Commencement Speaker Spotlight | Dan Driscoll, MBA ’14


Dan Driscoll (MBA ’14), Sebastian Turner (MBA ’15), Susan Strausberg (Longhorn Startup mentor to Prepify), Sarah Yu (MBA ’15) and Eric Burleson (MBA ’15) at Longhorn Startup Demo Day.

Getting to Texas

When asked how he ended up in Texas, Dan Driscoll (MBA and MA in Advertising ’14) will tell you that it wasn’t necessarily his choice. In fact, in the Washington D.C. native’s own words, Texas was the “last place” he ever thought he’d live. But when Dan’s wife was admitted to the LBJ School of Public Affairs here at UT Austin, and at a time when Dan was ready to move on from coaching soccer through an organization he co-founded, they were eager to make the move.

dan_bwOnce in Austin, Dan began work as a digital media consultant, teaching businesses how to market themselves, focusing primarily on web presence, digital strategy, apps, and social media. But over time, after alluring job offers from larger tech companies surfaced, he realized that he would much rather spend his time developing and marketing a product of his own than those belonging to other people.

That’s when Dan decided to pursue a dual degree program at UT, starting first with a Master in Advertising through the Advertising School in the Moody College of Communication, where he was able to pursue digital technology in the marketing space, and a Texas MBA here at the McCombs School of Business. During his time here, Dan has helped launch a few exciting ventures.


HireUp is a recruiting tool Dan developed after witnessing the inefficiencies and frustrations for both candidates and recruiters at career fairs. Determined there could be a better way to connect the two groups, he developed an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that helps “take the pain out of the search process, helping people avoid long waits and dead ends at career fairs.”

1A8493HI_1391752661528As a Texas MBA student, Dan was able to take an elective course outside of the business school that focused on UI/UX design, which helped him take the project from idea to product. He was the only business student in the class and he was able to connect with two engineers who were interested in working on the project. The HireUp model was so successful in their market testing for the class that they already had clients wanting to enroll before the semester had even ended. Dan knew that it was a bit more than he could handle with all of his other responsibilities, so he handed it over to a friend, Cawley Thompson, a student visiting from the ESADE Business School in Barcelona through the Texas MBA’s Exchange Program, who still runs HireUp today along with Dan’s original classmates from the UI/UX course.  HireUp is now funded and joining the Seed Sumo startup accelerator this summer in College Station, TX.


Prepify came out of his coursework from the “Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility” class, taught by Professor Brian Richter. Dan wrote a paper that introduced a venture that would provide free, high-caliber SAT preparation to any student anywhere. A computer adaptive learning platform where students can login and study for the SAT through engaged learning, Prepify is gamified, which encourages students to interact with the curriculum in meaningful ways. Prepify was developed in partnership with Bell Curves, an education organization based out of New York that provided the curriculum content.

130PGBNX_1383243896362A few other Texas MBA students got involved with the project: Joe Bartolotta (MBA, ’15), Sebastian Turner (MBA, ’15), Sarah Yu (MBA, ’15), and Eric Burleson (MBA, ’15). They were able to acquire some developers from MakerSquare, a boot camp for coding in downtown Austin where Dan had taken some part-time classes, and, together, they built a demo. Recently, the Prepify team took home the $20,000 grand prize as the national winner of the Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge – an enormous honor for any entrepreneurial venture. (Sanergy won the same competition two years ago, a company that has since been named as one of Fast Company’s ten most innovative companies).


I7ZLFXDB_1382722493937In 2011, during his first year at UT, Dan participated in a three-day startup conference where he helped hatch reQwip, a marketplace for sports gear. We’ve talked about reQwip previously in the blog, but now, in 2014, we’re pleased to report that they’re at last going to market. reQwip is also joining the Seed Sumo accelerator: they’ve fully funded their pre-seed round and they’ve won a few competitions (which translates to tens of thousands of dollars in cash prizes to help fund the venture). One of the co-founders on the project is a former engineering student from UT, and the other, Kate Dailey, is the wife of fellow Texas MBA student Doug Herling (MBA, ’15).

