Real Humans: Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, Executive MBA


James Reade Dawson, Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, Executive MBA Class of 2022

School and Program: 

Rice Jones Executive MBA Program


Nacogdoches, Texas. Nacogdoches is the oldest town in Texas. We love the beautiful rolling hills and tall pines!

James Reade Dawson, Rice Jones Executive MBA Class of 2022

Undergraduate Institution & Major: 

Stephen F. Austin State University, Environmental Science.
I have always had a love for the land! I wanted to make a lasting contribution to environmental stewardship.

Pre-MBA Work Experience:

I have been professionally engaged for twenty years in the Upstream Oil and Gas industry. My main focus in this industry has been the water space. Developing infrastructure for reliable water supply chains to service upstream development. I truly enjoy the challenge of finding solutions that are environmentally responsible and economically sustainable to service the robust oil and gas industry in America!

Why Business School?  Why Now?

During my career, I have built, developed, and matured many businesses from the ground up. I enjoy tackling challenges at full throttle. Without surprise, there are often major swings in the economic climates that we work in. I have found the biggest challenge in business development is timing! Your entrance and exit strategies are pivotal to your success. I recognized that I needed a better toolset to help identify and execute timing in my business models to realize success. I also knew that The Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice offered those tools. This was the most important driver for me attending business school now!

Why did you pick your school/program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?

In my professional life I have encountered multiple peers whose business acumen and performance impressed me. The majority of these people had one thing in common: the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. I researched the programs offered, and it became clear to me the Jones School was a perfect fit. I also really appreciated that an Executive program was offered, which placed me in classes with peers who had similar experience levels.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your graduating class?

Unity is incredibly important to me. Creating unity among my class, team associates, and work peers is by far my most valuable contribution and championed goal. As I mentioned earlier, I have founded many businesses and experience has taught me one very important lesson; businesses consist of a collection of people working together. “Together” being the key word. In my opinion, unity is the driving principle that equates to success in business.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?

I love farming! My home is a working small farm. I love raising my family on a small diversified working farm. It is a great way to keep things in perspective. Farming has definitely shaped my business strategies. I have found that conservative forecasting in business models is a very valuable trait.

Post-MBA Career Interests:

I am very interested in forming a Venture Capital group focused on the interconnectivity of energy and agriculture. Our work will center on new technologies that add value and create efficiencies in this space. I believe that food equity is a major problem and warrants investment to solve the many complicated challenges associated with modern nutrient and calorie demands.

Advice to current prospective applicants:

Be honest and real about why you want to attend graduate school, how you are going to fit schoolwork into your already busy schedule, and what you desire to learn during your graduate school experience. My key takeaway is that graduate school will immediately begin filling the gaps in your professional life that you were unaware of, and that is a good thing!

What is your initial impression of the school’s students/culture/community?

My experience at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University has made the impression on me that the students, culture, and community all have at their core, care and compassion for one another. Rice is a school where we lift each other up, applying an attitude of unity while simultaneously encouraging personal growth. Your teammates, professors, and you will go on an amazing journey together that will result in surprising and exciting outcomes.

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