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Winter 2012

Mays Business School, Texas A&M University

Business Honors Discover, dream, dare



Winter 2012

Mays Business School, Texas A&M University

In Wehner


6 | Smashing debut Summer Learning Seminar a hit

15 –19 | Business Honors Undergraduate program answers the “so what?” of business education

7 | Accounting expertise Distinguished Scholar shares knowledge

20 –22 | Into the woods Summer program hones teaching, learning skills

7 | Indoor camp Marketing Research Camp a bridge to publication

24 | H-E-B debuts Aggie bags

8 | Fixed fundamentals Walmart visionary honored

25 | Star jeweler First Lady wears Aggie’s jewelry

9 | Suited up Men’s Wearhouse founder recognized


National Recognition

1 | Top 10 Executive MBA rises in Financial Times ranking

10 –14 | Venturing out Center for New Ventures And Entrepreneurship hosts Conn Award, 4th bootcamp for disabled veterans, Ideas Challenge

2 | Google Online Marketing Challenge 3 | Retailing Summit roundup 4 | Presidential program Kyle Jackson represents A&M in D.C.

student news

27 | Nerds in the wild INFO students enjoy camp

5 | Advertising team places

28 | Project Mays Students distribute summer fun packs


Donor Spotlight

The generosity of donors supports Mays Business School students, programs and faculty 29 | Coxes keep giving 30 | Family tradition New Faculty

31–32 | Plus Four Mays faculty expands See Jackson's story on pg. 4

Faculty Research


33 | Testing Twitter in the classroom 34 | Trading against prophets

23 | Professional MBA program bringing best of Texas A&M to Houston The MBA program is adding a track for professionals with two to 10 years of experience. Houston will be the home of the Executive and Professional MBA programs.

Mays Business School Jerry Strawser, Dean Director of Communications and Public Relations Pam Wiley Associate Director for Marketing and Alumni Relations Kristin King @Mays Editor Kelli Levey Contributing Writers Kathy DiSanto, Kelli Hollinger, Kelli Levey, Krissy Mackenzie, Meredith Morse

Design Linda Orsi, HSC Marketing and Communications Illustration Tamara Strecker Photography Gabe Chmielewski Michael Kellett John Lewis Jim Lyle Nicholas Roznovsky

34 | Middle of the road CEOs 35 | Changing course ill-advised

@Mays is a semi-annual publication for the former students and friends of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. This publication is made possible by the generosity of private donors. Monthly news updates are available in Mays’ online magazine, Mays Business Online, at Information about the majors, degrees and programs offered by Mays Business School is available at

Update your mailing information at For our business graduates, we use the information The Association of Former Students provides. To update your mailing information, go to, choose the "Login" button found in the top maroon band and follow the instructions. © 2012 Mays Business School Mays Business School Texas A&M University 4113 TAMU College Station, Texas 77843-4113

National Recognition

How do we rank? Full-Time MBA program moves up again in Financial Times rankings


ays Business School jumped to #44 in the world (up from #54 last year), and tied for the #21 U.S. program with Rice University (up from #33 last year) in the 2011 Financial Times rankings of full-time MBA programs. For programs offered by U.S. public universities, Mays ranks #6. Since 2007, the Mays program has risen 41 places in the Financial Times MBA ranking. Kelli Kilpatrick, director of the MBA program at Texas A&M, says the “significant upward movement” in the rankings places Mays among the most elite MBA programs in the world — “a tremendous accomplishment and, in my view, well-deserved recognition for our program.” The Full-time MBA program broke into the Financial Times’ top 10 U.S. public programs in 2010. Kilpatrick says the repeated rise in rankings reflects the school’s dedication to excellence. “This ranking is an important indicator of the quality of our students and faculty,” she says, “and it also reflects that our graduates get outstanding career outcomes, including significant post graduation salary increases.” She is pleased with how Mays measures up against its counterparts in the U.S. market. On the percentage postgraduation salary increase, Mays ranks #3 among U.S. public programs (tied for #9 among all U.S. programs) in the Financial Times rankings.

Full-Time MBA program



U.S. public (44th in world), Financial Times (2011)

Executive MBA program breaks into top 10 public ranking






U.S. public (13th overall), Quality of Graduates, Bloomberg Businessweek (2010)

U.S. public (30th overall), Bloomberg Businessweek (2010)

Executive MBA program



public U.S. program (27th in the U.S., tied 54th in the world), Financial Times (2011)

n new rankings released by Financial Times, the Executive MBA Program at Mays is now among the top 10 programs offered by public universities in the U.S. This year, the program is ranked 10th among public programs in the nation, rising one spot from its 11th rank in 2010. Among all U.S. programs, the Executive MBA rose two places to tie for 27th. Globally, the program climbed eight spots to tie for 54th in the world, up from last year’s rank of 62nd. To determine its rankings, Londonbased Financial Times surveyed thousands of MBA alumni from more than 100 of the top programs in the world. Blackwell says the feedback from alumni is an authentic source of information, and that at Mays, the graduates help keep the program relevant and progressive. “The program teaches our students how to create value in their organizations. The many contributions of our EMBA graduates to the Houston business community ensures that we will continue to be able to attract a strong group of executives to the program.” In fall 2012, the Executive MBA program will move to a new, private facility at CITYCENTRE, a mixed-use urban development in west Houston.

Based on combined rankings in Bloomberg Businessweek, Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report, the Mays MBA program ranks 22nd in the U.S. and 8th among public universities (behind California, Berkeley, Michigan, Virginia, UCLA, North Carolina, Texas, and Indiana).


National Recognition

Mays students take Google Online Marketing Challenge


oogle is a resource for helping people find what they need, and a team of Mays students used the online tool to learn more about online marketing. Students in Marketing Professor Manjit S. Yadav’s Strategic Internet Marketing class (MKTG 438) worked with 14 local businesses as part of Google’s Online Marketing Challenge. As part of the semesterlong challenge, each team received $200 from Google to help a local business use search-marketing — specifically, the Google AdWords platform — to drive more traffic to their websites. “It’s a fun and smart initiative from Google, and this fits quite well with my teaching goals for this course,” Yadav says. Advertisers using AdWords choose a few search terms related to their business, plus a daily budget and the amount they are willing to pay when someone clicks. When customers search one of the terms or keywords, their ads may appear next to the search results. Winning teams and their professors in this global competition receive a trip to the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to meet with the AdWords team. Regional winners and their professors received a trip to a regional Google office. Non-profit organizations whose teams win can receive grants from Google ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. The Mays students gave presentations showing how much more traffic they were able to drive to these organizations’ websites. In addition to being a great hands-on learning opportunity the Google Challenge also helps a number of local businesses. And Yadav considers using a marketing platform program such as AdWords more accountable because as a company, you know each dollar is being spent to attract a potential customer. “These businesses — especially the non-profits — often do not have funds or the expertise to use online technologies to enhance their marketing activities. This is a real win-win for everyone,” Yadav says. “Working with nonprofits especially was very enjoyable because they are doing all these things to help people in our communities.” Andrew Hall, vice president of the Grace Care Centers in Katy, Texas, thanked Yadav for allowing his students to participate in the competition.


@MAYS Winter 2012

“This project was a great success and over the past few weeks we have seen a dramatic improvement in not only our web traffic but our foot traffic in the buildings,” Hall wrote to Yadav. “This project was completed with great ideas and strategies in the business world, and I want to show my gratitude to the students who have helped us in our business development endeavors.” Brittney Goldberg '12, a member of the team that worked with the Children's Museum of the Brazos Valley in downtown

"It takes practice and trials to learn what works and what does not, and a student can only do that with a real client and real pressures." �Cashel Moran ʻ12

Bryan, says the exercise was one of many Mays brings to the students to provide realworld, challenging opportunities to help them gain greater insight into their selected fields. “This is something that I have grown very fond of over my past three years, and I have learned a great deal from them,” Goldberg says. “With this class in particular, it really said something to me that our professor took the time to find this challenge that Google offers and apply it to our class. I didn't necessarily perceive this project differently, but it did stand out to me how applicable this project was to my future learning and career environments.” The biggest lesson she learned, was how successful a marketing campaign can be when you take the time to communicate well with the client before, during and after the campaign. “We made a point to ask detailed questions concerning what they needed as an organization and what their biggest struggles were,” she says. “This gave us the opportunity to formulate an AdWords campaign that would be successful in helping them out with traffic to their website. “We were able to see direct effects on The Children's Museum, with

statistics and personal client feedback, so it was very rewarding.” Another student involved in the project, marketing major Cashel Moran ’12, said she felt the students took the project seriously because they were working with real money. “With actual monetary stakes at hand, we knew we had the opportunity to really help a small company move into the technological world and expose them to online advertising that many of them had not had the knowledge or budget for,” Moran says. “It was a tremendous learning curve because many students had not used online advertising before but there was a constant driving force that since we had this budget we wanted to learn and excel to truly help a business and contribute to their marketing knowledge.” The biggest lesson Moran learned from this challenge was the nuts and bolts of online advertising. “It takes practice and trials to learn what works and what does not, and a student can only do that with a real client and real pressures,” she explains. “Having to adjust a campaign and understanding what worked for the industry you were working with are such vital skills a student cannot learn anywhere else. Learning the ins and outs of Google AdWords was so important because it is a skill we can take to the real world that many have not been exposed to yet. It is a real-world application of our marketing program that will be one more advantage we have when entering the job market.” Mays students helped the following organizations: • Brooklyn Cafe' • Children's Museum of Brazos Valley (non-profit) • David Gardner's Jewelers • Grace Care Nursing Center • Happy Yogurt • Layne's Chicken • Messina Hof • Northgate Vintage • Picket Fence Properties • Precise Sights • Project Yogurt • Seed Effect (non-profit) • The Tattoo Consortium • Tuscan Sun Coffee

National Recognition

Profits with principle Discussing retail trends, technology, conscious capitalism


f you don’t stand for something, then you stand for nothing,” asserts retail veteran and former FedEx-Kinko’s CEO Gary Kusin. Today’s sophisticated and highly informed customers demand more from the brands, product or services they buy. Companies that offer higher purpose beyond profits are reshaping the future of retail. This theme was a recurring message of the 2011 Retailing Summit, a conference hosted in Dallas by the Mays Center for Retailing Studies. For two days, almost 300 retailers from 80 companies heard 11 retailing experts explore current trends. Whole Foods Market is a leader in the Raj Sisodia of Bentley University, a co-founder movement “Conscious Capitalism.” John of Conscious Capitalism, spoke at the 2011 Mackey, co-CEO, says “poverty, not wealth Retailing Summit of the group’s advocacy for embracing free markets, competition, profits is the problem.” Capitalism is a mutually and trade. beneficial exchange system that has lifted billions of people out of abject hardship. Capitalist societies are freer, wealthier, healthier and happier. By abandoning outmoded operational structures that emphasize shareholder profits above all else, companies can generate emotional, social and financial value. He describes Whole Foods Market stakeholders as SPICEE (Society, Partners, Investors, Customers, Employees and Environment.) Conscious Capitalism was co-founded by Mackey and Dr. Raj Sisodia of Bentley University, who also spoke. They advocate the embrace of free markets, competition, profits and trade. They recognize, however, that companies wield enormous power, and an obligation, to do good in the world. Sisodia says, “Southwest Airlines gives people the freedom to fly, REI connects families with nature, Google bridges the world with knowledge.” Hitting bottom and rebounding Between 2002 and 2006, Pier 1 Imports profits fell $400 million. That staggering plunge resulted when the world’s original source of unique, global décor and furnishings lost its way. Alex Smith took the helm as CEO of the troubled retailer in 2007 refocusing on company management, merchandise assortment, supply chain effectiveness, real estate reductions and building customer loyalty. However, the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009 made the turnaround even harder. Pier 1’s stock bottomed out at less than a $1 a share in 2008. To recover, the company created the “Our Compass” concept. Pier 1’s plan to return to profitability was communicated to every employee. While eliminating non-core businesses, such as Pier 1 Kids and its e-commerce site, the 1,000 store chain rediscovered its defining position: to connect customers with exotic, colorful, global treasures. To convey the vitality the company exudes today, Smith — with the help of a speedy visual merchandising team — surprised and delighted conference attendees by transforming a plain speaker stage into an elegantly, whimsical holiday living room featuring metallic ornaments, scarlet pillows, and bejeweled vases. To further encourage conference attendees to shop Pier 1 Imports, each one received $25 gift cards. Connecting with customers — and employees — through technology Technology has fundamentally reshaped how consumers shop and buy. While information is power, it’s also overwhelming. Tom Lamb, SVP of Marketing at Lowe’s, revealed a new planning tool for the do-it-yourself consumer: Tom Nealon, who heads jcpenney’s $1.4 billion website, advised “get rid of the idea of multichannel.” The link between store, web and mobile devices needs to be seamless.

Participating Companies Ashley Furniture HomeStore 7-Eleven Acxiom Adam Smith's Harley-Davidson AlixPartners LLP Altria Group Distribution Co. Arete' Retail, LLC Ashley Furniture HomeStore A.T. Kearney AT&T Batte Furniture & Interiors BDO USA, LLP Bridgestone Retail Operations Brierley + Partners BV-SBDC Calloways Nursery Candid Color Systems, Inc. Capitol Entertainment Group Center for Retailing Studies Clear Cell USA, Inc. Coinstar Conscious Capitalism CROSSMARK Customer Marketing Group, Inc. Dallas Business Journal Dallas Market Center Dallas Morning News David's Bridal Deloitte Dunk & Bright Furniture Gallery Furniture Gardere Wynne Sewell GDC Home Hallmark Cards, Inc. Harley-Davidson Motor Company H-E-B HITE Advertising & Brand Consulting Howell Furniture Integer Group Isis jcpenney Key Ring La Galerie du Meuble LOOMIS Agency

Lowe's Maritz Maritz Institute MarketSphere Mays Business School Michaels Stores Inc. Morgan Fitzgerald Mosaic Sales Solutions Newspaper Association of America OfficeMax Pareto Marketing, Inc. PARKER Marketing Group Pier 1 Imports Real Estate Center Redbox Automated Retail SAS Sewell Automotive Simply 7 Snacks SMU/Cox School of Business Stage Stores Stoney Creek Furniture Suburban Furniture Susan G. Komen Foundation Texas A&M University The Container Store The Kabachnick Group The Kroger Company The Owl Group The Powell Group Thompson & Knight LLP Toys R Us TPG Capital Trinity Community College University of Florida Viana, Descuentos S.A. de C.V. Walgreens Wall Street Journal Walmart Whole Foods Market Williams Company Willis Furniture World Floor Covering Association Yahoo! Zale Corporation

SAVE THE DATE The next summit is set for Oct. 11-12, 2012


National Recognition

Senior Kyle Jackson Texas A&M’s nominee for Presidential Fellows Program


yle W. Jackson, a senior accounting major, will represent Texas A&M as a 2011–2012 Presidential Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. Nominated by the university after competitive review, Jackson will be among a select group of students nationally to participate in a year-long opportunity to study the U.S. Presidency, publicpolicymaking process, and chief executive’s relations with the U.S. Congress, media, the American public, and America’s allies. “Kyle Jackson is an exceptional undergraduate who exemplifies what is best and brightest about our students here,” says Pamela Matthews, associate provost for undergraduate studies. “This prestigious program will serve him well in his continued pursuits, and likewise, he will serve Texas A&M admirably as our nominee.” Jackson is also pursuing a degree in business honors and is expected to complete the Professional Program with a finance track in May 2013. In December 2010, he

was selected as a Mays Business Fellow, and in February was awarded a Thomas S. Gathright Academic Excellence Award as the student with the highest grade-point ratio in his class at Mays. Jackson was director of finance for the Student Government Association’s Election Commission, and for the past two years, active with the Mays Business Student Council, including service as vice president for finance. As a Presidential Fellow, Jackson will participate in two three-day leadership conferences in Washington, D.C. and will complete a research paper that is eligible for publication and awards. Jackson credits his parents for his strong interests in public policy and applying for the program. “They taught me the fundamentals behind voting, representation and legislation that affected the lives of all Americans,” Jackson says. “I have developed an extensive passion for leadership and governance, studying and applying many aspects of public policy throughout my daily life.”

