Cox Ambassador Bios

Teja Akella
MBA Class of 2015

Lakshmi Teja Akella was born in India but moved with her family to Olympia, Washington when she was 13.  Post high school, she attended the esteemed University of Washington in Seattle and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering.  Teja started her career with Bechtel in Houston, TX as a Systems Engineer but moved on to TCS in Cincinnati, OH as a Software Developer.  There she worked with many Fortune 500 clients around the nation on various projects as a developer and grew into Development Lead and Project Management roles.  It is while consulting and successfully delivering software solutions that she discovered her knack for working with people and her passion for delivering high-quality customer centric solutions.  She decided to pursue an MBA at SMU to build her business skills and transition from her technical centric role to a business solutions and management role where she can combine her passion for technology, business and psychology.  She plans to concentrate in Business Analytics, Strategic Management and Customer Insights.  She is thrilled to be a Mustang and looks forward to two wonderful years ahead in the beautiful SMU Campus.

On the personal side, Teja recently got married and moved with her husband to Dallas about two years ago.   In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, painting, reading, cooking, swimming and volunteering.  She also enjoys camping, hiking, snorkeling, traveling and exploring places with her friends and family.  She is especially excited about the Global Leadership Program at SMU and hopes to travel to Latin America.  At SMU, she plans to be involved in many clubs and activities and is excited at the opportunity to meet and build strong and lasting relationships with her peers and faculty.

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Priyesh Anand
MBA Class of 2015

Priyesh Anand has spent his childhood moving around different cities in India, thanks to his Dad’s transferable job, same trend is continuing till now. Priyesh completed his under-graduation in Instrumentation Engineering from M. S. Ramaiah Institute Of Technology, Bangalore.

Priyesh has around 6 years of work experience during which he has worked with organizations of different size and ideology. He has worked on many aspects of Information Industry from Software development to IT Sales. During these 6 years Priyesh got opportunity to work with people from 8 different countries.

Priyesh is very excited about spending his time at SMU Cox. He is looking forward to participate in the student clubs for Strategy, Consulting and International Students. He also very excited about Global Leadership Program hopes to get a chance to visit Latin America to experience its culture and understand how it is different from India.

Priyesh likes online reading. He is a news buff. In his free time he would be found on Wikipedia.  Priyesh plans to majors in Marketing and Strategic management at SMU Cox and hopes to get in to a consulting role in the technology industry post-MBA.

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Gerard Atkinson
MBA Class of 2015

Born in Australia, Gerard moved to Honolulu for two years at an early age, picking up an American accent that has stayed with him to this day. As well as the U.S.A., he has lived, worked and studied in Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Gerard undertook his undergraduate studies at the Australian National University, receiving a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours. After working as a tutor and researcher at the University of Melbourne, he moved to Canberra to work as a patent examiner for IPAustralia.

For the past two years Gerard has worked for AusIndustry, a division of the Australian Government delivering services to benefit business and industry. Gerard has been involved in the management and strategic planning for the R&D Tax Incentive, a multi-billion dollar initiative that supports businesses undertaking research and development.

A chance encounter whilst living in Melbourne led to him auditioning for a professional choral ensemble as a bass vocalist. After moving to Canberra he became a student of tenor David Reedy, who encouraged him to consider operatic repertoire. Gerard has since worked with a number of ensembles and companies and is a founding member of the Canberra Opera Inc., a not-for-profit dedicated to the development of young singers through the production of full-scale operas. His work with the Canberra Opera inspired him to pursue the MA/MBA at SMU, so that he can use the skills gained to support the arts community in Australia, particularly through using data analysis as part of the decision making and leadership process.

Outside of music, Gerard also enjoys painting, poetry and hitting the gym. He is always on the lookout for new ideas and experiences. He’s looking forward to the adventure of studying at SMU, and can’t wait to meet his fellow classmates.

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Priyank Bahuguna
MBA Class of 2015

Priyank Bahuguna was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai, India in 2009.

In his 4 years of professional experience, Priyank has worked in the teaching industry as well as in IT service based industry. He began working with Capgemini as an Associate Consultant in 2009. During his stint at Capgemini, Priyank worked for one its biggest clients in the Oil and Gas industry. His role evolved from product development to that of a Team Lead .Having worked on most aspects of project life cycles, Priyank was able to gain not only the technical perspective but also the business standpoint of the IT industry. During his professional tenure, Priyank also worked with Sales Support team and was instrumental in bagging additional engagements for the firm. Additionally, Priyank collaborated with a mid size Real Estate firm and helped them develop a small scale logistics system.

With these experiences Priyank now feels compelled to channel his critical-thinking abilities towards scheming business solutions for clients across industries. He sees Management and Strategic Consulting as a career most suited to his aptitude and professional inclinations.  Priyank plans to pursue his MBA in Information and Operations. Priyank hopes to participate in a Global Leadership program in South America to expand his diversity and cultural know-how.

A sport enthusiast, in his spare time Priyank loves to play Soccer, Cricket and Ping-pong. He also enjoys participating in networking and community based events.

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Cathy Bencivenga
MBA Class of 2015

Cathy grew up in Georgetown, TX, where she graduated from Southwestern University with an Independent Major in Performing Arts Management. Following a yearlong General & Company Management Internship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Cathy moved to New York City. There, she served as the General Manager of TACT/The Actors Company Theatre for eight highly successful seasons. While in New York, Cathy held a variety of concurrent positions in the theatre community, including her service on the Board of Directors for The Gallery Players, her participation in the Old Vic's T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange Program, and her leadership role with the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition. As a freelance Producer/GM, Cathy worked on productions in the NY International Fringe Festival and NYMF, as well as independent productions at venues across the city. Most notably, Cathy co-founded The Internationalists, a collective of directors representing 11 countries around the world, where she served as the Managing Director from 2007 through 2012.

Cathy is thrilled to be back in TX and closer to her family near Austin, although she misses NYC - especially Prospect Park, where she spent many sunny afternoons hiking in the woods or reading on a blanket, and was a proud member of the Volunteer Corps, becoming more heavily involved during the Hurricane Sandy clean-up effort.  In her limited free time, Cathy would most likely be found with friends at an outdoor concert or movie, or trying out some exotic new cuisine in a corner of the city. She is looking forward to getting to know the city of Dallas and everything it has to offer (though maybe not as much as she is looking forward to the semester in Milan with her fellow MA/MBAs)!

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Fletcher Bennett
MBA Class of 2015

Fletcher Bennett grew up on a farm outside of Lonoke, Arkansas. He graduated in 2010 from the University of Arkansas with a major in Financial Investments and Management and a minor in Marketing. During college, he spent summers interning at First State Bank of Lonoke, where he assisted as the North West Arkansas Real Estate Portfolio Manager. This was his first introduction to foreclosed properties and managing commercial real estate. The summer before his senior year, he attended culinary school in Florence, Italy and enjoyed exploring most of Europe.

After graduation, Fletcher moved to Denver, Colorado and worked as a financial analyst at WealthTouch, where he evaluated high net worth client investment portfolios. Fletcher enjoyed the Colorado lifestyle of snow skiing, hiking, and camping, but is excited about relocating closer to his family and attending more Razorback games. In his spare time, he enjoys brewing his own beer, experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, and jogging with his bloodhound, Copper. Fletcher is pursuing a concentration in financial real estate and investments, and hopes to move into the private real estate sector after graduation. He is looking forward to becoming an active member of the SMU and Dallas community.

