Meet the MBA Class of 2025: James Craig Jones, University of Texas (McCombs)

James Craig Jones

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Father of four, Special Operations Veteran, Leader and Business Scholar, Lifelong Learner.”

Hometown: Garland, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have an additional muscle in my eyes, and I can shake my retinas left to right at a very high rate of speed at will. 

Undergraduate School and Major: University of the Incarnate Word

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army – Infantry Commander

What makes Austin such a great place to earn an MBA?  McCombs is in the heart of Austin, a city that is defining itself in the technology, startup, and renewable sectors while within a three-hour drive of Dallas (Finance), Houston (Energy, Healthcare, Logistics), and San Antonio (Manufacturing) in the heart of what I think will be the center of U.S. business for the next generation.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Texas McCombs’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It was not programming that determined my path. I was accepted at Duke, Columbia, and Tuck as well as McCombs.  The programs were all compelling, and some were “ranked” higher. My decision was made based on the personalized treatment I received from admissions, recruiting, financial aid, and even the team of guys I met who sit in front of the MBA program office who I now consider friends. From the day I showed interest in the school until I began orientation, when I approached someone who worked at McCombs, they knew who I was and several key pieces of information about me. The program is 250 people.  Its day 3 of the program and I have had a conversation with half of them and I know something about everyone in my cohort.  There are a lot of people here who care about you doing really really well, and it is evident in almost every interaction.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Texas McCombs?  I am planning to get heavily involved with the Texas Veterans in Business Club.  After interacting with members from the past two years, its clear that it is a professional organization that is really using its network and the strength of the organization to address a weakness that many veterans face, namely that they have focused less throughout their career on active networking due to very constrained (relative to the civilian world)  pathway for military officers.

What has been your first impression of the McCombs MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best McCombs story so far. On my first day I had lunch with a guy who sold his first FinTech Company before coming here to get his MBA and a former Investment Banker that wants to develop mining interests in Eastern Texas.  This is as diverse a group of people as I have ever been around, and a ton of people to learn from.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: There was a period in 2010 when I was a young leader in a special operations unit that was truly at the tip of the spear in the war on terror that I thought would be the pinnacle of my career. However, my most impressive accomplishment was something that businesses do every day, software onboarding and implementation. I was the logistics officer in a Battalion, and I was able to acquire, onboard, train, implement, and build a training curriculum. That resulted in more than a million dollars in savings in maintenance equipment in the first year I used it, and saved my unit $850K in the first 5 months the next year before I was reassigned.

Looking ahead two years, what would make your MBA experience at McCombs successful?  At the end of the day, success means I get to begin my career as a consultant at either Bain or BCG. I spent a lot of time prior to transitioning out of the military determining what I want to do and where I think I will fit. I am open to change, and I definitely I think a lot of people choose consulting for the salary or because they are still uncertain about their career. But assuming I am successful recruiting, I would like to focus on walking away from McCombs with a current perspective of business best practices and the ability to use the powerful tools for analysis that are now available. That way, I can truly increase my productivity and enhance the leadership and decision-making skills I learned as a leader in the Infantry.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Texas McCombs’ MBA program? Call me or reach out to me on LinkedIn. I am probably the biggest advocate this place has right now. Other than that, just apply early, and learn something about football before your interview. Hook ‘em.


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