MS Marketing student wins museum design contest


avannah Smith ’09, a Mays MS Marketing student, won first place in the Mitchell A. Wilder Publication Design Award Competition at the Annual Meeting of the Texas Association of Museums. Smith designed a “sticket” — a combination of the admission ticket and a promotional sticker — for the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum’s The Heart Truth exhibit. The exhibit ( is part of a national awareness campaign for heart disease in women. It highlighted a collection of 25 red dresses —12 worn by celebrities and 13 worn by past U.S. First Ladies. Smith’s illustration of the red dress mirrors the timeless dresses at the museum. “The goal was to keep the design simple and classic to promote the Bush Library and Museum as well as the featured exhibit — and stick with the general visual identity I created for the exhibit promotions,” says Smith, who works at the library as a graphic designer. The Wilder Awards design competition exists to promote the importance of graphic identity in museums’ overall image. Smith’s “sticket” design beat out many museums from around the state and was used in the Bush Library and Museum’s exhibit promotions.


@MAYS Winter 2012

Kyle Jackson applies public policy throughout his daily life.

Texas A&M’s 2010 – 2011 year Fellow, Oliver Thoma, says Jackson should anticipate a highly impactful experience. “The Presidential Fellows Program was one of the most influential experiences of my university education,” comments Thoma. “It provided me with a firm foundation upon which to build my career in public service.”

SPOTLIGHT The Full-time MBA and Executive MBA programs provide experiential learning opportunities, including Washington Campus, a four-day consortium that provides residential seminars on the business-government interface. Through an inside-the-Beltway interface with political leaders and policy experts, participants begin to understand the dynamics between business and public policy. During one course in Washington, D.C., themed “Business and the Public Policy Process: How Washington Works,” members of Executive MBA Class XII heard from Mays alumnus U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, whose district includes Texas A&M.

National Recognition

Mays team places second in American advertising contest


he 2011 advertising team from the Mays marketing department placed second in the AAF 10th District American Advertising Association advertising competition. In only its second year of participation, the team also won a special award for the best 360-degree integrated campaign. To develop the campaign for this year’s client sponsor, jcpenney, students from Professor Lisa Troy’s marketing class in Fall 2010 conducted secondary research into the target market, industry, product and competition as well as extensive primary research. Using the research from the fall class, students in Troy’s spring class developed objectives and strategy, created and implemented a fully integrated multimedia campaign including creative executions in traditional, digital, alternative and social media, and developed and implemented a $100 million, one-year media plan and schedule. To market jcpenney to the 18 million 25to 34-year-old females in the U.S., the Texas A&M advertising team developed the slogan, “Color Your Life with jcpenney.” With a water-color design theme underlying all executions as well as alternative and guerilla

“The students designed around the slogan “Color Your Life with jcpenney.” tactics relating to the theme, the campaign was rated by both jcpenney and advertising agency judges as best for full integration. In addition to the campaign, the advertising team suggested ways to improve jcpenney’s store layout and website, making them less cluttered, more consistent and more navigable. The team further recommended new digital technologies such as a new smart phone application, using promotional QR codes and incorporating fingerprint recognition technology for easy access to the jcpenney rewards program, as well as new jcpenney partnerships including a two-year endorsement contract by Carrie Underwood, sponsorship and product placements in Project Runway and HGTV, in-store franchises and new designer clothing lines.

The American Advertising Federation sponsors the annual National Student Advertising Competition, which started in 1973. More than 100 universities compete annually. Local and peer institutions that also participate include University of Texas, Texas Christian University, University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, Texas State University-San Marcos, Florida State University, Penn State University, University of Virginia, University of Michigan, Michigan State University and University of Alabama. The competition involves a case study outlined by the current year’s corporate sponsor. Judges for the competition are industry professionals or executives from the client firm. The competition is governed by an academic committee within the American Advertising Association.

Mays students excel in Wall Street Journal Biz Quiz


he Mays team made history at the Wall Street Journal Quiz Competition with its first trip to the final competition round, which includes only the top three teams. In the school’s fourth trip to the competition, team members Ali Abdulla ’12 (Business Honors/Finance), Grace Davis ’12 (Accounting-Professional Program in Accounting) and Andrew Haraway ’14 (Business Honors/Finance) placed third behind Ohio State (1st) and Michigan (2nd). The Mays team beat Michigan State twice, preventing them from making the finals for the first time in their six years at the competition. Besides placing third in the overall competition, the team also tied for third with Michigan State on the team written competition, and Ali Abdulla placed 2nd out of the 54 students in the individual written competition. The competition was Nov. 11-13 at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business and Nationwide's corporate headquarters. Krishnan Anantharaman, managing editor of the WSJ Classroom Edition, moderated the final round. “The students were wonderful representatives of Mays and Texas A&M,” says Risa Meyer, academic advisor for Business Honors. “And the director told me Texas A&M will always be one of the top schools they invite because of our enthusiasm and great competition we bring to the program each year.”

Members of the 2011 Mays WSJ Biz Quiz team, Grace Davis, Ali Abdullah and Andrew Haraway, are congratulated by officials from the competition.


In Wehner

First Summer Learning Seminar exceeds expectations


hey came to Mays to hear about “Business in a Turbulent Economy,” dozens of former and future business students, and they took away some lasting lessons — foremost, the importance of relationships with their fellow attendees and the presenters. The inaugural Mays Summer Learning Seminar could not have gone more smoothly, says David W. Blackwell, associate dean for graduate programs and event coordinator. “Feedback from the participants was outstanding, and the presenters felt heard and understood. There were a lot of great questions and comments from the audience,” Blackwell recalls. Keynote presentations included “The Economic Outlook for Investors and Business Decision Makers” by Mark Dotzour, chief economist and research director of the Real Estate Center, and “Domestic and Global Economies and the Implications for Human Resources” by Asghar Zardkoohi, the T.J. Barlow Professor of Management. Other presentations ranged from demystifying the Federal Reserve to props for PowerPoint. Dotzour interpreted the economic outlook for consumers, business and government, and cited a federal debt of $43 trillion in unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare. He said consumers are “cleaning up their balance sheets,” paying down debt and spending money again, and the business sector has “rightFormer and future students mingled with sized their balance sheet and is sitting on community business leaders at the Summer $2 trillion in cash.” The government sector, Learning Seminar, which promises to be a however, has postponed correction — at recurring event. enormous expense to the American taxpayers, Dotzour explains. The 10-year U.S. he inaugural Summer Learning Seminar Treasury is not signaling accomplished its intention — to involve former inflation, Dotzour says. students more with the school and expose them to the Instead, he predicts, “the ideas of leading faculty members. bigger threat to the U.S. The event was free and open to the public, but economy is another wave of geared toward former and future Mays students. At deflation.” least 120 former students joined approximately 30 “This is not playing admitted MBA students who were attending a Super Barbies. It’s not fun or Saturday event at Mays — an orientation for accepted pleasant,” he said. “If you are MBA students that gave them a glimpse of life as an not afraid of what’s going on MBA at Mays. At day’s end, several from both groups in America right now, you are went to a networking reception at the University Club.



@MAYS Winter 2012

either not informed or you are pretending things aren’t the way they are.” Several people from throughout the surrounding community attended the seminar. Sallye Lucas, who makes investments for the City of Bryan, said she came mainly to hear Dotzour speak. “He always has the latest information, and he presents it in a way anyone can understand,” she said. Jackson Lane, a finance major ’13, says the program will be “an integral part of my future success,” and solidified his desire to be part of MBA/EMBA events. “It was a great opportunity for industry professionals, undergraduate and graduate students to see the best of what Mays has to offer,” he explains. Craig Hooker, a prospective MBA student who attended the lunch and afternoon session, says he appreciated being involved in the Summer Learning Seminar while he was on campus for the MBA program’s Super Saturday event, an orientation for accepted MBA students that allowed them to meet their prospective professors. “I was able to make several deeper connections with former, future and current students I had met during the day,” he says. Liping Chen, an engineer with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program at Texas A&M who has helped judge the MBA technology transfer program, considers the program a “great learning opportunity — not only learning from the informative seminars by well-known professors, but also learning from participants networking.” It was valuable to listen to the experience from a diverse group. I especially enjoyed the brief visit with some of the distinguished alumni.” Bob Hancock ’82, a CPA at a Houston bank who got his bachelor’s from Mays, said he welcomed the opportunity. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to network and to hear about the current news in the business world,” he said. “It’s important to stay connected.”

To sign up for emails about the next program go to

In Wehner

Distinguished Scholar Schipper shares accounting expertise “Dr. Schipper changes the way we think about accounting and the way we think about the economy.” Past Distinguished Scholars 2010 Philip Kotler, S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University 2009 C.K. Prahalad, Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Strategy at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan


uke University’s Katherine Schipper illuminated the importance of company intent in accounting when she visited Mays as the 2011 Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series. The purpose of attending the lecture series is to bring someone from around the U.S. and recognize them not for being published, not for serving on prestigious boards and not for teaching at esteemed institutions (although the scholars have done all three), but to recognize them for changing their fields of business. And when it comes to accounting, calling Schipper an “expert” is an understatement. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, MBA, MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago, and an honorary degree from Notre Dame. She is the past president of the American Accounting Association, as well as the former editor of the Journal of Accounting Research, a position she held for 15 years. She has published research papers on topics such as financial reporting, corporation finance and corporate governance, and frequently speaks on matters regarding international accounting convergence. She served a five-year tenure

on the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), tackling some of the most complex accounting issues and bringing research to bear on accounting policy issues. As if that wasn’t enough, Schipper is the 81st member of the Accounting Hall of Fame — the first woman to be inducted. Schipper is the Thomas F. Keller Professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. A gifted instructor, she consistently inspires her students to demand accuracy, ethical behavior, and an endless pursuit of financial knowledge in their future accounting careers. “More than her accolades, Dr. Katherine Schipper changes the way we think about accounting and the way we think about the economy,” Dean Jerry Strawser says. She says those in her field are unique. “Accountants wake up in the morning and we say to ourselves, ‘What if there’s an unrecognized liability out there? I better get down there and find out,’” Schipper says. “We don’t ask, ‘What if there’s an unrecognized asset?’” For full story go to

Marketing Research Camp allows interaction with top editors


hen you think of camp, you think of sunny summer days, arts and crafts, and — at Mays — marketing analysis. For several faculty members and staff researchers, the 2011 Mays Marketing Research Camp opened the door for collaboration on recent studies and publications. Venkatesh Shankar, the Brandon C. Coleman, Jr. Chair in Marketing, organized the camp to assemble prominent figures in the marketing research field and give them an opportunity to share their work. Speakers Gary Frazier (editor in chief, Journal of Marketing) of University of Southern California; Sanjog Misra of University of Rochester; Rishika Ramkumar of Texas A&M; and Cait Poynor Lamberton of University of Pittsburg discussed their research with Mays marketing faculty and doctoral students, receiving helpful feedback and collaboration. This active participation led to a dynamic

ask-and-answer approach to the presentations, which enriched the overall structure of the camp itself. Shankar said the opportunity for researchers and practitioners to communicate about innovation in organizations is rare. "It is so important in our field, because we have to make our own reputations," he said. "This way, the people in charge of selecting the projects to publish are talking with our faculty and grad students. It is an ongoing conversation." Mays marketing faculty and doctoral students were encouraged to contribute to the presentations with questions, discussions and feedback to help produce innovative ideas in the research field. The sixth annual camp featured presentations on research in the fields of sales force compensation structures, the strength of online social communities, franchise channel relationships and allocation with compulsory payments.


In Wehner

Connecting with shoppers requires different, yet same tactics


hough he is a newcomer to social media, an executive for retailing giant Walmart has a leading role in setting social media marketing trends. Eduardo CastroWright’s lack of experience in that arena is no hindrance, he says, because the basic philosophies of doing business still apply: “The fundamentals of retailing and what the customers want, that’s not changing.” Castro-Wright ’75, vice chairman of Walmart Stores, was appointed the company’s president and CEO of Global ecommerce and Global Sourcing in June 2010. As such, he leads Walmart’s global e-commerce and multi-channel retailing business, and oversees the company’s global sourcing group. He was previously president and CEO of Walmart U.S., where he led the transformation of stores, improvements in the customer experience, and the development of a strong leadership team. He is credited with successfully changing many of the ways Walmart serves its customers in the United States and positioning the company well for the future.

Aggieland made an imprint on CastroWright. He shared with the top students in the Mays retailing program, during a private round-table session, that his time at Texas A&M prepared him for his career and positively shaped his character. He said the same thing to a crowd gathered in Ray Auditorium in early April, when he received his award: "The years I spent here at Texas A&M have made me the person that you see

Eduardo Castro-Wright, right, has helped lead Walmart to new methods of serving its customers.

in front of you today." The occasion for the gathering was the 2011 Visionary Merchant Award given to Castro-Wright. He delivered the annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture, titled “The Future of Retailing.” Walmart’s customers are increasingly accessing merchandise online; more than 10 percent of last year’s contacts (about 1.2 billion of more than 10 billion) were made online. The Internet and social media have changed advertising, making it more transparent and competitive through more personal avenues, he said. “It is changing the way we as advertisers think about how we actually capture the attention of customers,” CastroWright said. “The 30-second commercial is being replaced by the 30-second upload, or 30-second recommendation, or 30-second comment.” The Zale Lecture Series was established in 1998 to honor Zale’s achievements in merchandising by recognizing the best in today’s practicing retailers.

Noble Corp. CEO calls hard work, mutual trust keys to success


avid W. Williams ’79 would be the first to tell you that he didn’t get to his current position as chairman, president and CEO of Noble Corporation based on his college GPA. He learned the value of hard work at a young age, working through college as a form carpenter, then in a shipyard for two years after graduating from A&M in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Before going to Noble, he served as executive vice president at Diamond Offshore Drilling, a company he was with for more than 20 years. “I never aspired to be a CEO, but I was always up for the next challenge,” the Houston native says. Williams knows diligence, which is key to running the world’s second-largest offshore drilling company. Noble Corporation has 8

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79 rigs around the world and employs more than 7,000 people of 64 nationalities. The Switzerland-based company is celebrating its 90th birthday this year and, according to Williams, it will celebrate many more. “The world runs on oil and gas, and that’s not going to change,” he says. The drilling business has allowed Williams to travel all over the world—South America, Canada, Africa, China, Indonesia, the Middle East, to name a few, and the place he and his wife currently call home, Geneva, Switzerland. Williams says he “thrives in this business, and if I’m not traveling, I get restless.” “The bottom line,” says Williams, “is that we are in business to make money for our shareholders.” To accomplish this goal, his management style is “all about motivating people.” If they don’t trust you, they won’t trust your plan. Williams has gained this trust by relating to and respecting all levels of employees—from the rig workers to the board members.