Using the idea for reQwip, Dan participated in the Longhorn Startup Seminar run by Josh Baer, Bob Metcalfe, and Ben Dyer. While not officially offered through the MBA Program, it turned out to be one of the best classes Dan has taken here at UT. “It’s all about learning by doing and making mistakes. You focus less on your grade – it’s more about where you end up based on where you started,” he says.

Since starting the Texas MBA Program, Dan has won multiple awards for his innovative business plans, including the national "Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge" for Prepify.

Since starting the Texas MBA Program, Dan has won multiple awards for his innovative business plans, including the national “Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge” for Prepify.

The Texas MBA Experience

While pitching ideas at the Longhorn Demo Startup Day in front of nearly 1,000 people (on the same stage where four U.S. Presidents stood just weeks before) was an incredible experience, Dan says that it has been his classmates he appreciates the most about his time in the Texas MBA Program. “People here are genuinely excited for their neighbor’s success – the general view in Austin is that a rising tide lifts all boats. It has been a remarkable experience here, and I think that really speaks to the quality of the Texas MBA students,” he says.

If all of that isn’t enough, Dan has also been working closely with the McCombs Entrepreneur in Residence, Brett Hurt, on designing and executing strategies and opportunities for advancing entrepreneurship on the campus of the UT Austin. And in his “spare” time, Dan is also an assistant coach with the UT men’s soccer team and volunteers for, a charity raising college tuition support for at-risk youth.

Looking Ahead

Dan’s trajectory has been shaped by many different experiences – his résumé is a roadmap of a mind in motion and a reflection of innovation in action. We’re glad his path led him here, and we wish him all the best as he transitions to his full-time role with reQwip after he graduates with the Class of 2014 on May 16. We’re also excited to mention that Dan was recently given the honor to speak at the 131st University-wide Commencement Ceremony, taking place Saturday May, 17.

Join us in congratulating Dan and all of our Class of 2014 graduates. They have worked incredibly hard and have truly earned the Texas MBA.

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Posted in Community, Full-Time MBA, Students

MBA+ Project: Phillips 66

Phillips 66 MBA+ Project Team

The Phillips 66 MBA+ Project Team, pictured from left to right: Joung Park, Jason Cohen, Vanessa Murray, George Lefelar, and Charles Bonner.

The MBA+ Leadership Program connects Texas MBA students with companies through short-term micro-consulting projects. I recently caught up with Full-Time MBA student and MBA+ project leader, Joung Park, to learn more about his team’s experience this past semester investgating the implications of excess North American natural gasoline/light naphtha for Phillips 66.

What was your MBA+ Project?
JP: Phillips 66 wanted our team to investigate the main demand drivers for natural gasoline, which is a particular subset of North American natural gas liquids (NGL) production. Phillips 66 wanted to use our analysis to figure out if and how the growing supply of natural gasoline in North America due to horizontal drilling activity would be absorbed, which has major implications for the company’s hydrocarbon transportation, refining, and expert business activities.

Why did this specific project interest you?
JP: I came into McCombs with a deep interest in energy, and the surge in NGL production and the issue of what to do with the excess supply is a hot button topic that was interesting to explore. I was also interested in potentially working for energy companies such as Phillips 66 after McCombs, so I was interested in the career networking aspects as well. Finally, I was excited about the chance to work closely within a team and exercise my leadership skills.

What was your favorite part of the project?
JP: First of all, I enjoyed learning about the NGL space, which is a complex and fascinating industry. Second, I enjoyed working with my team and getting to know them better (especially at the end of the project when we were cramming for the final presentation!). Finally, I enjoyed providing a final product that gave Phillips 66 something to think about – after our presentation, the strategy team at Phillips started talking amongst themselves about how they could put our analysis into actionable strategies, which was great to see.

