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THE MAGAZINE OF THE McCOMBS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN


Our students are curious, tenacious, and bold. This next generation of leaders has a fever to pursue new ideas and discover far-reaching solutions that improve society. “It’s a golden time for innovation,” says Professor Luis Martins, the entrepreneurship coordinator at the McCombs School of Business. His charge is to focus energy and resources on startup collaborations across classrooms, disciplines, and dorm rooms. What starts here changes the world.™ changetheworld.utexas.edu

IF YOU COULD CHANGE THE WORLD Dr. Luis Martins, Director, Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship McCombs School of Business


y DEPARTMENTS

2. LETTER FROM THE DEAN

14. Insights: Digital activism, large-scale index manipulation, buy-side analysts, how to part with cherished clutter.

3. NEWS Short Takes: MS Finance lands top 10 rank, TVL visits Nasdaq, faculty awarded for teaching, and more. 6. Red at 90: Happy birthday! 8. Vetted: Innovative program helps veterans enter the civilian workforce. 9. Rowling Hall: John Goff’s gift funds new real estate lab. 10. Digital Initiative: Global BizNet.

37. COMMUNITY Partnership: Trammell Crow nurtured a generation of real estate stars. 40. Up Close: Alumni with stories to tell. 43. Gatherings: Alumni events and celebrations. 44. Alumni Notes

11. RESEARCH Susan Broniarczyk: Meet the new associate dean for research. 12. Ideas: Smartphone brain drain.

FALL 2017 McCombs is published in the fall and spring for alumni and friends of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

David Wenger EDITORIAL MANAGER

Todd Savage EDITOR

Molly Dannenmaier

48. BOTTOM LINE Big Leaguer: An accidental journey.

ASSOCIATE EDITORS

Kim Brown, Adrienne Dawson, Jeremy M. Simon

y FEATURES

CONNECTING MILLIONS How Charles Chao, MPA ’93, CEO at Sina Corp., went from trailblazing international student to head one of China’s top online media companies. BY TO D D S AVAG E

W

INCUBATING ENTREPRENEURS

When the first public self-driving car fatality occurred on in May 2016, the emerging autonomous vehicle industry found itself at the center of a firestorm. On the surface, things looked bad: A Tesla Model S in autopilot mode plowed directly into a turning semi-truck on a city street in Williston, Florida, killing Tesla driver Joshua Brown. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration dispatched an investigative team to find out what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, everyone else waited and wondered: Was this the public relations disaster that would put the brakes on the political, legal, and societal acceptance of self-driving vehicles? Fast forward to January 2017. Tesla is exonerated from fault in the crash. The autonomous vehicle industry is ecstatic. The car’s low-level autonomous autopilot mode is considered an enhanced safety feature, not a substitute for human control. The vehicle was never billed as having the capacity to drive itself. The driver should have kept his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road at all times, which he wasn’t doing at the time of the crash.

Promising companies get a kick-start at Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs. BY M A RY A N N R O S E R

AUTONOMOUS CARS AND THE COMING REVOLUTION A McCombs CleanTech Fellow shares insights on the transportation indusMcCOMBS CLEANTECH FELLOW SHARES try’s imminent transformation. INSIGHTS ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY’S IMMINENT TRANSFORMATION —AND THE BY E D G A R VA R E LDISRUPTIONS A POTENTIAL THAT MAY FOLLOW.

by Edgar Varella, MBA ’18 illustration by Eddie Guy 2 TODAY.MCCOMBS.UTEXAS.EDU

CAUGHT IN THE MOMENT What new graduates were thinking when they crossed the stage at commencement 2017. BY K I M B R OW N

16 22 28 32

ART DIRECTION/DESIGN

Tucker Creative Co. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

David Canright, Samantha Harris, Judie Kinonen, Danielle Ransom, Mary Ann Roser, Edgar Varela CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Dennis Darling, Lauren Gerson, Graham Kunze, Drew Anthony Smith CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS

Rocco Baveira, Eddie Guy, Bradley Hughes, Spur Illustration, Mike McQuade, Jesús Sanz ONLINE

today.mccombs.utexas.edu/ magazine CHANGE OF ADDRESS

512-232-2441 alumni@mccombs.utexas.edu FOLLOW US

facebook.com/utmccombsschool twitter.com/utexasmccombs linkedin: http://bit.ly/UTexasMcCombs

