The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of the Rice Jones MBA Class of 2023 » Page 5

Real Humans of the Rice Jones MBA Class of 2023

Image for Real Humans of the Rice Jones MBA Class of 2023

rice jones mba classGular Shahtakhtinskaya, Rice Jones MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Baku, Azerbaijan 
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Bachelor in American Studies, Azerbaijan University of Languages 
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry):  2 years in human resources in the professional services industry, and 2 years in the hospitality industry 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Prior to joining the MBA program, I worked as a ruman resources specialist. My job was very diverse, dynamic, and I worked closely with upper management. It was clear to me that if I wanted to become a strong leader, I needed to acquire a well-rounded business acumen. I was surrounded by talented individuals in finance, audit and consulting. Being a naturally curious person and wanting to expand my knowledge, I became interested in exploring different business functions. It was important for me to improve my leadership, communication and other soft skills.  The MBA is an excellent program that accommodated my needs in this regard.

Why did you choose Rice Jones? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
When choosing an MBA program, a supportive community was very important to me in the first place. I had an opportunity to visit the Rice Jones campus, attend mock classes, meet Rice Business students, and participate in the Women and Diversity Preview Weekends. I was captured by the collaborative spirit of the school and the level of student engagement supported by the small cohort size. Secondly, I wanted to be academically challenged. I was attracted by the rigorous curriculum of the program and a selection of practical courses. Rice Business offers many experiential learning opportunities to apply classroom concepts in practice. Lastly, I enjoy learning about different cultures, and, being situated in one of the most diverse cities, Rice Business was a perfect fit for me.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
From early childhood, I’ve had a unique opportunity to have diverse experiences both personally and professionally. I have lived and studied in four countries, traveled and volunteered abroad. Professionally, I have always worked in international companies with people from various countries. I hope to share these experiences and my diverse perspective with the Class of 2023.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
When I speak with family and friends from home, I can mix three languages.

Post-MBA career interests:
Technology and Consulting

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Attending pre-MBA recruiting events and meeting students and alumni. It helped to see where I could be a good fit.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have started the application process earlier. This process is a journey that makes you reflect on your career and think about what you want to get out of the MBA. Starting earlier would have also given me more time to prepare for GMAT, work more on my essays, and talk with more students.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The most challenging part for me were the essays because I had to think deep, properly reflect, and understand what I want to get from and how I can contribute to the program. Support from my family and their words of inspiration helped me.

What is your initial impression of the Rice Jones’ students/culture/community?
The class is very diverse – I have classmates from all over the world and from a wide range of industries and functions. I am surrounded by talented individuals from multiple disciplines who I constantly learn from. The Rice Business culture is very friendly, and everyone is there to help.

What is one thing you have learned about Rice Jones that has surprised you?
Before starting my MBA, I was concerned about not having a formal business education. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support Rice Business provides to ensure academic success.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
It prolonged my initial admission plans due to travel and visa delays. During this period, I learned to become more resilient, which I was able to express in my application.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
MBA programs can be intensive. I am most anxious about balancing schoolwork, club activities, recruiting, and ensuring that I am connecting with my classmates.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Meeting new people, connecting with my cohort and expanding my knowledge!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.