Author: allisonbohanan (page 2 of 5)

Alumni Spotlight: Blanca Lesmes, Texas Executive MBA ’11

Everyone has something they’re passionate about, and for Blanca Lesmes it’s increasing the accessibility of healthcare to women. Blanca graduated from the Texas Executive MBA Program in 2011 and has used her degree to propel this passion and save the company she co-founded, BB Imaging & Healthcare Consulting, ensuring increased access to ultrasound services for women in the Austin area.

We recently caught up with Blanca to see what she’s up to and to learn about her reasons  #WhyMcCombs.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA and why did you choose McCombs?

In 2009, my organization was struggling to remain afloat during the recession. I knew that I needed to expand my toolkit to ensure the survival of the company. After visiting a class at McCombs, I knew I wanted to be in an environment that encouraged as much learning from professors as from the talented professionals in the class.

What was the most valuable lesson — inside or outside of the classroom — you learned while completing your MBA?

Oh wow, this is tough. I learned that success in business requires surrounding yourself with amazing people.

How has your McCombs MBA experience helped shape your success?

I have a better understanding of the business cycle. I am incredibly grateful for the network of people I now call my friends. They continue to challenge my assumptions and encourage my personal growth.

Tell us about BB Imaging & Healthcare Consulting. Why did you decide to start this company? What is your role?

BB Imaging & Healthcare Consulting provides ultrasound services and business solutions in healthcare. In 2004, there was a need in the obstetrical market for ultrasound solutions in communities surrounding Austin, this was the impetus for our inception. I am currently the President of the organization. I focus on business development In addition, our organization is a Federal Contractor and my role is to expand into providing consultancy services outside of Texas.

What do you love about your job?

MY TEAM!!! I am so lucky to be able to enjoy the folks I call my team. They are incredibly skilled and masterful at what they do. I couldn’t have imagined working with a kinder bunch.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I am passionate about working to increase accessibility of healthcare to women. Currently, I am on the board of an educational non-profit and a non-profit dedicated to providing women in Malawi (Africa) access to care. I love brainstorming new business ideas and problem solving. On a personal note, I have a tween and a teenager who keep me busy and fulfilled.

What advice do you have for future Texas MBAs?

Just jump! Do not overthink this decision. Many people do what I call “self de-select”. Meaning, applicants don’t even submit applications to the admissions committee because they determine themselves under-qualified. I challenge new candidates to present their best application and attempt this amazing journey. The worst that can happen is not enrolling in the fall which is the same outcome if one doesn’t apply. I say deal with “potential” disappointment and just jump.

Navigating Your MBA As A New Parent

From Dave Jackson, Senior MBA Admissions Officer

MBA programs for working professionals provide an inherent challenge – how to manage the competing priorities of work, school and a personal life. Many wouldn’t think of adding to that mix perhaps the ultimate challenge, caring for a new baby.

Nevertheless, working professional MBA students at McCombs have demonstrated that it can be done with the right planning, prioritizing and support network.

“There’s never a ‘right’ time to have a baby,” says Denise Xue (Texas Evening MBA Class of 2017), a financial analyst at Intel who gave birth to her son Daniel on April 9, 2016, during her fourth semester in the program. “Having a baby while getting an MBA is certainly not easy, but I never regret it one bit. You will be extremely busy, and feel challenged both physically and emotionally, but at the same time you will also feel proud of yourself for the things that you accomplished.”

Here is some advice from Denise and other recent parents for those contemplating parenthood in combination with their Texas MBA:

  • Plan Ahead – To say time management is imperative would be an understatement. Adding parental responsibilities means students have to plan even more proactively. “One of the most important things I do is to work ahead in school,” said Kirk Geohegan (Texas MBA at Houston Class of 2017), a server engineer at ExxonMobil whose son John was born on Feb. 4, 2016, the night before a class weekend during his second semester. “I do reading or part of an assignment every day so that I can spend time with my wife and son on the weekends. If an emergency comes up at a home or work I have plenty of time during one of the other days or my weekend to catch up.” Kirk also uses his lunch hour at work to study so he has more time for his family at night.
  • Be Honest About Priorities – When something as significant as a baby comes into your life, it’s certain that other things will need to go away, at least temporarily. Kristi Johnson (Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth Class of 2016) delivered baby Alaina on July 6, 2014, exactly one month before her Austin Intensives in 2014. She was able to work with her boss at Corning, where she is a market development manager, to reduce her work travel to less than 25 percent while restructuring her work day to 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Kristi also reduced her workout schedule to one day of soccer and the occasional run, but she says she felt more productive in both work and fitness even as she scaled back. Kirk and Denise agree that they’ve become much better at maximizing their productivity by taking on both parenting and an MBA at the same time.
  • Accept Help – A student’s spouse, parents, co-workers and extended family are among the many resources these new parents tap into to help them. All three parents agree that a supportive spouse is most important, not only for managing responsibilities, but for providing emotional support as well. In addition, parental support helps the spouse with responsibilities while the student is in class. Kirk said his parents and in-laws came to the hospital so he could get to classes the weekend after his son was born, while Denise’s parents helped to care for Daniel while she took her international trip to China.
  • Timing Is Everything – Kirk and Kristi both discussed with their spouses the advantages of having a very young child while they were in the program, and in the end both decided it was better to take time for an MBA now rather than when their child was older. “My wife and I knew we wanted to have a child,” Kirk says. “We figured that it would be easier to go through the program while she was pregnant and our son was a baby rather than when he was a toddler.” Kristi admits that while it was hard to miss the sight of her daughter rolling over for the first time, “getting to see her at almost 2 and singing ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen as she colors is far better than rolling over.” (Kristi’s second child, son Isaac, was born July 21, two months after her graduation)
  • Stay In The Moment – Work, school and parenting are all demanding activities, so Kristi advises, “When at work, be at work. When doing family time, do family time. When in school (or doing schoolwork), focus on school.” Nevertheless, some creative multitasking can work. Denise held her young baby in a carrier while he was falling asleep in order to free her hands to do homework. All of the parents advise clear communication with your study group and professors and have found them all to be supportive as they go through this major life event.

But even with the best preparation, all the responsibility can feel burdensome at times, and perhaps Denise sums it up with what could be the working professional MBA’s credo: “When you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself why you’re getting an MBA and power through it.”

The MBA Admissions Interview: How to Totally Crush It

From the Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions Committee

You submit your application. You wait and wait and then, TA DA! An interview invitation appears in your inbox.  Your immediate reaction is probably several mental exclamation points (!!!), but I think it’s fair to say that all MBA applicants feel pretty dichotomous when it comes to the interview experience. Something like:

Yay I got invited to interview! But oh my goodness, now I’m totally freaked out and have a million questions; What are they going to ask? Should I be myself or should I open with a joke I read online? Should I bring my resume in strawberry-scented triplicate? What do I wear? Should I interview on-campus, via Skype, or off-campus? Is it better to interview with a current student, admissions officer or alumni? Should I send a follow-up thank you via email, a hand-written card, or none at all?  How do I set up the interview in the first place?! Eeek!

Breathe. Like anything else, your MBA interview invitation is an opportunity. While some applicants may look forward to it, others may not exactly enjoy the anxiety. If you are a member of the latter group, look at it this way: this interview can be just the thing the Admissions Committee needs to stitch together the rest of your application elements with a genuine, prepared, and poised interview performance.

The interview affords one of the only formal opportunities for official face-to-face interaction during the application process. Seize it.

You are most likely applying and subsequently interviewing with multiple MBA programs. This means managing several different interview processes, a complicated project given the variability among schools. It’s important to be familiar with how the Texas MBA Program runs its interview operations.

Instructions are plastered all over the email invitation to interview and the online systems you use to book the interview, so be sure to read all instructions very carefully before scheduling anything. Generally speaking, our interview structure is this:

Interviews are by invitation only and can come at any time during the application round. There are four different interview types: on-campus with a student, via Skype with a student, off-campus in your local city with an alumni interviewer, or at a HUB city location with an admissions officer. For each type (excluding alumni interviews) there is an online calendar from which you can select an interview slot that works with your schedule. We will inform you of the last date your interview needs to be completed. The only exception to this is booking an interview in your local city with an alumni interviewer; that process is slightly different, but we provide the step-by-step instructions in our interview invitation communications if you decide to go that route.