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Abhranil Bhattacharjee
MBA Class of 2015

Abhranil Bhattacharjee grew up in Calcutta, India, and completed his bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from Vidyasagar University. After graduating from college he joined Cognizant Technology Solutions in the data management practice. He has worked in consulting engagements in multiple industries including Retail, Banking, Healthcare and Consumer goods for various clients across India, UK and North America. For the past four years he worked at Walmart’s corporate headquarters at Bentonville, Arkansas in a global finance transformation project. Abhranil plans to pursue concentrations in finance and strategic management at SMU Cox and hopes to transition into a management consulting role post-MBA.

Abhranil and his wife Priyanka have one year old daughter, Anushka, and are excited about their move to Dallas. In his spare time, Abhranil plays soccer and is also a longtime supporter of Manchester United FC. He is also an avid traveler and likes to explore new places. Abhranil hopes to participate in a Global Leadership Program trip to Latin America so that he can learn about a part of the world he hasn't had the chance to visit yet!

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Bailey Butzberger
MBA Class of 2015

Bailey Butzberger has lived in and visited places all over the world, but she can’t seem to stay away from Dallas for too long.  After being born in Dallas, she spent several years in New York, Minnesota, and France before returning for high school.  Upon graduating from Ursuline Academy, she attended the University of Texas at Austin.  She then spent two years as a Small Business Development Volunteer for the Peace Corps in northern Cameroon.  She worked with local microfinance institutions, taught business classes to women entrepreneurs, and organized local savings and loan groups.  She also learned how to drive a motorcycle, perform ablutions, chat up her neighbors in Fulfulde, and hand wash everything. 

Bailey has spent the four years since then in Washington DC working for a non-profit called Microfinance Opportunities where she created financial education programs for low-income microfinance clients in developing countries all over the world.  She has worked extensively across Africa and in parts of India and the Caribbean and has performed remote work in regions like Latin America and South East Asia.

Bailey has also visited much of Western Europe and hopes to travel to Asia or Latin America on the GLP trip.  She is looking forward to returning to her native Dallas after so many years away where she can enjoy good Tex-Mex and play golf in January.  She is a staunch Cowboys fan and has defended them in the heart of Redskins’ territory.  She likes to play soccer, softball and other outdoor sports.  She is an active member of Toastmasters, the National Association of Peace Corps Volunteers, Texas Exes, and InterNations. 

Bailey plans to concentrate on Strategy & Entrepreneurship with a focus on social enterprise.  She also looks forward to representing SMU as a Forte Fellow and an active leader on campus.

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Brock Cartlidge
MBA Class of 2015

Brock Cartlidge grew up in Dallas and completed his bachelor's degree cum laude in Communications at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. After graduation, Brock accepted a position with Apple that focused on the company’s retail operations. During his time at Apple, Brock was tasked with pinpointing opportunities and brainstorming innovative solutions with the executive team. Upon completing the two year leadership program, Brock accepted a position that allowed him to staff the DFW Apple Retail stores, as well as train and develop retail employees. While at SMU Cox, Brock plans to pursue studies in marketing and business analytics. Brock anticipates transitioning into a brand management role post-MBA.

Brock is looking forward to his return to school, and he is excited to partake in all that the program offers. Throughout his college years, Brock dedicated much of his time to charitable organizations, and he looks forward to giving back to the local community. Brock is thankful to stay in Dallas, and he is thrilled for his classmates to experience his hometown.  When he is not in class, you’re likely to see him at the local driving range, playing tennis, or jogging on the Katy Trail. Brock enjoys spending time with his family and friends, discovering new restaurants, and cheering on his beloved Aggies. He looks forward to cheering on the Mustangs, except for when they play Texas A&M.

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Nidhima Chadha
MBA Class of 2015

Nidhima Chadha grew up in Delhi, India and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from University of Delhi. During the tenure of her course, she worked with Ogilvy and Mather, Times of India, The Hindu and Today Group. She has a few bylines in the esteemed newspapers.  She later accepted the position of Project Manager at MWG T.A.G.  and after a year and a half of insightful stay at the agency; she graduated to Ogilvy and Mather as Senior Account Executive where she was involved in shaping the brand image for a variety of businesses like telecom, banking, pharmaceutical, retail and personal care. The primary requirement of the job was image projection through visual communication in midst of evolving social trends for a targeted audience and thereby creating demand in the Indian market. Nidhima plans to pursue concentrations in Marketing at SMU Cox and further sharpen her skills in product/ brand management.

For the past 2 years, Nidhima has been traveling to different countries enriching her global experience. She is an avid reader and does freelance writing. Her dream is to publish her own book one day. She is also passionate about cooking and believes one can get brilliant insights about people from the food they eat and movies they watch. Nidhima loves history and dreams to be in its pages one day!

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Mark Chisenhall
MBA Class of 2015

Mark Chisenhall grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and completed his undergraduate studies at Arizona State University. During his senior year, Mark travelled abroad to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he studied Latin American literature and improved his Spanish language skills. Upon graduation, Mark moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he worked at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino and logged close to 1,500 hours playing poker.  Following Las Vegas, Mark worked for the U.S. Export Assistance Center (U.S. Department of Commerce) in Denver, Colorado where he provided guidance and advice on the export process and international trade opportunities to small-medium sized businesses in Colorado and Wyoming. Meanwhile, he earned an M.A. in International Studies from the University of Denver.

After working with the U.S. Export Assistance Center branch in Little Rock, AR, Mark moved to New York City to work for the investment management firm, Peck Wealth Management, where he was a Junior Portfolio Manager. In this role, his primary responsibilities were implementing portfolio strategies, managing portfolio management software systems and providing equity research on companies based in, or with significant exposure to emerging markets.  In addition, Mark provided consulting work for MBS Value Partners, an investor relations consulting firm with a strong client base in Latin America.

Mark is looking forward to living in Dallas and being closer to his family in Arkansas. He loves cheering for the Arkansas Razorbacks, playing his cherry red Fender Stratocaster and brewing craft beer.  He is interested in studying finance and accounting, participating in the Investment and Finance Clubs and completing the CFA program.

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Morgan Coomes
MBA Class of 2015

Morgan Coomes was born and raised in Indiana, but moved to Boerne, TX her freshman year of high school.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Texas Tech University. For the past five years, Morgan has worked across multiple departments at American Airlines, including American Eagle finance, AAdvantage, and most recently Product Marketing where she managed company wide search engine marketing campaigns.

Morgan plans to pursue concentrations in marketing and strategic management at SMU Cox. Morgan hopes to participate in Business Leadership Center and Women in Business to expand her network and breadth of business knowledge.  In her spare time, Morgan enjoys playing volleyball and golf, baking, and travelling.

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Stephanie Daniel
MBA Class of 2015

Stephanie Daniel grew up in Dallas, Texas and completed her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Southern Methodist University in 2009. She had the fortunate opportunity of studying abroad in England the summer before her junior year through the SMU Oxford program.  The summer before her senior year, she worked for a public relations company in New York City, NY. After graduating from SMU, Stephanie began working for a private healthcare consulting company in Dallas, TX.  She has worked there for the past four years where she had the advantage of watching the organization grow substantially, tripling in size. During her time there, she helped develop wellness strategies and multi-year plans for local and national corporations.  Stephanie plans to further develop her consulting skills and continue learning about the consulting world at SMU Cox. She also plans to pursue concentrations in finance and analytics.

Outside of work and the business world, Stephanie enjoys the Fine Arts. Stephanie minored in Art History and has a passion for historic art and architecture. Stephanie also enjoys traveling and viewing works of art first hand. She is looking forward to the global leadership program where she hopes to visit a new and exciting country. Stephanie also enjoys running in her spare time and hopes to train for her second half marathon this fall.

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Pranay Das
MBA Class of 2015

Pranay Das grew up in New Delhi, the National Capital of India. He completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Delhi University in 2004 and has been working since then. During his time at University, he completed an internship in the Media, started two companies – a student’s magazine and an event management firm, and spent two years as a volunteer in the not for profit and extremely global students’ organization – AIESEC.