Williams’ unconventional leadership style has brought him to the success he stands on today, he told Mays students. “The good news is, you’re at a great university,” he says. “The bad news is you still have to earn respect and earn your stripes. No one makes it without help.” Williams advises students to become experts at some aspect of their companies for the impact it will have on their careers. He illustrated the importance of this idea by sharing that early in his career, he became the “go-to guy” for information on rig competitors, and that gave him an opportunity to shine. Williams is familiar with each rung on the ladder of success. Starting at the bottom, he pushed his way through the ranks until he hit the top. He has learned the drilling industry inside and out and now explains, “I want this company to be the best. I want people to recognize that we have the right strategy, and I want shareholders to get the credit for what this company has become.”

In Wehner

Riding the roller coaster of retail Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award honors Men’s Wearhouse executive


he clothing industry is a terrible business — unless you’re No. 1, like George Zimmer, founder and executive chairman of The Men’s Wearhouse. “Unlike the computer business, where some smart person can come in over the weekend and take the market with a new invention, the clothing industry doesn’t change very quickly,” he explains. Since founding the company in 1973, Zimmer has weathered its many storms and revised his strategies to maintain the values and corporate climate he prefers. His company has generated more than $2 billion in sales and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, while Zimmer has grown as company co-founder, entrepreneur and TV icon. He created his Fortune 1000 company with a corporate culture that has been recognized as one of FORTUNE Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in America in eight of the last nine years. To recognize the way Zimmer does business, Mays honored him with the Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award. After receiving the award, Zimmer gave a lecture in Ray Auditorium, then had breakfast and meetings with students and faculty members. Zimmer opened his first store in Houston in 1973, stretching a $7,000 investment to buy simple cash registers and portable racks to hold his inventory of sport coats and slacks. On the opening day, a Saturday, sales totaled $3,000 — which Zimmer quickly calculated could generate nearly $1 million a year. The next Monday, sales barely hit $60.

“I got a quick lesson in the ups and downs of retail,” he says. “I learned to plan for the slow days.” During a tough economic slump in Texas, Zimmer and his brother borrowed from their mother to stave off a $2 million loan that was being called. “We promised our mother we would base our business on values rather than wishful thinking,” he says. Under his leadership, the company has become the largest retailer of men’s tailored suits, dress casual George Zimmer uses clothing to tailor his personal path to success. clothing and tuxedo rentals in the U.S. and Canada. The employee base expanded from that single store to a force of he Kupfer Distinguished Achievement 17,000 in more than 1,200 stores. Award was created as a lasting Mays Dean Jerry Strawser says Zimmer tribute to Harold L. Kupfer '54's embodies the Aggie professionalism, enthusiasm and core values. dedication to service. Kupfer’s friends Zimmer values Gerald Ray ’54 and Donald Zale ’55 trust, fairness created the award to honor Kupfer’s and compassion in his company. outstanding career and contributions to Trust extends to the Texas business community. operating in what After graduating from Texas A&M Zimmer calls “full University, Kupfer was an officer in the transparency,” U.S. Army, then began an investment which excludes career with Dallas-based Sanders and secret shoppers or Co. His last professional association other surprises for was with Jefferies & Co., where he his store managers. earned a place in the Jefferies “Hall of Fairness means Fame” and was recognized as a sales considering the professional with an award in his name. most qualified The Kupfer award is special, says candidates from Mays Dean Jerry Strawser, because “it inside the stores recognizes a business leader who has for promotions changed the way the world works.” It and Zimmer’s recognizes friendship, loyalty and the self-imposed three men’s strong ties to Texas A&M income limit to 10 and to each other. times the average Zimmer says he was honored to store manager’s salary. Compassion receive the award, and that he has long is reflected in infant care centers at admired business success stories that corporate buildings, funds to cover stem from Texas. employees’ financial emergencies His is one of them. and a self-insurance plan.



In Wehner Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

Weston ’86 receives Conn Entrepreneurial Leadership Award


raw from your strengths and give your best to those around you — those are the recommendations of Graham Weston ’86, a founder and chairman of Rackspace Hosting. He says he fought against those philosophies the first few years of his career, and now uses them to direct the 3,000-plus employees of the world leader in hosted computing, including cloud computing. Weston serves as a mentor and advisor to numerous entrepreneurs, and has a penchant for tweaking workplace culture. He expresses his business philosophy in two words: “People matter.” He says everyone who works wants to be a valued member of a winning team on an inspiring mission. “Asking people to bring their best work to work every day really makes a difference,” he says. “We must create a workplace culture where our people want to volunteer to do their best every day.” Weston was honored at Mays with the 2011 Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, which was established nine years ago by the Conn family to recognize outstanding business leaders who have achieved extraordinary success. It is made possible through the generosity of C.W. and Dorothy Conn; C.W. Conn is the previous owner and former president of Conn Appliances and chairman of Conn Development Corporation. Weston was born to a ranching family in the San Antonio area, and says his father is still disappointed he didn’t come home to run the operation. Weston launched his first business venture as a seventh-grader, marketing organic pork in newspaper ads that read “Go Hog Wild!” In high school, he built a business taking photos at livestock show and selling them to the contestants. He was selling commercial real estate when a trio of Trinity University students approached him in late 1998 about a business idea they had. They met all day at Chester’s Hamburgers, and sealed the deal within days. “They wanted to rent servers to people. I had been in the commercial real estate business so I understood renting things to people,” he says. “But our business quickly went from the being a rental company to a service company. Everything changed.” “I knew about renting real estate, so that made sense to me,” he says. He invested $500,000 in the start-up company and helped with corporate strategy, marketing and 10

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“I think most of our competitors think answering the phone is kind of quaint. I think it shows accountability.” �G raham Weston ʼ86

business development. He was CEO until 2006, when he became chairman. While CEO, Weston was named a 2006 “Best Boss” by Fortune Small Business magazine and was recognized as regional Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Rackspace was one of the New York Stock Exchange top 10 fastest- growing. In 2005, the city of San Antonio honored him for converting one of his vacant properties into a temporary shelter for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The shelter, nicknamed the “Hilton of Shelters” by the Denver Post, housed more than 2,500. His employees even wrote a computer program that helped the refugees track down their relatives. “I really think entrepreneurship is jumping in and doing what is needed when it is needed. That is all we did back then. We were fortunate to be in a position to do so.”

In introducing Weston, Dean Jerry Strawser said he was honored to host him. He says he considers Weston’s act of hosting the Katrina and Rita refugees a true testament to his character. “Entrepreneurs do things for other people, entrepreneurs share what they have and entrepreneurs make the world a better place,” he says. “Graham Weston is a great example of that. He is not only a successful businessman, but also a successful man.” Rackspace went public about three years ago. “We were the last company to go public before the recession started, and now we’re back, growing about 30 percent a year,” he says, adding the company manages nearly 2.2 million email accounts. He expects to add 1,000 employees over the next 12 months, bringing the total near 5,000. Rackspace went public about three years ago. “We were the last company to go public before the recession started, and now we’re back, growing about 30 percent a year,” he says, adding the company manages nearly 2.2 million email accounts. He expects to add 1,000 employees over the next 12 months, bringing the total near 5,000. Rackspace serves more than 100,000 customers, but Weston says the company doesn’t cater to consumers — instead it caters to IT, marketing and human resource departments. “Rackers” — Rackspace employees — average 31 years old and compete to provide “fanatical support” to each customer. Every phone call to the company is answered by a person — usually by the second ring — as Weston illustrated during his lecture in Ray Auditorium. The call is then transferred to a problem solver. “I think most of our competitors think answering the phone is kind of quaint. I think it shows accountability,” he says. “We want to keep the attitude of a start-up, where we earn every single customer. You get that by providing even more than you have promised, by figuring out what the essence of the problem is and solving it.” At Rackspace, awards are given to the “Fanatical Racker” of each quarter — an honor Weston received once, in honor of the shelter project. “We celebrate our heroes within the company,” he explains. “That communicates to every single person in the company what greatness looks like.”

In Wehner Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

Mays graduates 4th Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities class


hey came with memories on their minds and dreams in their heart, and they left with solid plans for achieving them. Twentythree veterans who have served since 9/11 credit an entrepreneurship bootcamp with giving them the boost they needed to make the most of their experiences and ideas. Gina Williams thought the personalized candy business she and a “chocoholic” friend started five years ago was cooking along nicely, but she says she learned some lessons at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) at Mays that will start benefitting her business immediately. “We have established our business, but we want to have the best there is, and I have some tools to do that now,” says Williams, a 24-year veteran of the Air Force who lives south of Houston and operates “Dandy Candy online.” “Our passion is being charitable, so we give a portion of our proceeds to charities. Now I realize we need to learn more about our industry and our own little business, because it changes so quickly. Education is Caption really key.” The EBV program helps participants learn

Class member Gina Williams and her “chocoholic” friend run Dandy Candy online.

essential skills that will help them start, grow and successfully manage entrepreneurial ventures. They participate in a three-week online self-study, a nine-day on-campus residency program at Texas A&M and a year of mentorship with a faculty member. At the end of the residency week, participants pitched their business plans to a panel of entrepreneurs and industry experts. Joshua P. Kinser, managing partner of San Antonio-based KSV Group, says the

ideas discussed in the sessions will help him improve his business. The critiques of the business plans were specific and informative, and the mentors added an essential layer of attention. “I was really impressed with the innovative minds who taught the subjects. Their focus was being innovative; their theme was, ‘Whatever you do, don’t be bland,’” Kinser explains. “Every facet was presented as a building block to get you to the end, to get you out the door and back to your business with fresh ideas and a broader knowledge base.” The EBV program was introduced in 2007 by the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Now the program is offered in consortium with Mays, UCLA, Florida State University, Purdue, the University of Connecticut and Louisiana State University. The newest member is the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, which will focus on the hospitality/service industry. At Mays, the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) hosts the program each year. “We have the opportunity to change lives for men and women who have given so much to us through their service to our country,” says Richard Lester, clinical associate professor and executive director of the CNVE. “It is a great honor and privilege that all of us share who become associated with the EBV program.” The cost is about $5,000 per participant, but corporate sponsors and private individuals allow the veterans to attend the entire program — including tuition, travel and

The 23 veterans who participated in the 4th bootcamp formed bonds with one another while bolstering their businesses.

Continued, p. 12


In Wehner Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

What’s your big idea? Challenge rewards students for creativity


t Texas A&M, students know that springtime means innovation. The Ideas Challenge, hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE), looks to Aggies of all majors and levels to come up with “the next big thing.” Hundreds of Aggies take advantage of this opportunity to present their ideas for marketable new products and services to members of business and academic communities. The CNVE is dedicated to fostering an entrepreneurial mindset within Texas A&M students, and for the tenth year in a row, the Ideas Challenge provides the perfect amount of incentive and competition to pique their interests. The challenge helps students develop their ideas from a business standpoint, pushing the participants to assess their products or services based on their on marketability, applicability and efficacy. Students are encouraged to work hard as a winning idea requires creativity, careful planning, detailed writing and a compelling business presentation. Entry is free, and the competition has drawn in more than 400 entries, and only the top 40 are named finalists. The top five ideas are awarded thousands in cash prizes. Getting to the top isn’t easy. Judges pepper the students with questions, assessing whether or not their idea is a stable venture. They challenge the feasibility, financial viability and overall value of the submissions, but the evaluation doesn’t end

there. Students are also heavily appraised on writing, presentation, organization and communication skills. If they are unable to clearly and persuasively express their business idea to the judges, participants are unlikely to succeed. The CNVE hosts several workshops to help students craft their submissions. Each entry must include a detailed list of which customers, competitors and suppliers will be involved in the business concept. Students must also prepare a two-minute drill, a succinct and persuasive speech that outlines the fundamentals of their idea. This, the CNVE stresses, will be the most crucial element of their presentations.

“The goal is to show students that you can create your own job at some point.” Richard Lester, clinical associate professor and executive director of the CNVE, says as far as the Ideas Challenge goes, “the idea to think creatively is the greatest resource for students.” The challenge allows participants a unique opportunity to express themselves in new ways. “The goal is to show students that you can create your own job at some point,” Lester says, adding that the Ideas Challenge “highlights creativity and solving some of the world’s problems.”

Bootcamp, continued

accommodations — at no cost. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, who began his furniture sales empire in Houston 32 years ago, told the entrepreneurs during their graduation ceremony “whatever I’ve done in my life as an entrepreneur, you can do better.” He encouraged them to feed opportunities and starve problems. “So many people said we’d never make it with our company but I had a great big unfair advantage, and you’ve got it too: 12

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Desire,” McIngvale explains. “The number one ingredient in business success is an unsinkable work ethic and a relentless focus on the customer.” Kinser and Williams both commented on the final day that they had developed a kinship with their fellow veterans. “This experience has humbled me more than I ever expected,” Williams says. “I never dreamed there would be people who would be so dedicated to the veterans this way, to make sure we had all we needed to succeed.

Some of the “next big things” introduced at Ideas Challenge Advanced Cell Culture System Aggie Aware Aggie Wheels Austin City Hostels Automated Bike Lock System The Bank Backboard BeadReader Classic Comfort Crate Escape Diagnostic Point-of-care Device Digital Scaling Ruler Game Face GlucoBeads GlucoWave Technology Hydraulic Gate Opener MusicCrawler Obesity Solutions Pet Protect Scream Cards Shark Away The Car Compass The Stint University Folding Bikes We Bake It, You Make It

DATABITS By the end of 2011, 450 veterans from across the nation graduated from the Enterpreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), which has spurred the creation of more than 200 new veteranowned businesses. Texas A&M, one of eight university hosts of the program, has graduated 68. For more information go to

In Wehner Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship

Dream Machine recycling initiative comes to Mays


epsiCo Dream Machine recycling kiosk at Mays, provides students and faculty with a convenient and rewarding way to recycle their bottles and cans while on the go. The unveiling of the Dream Machine coincided with the school’s annual Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program held in the Wehner Building. The Dream Machine recycling initiative, created by PepsiCo in partnership with Waste Management is introducing thousands of recycling bins and kiosks at popular public locations across North America. The kiosk is a computerized receptacle that includes a personal reward system, powered by Greenopolis, which allows users to earn points for every bottle or can they recycle in the kiosk and redeem those points for local discounts on entertainment, dining and travel at Additionally, the more bottles and cans people recycle in a Dream Machine kiosk at Texas A&M and in Dream Machine bins and kiosks across the nation, the more support PepsiCo will provide to the EBV, a national program offering free experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 U.S. veterans with disabilities. “We are so pleased that Mays Business

The Dream Machine supports Texas A&M’s sustainability endeavors while raising funds for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans which Mays hosts each year in August.

