Hank Thompson

High-octane career moves

After landing a dream internship, Hank Thompson sets his sights on energy

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois.
Former life: Marketed college programs in technology and engineering.
Future life: Corporate finance career with an oil and gas focus.
Cool fact: He competed on the crew team at Lewis and Clark College.

Leaving his mark: Hank founded TCU’s MBA Energy Club to bring together students targeting careers in energy, a well-positioned industry with growth on the horizon. The club traveled to Houston to attend the NAPE expo (the world’s largest oil and gas prospect event), toured the manufacturing plant at Dresser (a world leader in energy and power equipment) and met with an energy analyst at Fayez & Seraphim (an investment firm managing $21 billion in assets). “A lot of students here were interested in energy, and many of the part-time MBAs were already working in energy-related businesses. We had all the right elements in place to get started.”

Living large: Landing a dream internship with the billion-dollar endowment at Cook Children’s Medical Center was a chance to gain invaluable investment experience generating reports for different sectors, conducting risk analysis and learning about industries beyond energy. But Hank didn’t have to secure the internship all alone. TCU’s team of career coaches helped him get there. “The Graduate Career Center was really supportive. They helped me at every step of the way — from putting my overall strategy in place to setting up interviews to getting lots of face time with execs.”

A cut above: Earning his Chartered Financial Analyst certification as part of his MBA is a major plus. He prepped for the Level 1 CFA exam — and earned TCU credit while doing it — to give his resume an extra kick. “CFA certification separates you from the pack. A lot of people compare CFA to the MBA, but for finance. It shows that you can dive deep and that you have the highest level of technical understanding.”

Let’s talk: A private chat with Michael Fischer, vice president of Energy Future Holdings and a major player in the deregulation of Texas electricity, helped focus Hank’s career plans. During a C-Level Confidential dinner, he heard Fischer’s advice about growing up in a big family (always count the kids before you drive away from the gas pump) and navigating a career path (get comfortable with being uncomfortable). “When you do a job at his level, you see the same mistakes over and over that keep people from getting promoted. He helped us learn how to keep our careers moving forward.”

Bigger in Texas: Although the growing economy lured him to Texas, Fort Worth’s laid-back, friendly lifestyle has helped him settle in. He likes to meet friends for tacos in Joe T. Garcia’s courtyard or catch bands like Reckless Kelly at clubs downtown. “In Fort Worth, if you want to find a good restaurant, you don’t just go on Yelp and take your chances. You ask people for their recommendations — and, trust me, that works! Angelo’s has a stuffed bear mounted in the restaurant and looks like the place hasn’t changed in 30 years. You can’t get barbecue like that in Chicago!”

Team spirit: Working with his yearlong project team — a lawyer, a Fort Worth native and two international students — has been a highlight. “I have a team sports background from rowing college crew, but I’m still developing better teamwork skills at TCU. When you’re with the same MBA team all year, it’s worth your time to invest more. You’ve have to be absolutely committed if you’re going to be successful.”

Personal touch: He’s experienced TCU’s personal touches in everything from classroom instruction to career coaching. “All the staff is engaged in helping students reach their goals, and that comes through in everything they do. Your professors spend extra time with you after class. You’re getting a lot more attention than you’d get at most schools.”

Hank

“TCU is known for being a strong school and for having hard-working students. The reputation of the school is something that stays with you throughout your career.”

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