After University, Pranay was chosen to occupy certain leadership positions in AIESEC, where, through two years, he was able to help establish large-scale corporate partnerships and various strategic initiatives. In these positions Pranay had the opportunity to sharpen his leadership abilities in a widely multicultural and very dynamic environment.

After AIESEC, Pranay was invited to join Ernst & Young to help market the firm in the then booming Telecommunications Industry. His success in this role led him to be picked to help start a Central, Corporate Marketing Function for the Firm in India. Here, he established and led an array of marketing programs getting promoted quickly to Marketing Manager.

In 2012, Pranay left this position to consult companies on Marketing and Strategy, independently. This experience of working with a range of unique clients re-affirmed his goal of helping develop brands and organizational strategy in the fast evolving digital age.

Pranay has also been involved with developing the independent music ‘scene’ in India. A musician himself and former leader of a touring band, this is something that remains close to his heart. He is also a sports and adventure, food and drink and art and photography enthusiast. He looks forward to meeting his highly talented class, travelling, learning and living it up with them and having the two best years of his life with them.

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Olivia Edmundson
MBA Class of 2015

Olivia Edmundson was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil but moved to Chile as a baby. She returned to Brazil at age seven to study at an American School, and during her teenage years she spent a few months as an exchange student in Van Horn, Texas. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Business from Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil with an international semester focused in international studies of global management at Hochschule Bremen in Germany.

Her marketing career began in Europe when she accepted a job offer from Linde Gas to work in its marketing department with international consulting projects in Lisbon and in Barcelona. After this experience, she returned to Germany to work for six months in the European Marketing Headquarters of Texas Instruments in Munich. She then accepted a position of Business Manager at C&A in Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro where she worked for 3 years. After this she worked for 3 years as Jr. Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola Brazil and successfully managed Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light Plus and the Sparkling Category developing their long term strategies and business plans.

International experience has always been part of her life; She has lived in ten cities, six countries and on three continents. Olivia plans to pursue concentration in marketing and strategic management at SMU Cox and hopes to accelerate her brand manager career post-MBA. Olivia and her husband, Rick, are excited about their move to Dallas. They love spending time closer to nature with their dog, Cowboy, and are excited about Dallas’ parks and lakes. Olivia hopes to participate in a Global Leadership Program trip to Asia.

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Anne Marie Gan
MBA Class of 2015

Anne Marie Gan is a Dallas native with a passion for using business strategies to help museums achieve their missions and serve the public. Her career goal is to work in the operational side of an art museum and to build museum capabilities in outcome measurement and analytics to understand the voice of the visitor.

She spent the past three years in Atlanta as a consultant at Bain & Company, a management and strategy consulting firm where she worked across industries in retail, consumer products and IT services and in multiple capabilities, including product growth strategy, market screens for acquisition, and org design.  At Bain, she also led volunteer consulting efforts for local Atlanta non-profits, such as KIPP Metro Atlanta charter schools and the Center for Puppetry Arts.  During her time at Bain, Anne Marie went on a five-month externship to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, where she worked with the membership department to create a retention strategy and with the COO to assess the impact of previous museum and departmental initiatives.

Anne Marie received a BA in Art History and Italian from Emory University.  While at Emory, she studied abroad in Milan and worked in art conservation and museum education.  After college, she spent a year in Siem Reap, Cambodia as a Luce Scholar at an archaeological museum, where she established collections documentation, conservation, and education programs.  In Cambodia, she also enjoyed riding her motorbike to see the ancient Angkorian temples.

Anne Marie and her boyfriend Chris are excited about returning to Dallas and real Tex-Mex.  She enjoys cooking, eating, watching Jeopardy, running and has a burgeoning interest in tennis.  At SMU, she most looks forward to Boulevarding with her classmates and returning to Milan to soak in the culture with her MA/MBA classmates.

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Ken Gilmore
MBA Class of 2015

Ken Gilmore is a native of Zion, Illinois, and completed his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 2004. Since his commissioning as a Naval Supply Officer, Ken’s afloat assignments have included Supply Officer for MCM CREW BULWARK and most recently as Assistant Supply Officer for USS IWO JIMA (LHD-7.)  Ken has deployed twice, serving in Bahrain, the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. Ashore, Ken was assigned as Executive Officer of Priority Material Office, Bremerton, Washington. In addition to leading a 103 person operation spread across 11 global locations, Ken was assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations’ Logistics Integration Expediting Initiative. His work led to policy development enabling the United States Coast Guard to leverage established Naval Logistics pipelines for priority material. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Advanced qualifications include Surface and Aviation Supply Officer, Force Protection Action Officer, Tactical Action Officer, and Officer of the Deck afloat.

Ken married his lovely wife, Jessica (Thomas) Gilmore in the summer of 2010. Jessica hales from Waxahachie, Texas, and is also a Naval Supply Corps Officer, currently assigned at the Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. They reside in Grand Prairie.

Ken is an avid car enthusiast and enjoys golfing, bowling, and playing basketball. While at SMU, he hopes to gain exposure to the “civilian” sector and real-world corporate knowledge. Following graduation, he will returning to the Navy and continue his career while helping shape future Supply policies and procedures.

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Peter Gleason
MBA Class of 2015

Peter Gleason grew up in various localities in Arkansas and Florida, ultimately graduating high school in Winter Park, Florida. He rowed competitively for seven years and was involved in various Christian ministries before completing his bachelor’s degree in English from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2007. Upon graduation, he returned to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was hired by Bank of the Ozarks, first as a teller and then an investment portfolio analyst. During that time he enrolled in various economics and accounting classes at UALR, and also finished the first draft of a literary novel. In 2011 he requested a transfer to Dallas, where he has since worked as an asset manager of a sizable real estate loan portfolio. This job allowed him to monitor many different types of projects through all their phases of development, from negotiation and structuring of deals to property completion and stabilization. Peter intends to pursue concentrations in real estate and finance at Cox with the hope of stepping into a higher-level debt structuring or property development role post-MBA.

For recreation Peter enjoys squash, weight lifting, playing guitar, and reading fiction and philosophy. He also loves the great outdoors, particularly rock climbing and water sports, and is fascinated by politics and foreign policy. He is excited by the prospect of traveling to the Far East and eager to immerse himself in an intellectually stimulating environment.

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Timmons Gray
MBA Class of 2015

Timmons Gray grew up in Nashville. After finishing school in the Music City, her love of fashion and SEC Football brought her to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she completed her undergraduate degree at LSU. She received a bachelor’s in fashion merchandising and took a job working for local handbag designer Claire Sanchez upon graduating. Timmons was able to gain hands-on experience in production, manufacturing, and sales, and discovered her interest in marketing in the process. One of the highlights of her short time at Claire Sanchez Studios was orchestrating multiple sales on e-commerce website Fab.com. After Claire shut her doors in January 2012, Timmons was offered a position at Baton Rouge’s premiere children and teen clothing retailer, B Kids. She applied her growing knowledge of digital marketing to her new job by setting up Instagram and Facebook accounts for the store, increasing exposure and sales. Timmons left the bayou and moved to New York for a brief sabbatical where she worked at BCBG and enjoyed the bustling and lively culture of the city.

Timmons is looking forward to her return down south and plans to pursue the marketing concentration at SMU Cox. She hopes to expand her knowledge of marketing and business beyond the fashion and retail industry. In her free time, she enjoys blogging, reading and collecting fashion magazines, staying fit, and volunteering at animal shelters.