What did you find most challenging about the project?
JP: Natural gasoline is a niche NGL product that is difficult to find good information for. That is perhaps why Phillips 66 wanted us to do the project in the first place! We had to search high and low for reliable information sources, and ended up mining information from energy consultancies, expert blogs, Phillips 66 personnel, and more.

What skills did you gain and/or utilize working on this project?
JP: Our team had diverse industry backgrounds ranging from investment research to energy trading to engineering, which helped in tackling the sometimes overwhelming task at hand. As team leader, I also learned a lot about project management and the amazing ability of McCombs students to get tons of work done during the last week of a major project!

How has this experience influenced your time at McCombs and your future aspirations?
JP: I’m thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Phillips 66 on the MBA+ project. Although the project required a ton of effort (I think I may have spent more time on the plus project last semester than all my classes combined), it was a fun learning experience and a great resume boost. I’m still very much interested in working in the energy space and believe having the Phillips 66 project under my belt gave me a legs up in the energy finance recruiting cycle. I’d recommend incoming students to do a MBA+ project in the industry they are interested in, with the caveat they must be prepared to work really hard during that semester balancing the project workload with classes.

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Posted in Career, MBA+ Projects

5 Tips To Get Ahead In The Race (For An Internship)

Students wheelbarrow racing during Cohort Games as part of Texas MBA Orientation.

Students wheelbarrow racing during Cohort Games as part of Texas MBA Orientation.

Written by Susan Masson

Prospective and admitted students often ask the MBA career management team what they can do before they start the program to get ahead in the internship search. With eight years in the MBA program office and three years with career management for reference, I’ve seen a lot of students go through the process. My top five pearls of wisdom for your consideration:

1. GET REAL - We know you wrote a Pulitzer prize-winning treatise to get into the Texas MBA program, told a convincing story and laid out a brilliant career plan. Now that you’re in, it will be up to you to make it happen. So, if your plan was more of a creative writing exercise than a confident recap of your long-term goals, it’s time to get real. Be honest with yourself. What are you good at? What do you like doing? What motivates you? What work environment allows you to thrive? Recruiters don’t get to see your admissions essays, we promise.

2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK - To be effective in your internship search you need to be a good storyteller – articulate, accurate and personable. This seems simple enough since the story you’ll be telling is all about you. It’s not. Do your homework. Go back through your work history and make note of not only job responsibilities, but also your transferable skills, your strengths and weaknesses in each position, the positive and negative incidences where you had a major impact or learned something that you carried with you in subsequent positions and actions you undertook that achieved noteworthy results. These elements will become the basis for the personal brand you promote to potential employers.

3. READ - If you’re not already in the habit of scanning business news daily and following business leaders and companies that interest you, start now. Create a new habit. It will serve you well in your classes as well as your job search. If you’re new to the business world altogether or are planning to switch industries or functions, you have a whole new vocabulary to develop. Start with Vault Guides and hone in from there letting your interests and goals guide you.

4. TALK TO PEOPLE – Let your friends, your family, your co-workers and your sister’s best friend’s uncle know you’re going back to school and why. Tell them about your plans and your aspirations. Ask them about their work and their career paths. The more people who know your story, the bigger your network. People hire people they know and like. Let people get to know you. We’re confident they’ll like you or our friends in admissions wouldn’t have admitted you!

5. MARK YOUR CALENDARS – Our apologies to those of you who like to fly by the seat of your pants, but you’re about to encounter a whole new level of busy. Whatever system works for you is fine, but start laying out your plans now. You’ll have to prioritize and, sometimes, make tough decisions because there will be more opportunities to do cool, fun, interesting and advantageous things than you can possibly fit into 24 hours. If you take care of items 1-4 above, those choices will be much easier!

EXTRA CREDIT: FIND YOUR ZEN – The MBA job search is like no other job search you’ve experienced before or likely ever will again. Take a deep breath now and remember to keep breathing. It’s an adventure – sometimes exhilarating, sometimes frustrating, sometimes panic-inducing. Find your Zen; it will serve you well. Cultivate your curiosity, a positive attitude and an open mind.

