Daniel Graham

“This is something I could talk about in every single interview.”

TCU’s consulting teams fuel Daniel Graham’s career

Hometown: Jacksboro, Texas.
Former life: Software trainer for the Texas Legal Council.
Future life: Working on the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
Cool fact: He won the prestigious Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarship for grad students with an entrepreneurial bent.

Rock solid: In a career that included everything from non-profit program manager to contract pyrotechnician, Dan had one component missing: a straight-up corporate job. Working as a Neeley and Associates consultant filled in his resume gap. In his second year, he was selected as a program principal and led the Neeley project team for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. He’s been hired on full-time to work on the F-35 program. “Neeley and Associates gave me solid experience that I would not have had otherwise, and it helped give me legitimacy in the eyes of prospective employers. This experience is something I could to talk about in every single interview, with Lockheed Martin and with other companies.”

Learning the mindset: Working alongside Accenture consultants during the Neeley and Associates projects taught team members a new kind of focus. “They taught us perspective: knowing what did matter, and what didn't matter. Being new to consulting, we often had trouble discerning where to focus, since everything seemed equally important in our eyes. The Accenture pros helped us find the core issues so that we didn't waste time spinning our wheels on other things.”

Always ask: The Neeley Connections program brings TCU students together with Fortune 500 executives to talk business strategy. At one event, Daniel asked the president emeritus of Southwest Airlines a question that turned heads among the corporate recruiters present. “I didn’t think my question was that profound, but it was something that I wouldn’t have known to ask without some research and something I thought would be close to the speaker’s heart. One of the company reps I met that night was a recruiter from Lockheed Martin, and he was instrumental in getting me the interview that led to my full-time position.”

Times two: Daniel and his wife, Eva, both wanted to get their MBAs — and TCU’s scholarships made it possible. “The plan had been that I’d work and support the family with my income. She’d get her MBA, and then we’d switch places. Then we decided to bite the bullet and both go. At first you think, ‘It’s a private school. That’s too much money.’ Then you see that a large portion of the students get scholarships.”

Kids: With a wife in the program and two pre-schoolers, family time doesn’t happen by accident. The Grahams set aside blocks of family time and study time. “If you don’t set boundaries before you start, the demands of school can suck you in. No matter what, at 5 p.m. our school stopped and family started. We liked to joke, if only the kids were 8 and 10, this would be easier. And if they were 21 or 22, this would be great!”

This MBA pays: TCU makes the cut on the Forbes list of best-ROI business schools. So when did Daniel know he’d made a smart investment? “I got my first inkling that the TCU MBA would pay off when I started my summer internship at American Airlines and realized that I was going to be paid more than I was making at the full-time job I had left to return to graduate school. That was surreal!”


How to balance your MBA and family

Discipline yourself to "clock out" from school at pre-specified times, or you'll never see your family until you graduate! 

Bring your kids into your TCU world to expose them to what a college is like. Once our classmates and teachers saw the kids, they knew we weren't just making them up!

Realize that you will have to sacrifice family time to make it work. That's just the reality of it.

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