School is expanding the Dream Machine program at Texas A&M University,” said Jeremy Cage, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Insights at PepsiCo and head of the Dream Machine recycling initiative. “By recycling in a Dream Machine, students and faculty can earn rewards and help make a real difference for our planet and in the lives of disabled U.S. veterans.” At Texas A&M, sustainability is more than a buzzword — with on-campus recycling and waste management. Additionally, University Dining is using an award-winning process developed by Texas A&M’s Department of Chemical Engineering and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station for turning food scraps into biofuel. With nearly 2,600 Dream Machines in 30 states to date, the program aims to create strategic partnerships to help increase the U.S. beverage container recycling rate to 50 percent by 2018. “Experience tells us that people are much more likely to recycle if it’s convenient, and they are rewarded for doing so,” said Paul Ligon, managing director for Greenopolis, a Waste Management subsidiary. “We look forward to working with Texas A&M to enable a recycling experience that is fun and rewarding on many levels.”

Communication lab helps students “strengthen their professional voice”


he Mays Business School Communication Lab has recently reopened its doors with one goal in mind: combat the unprofessionalism that has seeped into students’ business communication. “The way we write and speak influences how we’re perceived,” says Jeana Simpson, communication lab administrator. Simpson holds a degree in cognitive studies from Vanderbilt University and she’s moved back to her hometown of Bryan eager to help business students with their written and oral communication skills.

“My vision is for students to strengthen their professional voice,” says Simpson. To accomplish this, the communication lab offers: • Individual computer workstations • Individual and team consultations for presentations and written reports • Audio/ video recording equipment for team and individual speaking practice • Workshops to address common communication errors and issues • Intentional feedback from hired business communication consultants Simpson is confident that students will see a difference in their written and oral communication abilities as a result of the lab’s programs. “Our hope is that students can go into their first job with confidence in their communication skills.” Learn more at


In Wehner

Luna ’95 discloses how to work herself out of a job


ina Luna ’95, chairwoman of Chase bank’s Houston regional banking office and CEO of middlemarket banking, packs power and decisiveness within her calm, confident demeanor. She exudes optimism, and she drives her employees with the strategic leadership style she’s developed throughout her career with Chase. Luna graduated from Texas A&M with a double major in management and finance. She began her career with JPMorgan Chase directly following her graduation, and has worked her way up to the position she

Luna's adopted attributes of a leader • Discipline Be systematic and predictable in your decision making process.

holds currently. As CEO of middle market banking, Luna works with hundreds of companies that have revenues between $20 million and $500 million. Working with so many clients, Luna has developed shrewd management skills. She says she approaches each day with the same mindset: “I work for my team, rather than have my team work for me.” Working for the team means empowering her employees to do the job well, she says. “Good leaders should work themselves out of a job. I want to be able to walk away knowing that the people under me are fully capable of handling things without me.” Luna’s leadership style is heavily influenced by Chase Bank CEO Jamie Dimon’s popular “11 attributes for a successful leader.” Aside from these attributes, Luna says • Openness share the information and make sure everyone is on the same page.

the greatest skill to have in any leadership position is emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness. “You have to have a realistic perception of your abilities,” she says. “You always know when someone isn’t self-aware when they’re not empowering those around or under them. They’re doing it all themselves.” When asked how she juggles a demanding job, two active boys (ages 5 and 9), regular marathon training and community involvement, Luna says it’s important to remind herself that she chooses and wants to do all these things. “I can’t victimize myself and live with the ‘I have to do this and I have to do that’ mindset.” She also emphasizes that it’s important to prioritize well, adding, “I never miss a Little League game.”

honest feedback. Tell them why they’re getting certain results and equip them with the knowledge they need to succeed.

• Set things up for success Success starts • Reward people fairly Recognize people with how you structure your company and • Fortitude Be willing to do the hard stuff. Own design business processes. for their efforts as well as their performance. the problem at hand and find a way to solve it. “Understand that some employees want their • Loyalty, meritocracy and teamwork • Standards Recruit people who have already You’re not going to last at a company if you name displayed in lights at a meeting, and set high standards for themselves. others just want a phone call saying that you can’t work well with people. noticed their hard work,” Luna adds. • Face the facts Be honest. “We want to • Morale Be a morale builder. Remove engender trust,” Luna emphasizes, adding, •  Show real humanity Have a heart for obstacles in your team’s way and gain trust. “The banking industry has gotten a black eye people. In every case, Luna says that her role • Treating people right Employees deserve in that area recently.” is to “help that person preserve their dignity.”

Houston Rodeo head honcho offers tips


ull riding, mutton bustin’, fried carnival food and loud concerts — rodeo season is a Texas tradition. But it’s also an efficiently run business, says Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo CEO Skip Wagner. Drawing in more than $102 million in revenues this year, the Houston Rodeo is the richest regular season rodeo in the nation. Since 1957, the event has raised more than $283 million for the youth of Texas and will hit the $300 million mark after the 2012 season. The money funds more than 2,000 scholarships for students at 90 colleges around Texas, with more than 500 of those students attending Texas A&M. Wagner says the growing success of the Houston Rodeo attributes to understanding the market and making strategic decisions 14

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based on that knowledge. “I brought a business perspective to a not-for-profit.” Wagner graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1982 with a chemical engineering degree, then worked at ConocoPhillips for two years before earning his MBA from Harvard Business School. For the few years afterward, he worked in business consulting, eventually taking a job as a consultant for the Houston Rodeo. In 1992, Wagner took the position of assistant general manager for the rodeo, significantly increasing revenues and prominence of the event over the next eight years. Wagner left the Houston rodeo in 2000 for the Oklahoma State Fair. He completely restructured the fair and brought it back to its former glory and profitability. In 2005, he

CEO Skip Wagner says the most important characteristic a leader can have is to know exactly what he stands for.

returned to Houston as CEO. The most important characteristic of a leader, he says, is that you have to know exactly what you stand for. “Let’s be honest, the rodeo is like Mardi Gras but with leather,” says Wagner, emphasizing the importance of morals in keeping the Houston Rodeo a family event. “He was able to talk about benefits, but also the challenges, and reminded us that you can never please everyone,” says Joanna Starling ’14.


Business Honors helps brightest reach potential ✔ One moved to Arizona to start a company ✔ Another created a nonprofit agency ✔ O  ne managed a local store, then noted a disconnect between ethics scenarios discussed in the classroom and the reality of how they play out in the workplace ✔ S everal hold high-ranking positions, including the London-based CFO of Clear  Channel International


he list reads like a “who’s who” of the business world, with examples that rival the best MBA programs. They are, in fact, commonplace tales from products of the undergraduate Business Honors Program at Mays. As Scott Perry ’11 completes his studies toward a triple major and prepares for the full-time job that awaits him after his Spring 2012 graduation, he says he can attribute all his success — “in some way, shape or form” — to the Business Honors Program. He beefed up his formal education in accounting, business honors and

Spanish majors with three trips to Panama. His knowledge base grew there to encompass chicken farming, planting yucca and Coca-Cola distribution in Panama. After he returned to the United States, he went to his summer internship with Bain & Company, where he was offered a full-time job after graduation. Perry visited China in October 2010 as a representative of Texas A&M to the China-U.S. Relations Conference, and studied in Barcelona the summer of 2010. He studied in Spain the fall of 2011. “I am completely indebted to the Business Honors Program for



An orientation for incoming business honors freshmen included teambuilding exercises, guest speakers and small-group discussions of the book they all read The World is Flat.

having reached out and recruited me my senior year of high school, because without the opportunities it led to, I would not be where I am today,” he explains. Designed to differentiate The Business Honors Program was established in 1986; the major was added in 2007 to reflect the substantive difference in the coursework from the other undergraduate business majors and to better recognize the students who complete the program. To apply, students have to score a 1250 on the SAT and graduate in the top quarter of their classes. While in the program, they must maintain a 3.5 GPA. “Our Business Honors Program is one of the flagship programs at Mays," says Dean Jerry Strawser. "It allows us to attract bright young leaders, and provide them with an opportunity to fully develop their potential through the coursework and professional development activities. In 10 to 15 years, we will see graduates from this program in significant and meaningful leadership positions.” Outside of class, he says, seminars and interactions with visiting executives “provide students with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.” An added bonus: automatic access to a close network of active business honors graduates and their companies. The first graduation, in Spring 2011, had 70. The goal is to enroll 85 in the program each year from a pool of applicants that averages 900 annually. Community service is encouraged and professional development is required in the 16

@MAYS Winter 2012

program Of some 40 events a semester — such as breakfasts with visiting executives, think-tank meetings and a book club — students are required to participate in at least three, though most do more than that. Freshmen in the program must attend an etiquette dinner, and all business honors students are offered out-of-state trips to visit companies and learn about other communities firsthand. Morley, who has led the program for nine years, says many elements of the program are largely student-run. “I lean a lot on the students’ imaginations for planning events,” she says. “I am never disappointed.” Business honors courses are more indepth and focused on the how and why, than mainstream courses. “It is the added ‘so what?’ component that many classes don’t have time to get into,” Morley says. “Employers see business honors students’ ability to look beyond the surface and to think on a deeper level.” Learning by doing The students must participate in an internship related to their career goals. One student did an unpaid internship at a recording studio in New York City, another at Angola Prison. The musician is still following his dreams. “To me, more important than where they go is hearing what they learned and got out of the experience,” Morley says. “They learn lots of things and they reinforce what they have already learned — things like, ‘I wear my name tag on my right side’ and ‘People really do come up and shake my hand,’ or ‘I figured out I need to carry a pen at all times.’ We can tell them over and over, but until they

have to use these little tricks and tools, they don’t sink in.” James Ray ’11, who graduated in August 2011, says he still thinks of a song Morley created to teach her students the core competencies of a business professional. “Communicate, solve problems, find opportunities. Lead, manage, work with others, and of course act ethically,” are the lyrics. “I thought it was catchy and silly, but I couldn’t wrap my head around what it would mean in my education,” he says. “But as I look back at my time at Mays, and more specifically in my internship, I can see that they been ingrained in the very nature of how I operate now.” Dirk Eller ’94, the London-based CFO of Clear Channel International, says the Business Honors Program was one of Mays’ primary selling points when he was considering college options. “It did provide me a great foundation, offering a unique mix of an interactive, small classroom experience while still allowing for the outstanding resources and faculty of a world-class academic institution,” he says. “Lessons that I learned in those honors classes, along with some real-world experiences gained in the Fellows Program — at the time led by Dr. Ben Welch — have served me well throughout my career.” Welch, now assistant dean for executive education and a clinical professor in the management department, says his years as director of the Business Honors Program were the highlight of his tenure within Mays. “They are the ones who will be leading Fortune 500 companies and will never


forsake the foundation they received as an Aggie.” Student-faculty collaboration is key Since its inception, the keys to the program have been engaging “highly motivated, outstanding students in relatively small class sizes.” Business honors and accounting senior Brittany Clayton ’12 says the engagement of the small groups and the reach of the Aggie Network are tremendous benefits of the program. “Everyone around you wants you to succeed, and it's genuine,” she says. “The program gives you the opportunities to succeed, but makes it a challenge. It holds you to a high standard, whether that be acting professional, maintaining a certain GPR, introducing students to people they can learn from, like in the executive speaker series.” Kendall Pfister ’13, a business honors junior, says of her semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain: “I have learned more in the past four weeks here about international business, trade, culture and the people than I ever could in a semester of class.” Business honors senior James Skidmore ’12 says his trip to India was a life-changing opportunity. “The focus of the trip was the business environment in India, but it honestly blew me away and gave me an unbelievable look at an entirely different world,” he says. “Visiting giants like Infosys and Cisco with massive high-tech campuses, while at the same time taking trips to places like a rural primary school in a povertystricken village ... not your typical business school trip.”

Skidmore says the trip reversed his tendency to make snap judgments based on stereotypes. “For instance, when speaking with an Indian in a call center, it's easy to get frustrated — but it totally changed my viewpoint to see that these are real people that have an incredible work ethic,” he says. “A common phrase was ‘Work is Worship.’” Current students enjoy the program, but life after graduation is when its benefits become apparent. Boone Duvall ’09, a management consulting analyst at Accenture who received a bachelor’s degree in information and operations management, says he particularly enjoyed the Honors Freshmen Business Initiative (Honors FBI), a freshman-level business honors mentoring program, and the professional development events, because “they were both entertaining and allowed me to unknowingly pick up intangible skills that have been great assets to me in ‘the real world,’” he explains. "Through these facets of the program I was able to not only increase self-confidence and trust my thoughts and solutions to problems, but most importantly I developed an executive presence and communication skills that have been invaluable in both work and personal matters.” Trey Jackson ’03, compensation manager at Raytheon, says the program offers a much more interactive learning environment. “The professors truly engaged with the class and provided us with real-world cases that applied the theoretical concepts,” he says. “I can say very simply that the Business Honors Program challenged me to be vocal, be inquisitive, and be engaged. These are the characteristics that I carry into my roles today. When I work with leadership teams of diverse backgrounds, views, and experiences, having the courage to step up and ask questions and give your view point differentiates the value I bring to the business.” For Zach Neal ’08, now an associate with Morgan Stanley Private Equity in New York, his most impactful experience was working

The World is Flat A major benefit of the Business Honors Program is opportunities for the students to interact with faculty outside the classroom. Each fall, freshmen in the program attend an orientation that includes team-building exercises with classmates and small-group discussions of a book they all read: The World is Flat. Chelsea Gyarmathy ’12, a senior business honors and accounting major in the Professional Program on the MIS track, says the book laid the foundation for her understanding of the global corporate world as she entered her freshman year. “Not only did the book explain how things are, it also provided context about how things had been (even before I was born), and, some may argue, most importantly, how things will be,” she says. “Gaining this perspective and discussing it with faculty who had experienced it firsthand was a pivotal start to my college experience." Brian Mathews ’12, a fifth-year Professional Program student in business honors, calls the book “an in-depth analysis of the influences shaping the business world in a technology driven, global environment.” He says the book mirrors the seven core competencies of Mays. “Being able to discuss global trends with faculty members of A&M really gives students a picture of what their college experience will be like in business honors,” he says. “Concepts are taught in class, but discussion with their professors and peers is what drives learning in the honors program.” Matt Tramonte ’13, a business honors junior, says many of the business terms he has learned in his business honors classes were originally introduced in The World Is Flat. “Thomas Friedman clearly illustrates concepts such as globalization and integration as they pertain to modern issues in the business world,” he says. “I have heard many of my professors reference this book during class, and I am glad I had an opportunity to read it before even starting college.” Link to video:



with the Prison Entrepreneur Program. “The program focused on assisting prisoners close to parole in developing fundamental business skills such as interviewing, presentation and resume writing,” he says. “It was a very rewarding experience because it allowed me to use the skills I learned through Business Honors to better the community and it reminded me that everyone who is willing to change deserves a second chance.” Sam Sommer ’06 sums it up this way: “After working for a company with a highperforming culture, I have realized that it was business honors that prepared me to exceed in a place where success was common.”

Mays faculty members embrace the opportunity to teach business honors courses. Here are some reasons why: Our honors students are among the best young people a professor can ever meet. Teaching them keeps me current in my own field. In my accounting class this fall, we discussed financial statements and current events for over 50 companies, ranging from ExxonMobil to Groupon. Our class mantra is, “If it happens this week, we study it over the weekend, and turn in a case assignment next week.” �Jerry Strawser, Accounting/Dean

It is a delight to teach an honors course. The magic is a result of small classes with consistently bright and highly motivated students. Most of the students appreciate understanding the issues and current events rather than simply memorizing the course materials. �Jim Benjamin, Accounting

The students are both very bright and very motivated. I may learn as much from them as they do from me. I truly enjoy going to class and always leave class with a smile on my face. �Ricky Griffin, Management

I love teaching these students because they provide immediate feedback as to what they do or do not understand. The real-life applications of finance concepts


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and techniques keep them engaged. Overall, I enjoy the energy and the fun of the class.

