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Meet Your Admissions Officer: Dallas/Fort Worth

From Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer, Texas MBA Dallas/Fort Worth Program:

It’s Good to be Back

Dave Jackson, Texas MBA Admissions Officer - Dallas/Fort Worth

Texas MBA Senior Admissions Officer, Dave Jackson

Hi everyone. I’m the new MBA admissions officer for the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, but I’m no stranger to the program. I graduated from the DFW program in 2010. The two years I spent in the program were a transformative experience for me, providing me with the broad business exposure to enhance my career in corporate communications. I was excited to return to the McCombs School of Business to help give similar opportunities to others. And I have spent my first month on the job immersing myself in the admissions cycle – recruiting prospective students at both university and company-sponsored events, reviewing applications and interviewing candidates – to shape the Class of 2017 here in DFW.

Several things have changed in the five years since I left the program. Most notably, the campus and the residency hotel are both different. The curriculum has undergone a significant review, with changes made to allow working professional students to graduate at the same time as our full-time MBA students. We have greatly expanded the MBA-Plus programs to broaden students’ skills outside the classroom.

But many things have not changed. The faculty is still top-notch, with many of the professors the same ones who taught me and the new ones of the same high caliber I remember. The curriculum challenges you to bring your best effort to each class and project, and provides you with information and inspiration to apply when you return to work on the Mondays after class weekends.

And the students continue to bring a blend of diverse work and academic backgrounds and a collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit that enables everyone to maximize the value of their MBA experience. They seed the relationships that become their personal and professional network for many years to come. The Texas MBA is about what you put into the program, and in return you get much more than three letters.

As I get to know the Classes of 2015 and 2016 and as we build the Class of 2017, I’m confident the program’s most important component – its people – remains its best component. Getting to know them has been my greatest reward in returning to McCombs.

To Be or Not to Be … A Fellow

Pop quiz: What is the difference between student organizations, a.k.a. clubs, and the Texas MBA Fellows Programs?

According to everyone’s favorite Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, a fellow is “a member of a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice.” A club, on the other hand, is defined as “an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal.”

To put it simply, Texas MBA Fellows Programs are hyper-clubs that offer students immersion learning experiences in a specific industry or function, such as Operations, Marketing, Finance, and Entrepreneurship. The programs are highly selective and typically comprised of only about 15-30 MBA students each year, which allows members to have special access to business leaders and, often, dedicated job and internship opportunities.

A short description of each McCombs program is below, but I encourage you to visit the Texas MBA Fellows Program webpage to learn more about the unique aspects of each one.

Board Fellows: McCombs Board Fellows places selected MBA students as non-voting board members of partner local non-profit organizations for one year. The purpose is to give talented and committed graduate business students the opportunity to work with and learn from non-profit leaders while contributing their time and business skills to benefit the community.

CleanTech Fellows: The CleanTech Fellowship is a selective leadership program that offers exceptional Texas MBA students the opportunity to deepen industry knowledge through hands on experiences in the clean tech world. Once selected, each CleanTech Fellow spends 10-15 hours per week working with a company of his or her choosing and meeting with the other fellows to check in, attend speaker series and discuss developments in the industry.

Corporate Finance Fellows: Founded by Intel, Corporate Finance Fellows brings together selected students to work in a team on a specific project designed by Intel and other corporate partners. Each student participates in a 3 credit hour practicum course during the spring semester, followed by a summer internship sourced by Corporate Finance Fellows’ corporate partners.

Marketing Fellows: The Marketing Fellows program gives selected McCombs MBA students committed to pursuing leadership in marketing the opportunity to develop their marketing acumen and management skills through a combination of focused curriculum and consulting projects. The program is student led and managed with support from Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solutions (CCIMS) and Marketing faculty.

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Sigma Fellows: Sigma Fellows provides selected MBA students interested in pursuing leadership in the functional areas of operations, supply chain or information management the opportunity to develop their management and leadership skills through a comprehensive integrated learning opportunity. Through a combination of focused classroom discussions and consulting projects, Sigma Fellows develop a better understanding of real-world challenges and enhance the Texas MBA experience within the three Sigma disciplines.

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Venture Fellows: Venture Fellows was founded in 1999 to provide selected McCombs MBA students the unique opportunity to work with venture capital and private equity funds. The Venture Fellows program consists of a two-semester internship component and weekly meetings with a guest speaker from the venture capital or private equity community to discuss relevant industry topics and experiences.

venture-fellows-cropped

Venture Labs Fellows: Texas Venture Labs (TVL) offers a combination of focused curriculum, hands-on learning and a speaker series to students with a passion for learning about the entrepreneurial and funding processes. Through a rigorous recruitment process, 30 graduate students from the Schools of Business, Engineering, Law, and Natural Sciences are selected to participate in the program, during which they work on cross-disciplinary teams to accelerate the formation and launch of 5-10 startups selected through an equally rigorous process. TVL teams provide immediate impact and value to the partner companies for which they consult.

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I can say from experience that joining a Fellows Program has added practical value to my McCombs MBA journey. As a Marketing Fellow, I have (so far) been able to advise American Airlines about how to design and promote its in-flight entertainment package, offer ideas about engaging Hispanic Millennials to the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and design a marketing campaign for Chipotle catering.