#McCOMBSMAG 1


McCOMBS: FROM THE DEAN

Prepared for a Global Future U ST AS T H I S M AG A Z I N E H I TS YO U R

mailbox, artist José Parlá is setting up a makeshift studio in a massive corridor within the soon-to-be-completed Robert B. Rowling Hall. While workers around him busily lay carpet, install technology, and fuss over punch lists, Parlá is focusing on

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his mission at Rowling Hall: adding heart and soul to the new graduate school building of the McCombs School of Business. He is creating a sweeping 4,000-square-foot mural, his most ambitious work to date, an abstract Austin-inspired painting that will be the first thing visitors see as they enter the new graduate hall on the lower level. Parlá, born in Miami, is the s o n o f ex i l e d C u b a n i m m i grants. He now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and has created site-specific pieces that have been commissioned and exhibited across the U.S. and around the world, including One World Trade Center in New York, the British Museum in London, and the Pola Museum of Art in Japan. These creations often interpret, through calligraphy, painting, and collage, the urban stories of the place each work showcases. It is gratifying to see this expression of cultural and global perspectives coming to life in Rowling Hall. We are highlighting this same approach in this issue of McCombs magazine with examples of the school’s growing international influence — like our cover story profiling Charles Chao, MPA ’93, a trailblazing international student when he attended UT and now CEO of one of China’s most prominent tech firms. With each entering class, we welcome into our academic fold inspiration and insight from disparate cultures. More than a quarter

of our entering MBA class of 2019 are international students, representing 23 countries. Last year, more than 50 full-time MBA students participated in short-term study abroad programs, and 38 did full semesters abroad at one of 30 partner universities. Nearly every MBA student completes a global requirement that is fulfilled in different ways. In the MPA program, non-U.S. citizens account for 21 percent of all graduate students, up from 17 percent last year. And in our undergraduate program, 42 percent of BBA students study abroad, compared to 35 percent five years ago. Likewise, this is the reason we send abroad our researchers, teachers, and students. They take seriously the charge first to respect, then to understand, and finally to serve a global society in need of solutions. The future of business, whether health care, energy, technology, or entrepreneurship, is global, seamless, and without borders. We invite you to join us in participating in and supporting global initiatives at McCombs. These initiatives enable our students to compete — and ultimately — prevail in markets and opportunities they have not yet imagined. The university is, and must remain, a nexus of people, ideas, and inquiries from across an integrated world. What starts here changes the world — the one we live in now and the one we will leave for generations to come.

JAY HARTZELL Dean and Centennial Chair in Business Education Leadership

P H OTO G R A P H B Y S A S H A H A A G E N S E N


NEWS

COURSE TIME SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER BALANCES SPORTS SUCCESS WITH HARD WORK IN THE CLASSROOM

COTTIE SCHEFFLER,

BBA ’18, has had a big year. The UT golfer took the low amateur title at the U.S. Open in June. “Performing on a big stage like that was really important,” Scheffler says. Among his other recent successes, Scheffler was named to the Golfweek All-America First Team, PING All-Region, and the All-Big 12 First Team. It’s not all golf, though: For Scheffler, a typical weekday begins with classes and schoolwork before he puts in course time from 1 p.m. until dark. He’s done it all with time management skills learned at McCombs. “Being focused in practice is the same thing as paying attention in class,” Scheffler says. “It’s not worth going to the course and practicing without really focusing on what you’re doing.”

#McCOMBSMAG 3


N E W S : S H O R T TA K E S STRONG SHOWING FOR MS IN FINANCE

Batting Cage Upgraded Texas MBAs are giving the batting cage a major league upgrade. Home Run Dugout’s business concept for a “baseball/softball version of Topgolf” won the startup first place and $5,000 in the McCombs Summer Entrepreneur Fellowship. The company, co-founded by Nick Hermandorfer, MBA ’16, and Tyler Bambrick, MBA ’18, offers competitive batting games in its Austin facility. The co-founders are continually gaining new business insights from both McCombs faculty and fellow students, says Bambrick, the company’s head of product development. “Whatever I’m learning, I’m constantly thinking: How can I apply this to Home Run Dugout?”