�Wendy Liu (Galpin), Finance

The honors students ask really intelligent questions during the lecture, which makes the class very interesting. In order to enhance the learning of students about basic concepts of probability and statistics, I use interactive games in the classroom. One of the most popular games is based on the well-known “Monty Hall problem,” where the students are divided in teams of three and they use playing cards. This game illustrates many of the concepts learned in class in a fun and interactive way.

�Subodha Kumar, INFO

The size of the honors classes provides a great opportunity for more discussionoriented classes and hands-on learning. In MKTG 321, students have the opportunity to help the community as they learn by working with non-profit clients on marketing planning. Students analyze the internal and external environments for their clients and provide a detailed implementation plan for a set of marketing recommendations. �Janet Parish, Marketing

Students answer the question, “How did selection to Business Honors influence your decision to come to Mays?” I am not sure that I would have attended Texas A&M if I had not been selected for the Business Honors Program, and I am beyond thankful that I was. I have been extremely blessed through the program and the faculty. �Amanda Cedeno ’15

The small classroom environment is great for learning and building relationships with our classmates and professor. Our director and advisor know each of us personally and are invested in our success. The Business Honors program has had a very positive impact on me. �Jeff Bourgeois ’14, accounting

I have already grown through the opportunities I have had, and look forward to the advantages my time in the Business Honors program at Mays will provide. I know that I made the right choice.

�Luke Williamson ’15, Supply chain management


What students do Sample professional development activities: • • • • •

Wall Street Journal discussion group 23 executive speakers Viewing of movie Too Big To Fail Etiquette dinner Corporate visits to AT&T, Chevron, and Wells Fargo in San Francisco • Participation in Wall Street Journal Biz Quiz at Ohio State University (team placed 3rd out of 18 teams) • Study abroad trip to India

Where students go Recent job placements:

Tony Weber (left) and his wife Cindy (right) attend the Business Honors tailgate with their daughter Alexandra ‘12, (nearest Cindy) and her roommate and fellow Business Honors student Kylie Weintraub ‘12.

"My wife and I decided rather than benefit one kid in school with a scholarship, why not help a lot of students do something that will really make an impact. My experience in the Fellows program was very positive, and some of the best parts of the program were the visiting speakers and getting to go to places like New York for the Aggies on Wall Street program. I think these opportunities should be available to every business student … that would be a terrific goal for the university, to provide these opportunities to everybody who comes through the business school." Tony Weber and his wife created the Cindy ’84 and Tony ’84 Weber Excellence Fund, which supports special programs and executive speakers in Mays’ Business Honors Program. Tony is a partner and owner of Natural Gas Partners, while Cindy teaches continuing education courses for healthcare providers. Their daughter Alexandra ’12 graduates in May 2011 with degrees in Business Honors and finance.

• Bain and Company • Bank of America • Barclays • Boston Consulting Group • Chevron • ConocoPhillips • Deloitte • Department of Homeland Security • Eli Lilly & Co. • Ernst & Young • ExxonMobil • Financial Accounting Standards Board • Goldman Sachs • JP Morgan • KPMG • Lockheed Martin • Morgan Stanley • Peace Corps • PwC • Teach for America • Wells Fargo Sample recent graduate school admissions: • Georgetown University • George Washington University • Harvard University • Johns Hopkins University • New York University • Northwestern University • Stanford University • The College of William & Mary • The Ohio State University For more information, go to



Into the woods Annual Wakonse conference hones teaching, learning skills


ometimes a break from routine stirs the creative juices just enough to propel us into action. And sometimes perceived adversaries can become allies with a little open conversation. These are the premises behind Wakonse Conferences on College Teaching, an annual workshop for higher education teachers. With the feel of a rustic retreat and the focus of a corporate refresher, the annual summer program at Camp Miniwanca on Lake Michigan provides a safe respite for teachers to learn from one another and rekindle their love of their craft. The first group from Texas A&M attended the inaugural program in May 1990. In 2000, college students were taken along. This year, the attendees brought the program’s essence home to Mays with a “shared expectations” workshop in September that opened dialogue between faculty and students. Nancy Simpson, a professor in undergraduate special programs, has attended the program since Texas A&M has been participating, and she serves on the staff of the conference in Wakonse. She calls it “a beautiful place and a great way to get to be challenged and think about different things. It challenges teachers to be their best for the students and the students to bring their best to the classroom.” For those who can’t go to Michigan, an offshoot of the conference nicknamed “Wakonse South” is held in the Texas Hill Country each year, at the Canyon of the Eagles Lodge on the shores of Lake Buchanan. Simpson took Mays students last summer so they could experience the mutual respect exercise that faculty and students participate in. “One of the best things I see each time is a greater understanding on both sides of what the others are experiencing and expecting. That goes a long way in facilitating learning,” she says. “The faculty members also focus on some aspect of teaching.” The participants brought that exercise home for a new program called Mays Academy for Learning and Teaching. At the first meeting, held in September, Mays faculty and students expressed their mutual expectations. Previous programs created by Wakonse participants include Graduate Teaching Academy, started by five graduate students, and the Freshman Business Initiative (FBI), adapted for Mays by Associate Dean Martha L. Loudder. Shontarius Aikens, a lecturer in undergraduate special programs who has been to Wakonse twice, particularly likes a key question posed to participants at the conference: “What value do I add to my class?” — a question he kept as a guiding thought when he was developing course materials and lectures for the next semester. “At the end of this session, 20

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it was clear to me that the value of a college course is the instructor,” he says. “Value consists of the instructor’s work and life experiences shared to enhance student learning, how the instructor represents the subject area/profession and the quality of instructor-student relationships.” Aikens says the professional development experience Wakonse affords can’t be put into words. “It is a great opportunity to connect with faculty and students from other universities. After leaving the conference, you will have a better understanding of how to enhance your teaching skills.” Making connections Shannon Knight Deer, a lecturer and assistant department head in accounting, says she would “absolutely recommend Wakonse to anyone interested in teaching.” Though the schedule is busy during the conference, she says, “it was also a great opportunity to get away and recharge. You are disconnected from all of the distractions of everyday life and can focus on improving teaching. In addition to participating in discussion groups, presentations, etc. you can also participate in the death march, polar plunge and other fun events that build community. The opportunities to interact with both faculty and students in such a casual environment were priceless.” Deer says the program has helped her emphasize connecting with the students on


the first day and hone her personal teaching style. “One idea that was presented was ‘Rock the First Class,’ meaning make the first class really great,” she says. “The first class really sets the tone for the entire semester.” She also was advised to give students specific material/activities to guide them in their preparation before each class and to create communities where faculty can exchange ideas and help each other resolve issues. The Wakonse Fellowship brings together faculty, teaching and learning professionals from postsecondary institutions who recognize and are devoted to the inspirational aspect of the teaching and learning process. Wakonse is an organization of individuals dedicated to promoting and sharing with colleagues the excitement and satisfaction of teaching in higher education. During the year after attending the program, Deer plans to invite a student who attended Wakonse to sit in on some of her classes. “I think their perspective will allow them to provide me with constructive feedback,” she says. “If I was able to return, I would like to work through that feedback. I anticipate wanting to continue developing the pre-class prep material I plan to start this summer.” Spurring students Taylor Vestal ’14 says the conference helped her realize what type of leader she wants to be, and how she can implement changes toward becoming that leader. On the last day of camp, Vestal made a page-long list of goals

Eric Newman, above, says his Wakonse experiences aided his transition from student to staff member.

Right, the remote setting and casual activities helped the faculty and students slow down and listen to one another.

“At the end of this session, it was clear to me that the value of a college course is the instructor.” �S hontarius Aikens, a lecturer in undergraduate special programs

that she hopes to work toward accomplishing over the next year. She calls the program “a time of deep reflection where all of the undergraduate students were able to see their strengths and weaknesses in action … and then really look into ourselves to see how we handled each situation” through activities such as canoeing down a river with a partner, doing a high ropes course, running down a sand dune, running into Lake Michigan when it was 46 degrees and leading professors through challenges.” When asked if she would recommend Wakonse to others, Vestal responded with a resounding, “YES! YES! YES …” “Wakonse was truly an amazing experience which benefits both parties of higher education,” she explains. “I hope that more professors from Texas A&M, and even from other departments outside of Mays, can attend so they can have a new focus on their teaching techniques. On the student side, this is a leadership retreat like no other I've been to. “We were in such a picturesque place,

with student leaders from all over the United States, having a great time, and really learning about ourselves — what more could we have asked for?” Dialogue sessions with students and teachers helped both parties see one another anew. “We also led a mutual expectations session to guide the professors to ‘the perfect professor/student relationship,’” Vestal says. “We were able to get a glimpse of our professors as real people and it would be wonderful to get to know them on an even deeper level.” Active engagement Laura Glasscock ’13 says the main idea she took back from the conference was that she should be more involved in class and get to know her professors. “I didn't realize the teacher's perspective until then, and it's changed how I view class,” she says. “I plan to carry this new knowledge into my future semesters.” Glasscock says she has already encouraged several undergraduate students to try to attend the conference. If she returned, she says she would focus more on learning about herself and how to use her strengths. “I did focus on that a little, but I would go more in depth next time,” she says. Austin Alexander ’13 says the experience spotlights the importance of good communication between faculty members and their students. “I would love for the professors and the students to have an understanding of each others’ expectations in each classroom,” he says. “This would go farther than just what is seen on a syllabus, and would reach into personal motivations of why they are teaching the class and what types of pet peeves each professor has.” While the experience is hard to explain, Alexander says, the results aren’t: “It has a special way of changing the perspective students have on school and their perception of professors.” He says if he were able to return, he would focus on meeting more professors. “It was an awesome learning experience hearing each professor’s views and personal goals within their university,” but he says he would rather have had more than one student/ professors lunch during the program. Ben Wu, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence in the College of Education, says when people are given the opportunity to express what they want, they usually become more engaged. “And when we do these exercises, we find what students want and what faculty members want are often the same.”



Wakonse Perspectives Mutual expectations session launches Mays Academy of Learning and Teaching


ver a Friday afternoon lunch, faculty and students met with the goal of understanding each of their roles in the education process from the perspective of the other through an exercise called Mutual Expectations. The session was hosted by the Mays Academy of Learning and Teaching (MALT), a newly formed coalition of faculty, staff and students of Mays committed to excellence in the learning process. MALT was born through the collaboration of faculty across departments, specifically fellows of the Wakonse and Wakonse South conferences for college teaching. The Wakonse Fellowship brings together faculty, teaching and learning professionals from postsecondary institutions who recognize and are devoted to the inspirational aspect of the teaching and learning process. Participants at Wakonse Conferences on College Teaching return to their campuses to share and promote the excitement of teaching – particularly in higher education. Mutual Expectations, an exercise brought home to Wehner from Wakonse, was the centerpiece of the inaugural MALT event. The session began with students and professors talking over lunch to become acquainted or to catch up from the summer before being broken into groups. Small groups of faculty were asked to answer three questions: First, what are students’ expectations of their professors? Second, what are professors’ expectations of their students? And third, which of these expectations are held by both parties? The MALT team provided Venn diagrams to be filled in with the answers to these three questions. After the diagrams were full, the results were shared to establish a group consensus among the faculty. The panel of students participating in the exercise then presented their results. As they did, the discussion began.


@MAYS Winter 2012

From the professors: n “What does it mean for us to be ‘transparent?’” n “What should we do about the use of cell phones or laptops in the classroom?” n “Feedback on student evaluations affects us personally and professionally.” From the students: n “Fairness in grading is better than giving an easy ‘A.’” n “Where is the line between participating in class and monopolizing class time?” n “We expect teaching to be the top priority when you are in the classroom.” The beauty of the exercise is that it happens in a safe setting where students and faculty alike can speak freely and honestly. This environment draws out issues, promotes the development of solutions, and gives each side the opportunity to understand the other. Feedback from the session reflects this better understanding. Students’ eyes were opened to the sheer scope of responsibilities that come with being faculty at a university like Texas A&M. Faculty were able to grasp the pressures, opportunities, and challenges of being a student in the Millennial generation. Both sides were reminded of the reality that their counterparts in the classroom are humans with strengths and flaws, successes and failures, professional and personal lives, needs and expectations.

By Eric Newman, academic advisor in Undergraduate Programs


ommon threads emerged during the mutual expectations exercise at Mays — students want to learn and be respected, while faculty members want students to pay attention and be prepared. FACULTY n Come to class prepared, pay attention and participate. “Speak up if you’re not understanding,” one said. “If one student is not understanding the material, there are probably others not understanding it too.” n Apply yourself. n Treat the course equally with other courses. n Recognize the efforts and resources made available for your success. Utilize those resources throughout the semester. n Respect everyone’s time. n Turn your phone ringer off. If a phone rings in the classroom, one instructor requires that student to buy pizza for all the other students in the class or take a zero for that day’s grade. Another says, “If it rings, I answer it.” STUDENTS n Allow us to ask questions n Give examples not in the book and activities they can’t do on their own. n Give time to process the information after they have taken notes. n Be available during their posted office hours. COMMON THREADS n Punctuality n Respect n Full attention n Adaptability n Flexibility n Open, easy communication n Approachable n Genuine in interaction


Mays expands Houston offering with Professional MBA program


new Mays MBA for professionals will launch in fall 2012, enhancing the highly-ranked Executive MBA program when the two co-exist in a new building in Houston. “Our new program is designed to help young professionals propel their careers into high gear. We developed this program in response to demand for Mays to increase our offerings in the Houston market,” says Dean Jerry Strawser. Launching in fall 2012, the two-year Professional MBA program will target participants with 2–10 years of work experience. Students will be taught by fulltime faculty from Mays in classes held Friday evening and all day Saturday of alternating weekends. Classes begin in August 2012, and will be spread over 22 months. This program format allows students to earn an MBA while maintaining full-time employment. “We are bringing our best to Houston — giving our students access to top faculty from Mays,” says Strawser. “We know this investment in our students will provide a great return in both the quality of education they receive and the value they bring back to their employers.” The new program will be offered in a new, private facility at CITYCENTRE, a mixed-use urban development conveniently located off Interstate 10 and Beltway 8 in West Houston. The custom-finished facility will open in fall 2012, and will also be the new home of Texas A&M’s Executive MBA program, which targets professionals with at least 10 years of experience. The Executive MBA program, which is in its 13th year of operations, will be moving from its current location in The Woodlands. “The new location will mean an easier commute to our programs for most Houstonians.” says Strawser.

