Autonomy and creativity

Alumni Close-Up: Terry Rice, MBA ’05

By Matthew Biddle

For most people, getting laid off can be a devastating setback. For Terry Rice, MBA ’05, it was a turning point that propelled him toward success as a marketing expert, business consultant and entrepreneur. 

In 2009, Rice was working on Wall Street and found himself out of a job after his company restructured its marketing department. Despite having little money in the bank, Rice decided to invest in himself and increase his skills, earning a certification in paid search marketing through Google. The move paid off—two months later, Adobe hired him as a search engine marketing consultant.

“When you’re going through a situation like that, you don’t realize it’s just a slice of your life,” Rice says. “Don’t let that slice negatively impact your trajectory or define your future. The best thing you can do is remain true to yourself and prepare to thrive later.”

It’s the same philosophy Rice held as a UB student. After earning his bachelor’s in informatics from UB and working for a couple years, he decided to return for an MBA from the School of Management to better position himself for a marketing career.

“I wanted to be around people who were used to being the smartest in the room because I knew that would raise my expectations for myself and what I could achieve,” he says. “I also learned to play to my strengths. I doubled down on marketing and consulting classes because that’s what I wanted to do in my career, while gaining a working understanding of disciplines like accounting, finance and supply chains.”

These days, Rice has his own business consulting firm, having made the leap into entrepreneurship in 2015 after roles at Adobe, Facebook and a pair of marketing agencies. As a consultant, he helps clients develop, package and promote their services; and as a speaker, he shares his marketing and business expertise with broad audiences through online courses, webinars and speaking engagements.

In addition, Rice is a business development expert-in-residence for Entrepreneur Media, writing for the platform and working with clients to launch or scale their knowledge-based businesses. Rice says it’s an opportunity that began with a chance meeting with the magazine’s editor-in-chief at their kids’ gymnastics class.

“It’s easy to dismiss that as luck, but in my opinion, luck is when opportunity and preparation meet action,” he says. “Yes, I had the opportunity to run into him, but I was prepared because I had done so much research on my industry, and I took the action of explaining specifically how I could help the Entrepreneur brand.”

Going forward, Rice plans to continue to build his personal brand and help clients monetize their unique expertise in today’s “being economy,” where he and his clients are compensated for what they know, rather than what they produce. He hopes to eventually have a home studio, where he can record content while being close to his wife and their three kids.

“As an entrepreneur, I can pivot and make mistakes, while being accountable only to myself,” Rice says. “Everyone should find something—a business, side gig or hobby—they have complete control over, where they can take risks, mess up and explore their creativity, because that’s how you achieve self-fulfillment.”