MBA Students Named Stoddard Scholars

PROVO, Utah – Mar 29, 2017 – Eleven Brigham Young University students were honored with the George E. Stoddard Prize, a $5,000 award given to exceptional second-year MBA finance students.

“These students will be great ambassadors for BYU, the Marriott School of Management and the BYU MBA program,” says Grant McQueen, MBA program director. “We appreciate the George E. Stoddard family and his employer, the W.P. Carey Company, for their generosity and support of our MBA finance students.”

The 2017 Scholars are Carson Allen from Midland, Texas; Jacob Brock from Atlanta; Kevin Couch from Cameron Park, California; David Gordon from South Windsor, Connecticut; Randall Hulme from Santa Barbara, California; Haidyn Knuteson from Billings, Montana; Dane Nielson from Las Vegas; Holly Preslar from Sugar City, Idaho; Lydia Shen from Shanghi; Alyssa Smith from Elko, Nevada; and Kris Willenbrecht from Yorba Linda, California.

Each year a faculty committee selects students for the award based on excellent academic performance and commitment to the finance program.

The Stoddard Prize was established in 1985 by George E. Stoddard, a 1937 BYU alumnus. His numerous credentials include acting as senior managing director of W.P. Carey & Company, a leading global real estate investment firm in New York. He was a pioneer in the use of real estate transactions known as sale-leasebacks, which provide financing to companies struggling to gain access to traditional sources of capital. Before joining W.P. Carey & Company, Stoddard was also head of the multi billion-dollar Direct Placement Department of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Carson Allen received his bachelor’s degree in management from BYU in 2012. Allen says that though he made friends and got along with professors as an undergrad, it’s different as a BYU MBA student. “My classmates are my best friends—and competition—and professors are not just educators; they’re also friends, mentors, and sounding boards,” he says. “I am positive that in ten years I can contact one of my classmates and get a job, and vice versa.” Before beginning his MBA, Allen was a senior credit analyst at Goldman Sachs. Postgraduation, he plans to work for General Motors as a manager track analyst. A native of Midland, Texas, Allen enjoys card games and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and snorkeling. He and his wife, Rachel, have been married for four years.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in finance from BYU in 2012, Jacob Brock worked as a real estate investment analyst for Key Property Services for three years. Now Brock, who is originally from Atlanta, is back at the Y to increase his educational background in finance by getting his MBA. Earlier in the program, Brock spent a summer at Credit Suisse, where he interned as an associate in the mergers and acquisitions group. He plans to return to Credit Suisse after graduation to work full time as an M&A associate. Brock and his wife, Caylie, have two children and a third on the way.

Prior to beginning the BYU MBA program, 2013 BYU civil engineering grad Kevin Couch was a project engineer working on offshore drilling rigs with National Oilwell Varco. Couch is currently vice president of the BYU Graduate Finance Association and works as a business development intern for Aemetis. After graduation, he plans to join Amazon as a product manager. “The MBA program has given me the knowledge and confidence to make an impact throughout the world in both my business and my personal life,” he says. Couch is from Cameron Park, California, and he enjoys playing sports, reading, and spending time with his wife, Karen, and their two-year-old son.

David Gordon earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from BYU in 2013, then worked at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture before returning to BYU for his MBA. He serves as the VP over case competitions for the MBA Strategy and Consulting Club and was on the winning team for the ACG Cup Competition. “I really loved participating in case competitions and getting a taste for a variety of different fields,” he says. Gordon is from South Windsor, Connecticut, but plans to move to Texas with his wife, Sara, after graduation to work in management rotations at Toyota Financial Services. Gordon enjoys following the NBA, playing racquetball, hiking, and running.

Before entering the BYU MBA program, Randall Hulme of Santa Barbara, California, received his bachelor’s degree in finance from BYU in 2010 and then worked for Technicolor SA and LEK Consulting. He plans to work as a finance and strategy manager for Backcountry.com after graduation. “I have enjoyed associating with some of the finest professionals I have ever come across,” Hulme says. “I look forward to following the careers of these new members of my network for many years to come and hope that one day some of us can work together.” Hulme’s hobbies include performing music, surfing, snowboarding, gardening, and cooking. Hulme and his wife, Alyssa, have three children.

Haidyn Knuteson graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2012 and was an accounting specialist for JCPenney before beginning the BYU MBA program. One of his favorite aspects of the program has been his interactions with fellow students and faculty. “I thoroughly love learning from people who are smarter than me,” he says. Knuteson is married to his lifelong fishing partner and “best catch” of his life, Rebecca, and the two recently welcomed a daughter. Knuteson is from Billings, Montana, and enjoys fishing, hunting, playing basketball, and photographing nature. After graduation, he plans to work in the agriculture industry.

Before coming to BYU for his MBA, Dane Nielson was an associate attorney for two years at Wallin Hester. A Las Vegas native, he received his bachelor’s degree in communications from BYU in 2010 and his juris doctorate from Arizona State University in 2013. He currently serves as president of the BYU Graduate Finance Association. “The MBA program provided me with a platform that has propelled me toward accomplishing my professional goals,” Nielson says. He has also enjoyed building relationships with other students and with professors. Nielson interned at BMO Capital Markets over the summer and plans to return to the company as a mergers and acquisitions investment banker after graduation. In his free time, Nielson enjoy participating in golf, tennis, and cycling.

Holly Preslar of Sugar City, Idaho, says, “Coming back to school has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The BYU MBA program, specifically the finance major, has not only helped me develop technical skills but has also strengthened my confidence and ability to communicate my insights and ideas.” While in the program, Preslar placed in an international case competition and qualified for another international competition. After graduation, she will join Pelion Venture Partners as an associate. Preslar graduated from BYU–Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 2010 and enjoys skiing, rock climbing, and hiking.

Lydia Shen received her bachelor’s degree in 2001 and her master’s degree in 2004 from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. A Shanghai native, Shen has worked as an audit manager at EY and a finance manager at China Yuchai International Limited. As a BYU MBA student, she placed first in the ACG Cup Competition and was an equity research analyst for the BYU Silver Fund. “The BYU MBA program has provided me with opportunities to explore different areas in the finance field and to expand my skill set,” Shen says. “In the future, I would like to use my finance knowledge and international experience to help companies play roles in a competitive global environment.” After graduation, Shen plans to join GlobalFoundries as a principal financial analyst. Her hobbies include traveling and reading.

BYU MBA student Alyssa Smith worked as a staff accountant for the RBL Group and as an assistant controller for Marriott Vacations Worldwide after receiving a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from BYU in 2012. Now involved in several finance leadership capacities at the Marriott School, Smith says of the MBA program: “The people I have met in this program have changed who I am. I am more thoughtful, loving, and strong due to the examples of those around me. This transformative experience has given me the skills to be an influential leader in both my personal and my professional lives.” Smith is from Elko, Nevada, and enjoys traveling, baking, four-wheeling, and practicing floral design.

The BYU MBA offers the best return on investment, according to Kris Willenbrecht. “The high-quality students and professors push you to learn and grow to achieve your greatest potential,” he says. “The powerful network make landing any job a possibility if you are willing to work for it.” Willenbrecht graduated from BYU with his bachelor’s degree in management in 2011 and then worked as a senior associate for Deloitte Advisory. After earning his MBA, Willenbrecht plans to work in finance leadership development for Amazon. When he’s not studying finance, the Yorba Linda, California, native enjoys catching up on current events and bodysurfing. Willenbrecht and his wife, Catherine, have one daughter.

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The 2017 Stoddard Scholars with Stoddard family representatives at this year's luncheon.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Maren McInnes