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Admissions Director Q&A: Rodrigo Malta of Texas McCombs

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Rodrigo Malta, Managing Director of MBA Marketing, Recruiting & Admissions at the Texas McCombs School of Business, joins us to reveal what’s new about McCombs’ admissions and more in this edition of our MBA Admissions Director Q&A series.

Originally from Brazil, Rodrigo cites that one of his proudest moments was becoming a US citizen in 2008, which was the same year he joined Texas McCombs as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Lead Diversity Recruiter for the full-time MBA Program. His current role as Managing Director covers Texas McCombs’ Full Time, Evening, Weekend – Dallas, Weekend – Houston and Executive MBA programs. When he’s not driving diversity, equity, inclusion and collaboration at the leading b-school, he enjoys margaritas, tacos and his three dogs with his husband in Austin.

Read on for Rodrigo’s insights into the MBA program, how their admissions process has changed this year and more.

Clear Admit: Will the applicant experience look different this year? If so, please elaborate.
Rodrigo Malta: Texas McCombs has implemented significant updates to the Full-Time MBA application for the 2022-23 admissions cycle! Key highlights from the application changes include:

  • All applicants will be able to complete all application components, ensuring equal access to all MBA candidates.
  • There are now more ways for applicants to speak directly with Texas McCombs via our new Video Assessment, in addition to the written essay.
  • Applicants will have more flexibility when considering how to demonstrate their academic readiness in their application. MBA candidates can now submit valid or expired GMATGRE, or EA. Additionally, applicants may petition to have the test requirement waived by the admissions committee.

Application requirements for the cycle include:

  • Standardized Test (GMAT, GRE, EA) or merit-based test waiver (new)
  • English Proficiency Test (TOEFL, IELTS) or waiver (international students only)
  • Undergraduate transcripts and graduate transcripts (if applicable)
  • Resume
  • One Professional Letter of Recommendation
  • One Written Essay (new)
  • Video Assessment (new)
  • Optional: Texas McCombs Admissions Connection (new)

Prospective students can learn more about the changes to our application requirements here.

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read an essay? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?
RM: We are excited to share that we have streamlined our application process and decreased the number of required essays from 2 to 1.  Our essay prompt for this year is: “Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your time as a Texas McCombs MBA to achieve your personal and professional goals. (500 words)”.

Your response to the Texas McCombs essay prompt is an integral part of sharing your unique story with the Admissions Committee. The most successful essays thoughtfully address the prompt, clearly communicate why you want to attend Texas McCombs, and authentically share who you are.

The essay provides an opportunity to explain why you want an MBA and why Texas McCombs is the right place for you to pursue your studies. By describing what you’re excited about and your plans as an MBA, we will understand your career plan, learn what you’re passionate about, and discover how you want to develop yourself both in and out of the classroom. Read more about our expectations for essays here.

CA: What is your testing policy? Do you offer exam waivers? Why or why not?
RM: Texas McCombs MBA Admissions is excited to share that MBA candidates have more options than ever before when considering how to complete the standardized test requirement in their application.

All applicants are required to submit a GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment (EA) test score.  We will waive the testing requirement if:

  • An expired (taken 5+ years ago) GMAT, GRE, or EA test score is submitted or
  • General Test Waiver (merit-based) is approved

Applicants should remember that standardized exams like the GMAT, GRE, EA, TOEFL, and IELTS help us evaluate a candidate’s academic preparedness for the rigor of business school and are one metric used to compare candidates within a large pool of applicants.  Additionally, preparing for and taking an MBA admissions exam is one of the best ways to get your mind back into academic mode as you prepare for business school.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision?

RM: Our admissions committee members participate in reading and evaluating candidates during every cycle. Once the application read is complete and video assessment evaluated, the committee will discuss applications and make a final decision. Our process for admission is a holistic one. It’s a collaborative process and although we have standardized many of the steps, it may look a little different for each application.

CA: What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
RM: Our award-winning faculty members. Having the resources of UT Austin—a large world-class university—supporting the McCombs School of Business means we can recruit the best and brightest around the world to join our faculty. Add our diverse students to the mix and this is the perfect recipe for lively class discussions and an amazing learning environment.

A recent announcement that is worth highlighting – 14 of our 23 concentrations in the full-time MBA program are now STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) certified, demonstrating a level of quantitative rigor across the MBA program. Learn more about STEM certified concentrations here.

CA: Tell us briefly about two popular courses at your institution.
RM: Business & Policy in the Age of Inequality

About the Course: Both within the United States and in a number of other developed countries, wage inequality has risen dramatically over the past forty years. Everyone in society, and especially in business, should be deeply concerned with rising inequality. In particular, inequality threatens the vision most of us have of our capitalist system, which now provides less social mobility than in prior decades. Business leaders have increasingly realized that rampant inequality threatens the foundations upon which the success of their companies relies and that they can, with some creativity, do something to ameliorate the problem.

As part of this course, students take a closer look at the causes and consequences of rising inequality, with an eye towards examining how recent business trends and popular business practices may contribute to its rise. Should business play a role in softening the blow of these practices and if so how? These are the types of questions students will discuss and debate in this course. The goals if for this class to teach students how to think about inequality and its implications in their role as managers and as citizens, and how to deal proactively with the consequences of this pervasive phenomenon. This course is taught by Adam Cobb, Associate Professor – Business, Government & Society Department at Texas McCombs. Adam holds an MBA from Texas McCombs and a PhD in Management from Michigan Ross.

Innovation and Leadership
About the Course: Effectively generating innovation and change is critical to the survival and growth of organizations and is an essential component of leadership. This course draws on various theoretical foundations and business cases to develop knowledge and skills in enhancing organizational performance through effective leadership of innovation and change. Among the components of innovation and change leadership covered in the course are: understanding and overcoming organizational barriers to innovation and change, developing organizational capabilities for innovation, leading innovation and change at various levels in the organization, stimulating individual and group creativity, developing and nurturing an innovative culture, structuring innovation activities, managing the innovation implementation process, challenging orthodoxies and assumptions to develop innovations and implement change, and directing planned and emergent change. This course is taught by Alex Davern who is the former CEO of National Instruments (Ni). He is a current Board Member of NI, Inc, Cirrus Logic, FARO Technologies, and Chairman of ESI-Group.

CA: As we learn to live with COVID-19, campuses have opened up and students are back. What about prospective students? Will they have the opportunity to visit campus?
RM: Experiencing the Texas McCombs community firsthand is one of the best ways to gain valuable insight on your fit with our MBA culture. Prospective students can join us at numerous events to learn about the Full-Time MBA program virtually, on-campus in Austin, or in a city near them.

We are extremely excited to welcome prospective students to our new MBA building, Rowling Hall, and host them for a variety of campus events. In addition to building tours and in-person chats with current students, prospective students can join us for a Discover McCombs: Campus Visit experience event.

At Discover McCombs, prospective students can learn more about the Full-Time MBA at Texas McCombs and interact with students and staff. Every Discover McCombs event will include an info session, student panel, and Rowling Hall building tour. Some dates will include a mock class or optional networking event with a student organization. We will have six of these showcase events through the fall. Prospective students can reserve their spot here.

CA: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?
RM: Hands down the diversity of our class! We bring together academically accomplished students from all corners of the world with unique personal stories and stellar professional backgrounds.

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.