, and encourage authenticity at work. Interestingly, we spent ample time talking about what to do on our very worst days including how to avoid fault lines and how to build bridges between teammates.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The first event that comes to mind is International Night. While I am a native Texan, it is so much fun to see all of my international friends show off their culture, food, and music to classmates. I remember the first time I toured campus before matriculating, I stuck around later in the evening because it just so happened to be the annual International Night event. The energy in the building was unmatched, and I knew this was the school for me.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The one thing I would do differently is participate in the CleanTech Fellows program. I did not join first year because I actually did not know it existed. If I had known about it, I believe it would have helped get me up to speed much faster on clean climate technologies, which is exactly what my startup is focused on.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that a majority of its students are from Texas. I have been blown away yet delighted by the diversity in my class. In that same vein, I have been encouraged by how interested and accepting people are of everyone’s background and beliefs, even if different than their own. “Supportive, hardworking, and humble” are always the first three words that come to mind when describing the McCombs community to an outsider.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Having grown up near Austin, I was already familiar with the town. I believe my favorite thing is how humble everyone is, generally speaking. It is refreshing to meet people and get to know them primarily for who they are, not just what they do. Austinites are down to earth but constantly creating something interesting.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about business school is how much value I find in the ancillary activities we have the privilege of participating in as students. The classes are, of course, extremely beneficial but I have found much of my personal and professional growth to occur at events outside of class. Those events include ClimateCAP (a national sustainability summit for MBAs), national pitch competitions, fireside chats with entrepreneurs, and multiple internships. Each of these activities has helped broaden my perspective on business.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Meaghan Morgan. Meaghan has been extremely involved and impactful at McCombs. She is our Cohort representative, is part of McCombs Ambassador Committee, is a part of Graduate Women in Business and a VP within eQual, MBA student government, and Board Fellows. Even more, she spearheaded the Consulting Club to help first year students prepare for consulting interviews. As our cohort representative, she has done a remarkable job keeping us informed and organized as it relates to school happenings. Meaghan is undoubtedly a leader and does so with humor and kindness.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

* Build an impactful company that does $100MM per year in top line revenue.

* Be inducted into Young Presidents’ Organization.

What made Max such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Max Meeks is the quintessential student who strives for excellence and innovation throughout the Texas McCombs MBA program. His academic prowess is matched only by his unwavering commitment to helping his peers and his groundbreaking work alongside his father in developing potentially world-changing technology. His plan is to leverage his real estate background and his father’s technical expertise to develop a hardware innovation that will materially increase efficiency of air-cooled commercial HVAC systems. His primary objective is to create a product that will transform the way real estate operators approach commercial cooling and thereby decrease utility costs, extend the life of the equipment, and ultimately lower greenhouse gas emissions. Max has demonstrated exceptional entrepreneurial acumen and determination, setting a high standard for his fellow students. His humility and infectious positivity inspire those around him.

Max has seized every opportunity presented to him, from his active participation in the inaugural Energy Ventures course to his role as a TVL Startup Fellow in the Founder in Residence track, culminating in a remarkable 2nd place victory in the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition. In his role as a portfolio manager on the student-run real estate private equity investment fund, Max led the underwriting team for a significant investment in a light industrial value-add deal, Max exhibited exemplary leadership and professionalism, garnering praise from both his peers and faculty. According to his professor, Greg Hallman, “Max’s team did a fantastic job of underwriting and presenting to our investment committee, and our fund invested $500,000 in the deal based on the work and analysis Max’s team did. Max is smart, professional, organized, and a very nice guy – always in a good mood, always a pleasure to have in class and to work with. He got great work from his team, and his undergrad analysts made it a point to tell me how nice he was to work with and how much they learned from him.

In addition to his academic and entrepreneurial achievements, Max’s genuine kindness and approachability make him a beloved figure within the McCombs community. According to one of his peers, “Max is the epitome of what it means to be a McCombs MBA through his excellence both personally and culturally. He embodies humility, inspires those around him and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a smile on his face.” It is without a doubt that Max Meeks deserves recognition as one of the Best & Brightest MBAs, as he continues to leave an indelible mark on the program and inspire those around him to reach greater heights.”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean, Fulltime MBA Program
McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin



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