“CITYCENTRE is on the leading edge of The application for fall 2012 admission to growth, with close proximity to the energy the Professional MBA program is available corridor and ease of access from major now. To learn more, visit Houston business districts.” The Professional MBA curriculum will be patterned after the Executive MBA at Mays — a two-year program focused on educating participants to create value in organizations. Strawser is confident this new program will build on the history of success of the Executive MBA program. “Our Professional MBA program will continue the tradition of our Executive MBA program in educating the next generation of Texas’ business leaders,” he said. With this new program, the network of Mays MBA graduates will continue to grow and the build upon the international power of the “Aggie Network.” “Texas A&M’s presence in Houston has always been strong, given the close proximity of our main campus and a large number of former students living in the area,” says R. Bowen Loftin, president of Texas A&M. “We are excited to expand our opportunity to provide exceptional business education to the Houston community, while also maintaining a first-class, permanent home for Texas A&M in one of the largest Attendees at a launch event at Citycentre in late 2011 saw floor plans metropolitan areas in of the new building and learned about the PMBA and EMBA programs. the country.”



Aggie bags debut at H-E-B stores


he first student-designed collegiate bag is debuting at H-E-B stores around the state. The reusable shopping bags reflecting the themes and values of Aggies, as well as H-E-B’s sponsorship of Texas A&M’s athletic program. The design was created by a group of Mays students as part of a competition. The Century Oak and a big “gig ‘em” sign are centerpieces of the maroon design on white bags. Lisa C. Troy, a clinical associate professor at Mays, says the advertising classes in the Department of Marketing provide students with first-hand experience working on realworld projects. Past partner organizations have included Loupot’s bookstores, the City of College Station, Texas A&M’s Drug and Alcohol Education Programs and Wired Ranch Advertising. “Working with a client forges relationships between the students and future employers, allows students to glimpse the decision making processes that occur in the firms, and motivates the students to do their best,” she says. “Plus, it is exciting for the students to see the results of their work actually implemented by the client firm.” About 80,000 of the bags were printed, and they are being sold in more than half the stores, concentrated mostly around Central Texas in stores where Texas A&M items have been big sellers in the past. H-E-B began more than 100 years ago and currently has more than 329 stores and 76,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. Julie Lenox, an advertising account manager for H-E-B, says the design was a clear winner to represent the Texas-based company. “We thought it had all the key elements we were looking for — it was identifiable with the


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university, it used the colors and it talked up the athletic sponsorship,” she says. “I think the bags are a great way for customers to show what they believe in and support, while helping out the Earth at the same time.” A team of five surpassed nine other teams in the competition. The project helped one student parlay his passion into a career. The main designer of the bag, Clay Coleman ‘09, went on to an advertising design school — Chicago Portfolio School — and is now an art director at a Dallas-based ad agency called Slingshot, where he works on conceptualizing and designing everything from print ads to billboards, web sites and Facebook pages to TV spots and movie trailers, and product packaging. The team of five beat nine other teams with their design, which Coleman describes as simple, with a solid message. “That's the secret formula in advertising and design,” he says. “From what I recall, our team was actually meeting to work on a different project when we had this idea. The idea just came and it was so clear that this was the right direction. With eight words and an image we made an instant connection between the Aggie Spirit and caring for the environment. Boom — mission accomplished.” Now Coleman says it is an honor to see the student project produced and in stores. “The most exciting thing about being a designer is to be able to point at something and say, ‘I did that,’” he explains. “The H-E-B bag was my first opportunity to feel that way, and I was hooked.” Now he gets to work on projects like the H-E-B bag every day, and adds, “It's a blast.”

Former Student News

From academic to adorning Ascension short from student to star jeweler


wo short years ago, Texas A&M graduate Katie Decker ’10 was sitting in finance classes, listening to friends discuss career options and wondering what job the future had in store for her. She never dreamed that someday, the title “jewelry designer” would precede her name. Even more so, she never dreamed that someone like First Lady Michelle Obama would wear the jewelry pieces she would come to create. Having a lifelong fascination with jewelry, Decker interned at Judith Ann Jewelers in Houston the summer before her senior year, and it was there she discovered her talent for designing. An artist at heart, Decker would doodle jewelry designs on slow business

days, specifically designing a pendant to hold one of her mother’s pearls. The store owner was so impressed with Decker’s sketches she offered her space in the store. The design for her mother’s pendant, now called the “Ivy pearl pendant” is still one of Decker’s bestsellers. The thought of designing jewelry for a living was just beginning to sprout in Decker’s mind the fall semester of her senior year at Mays. Decker decided to apply for the JCK and Couture jewelry tradeshows, some of the top in the nation, sending in her mere 10 designs. “I was accepted, but I knew I needed to expand my collection fast, so I spent the whole winter break of my senior year designing new pieces,” Decker says. Her namesake jewelry line took off from there. Decker’s line now includes more than 100 pieces, selling in stores all over the U.S. Her whimsical, delicate designs mirror the vibrant imagination she’s always possessed. Decker’s name is becoming increasingly prominent in the jewelry industry. She secured her spot as one of the top up-andcoming designers in fall 2011 when First Lady Michelle Obama adorned herself in three of Decker’s diamond-encrusted bangles at the Democratic National Convention fundraiser in New York City. She wore Decker’s Lotus cuff (priced at $15,000), her Gothic cuff ($15,350) and the Quatrefoil bracelet ($11,800). The Internet has been buzzing about the bracelets ever since the event. Decker is quick to attribute much of her success to her ties with Texas A&M. “When you’re an Aggie,” says Decker, “people want to help and support you.” The Aggie Network has opened doors to many important opportunities, such as meeting and working with David ’78 and Julia Gardner, owners of David Gardner’s Jewelers. “It also helps to have a business degree from here,” Decker adds, saying that the knowledge she gained as a finance major has aided her tremendously in dealing with jewelry businesses interested in carrying her pieces.

Inspired by her time here at Texas A&M, Decker’s newest line is dedicated to Aggies. “The A&M line was actually the Gardners’ idea,” she says. “They approached me about a year ago and discussed the possibility of creating a more unique and feminine line of Aggie jewelry. We wanted to incorporate the delicate feel of my 18kt gold line into the designs.” The line includes earrings, necklaces, pendants and rings — some pieces displaying A&M’s letters entwined in swirls of silver, and others devoted to Texas A&M traditions such as the Century Tree. You wouldn’t guess it now, but Decker claims she did not know the jewelry business just two years ago. She says that in a way, her career as a jewelry designer stemmed from boredom at work. She doodled, and those doodles cleared a path for her future as a successful designer.

Katie Decker’s fresh, intricate designs are gaining popularity, as proven by First Lady Michelle Obama’s decision to wear Decker’s stacked diamond bracelets at the Democratic National Convention fundraiser.


Former Student News

Lauren Meyer: Business sense

One thing I’ve learned over the years and tried to pass on to them is, the success of the project isn’t as big a deal as they might think. It’s terrific if a project is successful, but the important outcome is learning to create it, organize it, get support and donations. Those are skills we all carry [away] with us.”


auren Meyer ’11 seems to be a study in contradictions. She enrolled in Mays with no intention of going into business. During her junior year, she was actively involved in a freshman organization. She’s a self-disciplined time manager but always on the lookout for the random chance to live spontaneously. Confusing, you say? Only at first glance. Once you talk to her, it all makes perfect sense. Take the bachelor’s in business administration she earned in May 2011, for example. “I thought a degree in business with a management focus would provide a base,” recalls the College Station native, “a place to start. The curriculum ranges from very technical competencies, like project management, to social competencies — dealing with people. I knew it would be good background for whatever I chose to do later on.” What she has chosen to do is head off to Florida State to begin work on a master’s in higher education administration. Lauren attributes her choice to her own experiences as a student, her father’s example as an administrator — Chris Meyer is A&M’s assistant vice president of safety and security — and chats with a cousin who works in student affairs at the University of Texas–San Antonio. Now more than ever, she’s convinced her brand-new BBA is the foundation she needs to build a successful career in student affairs. FISH Story If Lauren’s business degree provided the building blocks for her professional foundation, you could say her prolonged stint with MSC Freshmen in Service and Hosting (FISH) provided the mortar — a chance to cement management lessons learned inside the classroom with practice outside the classroom. Of course, that was just one of the perks. “FISH is a terrific group of people,” she enthuses. “It combines the best of two worlds: selfless service and meaningful involvement on campus with a really great social group. We work very hard to provide a welcoming environment for freshmen, to make everyone feel included while they’re doing something important.” 26 @MAYS Winter 2012 26 @MAYS

“I’m excited about going into student affairs because of the chance to forge those one-on-one connections with students, to help them and watch them grow.” Lauren enjoyed her FISH experience so much, she stayed with the organization, progressing to assistant director in her sophomore year. In addition to becoming an even better time manager than she had been, Lauren learned a lot about her own abilities and limitations. It was, she says, a time of intense personal growth. She went on to become executive director of the hosting committee during her junior year. Her business training came into play more often, as she learned to mesh Aggies with different strengths into a smoothly functioning team capable of hosting complex events like the Fan Zone and Freshman Appreciation Week. The group also sponsored the Hensel Park Clean-up, where FISH teamed up with A&M Consolidated and Bryan High students, giving them an informal introduction to college life and service while clearing brush and repainting everything from parking lot stripes to pavilions. “We always have a freshman project,” she explains, referring to the clean-up. “The freshmen get to design and lead it … with supervision, of course. They get some experience in project management, in coming up with ideas and seeing them through.

Connecting with students Lauren points to MSC FISH adviser Katy King as the catalyst behind the organization. Despite being a busy mother of two toddlers, Katy finds time to attend every event. Her energy and enthusiasm keep the group fired up. Meanwhile, she teaches the Aggies of FISH to work with the rubrics established by the Student Leader Learning Outcomes Project, shows them the value of 360-degree performance evaluations, and leads them through the intricacies of budgeting. “She’s dedicated to her students’ development,” Lauren says. “Now, as I’m heading into the student affairs profession, I can trace a lot of my own development back to her. She’s not paid to do a lot of the stuff she does. She’s a great person. So, when FISH people say, ‘Oh, so you’re going to do what Katy does,’ I answer, ‘Yep! I’m going to be a Katy King for the world!’ I’m sure she would be embarrassed to hear that,” Lauren adds with a chuckle. Maybe King’s enthusiasm and dedication are contagious, or maybe this is a case of, “It takes one to know one.” Either way, Lauren’s passion for helping students grow is equally obvious and infectious. “That’s why I’m excited about going into student affairs,” she admits, “because of the chance to forge those one-on-one connections with students, to help them and watch them grow.” And although her first day on the job is still a ways off, Lauren already has some advice for incoming freshmen: “Get involved,” she says, recalling the important part MSC FISH played in her own personal growth. Then she adds with a grin, “And allow a little spontaneity in your life! College is the time for that. Learn to be different, and enjoy it. Try new things and meet new people, because that’s how you learn about who you are.” In addition to her involvement in MSC FISH, Lauren taught English as a Second Language courses in downtown Bryan. She credits that experience, her minor in Spanish and a recent study abroad trip to Spain with increasing her self-confidence, awakening her cultural empathy, and engendering a respect and appreciation for other cultures.

Current Student News

Field trip Young leaders learn the ropes at annual CMIS retreat


anoeing, campfires, ropes courses, S’mores — words that aren’t immediately associated with the Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS). However, for the eighth year in a row, the CMIS program has proven that technology and the outdoors go hand in hand through its annual leadership retreat held at Camp Allen in Navasota. Thirty undergraduate Department of Information and Operations Management (INFO) students attended the 2011 retreat, where they participated in a variety of activities ranging from business etiquette workshops to ice cream socials. Students who attend the CMIS Leadership Retreat participated in outdoor activities designed to build their teamwork skills, such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges. The purpose of the retreat centers on the importance of leadership techniques and how they translate in the professional world. Students participate in conflict resolution and sessions, where they assess their own leadership style and learn how to effectively apply it to the workplace. Guest speakers share on topics including real-world finances and crossing cultural boundaries.

Additionally, corporate representatives from around Texas meet with the students, offering career advice and real-world insight. “It’s a relaxed way for companies to meet with some of the students over dinner,” says Randy Blaschke ’84, senior IT manager with HP. “Students ask questions about the career opportunities that are out there and we have casual conversation about which opportunities align with their capabilities.” This is Blaschke’s second year at the retreat, although he’s been involved with CMIS for eight. He is consistently impressed with the students who attend, adding, “I like the ambition that I see in these kids.” Jennifer Smith ’07, ITS analyst for Anadarko Petroleum, attended the 2011 retreat as a corporate representative. She attended the first four retreats (2004-2007) as a student. “The setting is very casual, so it gives students an opportunity to ask for career advice, about the transition from college to corporate life, and for information about the companies at which we work,” says Smith. MIS student Kaleigh Morgan ’12 also appreciated the casual environment, saying it was a great way to meet and talk with the corporate reps “without the pressure of

trying to score a job or interview.” But the retreat isn’t all leadership workshops and career-centered talk. Students who attend the retreat also participate in outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges. The activities are designed to build teamwork amongst the students, many of whom will work together on group projects throughout their time at Mays. The CMIS leadership retreat has a long-standing history of preparing students for leadership roles in the information technology field. Not only do the students gain invaluable knowledge regarding their personal strengths and career options, they also establish friendships amongst peers who share common interests. Morgan sums it up this way: “I think it was a great experience to not only get to know other people within my major and recruiters, but also to spend some time figuring out where my strengths lie as a member of the group, which is definitely something I’ll be discussing in my upcoming interviews this year.”

INFO students enjoy camp activities at the CMIS leadership retreat. They bonded with one another and heard from representatives of top companies what opportunities align with their capabilities.


Current Student News

Project Mays Students distribute summer fun packs


s summer 2011 began, nearly 1,000 Bryan youngsters received “summer fun” backpacks from members of the Business Student Council at Mays. Every student at Fannin and Neal elementary schools received backpacks filled with educational games and books. After lunch, free ice cream was given to each Fannin and Neal student, thanks to Project Mays. Each teacher with those schools also received a goody bag with a gift certificate inside. The gifts were made available through donations from Mays faculty and staff and corporate sponsorships. This was the fourth year Bryan ISD was selected for this special event. “Almost 950 students from Fannin and Neal Elementary Schools are receiving an important academic boost because of the educational materials, books and games provided by Project Mays,” said Mike Cargill, who was superintendent of the Bryan school district at the time. “These materials will support the students in learning over the summer. The gift of a new backpack will give each student a head start for the 2011 school year.”

SPOTLIGHT Twelve students were honored for being the first to complete the Trading, Risk and Investments Program. They were recognized at the TRIP board meeting, held at Traditions Golf Course. Representatives from more than 30 member companies enjoyed two days of student internship presentation and golf, capped off by a celebratory banquet. Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Coach Gary Blair gave the keynote address. The students recognized were Colin Schickedanz, Collin Coale, Corey Walter, Danielle Barski, Douglass Brown, Elizabeth Brumbaugh, Josh Groner, Kathryn Hoeffner, Kerr Friedman, Neil Azzam, Patrick Meyer and William Armstrong. The program director is Detlef Hallermann.