The Master of Science in Finance is No. 8 among U.S. programs, according to the Financial Times 2017 global ranking of MSF degrees. This was the first time the Texas MSF participated in a major ranking since the new program was launched in 2012. The intensive 10-month master’s degree offers college graduates who have strong quantitative skills — but little work experience or exposure to finance — the opportunity to excel in the finance industry.

TVL VISITS NASDAQ

The winners of this year’s Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition rang the opening bell at New York City’s Nasdaq MarketSite on August 9. SandBox Semiconductor founder Meghali Chopra, and NovoThelium co-founders Laura Cornell and Bianca Cerqueira, were joined by TVL staff. Director Rob Adams told Nasdaq in an interview that the two teams ran away with their win. For the first time, both were led by women. “It’s great to see that happen,” he said, “but the more important thing is they were the winners hands- down.”

TEACHING ACADEMY HONORS

Kumar Muthuraman, professor of Information, Risk, and Operations Management, was inducted into UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. A committee of faculty, students, and university administrators picked the McCombs professor for his teaching excellence. The academy advises the university president and provost on topics related to the university’s instructional mission; takes part in seminars, colloquia, and workshops on teaching effectiveness; and mentors new faculty.

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OUTSTANDING TEACHING AWARDS

IROM Senior Lecturer Katie Gray and Accounting Senior Lecturer Gretchen Charrier were among seven faculty members to receive The University of Texas Board of Regents’ 2017 Outstanding Teaching Award. The teaching awards provide $25,000 to exemplary faculty members recognized for their high performance in the classroom.


BEST VALUE MBA The Texas MBA offers the best value among top business schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. The ranking is based on the gap between how much graduates earn and how much schoolrelated debt they owe.

“Family” gets a facelift

The monumental sculpture greeting visitors on the McCombs School’s south plaza got a fresh makeover. The 15-foot, 6-inch bronze sculpture, which was showing signs of a worn patina, was cleaned and restored last spring. The late Professor Emeritus Charles Umlauf, who taught art at The University of Texas at Austin for 40 years, completed “Family” in 1961 to represent the most basic economic unit of society.

FALL 2017

McCOMBS BY THE NUMBERS

107

Number of countries where McCombs School of Business alumni reside.

50

States that alumni call home, plus Washington, D.C. and four U.S. territories.

28%

of the full-time MBA class of 2019 are international students.

690

New Master’s Degree Supplies IT Talent

I CO N M A D E BY M AU R Í C I O B R I TO

Classes begin next summer for the new Master of Science in Information Technology and Management. The 10-month degree program will prepare students to design, develop, and manage IT solutions to create business or social value from emerging information technologies (such as cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things). The Texas MSITM will take an interdisciplinary approach, with courses taught by faculty from both McCombs and the College of Engineering (pictured above). The program addresses a pressing need for talent in the IT industry, which has low unemployment rates and some of the nation’s highest paying jobs.

Number of alumni residing in Mexico, the largest base outside the U.S.


WINNING REDEVELOPMENT PLAN

A team from UT won first place at last spring’s Urban Land Institute Hines Student Competition, one of half a dozen major business competition prizes McCombs students have brought home to Austin over the last year. Mason Rathe, MBA ’18, was the lone business student on a team of architecture graduate students who created a redevelopment plan for a large-scale Chicago site. “We had to have a really strong idea,” says Rathe. “Then I made sure that it could actually be put into a real estate business model.” The team’s proposal “Rooted,” which reimagines the localization of the food supply chain, won a $50,000 prize.

42% 31

of BBA students who study abroad.

Number of BBA partner universities worldwide.

13

Rank in the world among top MBA programs for Latin Americans, according to AmericaEconomia 2017.