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Tate Greer
MBA Class of 2015

Tate Greer was raised overseas throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East.  The son of an engineering construction project manager, he gained an appreciation for world travel and the energy industry at an early age.  Tate attended high school in Houston, Texas, and received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. 

For the past twelve years, Tate has worked for Houston-based Quorum Business Solutions providing software solutions and consulting services to leading energy companies throughout the U.S.  Most recently, as Director of Midstream Products, Tate was responsible for client relations, ongoing projects, product direction, and resource staffing of a 90-person division within Quorum.  He now looks forward to pursuing concentrations in finance and information technology & operations management at SMU Cox.  He is interested in the Cox for Community and Energy clubs.

Tate recently returned from a monthlong backpacking trip in Europe and is excited about his upcoming move to Dallas.  His hobbies include running, CrossFit, and cooking for friends.  He is also an experienced home brewer and enjoys exploring new restaurants.

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Derek Grubbs
MBA Class of 2015

Derek Grubbs grew up in Houston, Ohio, and joined the Navy right after high school graduation. In the Navy he graduated from the Naval Nuclear Power Program in 2006 and was then stationed on the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln. He served for four years on this ship before transferring to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility on the island of Oahu. His time in the Navy saw him lead emergent maintenance teams, schedule nine month maintenance overhauls, and teach civilian personnel of the Nuclear Level Quality Controls. His greatest accomplishment while serving his enlistment was the ability to distinguish himself above the rest all while finishing an AA in Mathematics, and a BS in Nuclear Engineering Technology. Derek plans to pursue concentrations in finance and strategy/entrepreneurship at SMU Cox and hopes to transition into a venture capital role post-MBA.

While living in Hawaii, Derek picked up golfing regularly and is excited about the golf opportunities brought by the Dallas area. He also played basketball in high school, and looks forward to putting together a team of classmates to win some intramural basketball. You can find Derek running the Katy Trail in his free time, or hanging out with classmates and friends. Derek looks forward to the Global Leadership Program, and is excited to start using his social skills at the networking events.

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Jonathan Herzog
MBA Class of 2015

Jonathan Herzog grew up just down the road in North Dallas, and completed his bachelor’s degree from the Marriott school of Business at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. After his freshman year Jonathan chose to embark on a two-year volunteer mission to Jacksonville Florida for the Mormon Church. Upon his return he traveled to Italy for a management study abroad where he gained valuable experience learning international finance and managerial economics.  This directed him to a consulting internship in Irvine California where he was able to work on accounts with Disney, Wal-Mart, and Topco Inc. His love for the fashion industry then brought him back to Dallas where he spent a year working for Neiman Marcus as the Fendi specialist.  There he was able to meet inspirational designers and executives such as Charlotte Olympia, Nancy Gonzales, and Ken Downing. Jonathan plans to pursue concentrations in marketing and strategic management at SMU Cox over the next two years.

Jonathan lives near Deep Ellum with his older brother Matthew, a Dedman School of Law graduate and attorney at Jones Carr McGoldrick. You’ll most likely see Jonathan spending time with Matthew and their older brother Taylor, a medical student at Texas A&M, enjoying all of what Dallas has to offer. The Herzog brothers also play on the same team in an adult hockey league in Richardson.  Aside from family time Jonathan is connected with several up and coming fashion designers in the Metroplex and can be seen at charity and fashion events monthly.  He hopes to use his unique background and skill sets to travel the world and meet inspiring people.

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Edwin Jackson
MBA Class of 2015

A native of Dallas, Texas, Edwin Jackson obtained a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of North Texas. While completing his degree, he was able to leverage his passions for sports and brand marketing into an internship with the Dallas Cowboys Football Club.

Upon completion of his internship and degree, Edwin began working for one of the Omincom Groups lead promotional agencies, The Marketing Arm in support of its AT&T client. For two years, he planned and executed onsite activations at various NCAA, MLB, NFL, Olympic, and PGA events underneath AT&T’s sponsorship portfolio.

Seeking a more strategic role and fewer frequent flyer miles, Edwin eventually transitioned to the agencies consulting team where he evaluated sponsorship proposals, negotiated contracts, and provided strategic recommendations on diversity sponsorship initiatives for AT&T’s diversity marketing team.

With the thought of business school on the horizon, Edwin assumed a new role in support of the agencies Frito-Lay client in order to gain a deeper understanding of the consumer packaged goods industry. As an account lead, he worked with Frito-Lay’s innovation and various brand teams to execute tactics ranging from shopper marketing initiatives to product development and packaging design.  

In his spare time, Edwin enjoys listening to music and participating in fitness activities such as Camp Gladiator and recreational basketball leagues throughout Dallas. Also a big fan of the Food Networks, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” Edwin enjoys searching for great local eateries throughout Dallas and during his travels.

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Ankita Jain
MBA Class of 2015

Ankita Jain grew up in Mumbai, India and completed her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Mumbai. After graduating from college, she worked in Tata Consultancy Services for Bank of America. She started her career as a developer and was later responsible for multiple projects in India and Dallas as Project Manager. During this time she gained valuable experience in the technical and as well as the business side of data warehousing.    
         
Ankita plans to pursue a concentration in Marketing with a minor in Business Analytics at SMU Cox and hopes to transition into a business consultant. At Cox, she intends to actively participate in Marketing, Operation and Technology and Women in Business clubs.

Ankita moved to Dallas in 2008 and currently lives in Addison with her husband, Aniruddh. She loves to spend time with family & friends, traveling and visiting new places and learning something new everyday. She is very passionate about dancing and enjoys learning different forms of Indian and Latin dances.

Ankita is very excited about the Global Leadership Program and hopes to be a part of the trip to Asia.  She is looking forward to the Cox MBA experience and to meeting everyone in the program.

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Nikhil Jaiswal
MBA Class of 2015

Nikhil Jaiswal was raised in Ghaziabad, India. He completed his Bachelors of Technology in Computer Science from U.P. Technical University in 2009. In the 3rd year of college, he received offer letter from India’s top two IT companies – TCS and Infosys. Upon graduation, he decided to join Infosys. During his tenure of 4 years with Infosys, Nikhil worked on different IT profiles such as Automation Testing, Application Support & Maintenance and Manual Testing. Nikhil has majorly worked in financial domain for clients such as Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Nikhil is looking for a career transition and plans to pursue a concentration in Corporate Finance with minors in Business Analytics. He is excited to join SMU and hopes that Career Management Center will help in making this transition.

Nikhil loves teaching kids. In India, he worked with two NGOs for the empowerment of kids by teaching them English and Mathematics. He is a sports aficionado and loves playing badminton, table tennis and pool. He is currently trying to learn squash and hopes to use Dedman Center facilities as much as he can. Further, he is excited about the Global Leadership Program and hopes to go to Europe and learn about the culture and business environment there. This is the first time he is visiting US and he is very excited to start this new chapter in his life.

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Meeae Dienemann nee Johnsson
MBA Class of 2015

Meeae Johnsson grew up in Sweden, and spent her childhood singing ABBA songs and eating meatballs at IKEA. After high school, she swapped ABBA and meatballs for Beatles and Fish n’Chips and completed her degree in Economics and Korean Studies in London, UK. She spent her sophomore year at Korea University trying to learn Korean, and how to eat kimchi. Since graduating from University, Meeae has worked as an Investment Banker focusing on Mergers & Acquisitions for a large international bank. She started out in the London office, spent a bit of time in Qatar, and then moved to the New York office. Meeae will focus on finance and real estate at SMU Cox and will pursue a career in private equity post-MBA.

