Category: MBA Community (page 1 of 20)

Student Spotlight: Elsa Wright, MBA at Houston Class of 2021

When Texas McCombs MBA at Houston student, Elsa Wright, has a goal, she meets it. While working in the waste management and sustainability industry in Houston, Texas, her goal was senior leadership at her company. Like many professional women, Elsa wondered if she would be able to achieve all her career goals alongside her personal goal of having a family. Below, Elsa shares how she navigated these goals & priorities, overcame her struggle with imposter syndrome, and eventually enrolled in the MBA program. Juggling graduate degree work, motherhood, and marriage in the midst of a pandemic has definitely been a challenge, but Elsa has shown that determination and belief in oneself will ultimately lead you to success.

PHOTO: Elsa's Headshot. She has short brown hair and is wearing a red dress shirt with a black blazer.

Elsa Wright, Texas McCombs MBA ’21

Getting Her MBA

Elsa was eager to gain the foundational knowledge and skills needed to move into a leadership role in her career and knew an MBA from Texas McCombs could get her there. As a minority woman and mother, Elsa faced the realities of the world head-on.

“With recent events in the news, a lot of people have become more aware of the struggles that minorities face every day — struggles that stem into career growth,” she says. “I struggled with the idea that I had to achieve a master’s degree to be on the same playing field as many of my white male counterparts who hadn’t. Intelligence could be equally distributed among our society, but opportunities are not always.”

Elsa says she has struggled with imposter syndrome her entire life and her biggest piece of advice to anyone, especially women and mothers, considering an MBA is: “Just do it!”

“I have personally spent more time considering the idea and deciding to make the leap than I have spent actually getting my MBA,” Elsa says. “I felt that maybe I wasn’t ready, that I should wait for my son to get older, or that an MBA is just too competitive and I might not get in.”

Impostor syndrome— the false belief that others have overestimated your capabilities or that you’re not good enough— disproportionately affects women more than men — especially women of color. One of the direct factors contributing to impostor syndrome is the lack of women in organizational leadership, according to a 2019 Lean In study. The business world, including the realm of business education, has made strides in recent years, but there is still much work to be done toward equity and gender parity.

When narrowing down her prospective MBA schools, Texas McCombs appealed to her because of the prestige, atmosphere, and flexibility it offered.

PHOTO: Elsa standing in front of the University of Texas tower.

Elsa Wright standing in front of the UT tower at sunset.

“As I researched MBA programs, I found that Texas McCombs was the highest ranked in Texas. I attended the info sessions, and instantly felt what I like to call ‘the warm and fuzzy feeling.’ I felt welcomed with open arms, and could feel such a forward-thinking attitude that I could not resist being a part of.”

“The Working Professional program understands and respects that, as a working professional, we’re undergoing a journey,” she says. “The program didn’t require a specialization, but instead teaches you how to speak all languages of business, which allows me to explore where my career may take me instead of fixating on a specific career path.”

The moment she stepped on campus, Elsa knew that Texas McCombs would be her home for the next two years.

“I’ll never forget, it was our very first day of Austin Intensives and Assistant Dean, Joe Stephens, spoke in front of the entire Working Professional class of ’21: He said:

‘For those of you that may suffer from imposter syndrome and feel like you don’t belong here or deserve to be here, I am here to tell you that you do belong, and you do deserve it. We chose you because you have something to offer this program.’

To this day, those words resonate inside me and push me forward to make a difference.”

Pivoting to Online Learning

Elsa says her first year in the MBA at Houston program has been personally and professionally eye-opening. Now, she’s more open to possibility and career challenges, and has the confidence in technical business subjects that she never had before.

“During my MBA experience so far, I have grown both personally and professionally. It has opened my eyes to so many more possibilities in my career and given me a sense of confidence in business topics that I before was illiterate in.”

In her second and final year of the program, Elsa will be continuing her studies in the midst of a global pandemic. She now faces the challenge of online learning, working from home, and childcare.

PHOTO: Elsa, her son and husband.

Elsa’s family

“As a mother of a four-year-old, it became extra challenging since I can no longer rely on daycare during working hours. This means studying during lunch time and after work hours. While some people have caught up on Netflix shows while staying home, I’ve been forced to be even more efficient with my time, juggling motherhood, full-time work and my MBA coursework without the traditional resources I was accustomed to leaning on in the past.”

Throughout these difficult times of uncertainty, Elsa says she’s thankful for her partner, who’s also made sacrifices and has been there to support her through her MBA journey.

“Our fellow mom and dad classmates and I owe our better-halves tons of kudos for holding down the house for us to make this MBA happen.”

Elsa is no stranger to challenges and is looking forward to taking her upcoming and final year at Texas McCombs to the next level to meet her goal of accelerating her career.