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9

90

YRS OF RED

ON A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY, LET’S CELEBRATE THE BIG-AS-TEXAS LIFE STORY OF THE McCOMBS SCHOOL’S BIGGEST BENEFACTOR

1957

Red McCombs and Dennis Walker at his Edsel dealership in Corpus Christi

1958

Moves to San Antonio and starts work at Hemphill Ford

1950

1936

Red’s First Venture: Selling Peanuts

1939

1945

1948

Red graduates high school

Leaves college and begins selling cars in Corpus Christi

Red delivers milk seven days a week to customers’ doorsteps, from the back fender of a Model A Ford

Red proposes to his sweetheart, Charline Hamblin, in her grandmother’s driveway

1953

Red owns his first car dealership

1962

1954

Buys the Corpus Christi Clippers minor league baseball team

As president of what’s now Hemphill-McCombs Ford, Red (right) presents singing cowboy Rex Allen with keys to a Thunderbird for use in appearances

1946

1927

1942

Red is born on Oct. 19 in Spur, Texas

He earns $1 a day as a drug store soda jerk

1937

Red gets a paper route

1927

“I was an entrepreneur before I knew what the word meant, and certainly before I could spell it.”

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After enlisting in the Army, Red arrives in Seoul, Korea, on Thanksgiving Day

1943

The McCombs family moves to Corpus Christi

1947

Red enrolls at UT

RED’S COLORFUL LIFE ART BY BRADLEY HUGHES


90 2010

1988-1993

Honored with a statue by UT athletics

Owns the San Antonio Spurs

2017

1981 -1984

1973-1982

Co-owns the San Antonio Spurs, which Red brought to the city with local businessmen

Enters the movie industry, producing films with a team of investors

2017

Celebrates his 90th birthday on Oct. 19

2000

Donates $50 million to UT’s business school, which is renamed in his honor

1988-2005

Owns the Minnesota Vikings

1978

Longhorn auctions

1989

“We sold 150 cattle, losing money on 1972 many of them. Red and business partner Lowry Mays But when it was purchase two radio over, I had in one stations, the starting day created a new point for Clear Channel Communications market and attracted (now iHeartMedia Inc.) buyers from 16 states.”

1997

Donates $3 million to UT Austin women’s athletics

Helps San Antonio’s mayor sell voters on building the Alamodome with a half-cent sales tax

1982-1985

Owns the Denver Nuggets

2005

1998

Creates the McCombs Foundation to act as his family’s primary philanthropy arm

1983

Auctions a bull for $1 million, making cattle breeding a lucrative business

Donates $30 million to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

2014

Celebrates the groundbreaking of Rowling Hall

“Education is the answer to a better life for everyone”

1968

Red and Charline dining at the French Ambassador’s dinner

“This university has been a big part of my life since I was 16. What happens here does change the world. We want this university to be the best in the world.”

NAME: Billy Joe “Red” McCombs

FIGHTER: Two-time Golden Gloves heavyweight boxer

NICKNAME’S ORIGIN: His rust-colored hair

FILM CREDITS: “The Verdict,” “Romancing the Stone,” and

HEIGHT: 6’3”

“Rhinestone Cowboy”

GIVING: Donated more than $125 million to Texas civic causes since 1981

BUSINESSES OWNED: 400+

AVERAGE WORKWEEK: Six days in the office

CHANGE LEGACY: The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the

INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT: Auto, energy, livestock, real

GIFT TO THE SCHOOL: Established 56 scholarships and

world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their

estate, broadcasting, sports, politics, film, beverages, banking

fellowships, seven faculty chairs, and 62 excellence funds

wealth to giving back

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AIMING HIGH MBA GRAD LAUNCHES AN EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP PROGRAM FOR HIGH-PERFORMING VETERANS TRANSITIONING TO CIVILIAN INDUSTRY by Samantha Harris