Meeae recently got married and she is very excited about moving to Dallas (and to finally be able to drive more with her Meeaniemobile, her little grey VW Golf, which has been sadly neglected the last year). Meeae is a very active person and loves long-distance biking. She is a member of a club in Dallas and is thrilled that she will be able to bike to SMU and that the weather in Dallas allows for biking pretty much year around. She and her husband, Johannes, spent the summer biking in Germany and France combining biking with another big interest of hers; travelling. Meeae is hoping to participate in the GLP trip to Japan/ China to re-visit two amazing countries and learn more about their cultures.

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Max Joseph
MBA Class of 2015

Max Joseph was born and raised in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He left his native Florida for Dallas, Texas where he enrolled at Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, Max took advantage of several summer programs; including SMU’s Orvieto, Italy program where he studied Italian history, and literature. After only three years, Max completed his bachelors degree in Broadcast and Internet Journalism at SMU and joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

Starting in operations management, he quickly made the transition to Sales Manager where he was recognized as the hotel’s top performer, and a rising young star within the company. Max embraced The Ritz-Carlton’s legendary customer service, eventually becoming a trainer and ambassador to outside clients. In the past seven years he has moved with The Ritz-Carlton several times to cities including Amelia Island, Miami, and most recently Dallas. His extensive travel and professional experience have made him the unofficial travel agent & wedding planner for many of his friends.

Max often jokes that while he is not a native Texan, something about the lone star state keeps bringing him back. He is excited about his return to Texas, and looks forward to rediscovering both his adopted city of Dallas, and SMU again as an MBA student with a focus in marketing and analytics.

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Seong-Hun Kang
MBA Class of 2015

Seong-Hun Kang was born in South Korea, and completed his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Korea University in Seoul, Korea. He fulfilled Republic of Korea’s compulsory military service as an air force officer (first lieutenant). This experience evoked a lasting sense of patriotism and certainly played a role in his employment at a government agency. For the last eight years while working for the Korean Export Credit Agency, K-Sure, he has been responsible for managing and providing export credit support for projects mostly related to energy plant constructions and natural resources investment. Especially in the last two years, he has been in charge of more than half of the entire oil and gas projects that have been undertaken by South Korean companies overseas(U$4bil). He has always worked with foreign project sponsors, international commercial banks, lawyers, and market consultants to carry out due diligence with regard to various projects. He has visited more than 15 countries and 30 cities as a business or a vacation trip. Mr. Kang plans to pursue concentrations in energy finance at SMU Cox and hopes to extend his network in energy industry.

To be a loving and responsible father for his two daughters has to be one of the most important goals in his life. One of many reasons that he selected Cox School of Business has to do with the family-friendly location of the campus in addition to its academic excellence. He is a member of Mensa Club, but he likes playing sports such as table tennis, basketball, soccer better than logical thinking. He is eager to visit Buenos Aires in Argentina because the city has passion and heart. You may see him dancing in the street in Buenos Aires during summer vacation!!

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Ali Kapadia
MBA Class of 2015

Ali hails from Mumbai, India, a city that never sleeps! He completed his graduation in Computer Engineering from University of Mumbai in 2007. Immediately after graduation he started working at L&T InfoTech as an SAP Analyst before moving on to Deloitte Consulting as an SAP Consultant after three years.

Over his six of years of consulting experience in SAP, Ali has worked in many industries such as Hi-Tech, Retail, Healthcare and Oil & Gas. He has built an expertise on the best practices in the Sales & Distribution function across these varied industries. He intends to combine the Information & Operations and the Marketing concentrations to make the best out of his experience.

Ali is an avid biker and likes exploring new places and meeting new people. Just a month prior to starting at SMU he embarked on a road trip travelling the roads to heaven on earth named Leh – Ladakh. At some stage, he intends to bring his passion and work together by working for a motorcycle manufacturing company.

Ali is a fitness enthusiast and likes cycling, running, going to the gym, and practising yoga. He is a certified Yoga trainer too. He is also a sports fanatic and plays cricket, tennis, volleyball and badminton.

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Jennifer Kesterson
MBA Class of 2015

Jennifer Kesterson grew up in Denton, TX, and graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BBA in Marketing and minor in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. During her time at SMU, she was very involved on campus, serving in various leadership roles on the Panhellenic Executive Board as well as being a member of the SMU Cheerleading squad.  In the summer of 2005, she studied abroad in London, England where she focused on mass media and International NGO’s. After graduating from SMU in 2006, she moved to New York City and began her career on the business side of the fashion industry.

Jennifer was accepted into the Executive Excellence Program at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC, where she was taught the fundamentals of retail buying and was later placed as an Assistant Buyer.  After a brief stint on the buying side, she transitioned to wholesale, which is where she has focused her career over the past six years.  She currently works for the German luxury fashion house, ESCADA, as their Senior Sales Executive managing the growth and development of their North American wholesale accounts. She has also worked for other international fashion companies, Christian Dior and Burberry.

In her spare time, Jennifer loves working out, snow skiing, traveling internationally, and spending time on her parent’s boat at Lake Texoma. While at Cox, she hopes to become involved with the Women in Business and Marketing clubs, as well as travel to Asia for the Global Leadership Program at the end of her second semester.  Jennifer is excited to be back in Dallas pursuing her MBA at her alma mater, and looks forward to getting to know each and every classmate.

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Kapil Kochhar
MBA Class of 2015

Kapil Kochhar grew up in Mumbai, India, and completed his bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from University of Mumbai in 2010. Kapil has had an unconventional career path. He started off his entrepreneurial career during his second year of bachelor’s and, since then has successfully launched 3 ventures. Upon graduation, Kapil worked for a brief period with the Indian IT giant Infosys. But he soon realized that his true calling was entrepreneurship and he quickly moved to his real-estate family business, transforming and growing the business phenomenally. He also completed a consulting project to help a mineral water manufacturer increase its sales and productivity. Kapil also worked as a Part-Time Verbal Faculty at India’s premier GMAT institution Jamboree, and trained over 100 students from various age groups and backgrounds.

Kapil was actively involved in his community and served as the Vice President of the Advisory Committee to The Mayor of Navi Mumbai, the largest planned city on Earth. He led a team to connect with the citizens of his ward and helped the Municipal Corporation to better understand the grass root problems. His initiative has led to better roads and infrastructure within his ward.

Kapil plans to study Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Management and hopes to get into the role of a Management Consultant before pursuing entrepreneurship full-time.

Kapil is thrilled about his move to Dallas. He’s an outdoor person and loves adventures. He’s looking forward to going bungee jumping and sky diving during his stay in Dallas. He’s also an avid road-tripper and plans to drive extensively across the US. He’d like to complete his MBA experience by actively participating in the various networking events and student club activities.

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Ajitha Koduri
MBA Class of 2015

Ajitha grew up in India and she received her undergraduate education at National Institute of Technology, Warangal where she graduated with distinction. While attending the college, she received a merit scholarship from state government every year covering both tuition and boarding. Upon graduation, she joined Oracle Corporation, India where she worked on the development and maintenance of multiple products including Business Intelligence, Balanced Scorecard and Product Lifecycle Management Systems.  Furthermore, when Oracle acquired Agile, Ajitha took up the position of a module lead for a new product integration involving the acquired products. The project was a huge success and she learnt a great deal about system architecture, design and resource optimization.  In 2009, she moved to Dallas and rejoined Oracle as a Senior Technical Support Engineer in Sales Organization. Here she assisted major clients such as Citigroup, Thompson Reuters, Boeing and J.P.Morgan with their Middleware implementation. Ajitha worked with customers around the globe including APAC, EMEA and Americas. Her ability to work with customers from different cultures, effectively combined with her problem solving skills has won her many exceptional service nominations.