“I’m amazed with how much I have grown both as a person and as a professional. Today, I’m able to apply so much of what I’ve learned to my daily work to improve my understanding of my current role, and to understand my company on a micro and macro scale.”

“As a full-time professional and mother, I know that the next year will be a challenge for me to juggle, especially with the continued challenges COVID-19 poses. However, I’m also hopeful that the remaining journey, even though difficult, will prepare me for the world and the challenges to come in the future. I’m confident that this experience will be more than worth the time and effort.”

The Road Ahead

Elsa is most fond of and proud of the moments spent bonding with the women in the program because of their unique perspectives and perseverance.

“Women still generally make up a minority in both business and business education, but that minority is strong and relentless. We make sure to get together, make time and lend an ear to each other.”

“It’s important for women to lift each other up. We make an unwavering, lasting impact in each other’s lives.”

Elsa is currently the Major Manufacturing & Industrial Account Manager at Waste Management in Houston, where she has worked for ten years. She started at the company working for customer service and says she’s been blessed to have mentors who have provided her with constructive criticism and advice to expand her professional growth. In the future, she plans to apply all the skills and expertise she’s acquired through her MBA to go further in her career than she’s ever imagined.

Elsa holding a trophy.

Elsa Wright holding the 2019 Big Eagle Circle of Excellence Award at Waste Management.

In 2019, Elsa was awarded the Big Eagle Circle of Excellence at Waste Management—  an elite, company-wide recognition of the 75 top-performing employees out of the 45,000+ company-wide.  After she won, she was asked to make a speech about what led to her success, to which Elsa replied that there is not just one thing that ever leads to success.

“You can’t sum up success with one award, recognition or promotion. Success is infinite and immeasurable; it’s the culmination of hours, days and years of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice – emphasize on sacrifice,” she says. “I have been at WM for over ten years, that is over 20,000 hours of work. Success never arrives overnight.”

Elsa’s top tip for success is to not just work hard, but learn.

“I’ve witnessed countless individuals just focus on work, but never make an effort to actually learn. You can always learn something new. I attribute my success to my eagerness to learn and not just understand my role, but the role above mine and the one above that. If I can retain what I learn and teach it to someone else effectively, and possibly dissect the process and create a better one, not only have I become a better asset for my company, but also a better version of myself.”


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events, and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram.

Hook ’em!

Women at Texas McCombs

Today, Texas McCombs celebrates Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting some women the right to vote 100 years ago in 1920. The Texas McCombs MBA program is proud to have made strides to increase the number of women in our programs, but in both business and business education, we acknowledge there is still much progress to made toward gender parity.  Meet some of our Texas McCombs women who are already leading the way below.

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eQual MBAs #Pride Stories

As Pride Month comes to an end, Texas McCombs would like to highlight how our Engaged Queer & Ally (eQual) MBAs organization has continued to support the McCombs and Austin communities, share resources and organize exclusively in a digital platform to celebrate Pride this year. Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, McCombs students continue to stay engaged, as world-changing leaders committed to serving our many diverse communities.

Equal MBA team photo

eQual MBA students at Texas McCombs

Who are eQual MBAs?

Engaged Queer & Ally (eQual) MBAs, McCombs’ LGBTQ+ affinity group, is dedicated to promoting diversity & inclusion in the @utexasmba program & community at large. Every year, they’re committed to recruiting more LGBTQ+ prospective students, organizing regular events, connecting to alumni, and building relationships with allies and sponsors. Furthermore, through their efforts, eQual MBAs bring forth educational discussions to McCombs about gender and sexuality, advocate for allyship and inclusion, and connect members to the larger Austin LQBTQ+ community. Overall, the group is divided into three different pillars: allyship, alumni, and service.

Aside from being full-time MBA students, everyone involved in the organization has faced additional challenges throughout their eQual MBA journey. Despite being the smallest affinity group at Texas McCombs, they continue to grow. Currently, they hold 14 LGBTQ+ members — a record high for the club – along with many allies as members. 2020-2021 co-presidents Andie Parazo and Matt Mason look forward to continuing to grow membership and offering support and resources to the LGBTQ+ and ally community at McCombs.

The eQual MBAs organization, to me, means having a community that will always be there to support me. The members of eQual are not only the people that I rely on to help organize events for the advancement of queer and all underrepresented people’s rights, but they are also some of my closest friends in the MBA program.

— Matt Mason, eQqual MBAs Co-President, MBA Class of 2021

Allyship, Intersectionality and the Importance of Showing Up

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The Working Professional and Executive MBA Admissions Team

Every year, our Working Professional and Executive (WPE) MBA Admissions Team hosts hundreds of events, answers your questions, and reviews applications with the goal of putting together an incoming class that showcases the strengths and values of Texas McCombs.