M

remained an active duty lieutenant commander in the Navy throughout the course of his fulltime graduate program at McCombs. But he’s low-key about it. He doesn't mention that he is a highly decorated member of the elite Navy SEALs special operations force or that he has risked his life for his country, though it’s all true. But what he will tell you — heartily — is that one of his life’s goals is to help shape the course of veterans’ paths once they leave the military. While he was still an MBA student, Sarraille launched the VETTED Foundation, which offers a condensed advanced business education to high-performing veterans. Despite years of experience leading highrisk missions and managing classified data, many top-ranked military service members are overlooked for jobs when they try to shift into corporate America. Seventy percent of career ICHAEL SARRAILLE, MBA ’17,

military veterans struggle to find work in the private sector, according to research by Army veteran Chris Gerber, MBA ’16, and colleagues. More than 70 percent of hiring managers admit having a hard time making business sense of military experience, according to market research agency Harris Interactive. Enter VETTED. The foundation’s Veteran Accelerated Management Program combines five months of distance learning and two months of on-site business instruction taught at UT Austin, Texas A&M, or Rice University. “We’ve developed a program that is both cost- and time-efficient for veterans,” Sarraille explains. “A lot of these service members just retired and are in their mid40s with a family. They don’t have the option of a full-time MBA and are eager to transition into the private sector.” Forty elite veterans have already been selected for the first cohort, which began its

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Sarraille, MBA ’17, founder of VETTED.

distance learning in August. This segment of the program includes more than 100 hours of core business education through Wharton. Then, after mastering the basics through online learning, they come to campus and tackle an intense 300 hours of MBA-level coursework in two months. UT Austin’s classes have an entrepreneurship focus, Texas A&M’s specialize in executive management, and Rice’s focus is on executive management in the energy industry. Participants also have access to career services, including resume development, mock interviews, and networking techniques. The program does not end until participants have been successfully placed with an employer. VETTED received a big boost in June when Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, State Rep. Pat Fallon, and UT and Texas A&M System Chancellors William McRaven and John Sharp announced their support. The two university systems and AT&T offered the foundation a collective $75,000 gift. McRaven commended Sarraille for his leadership, energy, and ingenuity. “That Michael is currently a serving military officer and a University of Texas Longhorn makes me even prouder,” McRaven said. “He embodies UT Austin’s belief that ‘What starts here changes the world,’ and this program will undoubtedly change lives for the better.” Sarraille's long-term goal is to privatize and expand the VETTED model. He is currently in talks with other top MBA programs across the country to do just that. “They aren’t done after military service. Veterans are a resource this nation needs to reintegrate and put back to work,” he says. Sarraille will retire from the military this February after serving 20 years. But his duty roster will still be full as he continues working to increase VETTED’s reach. “We need the support of corporations, UT Austin’s alumni network, and good citizens as a whole to drive the foundation and program forward,” he says. “I am confident that those who invest in us will see an ROI for what we do for our nation.” Volunteers, donors, potential corporate partners, and universities can contact the foundation through its website: www.vetted.org.

D E N N I S DA R L I N G

NEWS: LEADERSHIP


N E W S : R OW L I N G H A L L

FALL 2017

GOFF GIFT FUNDS LABS WHEN DEAN JAY HARTZELL and five MBA students went to visit John Goff, BBA ’77, in his Fort Worth office two years ago, they had a pitch for him to consider, and they had a good feeling about it. Goff, the founder and chairman of Crescent Real Estate LLC, one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the nation, is famously warm and welcoming — and he is a huge fan of his alma mater. Plus, he learned a long time ago that students can have some pretty momentous ideas. After all, when he was a student at UT, his decision to switch from engineering to business ended up catapulting him into a career that he couldn’t have imagined — one in which a big real estate gamble he took in his early 30s ended up propelling him into the industry’s top tier. His visitors from McCombs had a real estate proposition in mind, too. “I was really impressed,” says Goff. “This was a very prepared, high-caliber group of students. They sold me.” The pitch in a nutshell: Help the McCombs real estate program become No. 1 in the country. Goff loved it. He donated $6 million, which will expand the McCombs student-managed real estate investment fund, pay for a new star faculty chair in real estate, and fund the creation of the John Goff Labs in Rowling Hall, McCombs’ new graduate school building, set to open in early 2018. Goff Labs will be located prominently on the first-floor showcase section of the building and will include a real estate room to support experiential learning, practicums, and events; as well as “theory-to-practice” rooms to be used by graduate business students, faculty members, and corporate partners.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y M I K E M c Q U A D E

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N E W S : G LO B A L L E A D E R S H I P

CREATING A WORLDWIDE COMMUNITY McCOMBS LAUNCHES NEW DIGITAL PLATFORM FOR CULTIVATING INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS by Molly Dannenmaier

