When Natalie Smith first came to Rice as a full-time MBA student, she was under the impression that she would end up being an investment banker. But through her time in the program, and learning from different perspectives, she found a new calling in mergers & acquisitions.
After graduating in 2017, Natalie joined EY as a senior consultant for transaction advisory services, progressing to director, before becoming the senior director of mergers and acquisitions strategy and operations for EY-Parthenon.
She sits down with host Scott Gale ‘19 to discuss her early years working offshore with bp, her dreams of reaching the C-suite in the oil industry, working and living in China, and starting her own clothing business, Sisterly Village.
Why she chose Rice07:50 - In order to study for my MBA, I knew that it would need to be local. And so, Rice, to me, is the top school here. It was a no brainer for me. They're phenomenal when it comes to finance and entrepreneurship. They have a wonderful department. They have a strong network not only here in Texas, but nationally. And, that's what I wanted to be able to walk away with.
Favorite things about Houston26:24 - Houston is a very busy place. I like the Southern hospitality aspect, the ability to meet so many different people.
The pivot from investment banking to consultant10:42 - I didn't foresee myself ever becoming a consultant. And it's amazing that I've pivoted to consulting and made a full career out of it.
Challenges working in M&A17:55 - I'd say the critical challenge is the fact that this is a people business. And so there are multiple personalities, and there are multiple agendas when it comes to transactions and ensuring that our clients win You want your client to win. You want them to know that the advice that we're providing them is trustworthy as well as credible.
More great things about Rice27:55 - We're known for small cohorts. So the relationships that you build are a lot stronger. You know everybody and everybody knows you very well, and you’re family. Many of my classmates, they've looked after my children and we still hang out to this very day, and help each other with our careers as well.