At Cox, Ajitha hopes to concentrate in Finance and Entrepreneurship. Post MBA she hopes to transition into Corporate Finance position with technology companies. She also intends to start her own company within the next few years. Ajitha is a Forte Fellow and she promotes Nanhi Kali (an NGO supporting girl child education) actively. Ajitha and her husband have two children, ages three and 10 months.

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Neeraj Kumar
MBA Class of 2015

Neeraj Kumar grew up in cities all over India, traveling with his family, often changing schools, while imbibing the culture of every new place and making friends wherever home was. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from Mumbai University in India. On graduating, he joined one of India’s leading technology firms – Tech Mahindra as an engineer in their embedded systems group. Having transitioned into a business analyst role and contributing towards large implementations, Neeraj was keen to explore opportunities beyond technology. He spent two years as a Course Director for an education provider – TIME in India. He was tasked with expanding the organizations enrollments of students, managing the marketing spend, while maintaining and improving the quality of education. With a successful stint at TIME, H&H Precision sought his expertise in service operations management for their ship repair engineering firm, while he also contributed in formulating market entry strategy for CST Solutions in Indian security and communications market.

As in his growing up years, Neeraj continues to travel, riding his motorcycle on one of the world’s highest roads in Leh, India; scuba diving in Lakshadweep islands, visiting Canada and the United States, going for his first tailgate party! He also learnt Spanish recently, but he is most passionate about and proud of starting and volunteering for, an environmental and conservation nonprofit in Delhi, India. He hopes to continue to pursue his environmental conservation in Dallas.

Having garnered experience working in diverse industries, and learning to adapt to myriad business environments, he realized that a formal management education would help him pursue his long term goal and transition into a consulting role post-MBA. Neeraj plans to pursue concentration in operations and strategy management at SMU Cox, continuing to leverage his experience in diverse industries.

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Ryan Laughna
MBA Class of 2015

Ryan Laughna was born in Pittsburgh, grew up in Boston, completed his bachelor's degree with a major in Economics and a minor in Writing at Gettysburg College and has been living in San Diego for the last five years. He worked in outside sales for a telecom and IT company for a year and a half before moving over to healthcare recruiting where he has worked as an Operations Manager for a nationwide nurse travel and per diem staffing company. He has led his company through three nationally recognized certifications and was one of the main people in the company responsible for tax compliance of their external employees. He worked his way into a position of Corporate Operations before leaving the company for SMU. He is planning to concentrate on Business Analytics with a minor in Accounting and then stay in the Healthcare industry or move to Energy. He's never traveled over either ocean and is very excited for the Global Leadership Program.

Ryan and his fiancée Goldie, a paralegal, are excited for their new surroundings and like to spend their free time staying active outside. He's hoping to get back into lacrosse, which he played throughout high school and college, and join a CrossFit gym. As they are new to the city they are looking forward to meeting new people and trying out the new things that Dallas has to offer.

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Annie Lu
MBA Class of 2015

Annie Zhaoxia Lu grew up in Hebei, China and completed her doctorate degree in Automatic Control (Computer Engineering) from Nanjing University of Science and Technology in Nanjing, China. After graduation, Annie has been working as a Software System Engineer in Huawei Technologies, one of the fastest growing telecommunication companies in China for over four years, and then she transferred to Sales and Marketing Department as a Senior Manager focusing on the international telecom market development. For the past eight years, Annie has worked in Dubai, UAE and Plano, Texas, USA for over three years and four years respectively. Annie plans to pursue concentrations in marketing at SMU Cox and hopes to transition into a marketing consulting role in a High-tech company post-MBA.

Annie is excited to return to Dallas after a short period back to China. In her spare time, Annie loves doing the outdoor activities. She is an avid long-distance runner and cyclist, and has completed four full marathons. She is looking forward to contributing her volunteer work with her passion to the Cox Community Clubs and meeting amazing people. She is also eager to participate in the Global Leadership Program in this coming summer.

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Erica Martindale
MBA Class of 2015

Erica Martindale was born and raised in Austin by Taiwanese American parents.  Following in her family’s tradition, she attended The University of Texas at Austin where she majored in Plan II Liberal Arts Honors and Marketing.  An avid traveler, she spent the summer between her junior and senior year studying abroad in Paris.  For her thesis, she wrote a 120 page paper on Gene Kelly and his impact on the golden age of Hollywood movie musicals. 

After graduating, she worked at a startup in a sales and recruiting role where she enjoyed meeting people from across the country and solving their insurance needs.  During her time there, she saw the company grow 300%.  After that she spent several years at a digital advertising firm in account management and operations roles where she worked with a variety of clients including GameStop, Slim Jim, and Universal Pictures.  Her most recent adventure was with a software company where she served as a product manager and led the design and launch of a mobile timesheet and demand generation system.  She worked with over 50 customers during an 18-month development process, incorporating hundreds of hours of feedback and usability testing in the new UX.  During her MBA studies, Erica will pursue a marketing concentration and is very interested in consumer packaged goods, retail, entertainment, and travel businesses as these are all industries that touch her own life.

Erica married her college sweetheart, Quinn, and the couple has an 18 year old cat named Fei. In her spare time Erica loves to spend time with family and friends, sightsee, read, and watch movies.  She looks forward to participating in the GLP program and adding to the list of countries she has already visited.  She cannot wait to learn more about how global businesses operate.

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Shubhang Mattoo
MBA Class of 2015

Shubhang Mattoo established and managed a Garment manufacturing company in Mumbai, India. Born and raised in a family of entrepreneurs, his inspiration is his father. The Factory employed about 56 people and produced garments for international brands such as Levis, Wrangler and Zara. He has been managing his startup since May ’10.

Shubhang grew up in Mumbai, India and completed his bachelor’s degree in business management with specialization in international finance and logistics. His first job after graduation was as a customer service executive at Ceva Logistics. After a year, he quit his job take up a role in the sales department of his family business. A year into working at his family business, he branched out and started his own company.

At Cox Business School, Shubhang plans to concentrate on courses in Finance and Operations and make use of the acquired skill sets to benefit his company in future. Also, he wants to participate in volunteer work for the community.

Shubhang is an avid soccer fan and in his free time, he is often found to be either playing or watching soccer. His favorite team is Arsenal FC which is based in London, England. He also loves to backpack around the world and explore new places. At Cox, he is eager to start an exciting new chapter in his life.

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Mark Maydew
MBA Class of 2015

Mark Maydew was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. He lived there his entire life until his recent move to Dallas in July. He originally started his business education almost ten years ago, but decided to pursue a career in emergency medicine instead. He has been an EMT-Paramedic for the last eight years, and has worked in a variety of different institutions. He started his career as a volunteer firefighter, then worked in the local emergency department, and from there went to work for a local urgent care center. While working at the urgent care center Mark worked his way up to Lead Paramedic/Clinical Manager and found a new desire to pursue his business education.

He decided to finish his BBA at the University of New Mexico and graduated spring of 2013, and is now ready to pursue his MBA at SMU. He chose Dallas and SMU because of the vibrant business market and large network of hospital systems, networking opportunities in the local community. His goal is to pursue a career in healthcare management/hospital administration. He has worked in healthcare for a long time and wants to do his best to improve the system, and help to improve access to care.

He moved to Dallas with his wife and their two dogs. In his spare time he enjoys physical fitness, outdoor activities, working on his old Jeep, and spending time with his family. He is extremely excited for his new adventure in Dallas and SMU, and is looking forward to all of the challenges and opportunities that the Full-Time MBA Program provides.