Our WPE Admissions Team team is dedicated to supporting you throughout your application process, really getting to know you and your goals, and helping you find your perfect fit within our programs. Get to know more about them below.

Dave Jackson
Senior MBA Admissions Officer, Texas McCombs MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth

Dave Jackson Headshot

Dave Jackson is the Senior Admissions Officer for our MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program and is a proud McCombs MBA alumnus. He has 20 years of experience in journalism, public relations, and communication.

Dave graduated from the MBA program in 2010, amidst the Great Recession. He was inspired by a fellow alum to look at the economic situation with a fresh perspective. He recently shared his experience and insights: Considering an MBA in Uncertain Times

“An MBA is an investment that will pay off over a long time horizon, in ways both easy to measure and less tangible but still significant. So if you’re thinking about whether these turbulent times are right for making the MBA investment, it’s worth considering that this might be the best time of all to go for it.”

When considering making an investment in your MBA, Dave says you should look closely at the value an MBA program has to offer and consider whether waiting is worth the opportunity cost of missing out on the benefits you could start receiving sooner.

“A big part of that value comes from the network you build with your classmates and alumni. As a McCombs student, you instantly join a powerful and passionate network of 500,000+ University of Texas at Austin and 100,000+ McCombs alumni who are eager to help their fellow Longhorns.”

Connect with Dave to learn more about the MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth and the application process.

Christie Jenkins
Senior MBA Admissions Officer, Texas McCombs Evening MBA

Christie Jenkins HeadshotChristie Jenkins is our Senior Admissions Officer for the Evening MBA. She joined the team in April 2020 and is originally from Vernon, Texas. She studied Public Relations at The University of Oklahoma, and received her MBA from the University of Illinois.

Christie has worked in higher education for nearly a decade and plans to spend the rest of her career in the field. While it is non-traditional that she earned her MBA, given her career goals, she believes education in America is evolving significantly, and looks for candidates that are humble and eager to learn.

“Many of our candidates have impressive careers and academic accomplishments, but I am looking for candidates who recognize there is plenty they have left to learn and are open to being taught. The classroom is safe space to make mistakes and work on your areas of improvement. I like students who are willing to embrace this opportunity and make the most out of their MBA experience.”

Christie was attracted to Texas McCombs for its renowned reputation as the best MBA program in Texas. She joined the admissions team with the goal of increasing the number of women in our working professional programs and diversifying our classes.

I like working with the best and the brightest. Texas McCombs is the best MBA program in Texas, and the Evening MBA program is ranked #7 in the country (U.S. News, 2020). Rankings aren’t everything, but they do encompass many important factors like the quality of our curriculum, faculty, outside-the-classroom opportunities, career services, facilities, and more. I like being around people who are the best at what they do and students who are going to make a positive impact on society.”

“Like all business schools, we have more men than women. Texas McCombs is better than many top programs, but we still need to improve in this area. Diversity in the classroom is so important. It leads to more comprehensive discussions, better outcomes, and creates the next generation of business leaders that the following generation will look up to.”

Christie has advice for those pursuing their MBA degree.

“Go for it. A common refrain I hear from prospective students, and was true for me before I started my MBA, is that they have been considering getting an MBA for a long time. There is never a perfect time to go back to school; life will always be busy. Don’t wait for the ideal conditions or you will never act. Just take the first step. Come to an info session or start the application. You will be surprised at how energized you get by finally acting on your dream.”

Connect with Christie to learn more about the  Evening MBA and the application process.

Elizabeth (Beth) Martinez
Senior MBA Admissions Officer, Texas McCombs MBA at Houston

Headshot for Elizabeth MartinezBeth Martinez is our Senior Admissions Officer for the MBA at Houston. She is originally from Chatham, Illinois, and earned her BA in History at the University of Cincinnati and her MBA at Rice University in Houston. Beth wanted to work in corporate finance in oil and gas, so she decided to pursue her MBA to change her career. She now has industry experience in banking, the start-up world, publishing, and oil and gas.

“I have been fortunate enough to be involved in hiring and recruiting for many of the companies for which I have worked and the best people hands down are grads from McCombs. McCombs is clearly doing something right.”

Beth looks for candidates that are enthusiastic, open, and have a track record that highlights focus. She believes candidates should pay close attention to what is happening in the world of business, be curious, authentic, and clear about what they want.

“I want to help grow the Texas McCombs Houston program such that we are full to the max capacity every year, as I believe we have a fantastic opportunity here. Houston is the energy capital of the world and the Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world. What’s not to like?”

Connect with Beth to learn more about the MBA at Houston and the application process.

Sharon Barrett
Director, Working Professional and Executive MBA Programs

Sharon Barrett Headshot

Sharon Barrett is the Director for Working Professional and Executive MBA Programs. She is a UT Alumna and double longhorn with both her BBA  in Marketing and MBA from Texas McCombs.

