The Recent Wall Street Reunion of Two TCU Alumni Was No Mere Coincidence

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Famous Rhodes, MBA '99
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Paul Trulove, MBA '99
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Paul Trulove at NYSE spotting Famous Rhodes
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Paul Trulove at NYSE
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Famous Rhodes at NYSE
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Famous Rhodes at NYSE

Graduates of TCU’s MBA program go on to seize new opportunities and take new responsibilities in a wide variety of industries both here and abroad. As large as the global economy has grown, and as international as Neeley's MBA cohorts have become, the world can still be a small place. So much so that two Frogs from the same class recently ended up on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) together.

Famous Rhodes (TCU MBA '99)

Famous Rhodes enrolled in TCU's MBA Program in 1997 in order to broaden his education and develop a richer toolset. Famous' ultimate goal? To start his own company using his entrepreneurial skills or to establish a career in consulting. Famous chose Neeley over competing business schools because of its curricular focus on experiential learning.

During his Neeley tenure, Famous took advantage of opportunities to gain real-world, firsthand consulting experience. He traveled to Germany to further his studies — in his words, a "phenomenal experience that broadened my exposure to international markets and helped me build stronger relationships with my fellow students."  

Later, he helped lead Student Enterprises team projects, the precursor to today’s Neeley & Associates consulting program. Through his involvement in these projects, Famous partnered with industry-leading companies — including Harris Methodist Health System and Union Pacific Railroad and — helped them tackle some of their most challenging issues. As Famous notes, this experience also provided him with "amazing contacts and references" that proved to be of great help to him following graduation.

Famous credits his time at TCU with enabling him to come to a better understanding of his talents and passions. Without this knowledge, he says, he would not have been able to take the next big step in his career. In summarizing his Neeley experience, Famous acknowledges that everything his instructors asked of him, "played a big part in preparing me to become a leader."

Paul Trulove (TCU MBA '99)

Paul Trulove arrived at TCU in 1997 with a strong desire to tackle more advanced coursework. He also wanted to transform himself into a more attractive (and valuable) candidate on the job market. As a TCU graduate and holder of a BBA, Paul was already quite familiar with Neeley's MBA Program. The great experience Paul enjoyed as an undergraduate convinced him that Neeley was the best place for him to pursue his goals. He also appreciated Neeley's global perspective, evident in the attention the MBA curriculum pays to international business practices.

Like Famous, Paul also studied abroad in Germany and got involved with Neeley’s Student Enterprises program. He collaborated with Famous on the Harris Methodist Health System project and also helped lead a group that investigated the impact cellphone-based SMS texting was having on Motorola's pager market. During his TCU tenure, Paul developed strong relationships with many of his professors. For him, “their guidance and mentorship during and after the program has had a significant impact on my career.” Paul has also found that his MBA has delivered an even more measurable return on investment (ROI). He credits his TCU MBA with setting him up for "strong earnings potential over the course of my entire career."

Life After TCU

Since graduation, Famous has enjoyed a diverse career. His most recent venture is serving as CMO for Bluegreen Vacations. He's also accepted positions on the boards of several different companies, from publicly-traded Lumber Liquidators to Work Truck Solutions, a California-based startup.

In discussing his experience at Bluegreen Vacations, Famous notes that he never imagined working in the hospitality industry, as, prior to joining the company, his experience was primarily in the automotive and e-commerce sectors. However, the opportunity to build Bluegreen's brand and define their digital marketing strategy was, he says,"a whiteboard problem I loved tackling."

Paul, on the other hand, has followed a slightly straighter path. His work has taken him from one startup software company to another, helping each drive product strategy. In 2007, Paul joined SailPoint Technologies, an enterprise software company that delivers security solutions focused on identity and access management for mid-to-large sized organizations around the world. At the time he joined the company, it had about 20 employees and was just beginning to develop its first product. Paul was drawn to take a role at SailPoint because of its founders, "a group of well-known serial entrepreneurs," as well as the company's focus on "the emerging market opportunity in security and compliance software."

Paul calls experiencing SailPoint’s IPO at the NYSE was a "capstone event" in his career. As someone who has worked at multiple technology startups, many of them pre-revenue when he joined them, he says that an IPO is a long-term goal that many entrepreneurial ventures never manage to achieve. Paul readily admits that "walking around the corner of Wall and Broad in lower Manhattan and seeing the SailPoint banner hanging below the American flags on the NYSE literally took my breath away."

Meeting Again at the New York Stock Exchange

While SailPoint was being welcomed to the NYSE, so too was Bluegreen — an unplanned coordination of events that reunited these two TCU MBA classmates.

Famous describes the entire experience — the "process of learning about the heritage of the exchange, pricing the stock and finally listing on the exchange" — as both amazing and surreal. In the moment of the NYSE's opening, as Bluegreen was starting to price, Famous glanced up "to see the company on the platform and there I noticed Paul Trulove standing on the far right." He says that "never in a million years" would he have "expected to see a colleague on the floor, much less on the platform to open up the exchange." He and the lead from the NYSE called out to Paul from the floor as soon as the ceremonial bell-ringing was complete. Famous says that Paul "immediately noticed me and we exchanged greetings during a magical time in both of our careers."

For Paul, seeing Famous on the floor of the NYSE was a genuinely happy quirk of fate. He explains that, while they forged a strong personal and professional bond in their student years, they "hadn’t kept up outside of Facebook and LinkedIn due to our busy careers." He could hardly believe it when he heard someone calling his name after the opening bell finished ringing, and that he recognized the voice as one he'd heard many years before in the classrooms at Neeley. As Paul says, "the idea that two TCU MBAs from the same class would be at the NYSE helping to take their companies public on the same day is a long shot, to say the least — but it happened."

Where will your MBA take you? Visit the Neeley School of Business website to see how our innovative curriculum and commitment to experiential learning help TCU students write the all-important first chapter in their individual success stories.

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