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International Student Spotlight: The Road to McCombs

Did you know that 28 percent of the Texas Full-Time MBA Class of 2017 are from countries outside of the U.S.? Texas MBAs come from all over the world, and this week we’re highlighting some of our international students who made the long trip to McCombs. Check out what they have to say about Austin, McCombs, and the advice they’d like to share with future international applicants.

 

img-20161014-wa0012Omar Garza, MBA ’17

Where are you from originally? I’m from Chihuahua, a city in northern Mexico that is 230 miles south from El Paso, Texas.

Why did you choose the Texas MBA Program? I chose McCombs because of its very strong Entrepreneurship program as well as the vibrant startup ecosystem at UT Austin and in the city. Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in America and its the perfect place to start a new business.

Any advice for others from Mexico thinking about attending McCombs? My advice to them would be to reach out to current students and alumni.  I’m always impressed by how open and friendly everybody is here and how far people are willing to go to help someone out.

 

dsc_0027-copy Tulio Soria, MBA ’17

Where are you from originally? I am from Brazil. I used to say that I am from São Paulo state. I was born and raised in the countryside of the state, in a small city called Pederneiras with a population of about forty thousand.

Why did you choose the Texas MBA Program? I knew that I needed to be in a tech hub surrounded by brilliant visionaries. The answer for me was the Texas MBA in Austin. The Texas MBA offers challenging courses in information management and analytics, which are essential for a digital leader. Austin has a young, educated population, with a great startup community and fair VC presence, along with a burgeoning creative scene, which is the perfect environment for tech.

Any advice for others from Brazil thinking about attending McCombs? It is an amazing experience to challenge yourself to immerse yourself in a new culture in such vibrant city and program.  My advice for those going through the application process is to visit Austin, visit the school and talk with our alumni and current students.

 

byhYeony Bae, MBA ’17

Where are you from originally? I am from Changwon, a beautiful medium-sized city in southeastern coast of Korea.

Why did you choose the Texas MBA Program? First, I really liked the people and culture. I enjoyed talking to the Admissions Committee and alumni during info sessions and in my interview. I am reconfirming my decision every single day while working with cool, bright classmates and faculty in  a great collaborative culture. Second, the small class size in a huge university setting was very attractive. I wanted to build a strong, personal network in the MBA program and I thought the small class size at McCombs would help me do so. Third, I really wanted to get into the tech industry after completing my MBA and McCombs has a strong network in this industry. Lastly, the location in Austin mattered a lot. I wanted to go through this life-changing experience in a place where I can truly enjoy it.

Any advice for others from South Korea thinking about attending McCombs? You can really be anyone you wish to be in the entrepreneurial and collaborative environment at McCombs. Your classmates, alumni, and faculty will give you full support and help you achieve your dreams – that is the Texas MBA culture. Austin is an amazing place for you to spend two years of precious time and beyond. My time with the Texas MBA and in Austin literally changed my life in many ways. I hope many other Korean candidates come and share my experience.

 

lisa-mariaLisa Maria, MBA ’17

City of Origin: My hometown is in Bekasi, West Java, 20 miles east of Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta, but I spent most of my time from elementary school to high school in Jakarta.

Why did you choose the Texas MBA Program?  I am a double Longhorn and graduated from the Cockrell School of Engineering for my undergraduate degree. I had an amazing experience and knew I wanted to come back for my master’s. Thanks to the UT network, I had the chance to connect with Texas MBA alumni and heard great things about the program, solidifying my decision to choose McCombs. McCombs is very student-run — being in the program has given me opportunities to be active and assume leadership positions in several amazing organizations. I have been in the technology industry my entire career and plan to go back there after graduation; McCombs’ location in the major tech hub that is Austin, TX has provided me a very valuable network in that industry.