Posted in Career, Full-Time MBA

Coffee Chats With Current MBAs

Join A Current Student For A Coffee Chat

Join A Current Student For A Coffee Chat

By David Burford

I have a friend who is so picky about his dining experiences that he is unwilling to eat at any restaurant in which he has not thoroughly examined all of its Yelp reviews. While I admire his efforts, I’ve never found this method to yield substantial time or money savings. He always seems to spend more time looking for a formidable restaurant than we do eating, and the online reviews tend to be too subjective and lacking the detail I’d want to know, like, “Salsa smells like gym socks.” Plus, it’s not like the authors are looking to find their reviews in next month’s edition of the highly esteemed “Yelp Reviews Monthly”. (Don’t actually Google that…) Bottom line, we don’t get the information we need to make an informed decision.

It’s easy to Google the words “Texas MBA review.” Not surprisingly, you’re going to get everything from “experts” of all things MBA, to a Texas A&M article (oh no they didn’t!), to, on page 10, reports that “Turtleman” Ernie Brown Jr. is under fire from the US Attorney’s Office!!!

In other words, this search is not very conclusive. And frankly, how could it be? I mean, Google, while amazingly awesome, is meant to give you the facts…just the facts, ma’am. Qualitative information is only useful if you and the author had the same likes, dislikes, benign indifferences, work background, etc.

Because it’s hard to get all the information you need to make a decision online, and since you can’t just Google the minds of our current students, we offer the next best thing: coffee chats. Don’t let the name fool you. If you don’t drink coffee, meet at a bar, bookstore, rodeo arena, bingo hall, etc.

In order to set up your coffee chat, visit the coffee chat page for your corresponding program of interest: Evening MBAExecutive MBA, MBA at Houston, or MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth. On each page you’ll find a proposed address of a coffee chat and corresponding name. Each person on the list is a member of the McCombs Admissions Committee; a team of students designated to help provide applicants with information in order to help them make a decision about the Texas MBA. Click the name corresponding to the address you’d like to meet at, or near, and a new email message will open addressed to the MBA student you selected. If you don’t see an address that will work, but would still like to reach out to a current student, feel free to reach out to the program email box for your program of interest.

Good luck on your MBA journey!

Illustration via lovelornpoets

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Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

Catching Up With Peter Adelman, MBA ’13

Peter, with wife Ellie, atop Table Mountain.

Hoping to change careers from real estate to energy, Peter Adelman, MBA ’13, figured getting an MBA was his best bet to make a smooth transition. And after a weekend trip to Austin, Peter was quickly sold on McCombs as the place to make that transition, with all the opportunities available at UT and with everything that the city of Austin had to offer – specifically the food, weather, and 6th Street.

As it turns out, though, Austin was just a launching pad, and Peter’s new role is taking him all over the world. You know what they say, “What starts here…

I recently caught up with Peter to hear more about where he’s at, what he’s up to, and what he thought about his time as a Texas MBA student.

Peter, with wife Ellie, atop Table Mountain.

Peter, with wife Ellie, atop Table Mountain.

Where are you working now and what do you do?
PA: I am currently working in Cape Town, South Africa for Chevron as part of the Finance MBA Development Program. I’ll next be moving to Bangkok, Thailand in April for a six month rotation.

How long have you been in Cape Town?
PA: I moved to Cape Town the end of September.

What were you doing before you came to McCombs for your MBA?
PA: I was working for a real estate development company in Chicago. Read more ›

Posted in Alumni, Community, Full-Time MBA

You Are Not Your GPA

You Are Not Your GPA

You Are Not Your GPA

How do you quantify the characteristics that make you great, but aren’t measurable? How do you synthesize your personality in an easily digestible paragraph? How do you reveal the real YOU to somebody that is simply reading your application on paper? The topic of this blog post is all the qualifiable, not quantifiable, components of your application. I’m not talking about your GPA, your GMAT, or even your letters of recommendation (that is a whole different blog post). I’m talking about how you convey who you are that makes you unique. And many of you might find presenting this part of your application the most difficult of all. Read more ›

Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

Perfecting Your Value Proposition to Get the Job You Want

Uncapped red pen sits atop resume, ready to perfect it to get the job you want.

