2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Raye E. Perez, Emory University (Goizueta)

Raye E. Perez

Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Learning leader humbled in the experience of fatherhood and forged in the fire of combat.”

Age: 36

Hometown: Bishop, TX

Family Members: I have a large family with 4 siblings. My mom, Gloria Perez, is still in Texas along with the rest. I met an amazing woman named Kacey Ramirez, who I have been married to several years.   We have a 3 year-old energetic beautiful baby girl named Olivia.

Fun fact about yourself: I love to cook. I think this comes from my family and watching my mom cook, but either way, it’s like a mini-vacation when I get the chance to cook for my family or friends.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BA Organizational Management from Ashford University

Where are you currently working? 75th Ranger Regiment, United States Army

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: Led three 45-man teams over 12 combat rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve served three years as a Leadership Development Director in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and currently a 75th Ranger Regiment Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives, dissecting complex problems through military design methodology. COO of Gold Star Scholars, a non-profit startup looking to support gold start families in their education and career goals.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was very proud of being chosen to present our IMPACT recommendation to Coke. We have some very talented people in our class and to be chosen to present was very rewarding after watching the hard work our team put in to be ready.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was recently nominated for the United States Army Special Operations Command Excalibur Award for transforming the 75th Ranger Regiments Ranger School Preparation Program, utilizing behavioral techniques to increase positive student outcomes. This resulted in a 23% increase in student success in less than 24 months, historic growth in terms of this program and school. However, I am most proud of this because of the cadre and students that I met during this life-changing point in my career, they made me believe that helping one another grow, vastly outweighs a desire to weed out the weak.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Another hard one, but Klaas Baks, would be my choice. Klaas seemed to be invested in the future of every student he actively reaches out to both in and out of class, not just retention of his content, phenomenal representation of what an educator can be. 

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I am an enlisted soldier. When people see enlisted guys on movies they often think of “doers” not “thinkers”. Emory did not see that when they saw me. They did not judge me for a rank, they saw me for my work ethic and my overall potential.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The collaboration with a diverse cohort with opinions and perspectives that I would never have experienced in rapid succession like this.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I’ve used course content for strategy, marketing, decision and data analysis, leadership and lifework, advanced corporate finance, and process and system management heavily. One small example of this was utilizing a needs-based survey to determine pain points in our enlisted population development channels, leading to the implementation of holistic health and professional development program in our organization.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? My weekday schedule was, wake up at 4AM Study for 45 minutes, drive 30 minutes to work, then work for 11 hours, listen to a case study on the way home, meditate for short 5 minute stints, draw 2 minute pictures to stay creative, and always commit time to dinner and bath time for my daughter. Then start studying or team calls from the hours of 7 PM-9 PM. I would be lying if I said that I was not pushed to my limits balancing school with my military and family commitments. If you draw out that day, my family is the one that made the real sacrifice.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? You owe it to yourself to do it. There will never be a perfect time in life.  If you are 10-15 years along in your career, decide to sacrifice for your own personal development before someone sacrifices your time for you.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I think the biggest myth is just simply saying school is boring. Many of our topics were quite exciting, take that from a man who jumps out of airplanes. Step into a Corporate Finance Class with Professor Shehzad Mian and you will see what I mean. He takes you on a journey every single class, phenomenal. 

What was your biggest regret in business school? I heard this in the beginning, and I did it as well. I regret not getting more time with my classmates on weekends off. Like many of my military experiences, the MBA experience seems to provide a shared hardship that is hard to simulate elsewhere. My MBA class is my family now, Emory is more than a school to me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is really hard to answer, but when it comes down to it I think one person in particular sticks out after working with her on two teams. Cassidy Jones, President at DataComm Electronics, has an immense amount of potential in any business. Cassidy shows up, performs, and guides other to do the same with the tact and discipline of an experienced leader.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school…when I saw the course content and talked to Captain Colin Smith, a Weekend MBA ‘19, about the impact of the MBA experience in his life.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? CEO of a Human Performance Consulting Firm serving education, healthcare, military, law enforcement, and athletic program leadership with custom Leadership Development Plans and onboarding, creating aligned organizational culture by priming life changing behavior.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope I am remembered as calm and collected in the face of stress, and grateful for having met them.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Cook dinner for my wife on the Italian Coast and write a book about my unique experiences of developing young leaders in the 75th Ranger Regiment

What made Raye such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020?

“Raye Perez was an invaluable member to the class of 2020. Raye overcame many obstacles to even attend Emory and this Master’s Program to become the first active noncommissioned officer under the Ft. Benning fellowship. He is the heart of the W20 cohort and he unites them together through sharing his insightful perspectives in and out of the classroom, through his life experiences on the battlefield and through his genuine heart and infectious laughter. Raye quickly became the big brother to many in the cohort.

He has been engaged in every facet of this programs experience. Not only does he travel and stay away from his family during class weekends, he ensured he was present for everything including CMC weekend courses, after hours week night prep sessions with faculty, Leadership Reaction trainings with General Keen, and programs like “Designing Your Life” to name a few. He is not only engaged in the classroom but outside the classroom socializing and building thoughtful and purposeful relationships with his classmates

Raye embodies every core value this university stands behind – He is a man of integrity, one who holds his classmates accountable for their actions and words, one who seeks rigor and embraces the challenges life presents. A man of the people embracing every aspect of diversity and most importantly, one who believes in the strength of a team and community versus the power of any one individual.”

Jaclyn Conner
Associate Dean, Executive MBA


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