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Donor Spotlight

Cox family’s affection for Mays apparent


he imprint of Kay ’02 and Jerry Cox ’72 on Mays — and on Texas A&M — is hard to miss. The pair has donated more than $2 million to Mays, and one of Mays’ buildings (Jerry and Kay Cox Hall) bears their name. The Coxes say they wanted to continue their family tradition of supporting the school, so they created a fund to support the Business Honors Program. The $400,000 gift, which will be implemented over the next five years, will be used to provide scholarships to full-time students enrolled in the program. “We just strongly believe in the business school and want to keep supporting the good things that are going on there,” Jerry Cox explains. “Kay and I believe that recruiting high-achieving students to the Mays Business Honors Program will benefit not only those students, but will positively impact all Mays students, programs and faculty.” Cox Hall, completed in 2003, enhanced the classroom and office capacity of the business school. The Coxes gave $1.5 million toward the facility and 40 other former students and friends also contributed. “It is impossible to be at Mays Business School and not feel the impact and affection

Jerry and Kay Cox Hall stands as a lasting reminder of the pair’s devotion to Mays. Their most recent gift will support business honors students.

of the Coxes,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Their generosity has significantly enhanced our three most important strategic priorities: our faculty, our Business Honors Program and our MBA Program. It is a rare donor that touches all of those areas and

impacts them so meaningfully. But, Jerry and Kay Cox are rare people.” Jerry Cox is president and chairman of Cox & Perkins Exploration Inc. in Houston. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M, a master’s degree in theological studies from Houston Baptist University and an honorary doctorate of laws from Pepperdine University. Kay Cox received a master’s in educational psychology from Texas A&M in 2002. He was inducted into the Corps Hall of Honor in 2009 and has been honored as a distinguished alumnus by both Mays Business School and The Association of Former Students. He has been a major donor behind several enhancements of Texas A&M including the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball and the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair at Mays. Cox has served on many boards and committees at Texas A&M, including the Texas A&M Foundation, the Development Council at Mays and the Corps Development Council. He is a former director and president of the 12th Man Foundation and was the presiding chairman of the One Spirit One Vision campaign.

Tucker ’77 perpetuates Texas A&M, Mays core values


fter graduating from Texas A&M with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marketing, David C. Tucker ’77 wanted to give back to something that has given so much to him. “My time at A&M provided me the tools to succeed when I graduated,” says the Dallas native. “It was the right combination of education, friendship, mentoring and sense of responsibility.” For this reason, Tucker and his wife recently established the Colleen and David C. Tucker ’77 Business Honors Scholarship, a $100,000 endowment that will provide full-time business honors and marketing students with four-year scholarships.

Tucker, now vice president and general manager of small business at Cisco Systems, says his diploma holds a lot more meaning than the strong academics he received at A&M. “I learned the importance of hard work, what it means to be a leader, to be part of a team, and the attributes of loyalty and appreciation that forms my core value system.” Kris Morley, Business Honors director, highlights the importance of the Tuckers’ scholarship. “These scholarships, especially ones of this size, are major factors in prospective students’ college decisions,” she says. Mays is seeing more bright, promising students with financial need, and offering them a substantial scholarship draws their attention to the rich education they can receive at Mays. David and Colleen Tucker recognized this need and decided to help. “I'm proud to be an Aggie and to continue to have the opportunity to grow in that role,” he says, adding, “Giving back so others have the same opportunity as I did is why Colleen and I chose to invest in Mays Business School.”


Donor Spotlight

Houston family gift helps Mays entice students


our out of five immediate Kelly family members have received solid educations at Texas A&M’s business school, so they wanted to give something back. Kim and T. Mark Kelly ’79 committed $100,000 to the Business Honors Program to honor the quality educations they and two of their children received at Texas A&M University and to help Mays entice the top students. Four generations of the Kelly family have gone through the university, but the youngest daughter — who is 17 — is still considering her options. Who knows? She could have an experience similar to her brother’s. Ryan Kelly was considering several top colleges before his freshman year, and it didn’t seem to his parents that he was likely to choose Texas A&M. “At the 11th hour the university offered him a partial scholarship, and I think that’s what turned him around to go to A&M,” recalls his father, Mark Kelly. “The gesture meant so much to him. Just doing

“These gifts go a long way in saying ‘We want you here.’” ˜T. Mark and Kim Kelly

that showed him they really wanted him, and he chose A&M. I don’t think he ever regretted that decision.” Distributions from the endowment for the Kim ’79 and T. Mark Kelly ’79 Business Honors Scholarship will be awarded to full-time students in the Business Honors Program. The program provides 30 hours of honors course work, including an internship, as well as extensive professional development

Aggie couple aims to benefit faculty


ccounting graduates Robyn L. ’89 and Alan B. Roberts ’78 want to help Mays maintain its reputation of excellence, so they committed $500,000 which, along with matching funds from school namesakes Peggy and Lowry Mays, will create the Robyn L. ’89 and Alan B. Roberts ’78 Chair in Business. This chair will be used to attract and retain top faculty members. The Roberts wanted to help the business school by supporting the teaching and research activities of Mays faculty. Both of the Aggies appreciate the education they received at A&M, as well as the networking they have been able to establish. Robyn also noted that the matching funds were an attractive feature. “You see your gift grow and get used that much faster,” she said. “Hearing the needs and wanting to


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Robyn L. and Alan B. Roberts endowed a chair supporting the teaching and research activities of Mays faculty.

help Mays, we wanted to be able to support the great professors in their research and other endeavors,” she said. “That is a very important part of what makes Mays what it is. It is one of the things that makes Mays so prestigious and well-respected.” The Roberts already have a track record of supporting Mays. They provided $250,000

opportunities. Business honors students also can earn a double major with no additional coursework. “They didn’t have the ‘Business honors’ per se back in the Dark Ages when my wife and I were in school, but we both had good experiences and got solid educations. We both did pretty well — my wife started out at a Big 8 accounting firm and I went to law school,” says Kelly, who is currently a lawyer with Vinson & Elkins in Houston. That high level of quality carried on through the next generation, Kelly says. Their daughter Kristin graduated summa cum laude in 2008 and Ryan graduated magna cum laude in spring 2011. ““We are pleased to see our children do the same, to pursue solid careers,” he says. ”They both have landed on their feet and done extremely well, starting their careers as investment bankers.” Kelly and his wife wanted to give something to Mays to help set it apart from other top business schools. “I want them to be able to go out and have something tangible to offer those top students,” he says. “A lot of times these students couldn’t qualify for the need-based awards, but these gifts go a long way in saying, ‘We want you here.’ That can make the difference in attracting some of these students who have so many choices.”

in 2007 to help fund the Robyn L. ’89 and Alan B. Roberts ’78 Business Honors Scholarship Program. “Our school cannot thank Robyn and Alan enough for their generous support,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “By allowing us to attract top faculty members and business honors students to our school, their generosity will allow our programs to continue to be recognized among the very best in the world. We are most grateful for their generosity.” Both accounting majors at A&M, Alan and Robyn had a true Aggie romance, starting when they met at a football game. They have two daughters, Jennifer and Allyson. They were co-owners of Pumpco Inc, a pipeline construction and oilfield leasing company Alan founded in 1981. In 2007, Pumpco was named to the Aggie 100, the list of the top 100 fastest-growing Aggieowned-or-operated businesses. In 2008, the Roberts sold the company to MasTec, Inc. of Coral Gables, Fla. Alan Roberts remains as president of Pumpco.

New Faculty

“My preference is to be the facilitator, where the goal is managing student interaction in class rather than dispensing information.”

“I believe in learning by participation, and I encourage discussions in my classes. I routinely discuss research in my undergraduate and masters’ classrooms to help students appreciate what we know and the limits of our knowledge.” Konduru (Shiva) Sivaramakrishan Peggy Pitman Mays Eminent Scholar Chair (inaugural holder)


onduru (Shiva) Sivaramakrishan says he looks forward to returning to Texas A&M, where he was the Philip Ljungdahl Chair in Accounting and a University Faculty Fellow in 2001–2002. He is returning as the inaugural Peggy Pitman Mays Eminent Scholar Chair in Business. Peggy Pittman is the wife of Lowry Mays ’57, founder of Clear Channel Communications and namesake of the business school. The eminent scholar chair was created in 2009 as part of a $7.5 million gift from the pair. Sivaramakrishan says Mays and the accounting department “embody academic excellence.” He says the three years he was at A&M previously were rewarding from both teaching and research perspectives. His hard work paid off, as he was given an MBA Association Distinguished Core Faculty Award for excellence in the classroom. He also was instrumental in starting a project course for the MBA students that is still a core component of the program. Since 2003, Sivaramakrishan has held the Bauer Endowed Chair in Accounting at the University of Houston. He says he enjoys interacting with students — of all abilities and at all levels, from undergraduate through doctoral. “Students have inquiring minds, and classroom discussions often bring clarity to the way I think about my own research,” he says. Sivaramakrishnan’s introductory-level management accounting textbook, “Managerial Accounting,” combines managerial accounting with a strategic framework that shows students how to construct decision models and use information for planning and control. His research centers on financial reporting and disclosure, planning and control roles of information, performance evaluation and incentives.

Richard Metters Head, Department of Information and Operations Management Tenneco Professor in Business Administration


hat Richard Metters enjoys most about his job is learning from his students. He previously taught what he fondly calls the “old folks” — the executive MBAs, a group with a lot of experience — from whom he draws technical expertise and the benefit of a wide variety of managerial situations. “What I try to do is to get them to share that expertise with their classmates. For example, I could lecture on the nuances of Six Sigma quality programs, but I usually have two or three people in class who do Six Sigma for a living…So, I co-opt them to speak at length in class. The class session is more like an extended interview, with their classmates as the audience. This sets up out-of-class discussion as well, as their classmates now recognize their expertise in this area for both future semesters and in their contact with one another as alums.” Metters has worked at Emory, Vanderbilt and SMU, and started his career with Citibank, Bank of America and Crocker Bank. His research interests concentrate on service sector operations management, the offshoring of services and inventory management. He says he chose this job because he was “born for a place like A&M.” … “Faculty view their involvement with schools on a scale stretching from ‘transactional’ to ‘relationship.’ My personality lends itself to being at the extreme end of the ‘relationship’ side of the spectrum. You will see me at ‘First Yell.’ I’m already a football season ticket holder. By nature, I’m active with alums, business leaders and with students outside of class. A place like A&M, with rich traditions and a loyal alumni base, is a perfect match for me.” Metters says his goal was to arrive here not only as a faculty member but also as a department head to many colleagues he has known for years. “I want to provide an environment where they can thrive,” he says. “I want to deepen my department’s ties with industry.” He wants to enhance the Center for Management Information Systems, and build an advisory board for supply chain management, using these avenues to reach out to alumni and other interested parties in the corporate world. Metters received his PhD from the University of North CarolinaChapel Hill.


New Faculty

“I feel rewarded if, by semester’s end, I have convinced students to adopt the ‘Finance is Fun’ motto.”

“Teaching is all about being able to present research and information in an interesting way to generate excitement and passion for the topic among my students and for myself.”

Audra Boone Associate Professor of Finance and Mays Research Fellow


akeovers, auctions, negotiations — to many, complex topics, yet Audra Boone enjoys studying and teaching about the varying methods companies use to change hands. Boone’s research interests include corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and governance structures. Her observations on those topics have appeared in the Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Corporate Finance. Boone structures her courses to help students bridge the gap between theoretical constructs and real-world applicability — a practice that generates excitement about the material. In corporate financial policy, for instance, students will engage in a dialogue about the motivation for certain financial policy decisions and their potential consequences on managerial incentives, competitiveness and firm value. Boone says she was attracted to Texas A&M by the faculty, who she considers “great researchers, teachers and colleagues.” She is impressed with the policy in the finance department that promotes retention of material across classes. “Grades here are not just handed out, but must be earned,” she says. “Working in a setting with high standards is very exciting for me.” Boone previously taught at the University of Kansas, where she received her PhD.


Suresh Ramanathan Professor of Marketing, David R. Norcom ’73 Professor and Mays Research Fellow

hy people like what they like and how they act after they indulge — there lies the basis of Suresh Ramanathan’s research. The marketing professor’s main focus is on consumer behavior. He also studies social dynamics, and looks at how people's emotions sync up. Beyond the research, Ramanathan enjoys teaching. He says it is “all about the energy you bring into class and what you can share with the students of your research and other people’s research.” Ramanathan says he looks forward to working at Texas A&M, which he calls “a very collegial type of place.” He says it was “time to go where I could continue working on cutting-edge research and help in building the group.” In his past career, Ramanathan worked in advertising and helped launch MTV India. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Consumer Psychology and serves as an ad hoc reviewer for several other journals in marketing. His work has been published in the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Psychological Science and Marketing Letters. In 2007, Ramanathan was identified by the Marketing Science Institute as a leading Young Scholar in recognition of his work and potential. Ramanathan previously taught at the University of Chicago. He received his PhD from New York University.

Accounting professor takes helm of Mays graduate programs


ary Lea McAnally, a Mays accounting professor since 2002, is the new associate dean for graduate programs. She is transitioning to her new leadership role with predecessor David Blackwell, who has accepted the deanship at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics. “He leaves the programs in a fabulous strategic position,” McAnally explains. “Our brand is strong due in no small part to his building and leading a dedicated team over the past few years.” Her chief priority is to continue to improve the suite of MBA programs and attract top-notch students. McAnally teaches financial accounting in the Full-Time


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MBA, Executive MBA and Executive Education programs at Mays. She has taught at business schools in Canada, Austria and India. She has received numerous faculty-determined and student-initiated teaching awards at both Texas A&M and UT. Dean Jerry Strawser says, “Mary Lea will be a dynamic addition to our school’s leadership team. She works closely with our Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA students and is one of the few faculty who have received teaching awards from both groups. She will build on the outstanding work of Dave Blackwell and move our already strong programs to the next level.” McAnally is the Carol and David Van Houten Professor of Accounting at Mays and a former Chartered Accountant (Canada) and Certified Internal Auditor with experience in public practice and industry. Prior to arriving at Texas A&M, McAnally held positions at University of Texas at Austin, Canadian National Railways, and Dunwoody and Company.

Faculty Research

Testing Twitter in the classroom

Award-winning research considers innovations

ometimes instructors have to walk their students through new techniques. For instance, when Management Assistant Professor Abbie Shipp began using twitter in the classroom during the spring semester with the honors sections of a course titled “The Management Process.” She and her students brainstorm about questions to post on twitter — or “tweet.” On the other end is a panel of executives who have agreed to be online during this time. “This way, we can get their brainpower without them being here,” Shipp explains. “It’s a little more casual — a lot of students feel more free to ask questions in this format.” On the other end of the tweets are business professionals, including Julian C. Dalzell, former vice president of human resources at Shell and current instructor at the business school at University of South Carolina; Shannon Navin, an MBA student in Ohio who is using twitter for her thesis; and Brittany Hardin ’07, a Business Honors graduate from Mays who has a small start-up firm. Dalzell says he found the questions from the students insightful and specific, rather than general. “They prompted me to be clear about what I personally had experienced rather than floating around in theory, which can fascinate some but will not really serve them well once they hit the employment world,” he explains. He says it was easy to fall into conversation with the other professionals who were online. “I did indeed enjoy the conversations with the other tweeters, and gained some good insights from them as I always do listening to the experiences of others,” he says. At the end of the semester, Shipp plans to evaluate the use of twitter in the classroom, and her students are doing the same. “They don’t tweet their own questions, which I found very interesting,” she says, adding that most of her students were not on twitter before the semester started. “They seem to want to do it by committee instead.”

lina Sorescu, an associate professor of marketing at Mays, and Sorin Sorescu, a professor and department head of the finance department, were winners in the Marketing Science Institute’s “Research Competition on Innovation.” They received a $7,500 grant to research their project titled “Epochal Innovation and Stock Market Bubbles.” Sorin M. Sorescu said he and his wife plan to try to understand the relation between epochal innovations and stock market bubbles. “The conventional wisdom is that epochal innovation causes bubbles, yet many prominent economic observers such as Allan Greenspan believe that it is in fact bubbles that allow innovation to take place, by providing cheap access to capital,” he explained. “We plan to collect a comprehensive set of epochal innovations that have been introduced in the U.S. and UK since the 18th Century, as well as information on the diffusion of these innovations, and stock price data for firms involved in their commercialization,” he said. “We then plan to establish the causality between epochal innovation and bubbles – that is, we will seek to determine if there is a cause and effect relation between the two, or if perhaps another factor could explain why epochal innovations seem to coincide with stock market bubbles.” A number of remarkable innovations in modern history appear to have been associated with bubbles in the prices of stocks, he said. Examples include technological innovations such as the Internet revolution of the late 1990s, which was associated with a rapid rise and decline in the price of technology stocks, as well as financial innovations such as the securitization of subprime mortgage loans, associated with a rise and decline in the price of mortgage-backed securities during the latter part of 2000s. “These innovations all appear to share a common trait — they provide a major breakthrough in the advance of human knowledge, and a dominant source of sustained growth over long periods of time,” Sorin Sorescu said. Nobel Prize-winning economist Simon Kuznets refers to them as Epochal Innovations. This research should help enhance the educational experience of Mays students on several dimensions, Sorescu said.


