Peter Patnaude (MBA ’04)
The Cox School and Peter Patnaude Help Cultivate Tribal Connections
Native Americans constitute less than one percent of the enrollment at U.S. business schools today, and they are one of the minority groups least likely to get a college or graduate degree. The Cox School is blazing new trails in an attempt to change that.
Led by Steve Denson, director of diversity and a member of the Chickasaw Nation, Cox is the first and only business school to implement a program aimed at recruiting Native American students. As a result, 12 Native American students are currently enrolled at Cox and two have graduated.
One of these graduates is Peter Patnaude (MBA ’04), a member of the Chippewa tribe. Patnaude is the business director for the central region of Staubach Retail, a part of The Staubach Company. He credits much of his success to a strong network of business contacts bolstered by his connections through Cox, where Denson introduced him to a world of Native American businesses and business leaders that he never knew existed. Patnaude stresses that landing a dream job requires starting to make contacts early in the MBA program and developing a detailed game plan.
“The events and programs available to students through the Cox School are exceptional, but they are only the first step in developing a strong professional network,” said Patnaude. “I scheduled one-on-one meetings with executives in the Cox Associate Board mentoring program, several Cox alumni, and contacts from my days serving in the U.S. Navy. While it takes persistence and flexibility to get face time with many top-level executives, I cannot remember a single person who would not meet with me.”
During his free time, Patnaude works with his father, overseeing the financial aspects of his real estate development company, Black Eagle Inc. He attributes his Cox MBA for providing him with the financial skills necessary to help the family business, which seeks to transform native communities by providing them with affordable housing and workplaces.
“In Indian Country today, we have thriving businesses and corporations, such as Black Eagle Inc.” said Denson. “For tribal governments and their citizens to remain competitive, it is important to encourage young American Indian talent and foster future business leaders through advanced degrees and MBA programs.”
Whether Cox’s Native American MBAs take their business skills back home to benefit their tribes, remain a part of the Dallas business community, or pursue jobs on Wall Street, the school will continue to recruit and provide opportunities for American Indian students while simultaneously broadening its network within the Native American business community.