Sharon has a passion for education and has worked at Texas McCombs for over 10 years. She helps MBA candidates find the program that best fits their needs.

“If you are still deciding between leaving your job to attend an MBA full-time, or continuing to work while you earn your degree part-time, rest assured you’re not alone.”

Sharon also shares her insight and expertise on MBA planning, resume building, and decision-making with WPE MBA prospects. Her piece of advice when applying to McCombs is to highlight the quality of your work experience in your resume.

“Remember, your resume is important, but it’s only one data point for you as a candidate. Years of work experience give only one sense of you as a candidate, so use your resume to make the quality of those years really stand out.”

Connect with Sharon to learn more about the Executive MBA and the application process.

Rodrigo Malta
Managing Director, MBA Recruiting and Admissions
Rodrigo Malta Headshot

Rodrigo Malta, also known as Digo, grew up in Brazil and moved to the United States when he was in high school. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Management from Missouri State University and his MBA from Texas McCombs in 2007. Hook ’em!

During his time in the program, he was involved in the McCombs Ambassador Committee (MAC) and later used his MBA experience to transition from an internal audit career in the telecommunications industry to a marketing role in the technology industry with Dell. His passion for admissions and recruiting led him back to McCombs where he is the Managing Director of MBA Recruiting and Admissions, which he refers to as his “dream job.”

The diversity of students is “hands-down” his favorite thing about McCombs.

“We bring together students from all corners of the world with unique personal stories and varied professional backgrounds. Add in our award-winning faculty members and this is the perfect recipe for lively class discussions and an amazing learning environment.”


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events, and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram. We encourage you to meet one of our team members at an event soon.

Student Spotlight: Rafael Flores, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth Class of 2021

Rafael Flores Headshot

Rafael Flores, MBA Candidate, Class of 2021

Rafael Flores was 15 years into his career when he decided it was time to go back to school and pursue his MBA.

After graduating in 2005 from the University of Rochester with a degree in Economics, Rafael began his career in the finance and banking sector with Chase Bank and Northwestern Mutual. Eventually, he found his way to Allstate, where he’s worked for almost ten years.

 

“As I continued to develop in my career through various roles, I regretted not diving further in understanding the finance subject matter and strategy discussions from an executive level,” he says. “I found myself with enough work experience to where my MBA coursework can be directly applied to my job, such as challenging myself to take on broader roles and lead a larger scope of employees.”

Despite having a successful career with Allstate, Rafael kept looking back at his undergraduate experience wishing he could’ve done more as a student. Funding was in the way of a lot of his potential endeavors, and so he made it his mission to get his MBA as soon as he finished paying off his student loans.

This past year, he finally did.

Picture of McCombs sign on Rafael's first day with a caption saying "It's official. Day 1 of getting my MBA started. #mba #mccombs

Why McCombs?

While researching graduate business schools to attend, Rafael met with Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer for the Weekend MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program, and was impressed with both the network and recruitment opportunities at McCombs. He also appreciated the flexibility that the Working Professional program offers its students.

“I [chose] McCombs due to its strong network culture, career development resources and credibility as a top business school in the country,” Rafael says. “When I considered those factors alongside the benefits of being able to take advantage of everything as a working professional without having to leave my job or move away from the Dallas-Forth Worth Area, I realized McCombs was going to be my home.”

From Corporate to Campus

Rafael had to learn to navigate being a non-traditional student by deciding to get his MBA after ten years of working at a corporate level. Rafael learned more about time management and organization but says the biggest lesson that helped him overcome challenges was relying on his peers.

“There has to be a time for family, work, and most importantly yourself (not necessarily in that order at times). I still struggle at times to get everything done; however, my UT friends, study group, classmates are all a part of my extended family now, and we make it work,” he says. “I just keep remembering to adapt to changes and continue to move forward.”

Aside from his schoolwork, Rafael considers his position as McCombs Ambassador Committee (MAC) Chair Member as amazing to his overall MBA journey.

“My own admission process is what inspired me to get involved. I had a lot of questions and uncertainties about starting my MBA. The admissions process didn’t just walk me through how to showcase my personality and academic ability; it also introduced me to the structure and culture of McCombs, which I fell in love with.”

Group of people posing with Hook Em sign

Rafael and fellow MBA students at a McCombs event

Since the MBA schoolwork relies heavily on collaboration, Rafael says he is balancing out his work and student organization responsibilities a lot smoother. As MAC Chair, Rafael has maintained strong connections with his classmates and  UT friends.

“The experience I hope to gain is already becoming a reality. I wanted to make sure the future incoming candidates experience the culture of McCombs and fall in love with the program. Personally, I wanted to get involved in as many networking opportunities amongst the McCombs family.”

Look for a Boss, Not a Job

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