DATABITS Mays has been fully accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance College Schools of Business – since 1972. Mays degree programs include BBA; Master's of Science; Full-Time, Professional and Executive MBA; PhD; and nondegree executive education programs. Mays has 50,000 living former students.


• First, it exposes students, for the first time, to the concept of epochal innovation, its characteristics and its consequences. • Second, it gives them the tools to identify future stock market bubbles and understand that such “hot markets” can provide a cheap source of capital that can foster the next epochal innovation. • Third, it illustrates the importance of using historical data to advance our knowledge of the long-term consequences of innovation. Ross Rizley, research director at the Marketing Science Institute, said he received 64 submissions for the competition. “As a result, it has taken the competition review committee longer to evaluate all of the submissions than we had expected,” Rizley said at when announcing the winners. “And of course, given the large number of submissions, we received many more very high-quality proposals than we could possibly fund.”


Faculty Research

Trading against the prophets Middle of the road a can prove profitable preferable position for CEOs


magine borrowing from someone else’s stockpile of corporate stocks, then selling shares, later buying them back and returning them, keeping any profit. That’s what some investors do on a regular basis, and they tend to out-perform the analysts. The practice is called short selling, and research by two business professors and a former PhD student shows that ordinary investors can profit by trading with the short sellers. Their research investigated whether short sellers and analysts differ in how they use information that predicts future returns. It appears short interest significantly anticipates the expected direction, while analysts tend to positively recommend stocks with high growth, high accruals, and low book-to-market ratios, despite these variables having a negative association with future returns. “Investors frequently observe and use recommendations from analysts on whether to buy or sell a stock,” says Arthur Andersen Professor in Accounting Lynn Rees. “But, our research suggests that analysts do not always use accounting information, such as accounting accruals and cash flows, in forming their recommendations; whereas, short sellers appear to do much better in using these signals.” Co-authors are Edward P. Swanson, holder of the Durst Chair in Accounting; and Mays doctoral graduate Michael Drake of BYU. The researchers have presented the paper to professionals, as well as academic audiences, and a NYC capital management company that uses short interest as an input in an investment model. A low percentage of investors do short selling, but a very high percentage of investors would be interested in what they are doing, Rees says, because the short sellers tend to do better than the market. “Our evidence suggests that using the level of short interest combined with analysts’ forecasts allows investors to make more profitable investment decisions,” he says.


@MAYS Winter 2012


s a stockholder, would you prefer a CEO who is strictly rational about her firm’s future prospects, or a CEO who is somewhat overoptimistic? Researchers at Mays show theoretically that for risk-averse CEOs, being somewhat overoptimistic is a good thing for shareholders. Most CEOs are undiversified, meaning that a large fraction of their personal wealth is invested in their company. Stockholders, on the other hand, are typically well diversified, with investments across numerous companies. These differences mean that a risk-averse CEO who is strictly rational will turn down some risky investment projects that the stockholders would like the firm to make. If this happens, the result is lower firm value. “We show theoretically that overoptimism (excessive optimism) can help offset the effect of the CEO’s risk aversion,” says Leland Memorial Chair in Finance Shane Johnson. “The result is that a CEO who is moderately overoptimistic will invest the way shareholders would want her to invest — this maximizes firm value.” In contrast, a purely rational CEO turns down too many investment projects relative to the optimal level, whereas a CEO who is too overoptimistic accepts too many investment projects. Both underinvestment and overinvestment produce firm values below what it could be. “If the theory is correct, CEOs who are somewhat overoptimistic should face a lower probability of termination than rational CEOs or too-overoptimistic CEOs face. A board doesn’t necessarily know a CEO’s level of optimism when it hires her. It learns by watching her decisions over time,” Johnson says. If CEOs who are somewhat overoptimistic maximize firm value, they should be more likely to keep their jobs than would CEOs with too-low or too-high optimism. Using a large sample of CEO terminations, the team finds strong empirical support for the theoretical predictions. The results are consistent with the view that CEOs who are somewhat overoptimistic maximize firm value. Before this research was conducted, the common belief was that any level of overoptimism was bad, says Johnson. “Our paper is one of a series that argues that some level of over-optimism is good for CEOs,” he says. “Given a choice between a very rational CEO and a moderately overoptimistic one, the somewhat overoptimistic one is the better choice.” The research was conducted by Johnson; Mays doctoral students T. Colin Campbell, Jessica Rutherford and Brooke Stanley; and former Mays Professor Michael Gallmeyer, who is at the University of Virginia.

Faculty Research

Don't challenge giants, marketing experts advise


usinesses competing with larger companies — particularly those that enter a market by acquiring an established business — will fare better if they differentiate themselves from the “behemoths” rather than imitate them or take them head-on, suggests Mays research on the topic. The researchers found that competitors who imitated the large newcomer had poorer performance, which was counter to prior research. The phenomenon of acquiring a company to enter a marketplace — common in banking, pharmaceuticals and technology — hasn’t been studied as thoroughly as the path companies take to enter a market through other means, such as introducing a new product, says Alina Sorescu, an associate professor of marketing and Mays Research Fellow. She and several other researchers tackled the topic in the paper “Behemoths at the Gate: How Incumbents Take On Acquisitive Entrants (And Why Some Do Better Than Others),” which has been accepted for publication in Journal of Marketing. The research was centered on the banking industry because firms and the actions they take in this industry are well documented. The researchers looked at 1995–2003 bank data from the FDIC, such as deposit summaries, and interviewed banking officials. The data covers 839 acquisitions in 583 metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. banking industry. The research specifically focuses on how banks modify their product mix when a large bank enters their market through an acquisition. In this context, the product mix of banks includes various types of loans such as commercial and industrial loans and loans secured by real estate. Changes in product mix were assessed at the two-year and three-year marks after the acquisitions. Results indicate that incumbents are more likely to align their product mix strategy with that of the behemoth if: (1) the incumbent is large; (2) the behemoth’s past performance has been strong; and (3) the market served by the incumbent is small. The size of the market tends to set the tone of the competition, Sorescu says. “The smaller the market, the more likely the incumbent is to imitate the acquirer,” she observes. “It’s like a big fish in a small pond making a big splash — they compete with the same small base of customers.” Sorescu concludes it’s a bad idea to go head-on with the acquirer. “It’s best to try to diverge from the acquiring company, even though it is a threatening presence and it is tempting to try to mimic what it is doing,” she says. “You assume the larger corporations have identified a strong path and an advisable product mix, but you must differentiate yourself from it in order to survive. The small firms that imitate the large firms may not be able to offer the same products and services as efficiently as large firms do, and they could suffer more harm than if they focused on what they already do well.”

Changing course, particularly in golf, can diminish experience


ntuitively, it is clear that changes in a service environment can reduce the quality of a service at least temporarily. But what is not clear is how deeply, and for how long, major changes affect operating performance — that is, until business professors Gregory Heim and Michael Ketzenberg decided to answer those questions. They chose a dramatic example of redesign and decided to focus on experience-based service companies, in general, and an area that had not been previously studied in depth: golf courses. Many service managers redesign their services periodically to keep their offerings fresh, competitive and desirable to customers. Prior research has shown that it could increase repeat business. What Heim and Ketzenberg, both Mays Research Fellows, wondered was how service firm managers and employees relearn to improve their performance after these major redesigns. That was the extent of Heim’s golf knowledge at the start of this project. He sought out a colleague to fill the gaps. He did not have to search far. Ketzenberg was just a chip shot down the hall. Ketzenberg has two passions: research and golf, and he considers the opportunity to combine both a godsend. Heim says he focused on the data analysis, while Ketzenberg provided golfing expertise. “It was an ideal pairing for this project,” Heim says. A major research challenge is obtaining real-world operating data from companies upon which to base the research. Most companies are reluctant to share it. For this study, the authors were looking for data from multiple companies over multiple years. Golf courses posed less of a problem, since the data were publicly reported. The data came in the form of “panel data” from The Dallas Morning News. The newspaper tracks the top Texas golf courses annually through ratings and evaluations of top courses by golf professionals, as well as information on when the courses were designed and redesigned. Heim and Ketzenberg chose to study the data from 1989 to 2009. Their study provides managerial insight by demonstrating the extent of learning; illustrating how redesigns can negatively affect service outcomes; showing how relearning occurs; and discussing tactics for success when redesigning services. Major redesigns, intended to improve products and services, tend to throw the quality of service off track, the researchers found. The question was how long the service suffers, which they studied through learning effect patterns during routine operation periods as well as “window of opportunity” effects the local service crews felt after outside firms had completed the major redesigns. “We wanted to see what we could learn about what happens when you destroy the course to redesign it; how age affects the long-term experience; and whether the quality of service gets better with time,” says Heim. “When you redesign it, there’s a period of time when the customers miss the familiar old course and they have to re-learn to navigate the course — the hazards, slope of the course, shape of the Continued, p. 36


Faculty Research

Employers wise to tighten the ties that bind


t’s complicated, an employee’s decision to leave a job — even more complicated than previously believed, researchers conclude after conducting research on when job searches result in turnover. As expected, turnover was higher when employees had lower levels of embeddedness and job satisfaction and higher levels of available alternatives. What wasn’t expected, or previously explained, was that there is more complexity to the process than believed, and specifically, that these factors play a key role in whether search behavior actually results in the decision to quit. Embeddedness means how attached someone is to his current environment, says Mays Management Associate Professor and Nichols Endowed Professor Wendy Boswell, who collaborated on the research with Assistant Professor Ryan Zimmerman and doctoral candidate Brian Swider. The trio examined factors that may help explain under what conditions employee job search effort may most strongly (or weakly) predict subsequent turnover.

“How tied you are to not only the place but also the community — if you own a home, your spouse has a job there, you belong to a church or are involved in schools, determines how much incentive it takes to get you to leave,” Boswell explains. “Fit” is also important — whether the values of a community (as well as the organization) align with the individual’s — and characteristics such as metropolitan versus small-town, or urban versus industrial. “The practical implication for an employer is to know who is really vulnerable to leaving, then going and intercepting those high performers — retention isn’t ‘one size fits all,’ ” explains Boswell. The culture of the organization and community also carry great weight in the decision, Swider says. “Say I’m working in New York City and a job opens in a small southern suburb. Whether I pursue that opportunity depends on my personal preferences,” Swider says. “It could be the opportunity I’ve been waiting for or it could sound like a nightmare.” Employers do a poor job of predicting impending turnover, Swider says. These findings suggest that there may be a number of factors interacting to influence employees’ turnover decisions, indicating greater complexity to the process than described in previous prominent sequential turnover models. Boswell explains the assumed process: An employee experiencing job dissatisfaction searches for alternatives, evaluates them against his current position, then either quits or stays put. But, often times, employees search and don’t leave. Online applications make it easier to search and even apply for positions, but the likelihood of an employee actually accepting another position depends on his level of enmeshment or “stuckness” as well as how important it is for the person to leave and whether he or she even has the opportunity. “The more of these attachments you have, the more likely you are to want to stay somewhere,” Boswell explains. “It used to be the defined benefit plan, but now it is all these other factors that you might have to sacrifice if you were to leave.” The key for an employer to stay ahead of the turnover is to know his or her employees. “Are they satisfied, embedded, on the fence?” Boswell says. “Are they flight risks? If so, and if they are top employees, you might be wise to invest in trying to retain them.”

Changing course, continued

greens, and so forth. The argument for improving a course is to make it better, but we wanted to find out if people really thought that was true. Some people embrace change, while others don’t.” The topic is a nontraditional one for the field of information and operations management, but both of them say it was fun to do. The lessons learned were to carefully consider changes, communicate about them with stakeholders and make the investment in training staff for the transition. “Discontinuous events that lead to dissatisfaction on the customer’s part are not going to pan out to be good investments,” Heim says. Both researchers plan to continue golf-related research: Heim intends to update the golf data for new studies while Ketzenberg is working with Rogelio Oliva, another Mays professor, and a colleague from Europe, Mozart Menezes, on a paper titled “Optimal Scheduling of Golf Beverage Carts.” Ketzenberg explains, “We are trying to answer the often-heard golfer’s lament of why there is never a beverage cart around when you want one. Fun stuff.”


@MAYS Winter 2012

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Key Word: Jami Holland ’12, a finance and business honors major, has gone on four international trips, including this one to the LT Jordan Institute India Study Abroad:


am really glad I kept a journal throughout our journey in India. It helped me see how my perspective changed from the beginning of the trip to the end. When we first landed in Bangalore, I was immediately taken aback by the extreme culture shock. All I could focus on was the trash everywhere, the abject poverty and the noise from all the traffic. Chaos was the word that came to my mind. It was something so different from anything I had ever seen. The best way to describe the sensation I was feeling is sensory overload. Despite my initial culture shock, it was thrilling to be in such a new and exotic country. When we visited Cisco on the second day, an executive said something that really changed my point of view: “If you go back and talk about the traffic, then you’ve missed the point of India.” I took that to heart and began to look at this intriguing country in a new light. I began to see the traffic and chaos as a sign that the city was alive and that the people were always going somewhere. In India, I was exposed to sights, sounds, tastes and smells that I have never experienced before. This country is full of contradictions. We saw everything from the slums in the city to a mansion in a gated community. We spent time in the crowded lively city and got to drive through the gorgeous countryside. The food was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I can’t compare the spices or flavors to anything else I’ve eaten. I thought I could handle spicy but boy, was I wrong! Just walking down the street, there were new smells literally almost every 30 seconds. Some were vile and some were tantalizing, but they were all new and exciting. The lessons I brought back from India will stick with me longer than anything I could have learned from a textbook. Mays students can study abroad in destinations such as China, Japan, Portugal, Panama, Spain, Shanghai, Belgium and Brazil. To sign up for emails about the program go to

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@Mays - Winter 2012  

@Mays is a semi-annual publication for the former students and friends of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. This publication is...