Monday, March 31, 2014

Reflections of a Second Year Student

Geoff Vernon
MBA for Professionals Weekend,
Class of 2014
Staff Reservoir Engineer
Corporate Development
Southwestern Energy
BS Chemical Engineering,
Texas Tech University

It’s hard to believe that I will be graduating from the Rice MBA for Professionals program this May. The most surprising part of my Rice MBA experience has been how quickly the time has gone by.  It seems like just yesterday that I had been invited by a co-worker (who at the time was in the Professionals program) to attend an admissions event called Bring a Colleague to School. That was my first time to come learn about the program. I then attended a few more events to get to know the admissions staff. I submitted my application, was admitted to the program, and here I am getting ready to graduate. Another surprising part of this experience is how close I have become with my classmates. I had expected to develop some professional relationships, but I have also gained some lifelong friendships.

You may wonder how taking on this program might affect your performance at work since this is no easy endeavor. I can say that I am more efficient and systematic in the way that I work. My time management skills and ability to organize tasks and projects has improved dramatically. The team-based approach in the MBA program has made me more effective in how I work as a team member at the office. I now find myself thinking more strategically about situations, and I have a new found sense of confidence in not only my skill set but in my ability to be comfortable around senior-level executives both at my company and others.

Our final project in this program is a Capstone, which is essentially a consulting project with your team for a local non-profit organization. My team’s project is with the Nehemiah Center, an organization that provides education services to at-risk children and families. The experience so far has been amazing. I love the challenge of applying what we have learned in “real-life” as well as what we have learned in school to help this great organization figure out some strategic initiatives. I have been surprised at how quickly this project has become personal to our entire team. While we would certainly like to get a good grade, our focus is on making sure we provide the best advice possible to the organization not only because it’s our name and the Rice University name on the line, but also because we believe in the mission of the Nehemiah Center, and we truly want to help these kids and families.

Best of luck to you all as you make your way through the application process. Cherish the opportunity here and make the most of it. This has been a transformational experience for me, and it’s hard to believe that it’s almost over.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wright Fund Students in Action!

On the third floor of McNair Hall, a glass wall separates the El Paso Corporation Finance Center from the eyes of a prospective MBA student. The room is alive with activity — a stock ticker, 10 computers, seven displays and two LED boards with commodities, currency exchanges and treasury markets on one and equity market indices, Jones School recruiters and Wright Fund holdings on the other.

A full time MBA student explains how the center is used, “Finance courses are based on theory, this room is about learning practical applications for that theory. You get training with the finance tools you might use in a job, like Bloomberg, FactSet and Capital IQ. It’s also home to the Wright Fund.”

Aries Arifien, Jane Wang, Nael Ashour, Jaime Bullon, Jill Foote

Please join me in congratulating our CFA Institute Research Challenge (IRC) team of Wright Fund (WF) students – Aries Arifien, Nael Ashour, Jaime Bullon Jane Wang – for an outstanding showing at the Americas regional competition this past week in Denver which followed the team’s win at the Southwest US regional in February.

Out of an original field of 48 regional winners from North and South America, our team progressed to the semi-final round. In the semi-final round the team gave the best presentation I have ever seen from a Rice MBA team, but was sadly nudged out based on an ever-so-slightly better Q&A from the team that ended up 2nd overall.  The IRC competition is the most prestigious and difficult of all investment research competitions so we are extremely proud of our team’s performance.

Also this past week, the WF was recognized as having the Best 2013 Return in our style category at the QGAME Conference in New York City. This is the 2nd year in a row that the Wright Fund has won this competition and the third time in the last four years (the other year we were 2nd). So, congratulations to all Wright Fund students!