Rest assured all of our current student interviewers, alumni volunteer interviewers and admissions officers are fully trained and capable of conducting an interview that is professional, fair, impartial and helpful. Interviews typically last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. All interviews are blind, which means the interviewer does not have access to anything about you or your application, except for your resume. Even so, it’s always a good idea to bring a copy for the interviewer to reference during the conversation (this is required if you are interviewing with an alumni interviewer).

Most interviews follow the general framework of introductions, questions from the interviewer for you to answer, then some time is left at the end for you to ask your questions about the program and/or application process. Once the interview is completed, you are finished! There is nothing further you need to do and your application is considered complete. All that’s left is to wait patiently for our final decision in the weeks that follow.

TIPS & PITFALLS TO AVOID:

Choose Wisely: Decisions, decisions. Interview type selection is like deciding on your coffee order at Starbucks – copious options, but there’s something for everyone. Each type of interview affords individual benefits. If you’re located proximate to Austin, try to come to campus for an interview. If you have never been to campus or met us in person before, we highly recommend interviewing on campus to get a feel for the facility and community culture. You might even be able to book a class visit, information session, or tour and interview all in the same weekend. A special “Lunch & Learn” session will be offered on select interview dates. If you can’t make the trip due to work conflicts or you are internationally-based, you might consider taking advantage of our alumni interviewers in a city near you. We also offer HUB interviews in markets around the world, such as Korea, China, India and Mexico. Or maybe none of that works for you and Skype is the only way to get it done. No problem, that option is always available. We see your interview type selection as entirely logistical and do not hold it against you if you don’t interview with us on campus.

Don’t Be On Time – Be Early: Arriving early is “Interviewing 101,” yet it still manages to falter even the most prepared of candidates.  Arriving early is even more critical if you’ve never been to campus or navigated UT Austin parking before. As for Skype, your instructions ask that you are prepared to begin the Skype video call at the allotted interview start time, but it’s always a good idea to arrive 5-10 minutes prior to work out any inevitable technological hiccups that crop up.

“And that’s why I’m scared of heights and allergic to strawberries…Wait, what was the question again?”:  You’d be surprised how many times at the end of an applicant’s long-winded tangential answer we are asked to repeat the original question. Most often this happens to people who try to cram too much into the first answer for fear of not being given an opportunity later on to address that well-rehearsed example. Don’t worry, we’ll get to it! Plus, sometimes there is an opportunity at the end of an interview to mention anything we didn’t address in the formal line of questioning.

Loosen Up: Given our program’s famously friendly culture, our interviews are relatively informal. If you still find yourself nervous, practice your answers in front of a mirror, a friend or a willing stranger and ask them how you did. Did you answer the question? Did you rush through it? Take a moment to outline your answer in your mind first, and then address it calmly and confidently. Don’t get too comfortable, though. While we’re an easy-going bunch, maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism is always a good idea. This includes professional language and attire as if you were interviewing for a job (that means you too, Skypers! I’m sure your pajamas are lovely, but we’d much rather see a blazer.).

Know What We’re Looking For: We listen for confidence, clear and concise communication of career goals, concrete examples of teamwork and leadership, in-depth knowledge of our MBA program, and overall genuine enthusiasm. Also, the interview can be a place to showcase secondary skills that are difficult for us to determine solely based on your application: interview skills, self-awareness, communication style, and “hire-ability.” Keep these in mind so we can get a feel for the application intangibles.

Know Your Audience: Remember, the Admissions Committee doesn’t have a preference for which interview type you elect or who you interview with, just as long as you prepare for your audience. Are you interviewing with an admissions officer?  Read about them on our Admissions Committee page. Our alumni interviewer profiles can be found on our website.  If you’re interviewing via Skype or on-campus, be cognizant that not every student has the same background as you!  Steer clear of industry jargon.