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energy is infectious. And her networking skill is legendary. These attributes have powered her through nearly three decades of groundbreaking international business education development at the McCombs School of Business, during which time she has created a multitude of courses, programs, and events that promote global learning. Now, Gerber has a new project, and like so many of the other initiatives she has spearheaded in her role as director of the McCombs Center for Global Business, this one is set to open new international doors. This fall, Gerber and her team launched a new digital initiative, the Longhorn Global BizNetwork. It’s designed to bring together Longhorns working overseas — and anyone with an interest in international business — into a community that is full of expertise about what it’s like to live and work in today’s global economy. Within just the few weeks since it was launched, hundreds of Longhorns around the world have joined the network and begun sharing their international business experiences, global policy insights, and cultural lessons learned. The goal is to create a space with unlimited capacity for sharing information and building interaction. “We know that we’re all part of a great big Planet Longhorn,” says Gerber. “We’re a community with a wealth of international business insight, and we need a space where members can connect with each other and share what we know.” The network’s website includes profiles of international alumni, media posts on international business and policy, articles highlighting UT faculty and alumni who offer global expertise, and blog posts by members of the McCombs community. The Facebook group serves as a place to post upcoming alumni and I N DA G E R B E R ' S

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faculty events around the world, amplify web content, and broadcast Facebook Live sessions with some of McCombs’ most popular professors discussing international business topics. It also serves as a platform for original posts, and members of the Longhorn BizNetwork Facebook community have already started sharing their own international business stories and questions. A robust dialogue around issues of mutual interest has begun. Gerber says she’s especially excited about the opportunity the network affords members moving around the world to meet up with Longhorns abroad — or at least get their advice about where to go, what to do, and maybe what not to do.

Major supporters of the Longhorn Global BizNetwork include Ray Brimble, chairman of the McCombs Center for Global Business advisory board and CEO of Lynx Group; Bob Pearson, advisory board member and CIO of the digital marketing group W20; and Blake Chandlee, advisory board member and former global vice president for Facebook. They have provided strategic guidance, in-kind services, and funding for the project, says Gerber. The McCombs Center for Global Business, formerly known as CIBER, was established with an award from the U.S. Department of Education in 1990 to help internationalize business education. Gerber says the network offers a new opportunity to move McCombs’ international acumen beyond the doors of the university. “If you’re a Longhorn somewhere out there and you’re interested in global business, please join us. Help us build this network,” she says. Those interested in becoming a part of the group can look up “Longhorn Global BizNetwork” on Facebook and send a request to join.

McCombs’ Longhorn Global BizNetwork is a digital platform that aims to create new connections for students, faculty, alumni, and the international business community worldwide.

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RESEARCH

FALL 2017

HEAD SCHOLAR BRONIARCZYK TO LEAD RESEARCH EFFORTS

P

R O F E SS O R Susan

G R A H A M KU H Z E

Broniarczyk, a prolific scholar of marketing theory and practice, has been named McCombs’ associate dean for research. Broniarcyzk’s research is both academically rigorous and accessible. From investigating how people select retirement funds to analyzing why friends prefer not to purchase gifts from registries, her work looks at how consumers make buying decisions. “Susan is an extremely accomplished researcher and an outstanding teacher,” says Dean Jay Hartzell. “We are very fortunate that she has accepted the responsibility of this important position.” Her work has been published in leading academic journals and has been featured in popular outlets such as Time and NPR’s All Things Considered. Broniarczyk succeeds Finance Professor Laura Starks, who served as associate dean for research for six years, and also recently served as interim dean from 2015-16. Starks is now co-executive director of the McCombs Social Innovation Initiative. Broniarczyk, who holds the Susie and John L. Adams Endowed Chair in Business, joined the McCombs Marketing Department in 1991. Since then, she has received the McCombs Research Excellence Award and awards from the American Marketing Association and the Society for Consumer Psychology, where she previously served as president. She serves as an editorial board member for several peer-reviewed publications and is also an associate editor for the Journal of Marketing Research.

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R E S E A R C H : I D E A S AT WO R K

Smartphone owners interact with their phones an average of 85 times per day.