Any advice for others from Indonesia thinking about attending McCombs? Austin has similarities with Indonesia in a lot of ways. Indonesian people are known to be very friendly, so are Texans with their Southern hospitality. Austin’s economy is growing rapidly, so is Indonesia’s. And the food scene… Austin has such diverse food options like Indonesia does, although I must admit nothing beats Indonesian food.

luciaLucia Galvez, MBA ’17

Where are you from originally? Lima, Peru

Why did you choose the Texas MBA Program? I wanted a top MBA program with a strong Management curriculum complemented with hands-on experiences, as well as a collaborative environment that fits my personality. I had the privilege of visiting McCombs before applying and people made me feel super comfortable!

Any advice for others from Peru thinking about attending McCombs? McCombs has a lot of opportunities that I discovered after I enrolled in the Texas MBA Program and I knew I made the right decision. If possible, come to Austin and interact with the McCombs community to make sure it is the right fit for you!

To learn more about the Texas MBA Program, admissions events, and application information, please visit the Texas MBA website.

How an MBA Can Help Your Startup Succeed

From Harlan T. Beverly, PhD, Texas Evening MBA ’04

Every year, thousands of students flock to MBA programs nationwide to learn the craft of business. In recent years, many of those students  have come with a gleam in their eye, that of launching and succeeding with their own startup.  At The University of Texas at Austin, MBA applicants can earn a scholarship for their idea, assuming their idea is strong enough. One of the key questions about entrepreneurial education, though, is this: what does it take to succeed at a startup? And more to the point, is that something you can learn in an MBA program?

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2016 TVL Scholarship winners Josh Berrington (left) and William Wilder (right)

Researchers in entrepreneurship have typically focused on the attributes of the founding team as key predictors of success.  While it is obvious that certain characteristics like risk tolerance, persistence, and charisma could be helpful in getting an entrepreneur started, there is still much debate about what it really takes to have a successful startup.

In 2004, I was one of those MBA students with that startup fire in my eye.  Now, a dozen years later and with three successful startups under my belt, I believe that there are many critical things that a student can learn in an MBA program to help better their odds of success.  Here are three things I learned as part of my MBA that I have leaned on to beat the steep odds of startup success (less than 1 in 10).

First and foremost: Define success before you begin. 

Not every startup idea is destined for an IPO or billion-dollar exit.  An MBA helped me to learn how to assess the business potential of a startup idea and set realistic goals for what success looks like.  All too often, startups fizzle out because they reach too high or even achieve limited success…but fail to exit at the right time.

Second: Learn, learn, learn. 

No matter what it’s called – “market validation” or “lean startup” or listening to customers – learning, and adapting is essential to success.  My MBA helped me understand both what I needed to learn (pricing for example), and how I could learn what I needed from real customers quickly.

Finally: Success is never achieved in a vacuum.

My MBA helped me to understand the importance of networking. Hiring and firing are essential leadership skills as a company grows, and an MBA not only helps you understand the leadership principles, but also helps you develop team-based skills to work well with others. For me, it was at UT Austin that I met the co-founders of my first company, as well as many future business partners.

Clearly there are many things to learn and skills to develop as part of an MBA. Can they help an entrepreneur be successful?  Absolutely.  The University of Texas’ Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs has proven capable of developing MBA students into successful startup founders. The new Texas Venture Labs MBA Scholarship is now open and accepting qualified applicants with world-changing startup ideas. Learn more about the application requirements and submit your application today!

My Texas MBA Women’s Forum Experience

From Julia Brannan, Texas MBA Class of 2018, on her experience at the 2015 Women’s Forum.

julia-brannanWomen interested in  the Texas Full-Time MBA Program are encouraged to attend our annual Women’s Forum, taking place Nov 18th & 19th! There’s only a few spots left, so apply today!

During the forum you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the Texas Full-Time MBA Program, interact with current students and faculty, understand the value proposition of the Texas MBA, and experience what makes Austin so special!