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Chris Musquiz
MBA Class of 2015

Chris Musquiz is a Dallas native and attended the University of Texas at Dallas where he received a Bachelor of Science in Finance with honors. After completing his undergraduate degree, he accepted a position at Lehman Brothers with the reporting division of its private equity fund of funds business. On his twenty-fourth birthday, and in his first year with the firm, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. His division was eventually spun off as part of the private investment management firm Neuberger Berman. His responsibilities continued to increase and he was eventually promoted to a senior role within his team of reporting analysts. As he continued to progress in his career, he enrolled in a graduate program in finance at his alma mater. After six years in a niche business, Chris joins SMU in order to broaden his managerial skill set and hopes to transition to a role in either investment banking or corporate development.

Chris is a fan of all sports and particularly enjoys playing flag football and softball. He is looking forward to participating in intramural sports and hopes to learn a new sport by joining the Cox Rugby Club. He also plans on making extensive use of the racquetball courts at the Dedman Center. Chris is eager to meet his new classmates and is especially excited about the Global Leadership Program next summer.

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Ben Nace
MBA Class of 2015

Ben Nace grew up in Dallas, TX, attended Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and completed his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. At UPenn, Ben was the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and participated on the rowing team all four years. In 2007, Ben took his skill and represented the USA in the Under 23 World Rowing Championships in Strathclyde, Scotland. Ben continues to stay healthy by going to the gym and practicing yoga. After graduating college, Ben accepted a position with Tyco Thermal Controls as a Project Engineer in their oil and gas sector. Ben’s projects took him around the country including places like Bangor, Houston, Las Vegas and Port Arthur.

After three years of project management work, Ben pursued the financial sector. Hired as a Business Systems Analyst at BBVA Compass, Ben primarily worked with the Commercial and Treasury Management groups capturing performance metrics, creating sales reports and developing customer portfolios. Ben plans on utilizing his economics background and leadership experience to pursue a concentration in Corporate Finance and Strategy and Entrepreneurship.

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A.J. Newton
MBA Class of 2015

A.J. Newton was born in Dallas and grew up in McKinney, Texas.  He attended The University of Oklahoma in Norman and graduated with a BBA in Finance.  Upon graduation, he moved back to the Dallas area and spent five years in commercial banking as a financial analyst.  His main responsibilities included assisting the senior loan officers with analysis of the bank’s major relationships as well as preparing the bank for Federal regulatory exams.  He plans to concentrate in finance specializing in investments and energy finance and hopes to transition into corporate finance in oil & gas or the private equity industry post-MBA.  A.J. plans to join a few different clubs while attending SMU Cox including the Investment Club, Finance Club, Energy Club, Christian Business Society, and Cox for Community.  He looks forward to the possibility of being a part of the Wall Street Road Show and having previously traveled to Europe, he would like the opportunity to go to Asia during the GLP trip.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching and attending sporting events. Having been to a game at Lambeau Field, next up on the bucket list are Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.   He is a big fan of the local professional teams, especially the Dallas Cowboys.  Other interests include comedy movies, dove hunting, working out, playing sports such as golf, softball, and basketball, and following the stock market and politics.  He also enjoys volunteering, giving back through his membership in organizations such as Rotary Club and Ducks Unlimited.

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Travis Padgett
MBA Class of 2015

Travis Padgett grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and completed his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Prior to business school, Travis worked as an IT Consultant, providing tailored client solutions through helping manage a support team, server administration, data center administration, and process improvement.

Concentrating in Finance and Accounting, Travis is planning on leveraging his MBA to transition into a career in Finance. A participant of the CFA Fast Track program, Travis spent his summer internship with Wells Fargo’s Corporate Bank in Dallas, providing credit and advisory services for companies with revenues in excess of $1 billion in the south central region. He and his wife Kate are both extremely excited to be living in the Dallas area and to be a part of the Cox and SMU communities.

Travis leveraged his lifelong love of technology to enter the IT field, but is also an avid outdoorsman, film buff, and foodie. He and his wife Kate love to explore new restaurants and entertain, as well as going to Rangers games. Post-graduation they hope to stay in the metroplex area and start a family.

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Carsten Pedersen
MBA Class of 2015

Carsten Pedersen was born in San Antonio, Texas but spent a majority of his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina where he graduated from high school. He attended Texas A&M University where he studied Petroleum Engineering. Upon graduation he accepted a position with Chesapeake Energy where he split his time between the Oklahoma City corporate office and field locations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. During his time in the field he was responsible for the daily operations on a drilling rig, gaining experience across a broad range of oil and natural gas formations and exposure to a variety of drilling/completion methods. While in the office he oversaw the planning process leading up to the drilling of a well, working closely with the geology, land, regulatory, and operations teams.

Carsten is excited to make the move back to Texas and continue his education at Cox where he plans to focus in energy finance and entrepreneurship. His long-term career goal is to start and operate an oil and gas exploration and production company. An avid traveler, he has been to nine different countries on four continents. He enjoys being a youth leader at First Baptist Dallas, reading, and spending time outdoors. In his spare time he likes to cover Nickelback songs at open mic’s.

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Austin Prentice
MBA Class of 2015

Austin Prentice completed his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with Biology minor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  While at SMU, Austin took a very active role in campus life and student affairs.  He served all aspects of campus his senior year as the 98th Student Body President and Student Representative to the Board of Trustees, Student Affairs Committee.  While president, Austin worked tirelessly on student fee allocations, health center modifications and overall student community.

Following graduation in May 2012, Austin moved to Boston, Massachusetts to work as a Trip Coordinator on the Romney For President campaign.  In this position he planned, coordinated and executed political events for Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan and top surrogates across the country and around the world.  Spending copious time consulting and strategizing how best to represent Mr. Romney through messages, attendees and locations, Austin guided teams throughout the swing states.  Austin was privileged to coordinate Congressman Paul Ryan’s Vice Presidential announcement in Norfolk, Virginia.

As the campaign concluded shortly after Election Night, Austin decided to pursue business school instead of moving to Washington DC or elsewhere to continue working in politics. Austin plans to concentrate in finance with a specialization in alternative assets while at SMU Cox and hopes to transition into management consulting upon graduation.

Having grown up in Portland, Oregon, Austin thoroughly enjoys spending time outdoors golfing, hiking, fishing and hunting.  Preferring the mountains to the beaches, Austin will never miss a chance to explore somewhere new.  Austin loves spending time socializing with friends while watching his favorite soccer or football teams play.

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Leo Qian
MBA Class of 2015

Leo Qian was born and grew up in Nanjing, China, a city 200 miles west of Shanghai. He completed high school in China and then moved to the United State with his parents.  He received his bachelor's degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas in 2006 and graduated summa cum laude. Leo worked for a local CPA firm in Dallas for two years after graduating from college, and then accepted a position as staff accountant at Intermet Corporation, where he had a chance to handle different functions across areas.  One year later, he joined Core Financial Group, a subsidiary of American Capital, specialized in asset base lending and venture financing. 

Leo is excited about going back SMU Cox for his MBA. He plans to pursue concentrations in Accounting and Entrepreneurship. He believes that the study will help him transition into a career in entrepreneurship related consulting. Leo hopes to participate in a Global Leadership Program trip to Asia, where he will have the chance to understand how to succeed in a different business environment. In his free time, Leo enjoys traveling and playing table tennis, and of course, he is a huge fan of the Dallas Mavericks.