The best part about the immersion aspect of the program is how truly interested the companies have been in our thoughts, ideas, and recommendations. Having the ear of executives from Fortune 500 companies is not something every MBA student (or working professional, for that matter) receives, and I am so thankful to McCombs for giving me the opportunity on a weekly basis.

P.S. Although not technically Fellows Programs, the MBA Student Investment Funds (MBA Investment Fund & Real Estate Investment Fund) are equally elite and provide McCombs students with rigorous, hands-on experience in the school’s own private investment company.

Hands-on Learning at McCombs: MBA+ Consulting Projects

The Dow Team, MBA+ Consulting Project, Fall 2014

The Dow Team, MBA+ Consulting Project, Fall 2014

The MBA+ Leadership Program connects Texas MBA students from all programs with thriving companies looking to overcome challenges through short-term micro-consulting projects. This past fall, Texas MBAs worked on 40+ projects with over a dozen major companies including Clorox, FABERNOVEL, Strategy&, OriGen Biomedical, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Big Red, & Dow.

“[For our project], we looked at venture capital investment trends in energy, transportation, healthcare, finance, and media/entertainment.  We then looked at how these investment trends were indicative of trends in the various industries and how FABERNOVEL can work with potential clients to address issues they may be facing in these changing industries.
I think that we had a great project experience. We each were able to learn a lot more about trends in industries with which we were not necessarily familiar, and the client was very easy to work with so we had a lot of opportunity to guide the final output and be successful.”

Matthew Cohen, MBA ’16, Team Leader, FABERNOVEL project.

Team Leader, Matthew Cohen & the FABERNOVEL Team, MBA+, Fall 2014

Team Leader, Matthew Cohen (left) & the FABERNOVEL Team, MBA+ Consulting Project, Fall 2014

MBA+ projects are a great way to help students bridge the gap between concepts they are learning in the classroom and practice in the business world. Students are able to immediately apply what they are learning, as well as gain experience in a new industry or functional area.  They are also able to get an inside glimpse into companies they might work for in the future to get an idea of the company’s culture and vision.

On the flip side, companies are able to identify students who are a good fit for their internship and full-time positions.  It’s one of the earliest avenues for students to meet company representatives and practice their networking and relationship building skills. Since they are team-based, projects are also a great way for students to meet their classmates and expand their personal network. The MBA+ Program also helps students gain leadership competencies such as accountability, team-building, influencing, negotiating, conflict management, leveraging diversity, dealing with ambiguity, written and oral communication skills, problem-solving, decision-making, resilience, and more!

Farewell, Spring Break: An Ode to Global Connections – Colombia

Imagine, if you will:

A balmy, salt-spiced breeze saunters down the street as you step into an alley lined with exotic fruit vendors displaying colors and flavors yet to be discovered by your senses. Lively salsa music emanates from around the corner, where an enchanting band has set up shop next to street merchants selling alluring handmade arts and crafts in shades of chartreuse, turquoise and emerald. All around, people are smiling, laughing, dancing.

Dream sequence? Possibly. But for the McCombs students who went on a Global Connections trip during the two weeks of spring break, the dream became a reality as soon as finals were done, bags were packed, and flights were boarded.

I had the pleasure of going to Colombia for 15 days with a group of 30 or so classmates. During that time, we visited several cities, including Bogotá, Medellín, Zona Cafetera and Cartagena (for a small, extended sojourn once the program came to an end.) In each city, we had the chance to immerse ourselves in the corporate and cultural sides of Colombia, all while sipping on some mighty good coffee.

Return of the "prom pose"

Return of the “prom pose”

First, let’s talk business. We met with over half a dozen companies, encompassing all sizes and industries. We walked the very fields where owner Jesús Martin harvests the same beans he selected, roasted and brewed into every cup of coffee he served us at his café later that day. We suited up in safety apparel to go inside Colombia’s main 3M manufacturing plants to witness firsthand how iconic products like Scotch-Brite and masking tape are made. We strolled the immense greenhouses of La Gaitana, one of the country’s largest exporters of flowers, and learned how they sustain their large-scale operations with such a nimble workforce. We dined casually at the headquarters of Corona, one of the largest producers of porcelain and ceramic products, with the company’s CEO – before he exchanged his three-piece suit for casual attire and chose to spend the entire day with us as we visited factories and storefronts to review the company’s inventory and supply chain procedures. Every company we met with, we were greeted with open arms, delicious treats, and a wealth of executive-level insight.