Come with questions: A good list of questions for your interviewer can illustrate a few key things about you as a candidate: you’ve done your research, you care about our program, you have envisioned yourself as an MBA, and you can formulate coherent thoughts under pressure. We usually leave anywhere from 10-15 minutes for questions, so limit your list to 2-3 good ones and have a few backups.

While our interviewing style is admittedly less intense than corporate recruiters, don’t let our laid-back Austin attitude fool you. The Admissions Committee uses the interview as a way to add character, depth and spirit to your written application, so keep these tips in mind to ensure a positive outcome.

Good luck and Hook’ Em!

 

The Road to McCombs and Texas

Each fall our dean, admissions team, and career management representatives join alumni in several cities for Texas MBA Roadshows, sharing the many opportunities that come with the Texas MBA and answering any questions you may have about the application process or life at McCombs.

Below, we’ve highlighted students from the four Roadshow stops we have in the United States – Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Check out what they have to say about Austin, McCombs, and the advice they’d like to share with applicants.

connor-orourkeName: Conner O’Rourke, MBA ’17
Pre-MBA Residence: New York City, NY
Undergrad University & Major: University of Michigan, English
Previous Job:
Sales Marketing Manager, NBC Universal
MBA Concentration:
Marketing

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? Simple.  I chose McCombs because it’s situated in the best city in the country and the students I met during my class visit were the perfect combination of smart, witty and down-to-earth.

How has the McCombs community helped you to adjust to your new home? The McCombs community has been unbelievable.  So much so that I have decided I can’t leave Austin.  Don’t be surprised if your temporary 2-year home becomes your permanent residence.  It happens to the best of us.

Any advice for other New Yorkers thinking about attending McCombs? Get ready to live outside again and hear phrases like, “you’re welcome” and “my pleasure.”  Between hiking on the Greenbelt, kayaking on Lake Travis and golfing year round, there are endless opportunities to spend your weekend doing something active opposed to searching for that cool bar in BK that everyone says you should go to but can’t help you find.  But there are also dozens of great bars with live music and no cover…

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process? Take your time.  It’s your chance to craft a story based on your favorite subject.  YOU.

What is your favorite Austin or Texas tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs? My own Sunday tradition of waking up, grabbing Ms. P’s breakfast tacos and spending the day on the Greenbelt.

Any advice on things to do prior to starting school (after you’re admitted)? Get to Austin a week or two early.  It may be hot, but Austin is a fun town and getting here early will lower your stress level.

Favorite memory of New York: Laying on my back at midnight alongside the Hudson watching the planes fly in and out of all three airports.

Anything else that you would like to share? Last year may just have been the best year of my life.

thumb_img_4302_1024Name: Courtney Good, MBA ’17
Pre-MBA Residence:  Washington, D.C.
Undergrad University & Major: University of Virginia, Economics & Environmental Science
Previous Job: Associate, Charles River Associates
MBA Concentration: Clean Tech

Why did you choose the Texas MBA Program? I chose the Texas MBA Program for two main reasons: the curriculum and the culture. Having worked in the energy industry prior to returning to business school, I knew I wanted to stay in the industry; the Clean Tech concentration at McCombs and UT Austin’s status as a leading energy institution assured me that I would get the industry knowledge and resources I was looking for. Additionally, the collaborative culture at McCombs and McCombs’ involvement with the greater Austin start-up community drew me to the program.

How has the McCombs community helped you to adjust to your new home? Adjusting to life in Austin could not have been easier – you are given 270 new friends when you get to campus, and are located in a city with endless opportunities and recreation. Additionally, going through the core curriculum in the fall semester with your cohort really brings everyone closer and created a great support system as I transitioned to my new home.

Any advice for other Washingtonians thinking about attending McCombs? You will be surprised at how many of your classmates are moving from the D.C. area. Also, you will feel at home because the Texas State Capitol building is right next to the university and modeled after the U.S. Capitol building!

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process? Take time to customize your essays and highlight why you think McCombs is the best fit for you. The admissions team has to read many essays, and a love for McCombs and Austin will definitely stand out.