Here’s a look into my Women’s Forum experience:

As I sat in the audience with 80 other prospective female MBAs interested in learning more about McCombs, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much this event would impact my decision to join the McCombs community.

Day 1 – Thursday

I join the Texas MBA Women’s Forum GroupMe and current students are messaging us, “Who runs the world? Girls!” I’m feeling excited. Now I know I have an additional bond with some of these women beyond McCombs and a passion for women in business – a love for Beyoncé. I head to the Welcome Reception and meet amazing current students including Amira Fawcett, class of 2017. She came from a sales and trading background and had just been accepted for a product management internship at Amazon. Amira is a prime example of what a woman in business is like at McCombs. She’s down to earth, hilarious, driven as ever, and is passionate about helping her female peers reach their goals.

Day 2 – Friday

I applied during the first application round so I head to my scheduled interview in the morning. My interview is with Eric Franco, class of 2016, who’s heading to a job at an energy company post-graduation. Eric shared stories about taking classes in UT Austin’s other graduate schools, including top programs in law, public policy and engineering (the list goes on!). He loved that McCombs offers a tight-knit community along with access to endless resources throughout UT. Post-interview I grab lunch with girls attending the forum and later we head to happy hour with current students and explore Austin.

Day 3 – Saturday (main part of the Forum!)

We settle in and are greeted by Austin’s beloved breakfast tacos and the Assistant Dean of the Texas Full-Time MBA Program, Tina Mabley. Tina, a McCombs Alum, shares what makes her love this program – the people. She explains how every year the students, faculty, and administration continue to build the program for the better. For instance, Silva Gentchev, class of 2017, had just launched the Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF). SIIF is a student-run initiative for first-year MBAs geared to help fund their classmates’ social impact internships with organizations that otherwise would not be able to afford MBA salaries (spanning non-profits to the public sector to social enterprises). The rest of the day moves at a quick pace and I’m viciously scribbling down things that inspire me left and right. To share a few:

  • During the Student Life Panel I meet Tenaj Ferguson, Class of 2017, who won the Texas Venture Labs Scholarship worth $10,000 and in-state tuition after pitching her own-startup in the competition. Tenaj is using an incubator in Austin to help grow her business, Lady Epicure Gourmet – a retail and food service natural food brand and manufacturer of commercial food tech equipment. Using McCombs’ strength in strategic marketing, she landed an internship at the Campbell Soup Company to build upon her brand management skills.
  • Ty Henderson, a favorite McCombs professor, leads us through the Classroom Experience, providing a taste of what his Analysis of Markets class would be like. It’s incredibly engaging, partially case-based, and rooted in data analytics.
  • I meet Nikki Bruce, Class of 2015, in the Beyond the MBA – Alumni Panel. Nikki used McCombs’ MBA+ Leadership Program to pursue a micro-consulting project with Boston Consulting Group. This experience validated her desire to pursue consulting and she now works full-time at Deloitte Consulting.
  • Associate Director of Career Management, Ramona Arora, shares during the Career Management discussion how students have access to career counselors and communication coaches who help to advise a student’s career search, assist with resumes, and provide feedback on interview behaviors. Additionally, I learn we’ll have access to the largest alumni network in the country – alums who are more than willing to take our calls (I’ve experienced it firsthand now, they really are)!

Attending the 2015 Women’s Forum was far and away the most rewarding experience I had throughout the MBA application process. Two main things really stand out to me looking back; first, the forum gave me that intangible validation that McCombs was the right fit for me. Austin, and to a larger extent, McCombs, were environments that I knew I wanted to call home. Second, it facilitated an-ongoing conversation that I personally feel strongly about – women’s experience in the workplace and in leadership in general.

Now, in my first semester at McCombs I truly feel that the answer to “Who runs the world?” is #McCombsWomen.

texas women mean business

 

Alumni Spotlight: Blanca Lesmes, Texas Executive MBA ’11

Everyone has something their passionate about, and for Blanca Lesmes its 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.”

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