Endless appreciation for the substance that fuels my every morning

Jesús Martin: Endless appreciation for the substance that fuels my every morning

A company that's the epitome of strong leadership and values

Corona: A company that’s the epitome of strong leadership and values

When we weren’t off pursuing global business savvy, we were out and about exploring everything Colombia has to offer: local cuisine, live music, and tropical ecosystems in dazzling technicolor. Speaking as someone who thinks the word marathon should involve Netflix and not the great outdoors, I’m proud to say we did it all: descending into the underground salt cathedral of Zipaquirá, conquering the 700+ stairs leading to the top of the rock of Guatapé, ziplining across acres of lush vegetation in Armenia, and flying up winding mountainsides in open-air Jeep Willys on our way to Salento. But alas, every daredevil requires the occasional night off, so we also made sure to indulge in good food, drinks, and dancing when we could. There were spectacular meat/cheese platters, fresh juices from fruits you can only readily find and consume in Colombia, and desserts akin to ambrosia (one dish literally comprised of rich hot cocoa with chunks of creamy cheese melted into it – holy cholesterol.) The ever-present music that permeates the country by day seems to be heightened at night, causing body parts to inadvertently tap, shimmy and wiggle to the beat. Salsa clubs packed with dancers of all skillsets gave us an opportunity to burn some of those decadent aforementioned calories to the rhythm of bongos and trumpets.

Guatapé: Started at the bottom

Guatapé: Started at the bottom

Indescribable feelings

Salento: Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings

Ziplining over babbling brooks? Don't mind if I do

Ziplining over babbling brooks? Don’t mind if I do

Beautiful, mystical, sprawling far as the eye can see

Beautiful and mystical, sprawling as far as the eye can see

One of the best parts of this experience? Forever creating those memories alongside my fellow MBAs. We had folks from the full-time and part-time programs alike, alongside some who were in entirely different disciplines outside of McCombs, and it was one of the highlights of my trip getting to know these people I might not have had the chance to meet otherwise. Together, we picked up some Spanish phrases (no dar papaya, y’all), learned the importance of cultural differences (I lescant even, y’all), ventured into new gastronomy (aguardiente, y’all!) and even hunkered down for a brief earthquake (…is my altitude sickness kicking in or did the earth just move, y’all?)

Hanging out on a mountain, nbd

Hanging out on a mountain

TL;DR:
1) Colombia, in all its lively, loving warmth, has truly captured my heart
2) Global Connections is a wonderful way to spend spring break doing exceptional things for both your career and your psyche
3) I need a vacation to recover from my vacation

My favorite color: Caribbean blue

My favorite color: Caribbean blue

Sunset over Cafe del Mar

¡Viva Colombia!

Hook ‘em!

SXSW Recap: The Music

“South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual music, interactive and film festival held in Austin every year.” – SXSW.com

While technically accurate, this generic definition did nothing to prepare me for the 10-day blur of adventures I got myself into with classmates and friends, new and old.

Start-Up Crawl to kick-off SXSW

Start-Up Crawl to kick-off SXSW

Spoon, Jurassic 5’s Charlie Tuna, Nas, Run the Jewels, Verite, BØRNS, Gorgon City, Odesza, Elliphant, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Big Data, Twin Shadow and Best Coast were among the bands I saw play throughout the festival. There were many others…

Up front for Twin Shadow

Up front for Twin Shadow

And I did not even really see all that SXSW had to offer. Admittedly, I skimped a little bit on many of the amazing interactive panels. One of my classmates won a guitar from a Japanese start-up by playing an accurate rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and many others attended fascinating panels led by CXOs of some of the most prestigious companies in the world. I also somehow missed Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart wandering the street, as well as a free screening of Fast 7.

However, for me, SXSW was about trying to catch as much music as possible. I chose to bypass any of the SXSW badges, as well as the SXSW music wristband and test my luck by utilizing connections and being in the right place at the right time. Before SXSW, many of my fellow McCombs friends staying in town came together, compared schedules and tried to plan out our days. While at times this was successful (Spotify House), sometimes we just got lucky. There were multiple shows I just ended up walking into the venue not knowing who was going to be playing, only to have an incredible night with friends.

Here are a few of my top SXSW Music Tips & Tricks that helped me a lot:

– Create a What’sApp (or something similar) chain with all McCombs people that stay in town for SXSW. We leveraged this on a daily basis to determine what people’s plans were for the day, and most importantly to determine what the line/wristband situation was at similar venues. Many of us did not waste time at ‘at-capacity’ venues and were able to meet up at near-empty ones for shows (this is how I saw Ghostface and Raekwon).

– Leverage McCombs connections!!! There are a lot of McCombs alumni that are working at amazing companies in Austin and across the country that hold SXSW events. Through direct and one-off connections, I was able to volunteer at an Umbel event and get VIP-access for Spoon. Through a one-off connection, I scored VIP-backstage tickets to a Nas concert and was let into numerous after-parties and events.

Leveraging McCombs best student, Jimi

Leveraging McCombs’ best student, Jimi

– Hit up South Congress if you are looking for a more relaxed day. Once you cross the bridge and get downtown, there will be people everywhere. The streets are still manageable, but do not expect to be able to drop into a coffee shop and get work done. South Congress has a much less crowded, chill vibe (especially during the first week). They also have some great local acts (although these can be found all over downtown and the east side). West 6th is generally less crowded than the East Side and Downtown.

– Give new venues and new bands a try. This is pretty self-explanatory, but as long as the venue isn’t too far away (2+ miles away from downtown), check it out! I had never heard of Scoot Inn and now I cannot wait to go back!

We’re already looking forward to next year!

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