What is your favorite Austin or Texas tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs? Food wise – definitely breakfast tacos. I didn’t realize how attached I was until this summer during my internship in Atlanta, GA when I was not sure what to eat for breakfast on the weekends. Make sure to try Torchy’s or Tacodeli if you come visit Austin!

Any advice on things to do prior to starting school (after they are admitted)? First, during the summer I would recommend updating your resume and creating an initial list of your target companies. The beginning of school is a whirlwind, so the more work you have done on your resume over the summer, the more time you will have for other commitments and activities. Secondly, I recommend taking some time off and traveling or visiting family before you get to Austin. Have some fun, and give your mind a break from work before you dive into the core curriculum!

Favorite memory of Washington, D.C.: I enjoyed going to watch parties in D.C. to support the UVA basketball team.

meredith-saundersName: Meredith Saunders, MBA ’18
Pre-MBA Residence: Chicago, IL
Undergrad: The Ohio State University, Operations & Supply Chain Management
Previous Job: Internal Consultant, CNA Financial
MBA Concentration: Healthcare & Operations/Supply Chain Management

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? I chose the Texas MBA Program for many reasons, but two of the most important were the variety of experiential learning opportunities and the culture. Having the opportunity to practice the skills I had learned in the classroom prior to applying to a full-time position was extremely important to me; as well as being in an environment where the students are genuinely excited not just about their own successes, but also about those of their peers.

How has the McCombs community helped you to adjust to your new home?  The McCombs community has been great! Before school even started, I attended two of the MAP trips and met so many amazing people. And since then, there have been endless opportunities to go to other events including football tailgates, new restaurants, concerts, and so many other activities to get together with your classmates and explore Austin.

Any advice for other Chicagoans thinking about attending McCombs? Definitely come visit campus! And talk to as many current students as you can. Ultimately, you can read all you want about the culture of each school on their website, or Poet&Quants, but the best thing about McCombs is that once you get here, you can see that everything that is said about the culture being inclusive, and collaborative, and having amazing people, are ALL true. And you will leave here thinking that as heartbreaking as missing two Chicago winters would be; McCombs is where you need to be.

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process?

  1. You will get through it, and it will all be okay. It’s a long process and the GMAT is the worst, and the essays seem endless, but it is absolutely so worth it in the end.
  2. Definitely take culture/fit into consideration as you’re deciding where to go. Just because it looks great on paper, it may not be the best for you; so make sure you visit and see for yourself what each school has to offer and  meet the people that could be your future classmates and friends!

What is your favorite Austin or Texas tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs? Definitely the live music. There are bands everywhere, just waiting for you to come listen. It’s incredible. And as far as food goes I’m not going to limit myself to breakfast tacos, but tacos of all kinds here in Austin are delicious, and there is a pizza place called Via 313 that found the perfect balance between deep dish and hand tossed pizza. You need to go, and you won’t regret it.

Any advice on things to do prior to starting school (after they are admitted)? Take time off!! Relax, take a trip, do nothing. Just stop working and give your brain a break.

Favorite memory of Chicago:  St. Patrick’s Day 2012one of Chicago’s biggest holidays. March had come and it was still fully winter, knee length puffy parka constantly in tow, and the forecast looked worse than usual. Long story short; it ended up being 80 degrees and one of the sunniest days Chicago has likely ever had before June. I think every single person who lived  in the city came out to celebrate for whatever reason they wanted that day. The river was packed, spirits were extremely high, and the optimism for summer in Chicago was in full swing! It was by far, one of the most amazing, surprising, and fun days I had  in Chicago.

Anything else that you would like to share? Take advantage of everything the city  has to offer before you move, it is SUCH an amazing place!

royal-addisName: Royal Addis, MBA ’17
Pre-MBA Residence: Modesto, CA
Undergrad: University of the Pacific, Engineering Management
Previous Job: Go-To-Market Project Manager, E&J Gallo
MBA Concentration: Strategy & Innovation

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? For many reasons- but what really stood out to me was the reach of the Texas MBA alumni network and the school’s strong employment connections with Bay Area technology companies.