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Michelle Qian
MBA Class of 2015

Michelle grew up in Shanghai, China and completed her Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Fudan University. In 2011, Michelle moved to Dallas with her family. Before that, Michelle worked for the Alumni Relations Office of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) as an alumni relations officer from 2006 to 2011. CEIBS is the first and the best business school in mainland China offering a full-time MBA, an EMBA, and a wide array of Executive Education programs. CEIBS alumni networks include most of the owners and CEOs of the Top 500 Chinese companies and government officials. To explore overseas business opportunities for CEIBS alumni, Michelle led CEIBS alumni overseas investment opportunity exploration tours in the United States, Canada and Japan in the last three years of her tenure with CEIBS. These projects brought opportunities for CEIBS alumni to gain global insights, enlarge overseas networks and explore profitable business opportunities. Besides, Michelle organized hundreds of various events including seminars, forums, company visits and social activities. Her role as an alumni relations officer allowed her to develop close long-term relationships with Chinese entrepreneurs, which continue to the present day. In the past two years, Michelle has been dedicated to found CEIBS Alumni Association U.S.A., a group of over two hundred CEIBS alumni who have businesses, real estates and other investments in the United States. Michelle clearly understands the visions, expectations and resources of Chinese entrepreneurs which leads her to her career objective: to be a liaison between Chinese and American markets and entrepreneurs to facilitate bilateral business cooperation and positively influence the two economies.

Michelle has a great passion for drama performance and singing. She performed in Shanghai Drama Art Center in 2003 and 2004, and has been a first soprano in the choir of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Plano since 2011.

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Andrew Rehwinkel
MBA Class of 2015

Andrew Rehwinkel grew up in Dallas, Texas, and completed his bachelor's degree in psychology from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  While in college, Andrew was a research assistant at GU Hospital Cognitive Neuroscience Lab and earned four varsity letters on Georgetown's football team.  Andrew also earned a master's degree in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

For the past six years, Andrew worked at the Institute for Defense Analyses, which is a non-partisan defense-orientated think tank in Alexandria, VA.  At IDA, Andrew performed research on varying issues within the US Department of Defense to include defense acquisition and resource management, strategic force planning, and policy analysis.  Within this role, Andrew traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central America to support the building of partnership capabilities as well.  While at SMU, Andrew plans to pursue concentrations in finance and business analytics, and he plans to transition into a consulting role post-MBA.

Andrew is very excited to return to Dallas and thrilled his enthusiasm for the Dallas Cowboys will no longer be met with teasing!  In his free time, Andrew enjoys participating in recreational sports leagues, reading, running, and relaxing with friends and family.

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Karen Ribar
MBA Class of 2015

Karen Ribar grew up in California and completed her bachelor’s degree in Business Economics and Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara. During her junior year she interned with Deloitte in the San Francisco Audit practice and upon graduation accepted a full time position. In 2005, Karen joined PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Dispute Analysis and Investigations practice where she engaged in stock option investigations, licensing reviews, and dispute settlements. In addition, during her time at PwC, Karen became a licensed CPA and transferred to New York City.  Karen eventually decided to leave public accounting and accepted a position at the XO Group Inc., headquartered in New York City, as a business manager in Corporate Development. During her five year tenure with the XO Group, Karen held various positions and in her most recent roles, as Senior Manager of Advertising Operations and Director of Business Development, she had the opportunity to analyze key performance indicators, design and implement process efficiencies, evaluate strategic partnerships and create business plans for new revenue opportunities.

At SMU Cox, Karen plans to pursue concentrations in strategic management and business analytics. She also plans to become an active member in the Women in Business Club, as well as, participate in many other programs. Post-MBA, Karen would like to transition into the consumer products or retail industry in a corporate strategy and/or business development role.

Karen currently lives in Dallas with her husband Brandon and their adorable puppy Oliver. In her free time, Karen enjoys traveling, cooking, socializing with friends, and taking Oliver to the park. She also loves to stay active and plays golf, softball, and flag football, in case anyone needs a teammate. Karen is looking forward to meeting all of her classmates in the fall and is excited about being part of the Cox MBA community!

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Becky Ross
MBA Class of 2015

Becky Ross’s mission, simply stated, is to “Make Money, Have Fun, and Give Back!”  She grew up in McKinney, Texas, has learned to appreciate this basic philosophy, and is seeking the business expertise to make it happen.

Becky graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2008.  During school, she studied abroad in London, and received an International Business Certificate from the McCombs School of Business.  After working as a Systems Engineer for Rockwell Collins, she transitioned to a Los Angeles-based business consulting career at Accenture.  Becky excelled in directing the change management work stream for the installation of an Investment Portfolio Management Solution.  She established herself as an Accenture subject matter expert for Portfolio Management offerings to structure the client’s enterprise portfolio, conducted portfolio scenarios, and helped maximize the client’s return on investment.  In addition, Becky provided project management support for two mergers and acquisition projects during her time with Accenture.

Becky is a diverse, enthusiastic, and caring individual who believes hard work and a well-rounded business sense will help her achieve her long-term goal of owning and growing a successful business.  She looks forward to SMU’s Strategy and Entrepreneurship concentration while building her marketing knowledge.  She plans to work for a consumer products company, gain experience in this industry, and eventually start-up a boutique consumer products business.

Becky is a true product of her surroundings.  California beaches remain close to her heart, however, when back in Texas, she naturally slips into her cowgirl boots for frequent trips to the family ranch.  She manages a small wine club of 500 members and volunteers at SRS Distribution Inc. as a director of their non-profit entity, The “SRS” Raise The Roof Foundation.  She looks forward to continuing these efforts while attending SMU.

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Jack Schwimmer
MBA Class of 2015

Jack Schwimmer is a recent graduate of Arizona State University, where he majored in saxophone performance and minored in political science. As a member of Barrett Honors College, he was the recipient of the Honors Graduate Award for Creative Excellence. He has extensively researched the composers of Theresienstadt, a Nazi propaganda camp where Jews were given artistic freedoms unparalleled in the rest of occupied Europe. This work culminated in his thesis, Forgotten Voices: The Lives, Deaths, and Works of Four Theresienstadt Composers.

As a saxophonist, Jack has performed with artists such as the Temptations, the Phoenix Symphony, the Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, George Benson, Peter Erskine, and Joe Lovano. He also has been a featured soloist with the ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Concert Band. Jack maintains a private teaching studio, with saxophone and clarinet students ranging in age from nine to sixty-six, and led sectionals and master classes for the Phoenix Youth Symphony, Interlochen Arts Camp, and various middle schools and high schools. He has worked in the president’s office and as an ensemble manager at Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he discovered his passion for arts management. An Arizonan since age seven, Jack is very excited to be moving to Dallas, and to be a part of the MA/MBA in Arts Management program at SMU.

Jack hopes to utilize his passion for the arts and business knowledge to effect social change through music education. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and listening to music, running, hiking, traveling, eating, and spending time with great people.

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Nick Wu
MBA Class of 2015

Nick Wu grew up in Tainan City, the most ancient city in Taiwan, and completed his bachelor degree in Business Administration from National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan. He worked in legal department of Philips Taiwan as an intern during senior year. He also joined army, serving as a combat infantry officer, to sharpen his leadership skills upon graduation. For past five years, he worked in one of most renowned electronic component agent company, Watson Bell, in Taiwan. He not only led a team, serving giant companies such as SAMSUNG, but also helped mid-small sized company, such as Heptagon or Hymite, to expand their business in great Asia area.

During recent two years, Nick was reassigned to new position to establish a new BU promoting optical components and energy products, including LEDs and lithium-ion batteries. After experiencing disastrous earthquake in Japan during his business trip in 2011, Nick realized that energy business could be next promising industry. Therefore, he would like to concentrate on Strategy and Entrepreneurship at SMU Cox and seek for global opportunities in energy industries, making this world better with viable energy solutions.

Nick is excited to relocate to Dallas and to start new life there. Experiencing American lifestyle is the top priority item on his to-do list, and Texas is definitely the place to fulfill this dream. Nick plays survival game during his leisure time and expects to join new team there. Also he loves outdoor activities, such as Jogging and cycling. Nick is looking forward becoming a Cox Ambassadors to market SMU Cox in great Asia area so that he can introduce advantages of studying in Cox and Texas to more Taiwanese!

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