Uncapped red pen sits atop resume, ready to perfect it to get the job you want.

You’ve just found your “dream job” posted online. Now, you’re rushing to submit your resume in hopes of being called for an interview. But, when you push the “submit” button, your stomach churns as you wonder “Will they see what they are looking for? Were my resume and cover letter compelling enough?”

If you’ve ever applied for a job that you knew was perfect for you, but never received a reply, then these tips are meant for you. Developing and perfecting a strong “value proposition” – what you uniquely have to offer a company – is the most important Read more ›

Posted in Career, MBA+ Program

MBA+ Project: Hyatt Gold Passport

The Hyatt Gold Passport MBA+ Project Team
Members of the Hyatt Gold Passport MBA+ Project Team along with representatives from the company.

The Hyatt Gold Passport MBA+ Project Team and representatives from the company, pictured from left to right: Brian Lederer, MBA ’15; Jeff Zidell, Senior Vice President Hyatt Gold Passport; Louisa Balach, Director of Partner Marketing Hyatt Gold Passport; Alok Marwaha, MBA ’15; David Tobin, MBA ’15; Gabriela Mata-Gutierrez, MBA ’15; Katie Ehrhardt, Manager of Partner Marketing Hyatt Gold Passport.

The MBA+ Leadership Program connects Texas MBA students with companies through short-term micro-consulting projects. I recently caught up with Full-Time MBA student and MBA+ project leader, Alok Marwaha, to learn more about his team’s experience this past semester redefining Hyatt’s strategic relationships with travel partners.

What was your MBA+ Project?
AM: The project was a marketing project for the partner marketing group of Hyatt Hotels’ loyalty division, Hyatt Gold Passport. The McCombs team was tasked to develop a recommendation regarding whether or not Hyatt Gold Passport should form a partnership Read more ›

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Posted in Career, MBA+ Projects, Students

Creating Entrepreneurs One Pitch at a Time

UT Awards- Philip Rogers Photograph-133b

Finalist Pitches At Texas Venture Labs Scholarship Competition

Written by Jaime Sutton

Last weekend I was proud to host the second annual Texas Venture Labs Scholarship competition alongside the Texas MBA program. The goal of our scholarship program is to help inspire and create MBA students who have a passion for pursuing entrepreneurship throughout their two years at McCombs. This year we were lucky enough to have 16 semi-finalists join us from not only all over the country (Portland, New York, Austin, Newport Beach, Chicago, and more) but also from across the globe (India, Turkey, Switzerland, and Kuwait)!

Alongside my Texas Venture Labs colleagues, current students, recent alumni, and Texas MBA staff members I watched as these 16 individuals Read more ›

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Posted in Admissions, Full-Time MBA

Faculty Spotlight: Stephen Limberg, Accounting


McCombs Faculty Member Stephen Limberg During A Global Trip

One of the strongest attributes of the Texas MBA program is the highly acclaimed McCombs School of Business faculty, whose members are ranked among the best professors in the nation year after year. In this new Faculty Spotlight series, we’ll be introducing you to these classroom leaders, as we too get to know them all a little better. Up first is the Department of Accounting’s Stephen Limberg.

How long have you been at McCombs?
SL: Thirty one years ago I arrived in modestly populated Austin, Texas, on a steamy August day after driving from the west coast 24 hours without a layover. I pulled into town in a Honda Accord hatchback that was not air conditioned and was packed to the headliner with all my belongings. Hot and irritable, I located my apartment Read more ›

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Posted in Community, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston
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