How has the McCombs community helped you to adjust to your new home?  Without a doubt it has been the encouragement and support received from the 2nd year MBA students and MBA program staff. They continually go out of their way to inspire students and make us feel at home as we transition into “MBA life”.

Any advice for other San Franciscans thinking about attending McCombs?  Don’t let the thought of being in the middle of Texas frighten you! Austin may not have the beach, Dolores park, and wine country right in its backyard…. but we do have Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park, Hamilton Pool, and Barton Springs just to name a few. Check them out!

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process? Take any opportunity you get to connect with school alumni and learn from their personal experience- it’s never too early to reach out! Alumni can be a fantastic resource during the application process and can help paint a more well-rounded picture of an MBA program.

What is your favorite Austin or Texas tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs?  It has to be UT Football tailgates- I’ve never seen anything like it!

Any advice on things to do prior to starting school (after they are admitted)?  Take some time off away from your job if you can.  Core classes will be upon you soon (i.e. “winter is coming…”)  so relax, recharge your batteries, take time to connect with friends and loved ones, and get ready to hit the ground running!

Favorite memory of San Francisco:  Being in the city when the Giants won the 2010, 2012, & 2014 World Series!

Anything else that you would like to share?  I believe that the relatively smaller program size of ~270 students is an overlooked benefit and differentiating factor for McCombs. This results in a tight-knit community where you have ample opportunities to not only get to know almost everyone in your graduating class, but many of the people in the classes above and below you as well

To register for a Roadshow or see all our upcoming events, please visit the Texas MBA events webpage. Hook ’em!

Alumni Spotlight: Maggie Row, Texas MBA at Houston ’07

maggie rowSince graduating from the Texas MBA at Houston Program in 2007, Maggie Row has been helping to provide high-quality cancer care to patients around the world through her work at MD Anderson. Her MBA education provided her with new insights into the healthcare industry, and not only gave her the skills to become a better leader, but a better healthcare provider as well.

 

We recently caught up with Maggie to see what she’s up to and to learn about her reasons  #WhyMcCombs.

What were you doing before you decided to pursue an MBA?

I was the medical director for the Emergency Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center and a practicing emergency oncology physician.

Why did you decide to pursue and MBA and why did you choose McCombs?

Upon completion of my residency in 1994, I decided to pursue an MBA. I always enjoyed business, in fact, I did the accounting for my dad’s business while I was in high school and college. At MD Anderson, I’ve been given many different leadership opportunities and I felt that the additional skills I would gain would help me to be a more effective leader.

I chose McCombs because of the excellence of the program and the opportunity to stay in Houston –the program was literally two blocks from my house.

What was the most valuable lesson — inside or outside of the classroom — you learned while completing your MBA?

Time management. My children were in kindergarten and first grade when I started my program at McCombs and I was also working full-time at MD Anderson. I had to be very disciplined, so I was able to be a mom, while at the same time being a wife, a student and a physician leader.

How has your McCombs MBA experience helped shape your success?

I think a business background is essential for a well-rounded clinician. The knowledge I learned in business school has been useful in every faucet of my job, even with direct patient care. This expansion of my skill set allows me to see medical issues, both business and clinical, from a different viewpoint. The ability to understand the financial and economic aspects of health care decisions has been a valuable asset.

What is your current position at MD Anderson?

I am currently Vice President of Operations for the MD Anderson Cancer Network. Our network works with hospitals and health systems around the world to help provide high-quality cancer care to patients in the communities where they live. In my role, I’m responsible for making sure that the exceptional care we provide here at our Texas Medical Center campus is integrated into our network member sites.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I’m helping cancer patients receive better care by extending the knowledge from MD Anderson to oncologists worldwide.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I spend time with my family – Jim, my husband, and children, Catalina (16) and Billy (15). We are either traveling, running, golfing, going to movies or just hanging out at our pool in Houston.

What advice do you have for future Texas MBAs?

Enjoy your undergraduate experience and learn as much as possible about life and the opportunities available for your future. I didn’t know what I was going to be doing when I graduated from college. Taking the time to work and obtain additional education helped me gain the tools I need to navigate my career.

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