Jonathan Estrada (BBA ’08)
Networking to Success
For Jonathan Estrada, the decision to attend the Cox School was an easy one. When researching universities, he ran across the list of names of the Cox Executive Board and knew SMU was the school for him.
"I believe that your network is your net worth and success in any industry is built on meaningful relationships," said Estrada. "With board members like Bobby B. Lyle, David Miller, Ross Perot Jr, and Peter Brundage, SMU quickly gained my attention."
When The Economist ranked the Cox School #1 in the United States for "potential to network" Estrada's decision was sealed. Once enrolled, Estrada began creating his own high powered network, tailored to his career goals and personal style. He became active in the SMU Cox Alumni Association and attended the Ernst and Young Management Briefing Series. Estrada sought the advice of Kevin Knox in external relations and Cox professors including Brian Bruce, director of the ENCAP Investments & LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center and Harvey Rosenblum, executive vice president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank.
"SMU Cox helped me achieve my goals by connecting me with the right people who could mentor and guide me along the way," he said. "One seed can often branch out and multiply."
During his freshman year, Estrada approached Bobby Lyle, chairman, president and CEO of Lyco Holdings Incorporated, because he knew he wanted to work in the energy industry. He was curious to learn more about Lyle's successful start-up venture, Lyco Energy, a privately owned oil and gas exploration company. Lyle became Estrada's mentor and friend, and upon graduation, he offered Estrada a chance to work on potential energy deals through Lyco Holdings, where he is currently an analyst.
Estrada also worked with Cox Executive Board Member David Miller, managing director of EnCap Investments, L.L.C., as a summer analyst. He learned of EnCap, the leading provider of private equity to the independent sector of the U.S. oil & gas industry, through the company's participation in the Cox Alternative Asset Program.
All of this experience will help Estrada achieve his goal of becoming a deal-maker at a private equity firm specifically focused on the energy industry, where he will have the opportunity to participate in the entire investment process.
"I want to gain the expertise needed to find a good company to buy, sit on their boards to advise and help run their company, and eventually sell that company or take it public," he said.
The most important skills Estrada learned at SMU Cox were those associated with fostering and building relationships. He credits the Cox network for helping get his career off the ground and laying the groundwork towards his ultimate goal. Estrada advises current Cox students to do everything possible to meet new people by leveraging the Cox network.
"There is no such thing as a self-made man," he said. "The more people you know, the more opportunities will come your way and the more help you'll get at critical junctures in your life."