IS YOUR SMARTPHONE DRAINING YOUR BRAIN? DON’T BRING YOUR PHONE TO MEETINGS. ITS MERE PRESENCE, EVEN WHEN FACE-DOWN AND SILENT, REDUCES YOUR COGNITIVE CAPACITY. by Adrienne Dawson

DISTANCE MATTERS

In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration. The tests were geared to measure participants’ available cognitive capacity — that is, the brain’s finite ability to hold and process data at any given time. At the start, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were asked to turn their phones to silent. The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag. “We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases,” explains Ward. These findings indicate that the close presence of one’s smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive func-

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tioning, even though people feel they’re giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand. “Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but the process of requiring yourself not to think about something uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain,” says Ward.

smartphones on the desk or in their pocket or bag. “It’s a double whammy,” says Ward. “People who depend more on their phones will benefit the most from leaving them in another room when they have something important to focus on, but they are probably the least willing to do that.”

SMARTPHONE DEPENDENCE

CONSTANT DISTRACTION

In another experiment, the researchers looked at how a person’s self-reported smartphone dependence — that is, how strongly a person feels he or she needs their smartphone to get through the day — affected their cognitive capacity. Participants performed the same series of computer-based tests as the first group and were randomly assigned to keep their smartphones either in sight on the desk face up, in a pocket or bag, or in another room. In this experiment, some participants were also instructed to turn their phones off. The researchers found that participants who were the most dependent on their smartphones performed worse compared to their less-dependent peers, but only when they kept their

Ward and his colleagues also found that it didn’t matter whether a person’s smartphone was turned on or off or whether it was face up or face down on a desk. Having a smartphone within sight or easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks. That’s because part of their brain is actively working not to pick up or use the phone. “It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones,” says Ward. “The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.” Ward recommends smartphone users leave their phones in a separate room for a specific period of time during the day in order to dedicate all their available mind power to the tasks and people they deem important.

I CO N BY R OY YA N W I JAY

new study from the McCombs School finds that your cognitive capacity is reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off. ¶ Marketing Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when their devices are nearby.


New research from McCombs finds that people perform significantly worse on cognitive tests if their smartphones are in the same room, even if they’re face-down, turned off, or tucked into a pocket or bag.

Smartphone Study Goes Viral The study, co-authored with Kristen

Adrian Ward is an assistant profes-

Duke, Ayelet Gneezy, and Maarten

sor in the Marketing Department

W. Bos, was published in the April

and studies new media, consumer

2017 issue of the Journal of the

behavior, and technology and cogni-

Association for Consumer Research.

tion. He joined the McCombs faculty

It’s also been featured widely in the

in 2015 following post-doctoral work

popular media, including The Atlan-

at the University of Colorado, Boul-

tic, The Wall Street Journal, and

der. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology

the Late Show with Seth Meyers.

from Harvard University.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y S P U R D E S I G N

“YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND ISN’T THINKING ABOUT YOUR SMARTPHONE, BUT THE PROCESS OF REQUIRING YOURSELF NOT TO THINK ABOUT SOMETHING USES UP SOME OF YOUR LIMITED COGNITIVE RESOURCES.” #McCOMBSMAG 13


RESEARCH: INSIGHTS

DIGITAL ACTIVISM AWARD-WINNING RESEARCH EXAMINES HOW ADVOCACY GROUPS CAN ENGAGE ONLINE SUPPORTERS

A

FEW YEARS AGO, Amnes-

ty International’s Swedish affiliate knew it had a problem. Although it had a digital and social media presence, its most dedicated supporters had declined in numbers over the previous decade. At the same time, while social media had the potential to reach millions of people, the strategies AI had come to rely on, such as petitioning and letter-writing campaigns, weren’t successful online. There, engagement was transient, and AI’s values — solidarity, effective action, and accuracy — were muddled. The organization needed a digital transformation. But how? “We already knew that organizations build massive support online through social media and other digital platforms, but that support is often transitory. We wanted to examine how a group’s core values can make those interactions stronger,” says Sirkka Jarvenpaa, professor in the Information, Risk, and Operations Management Department. Together with University of Gothenburg co-author Lisen Selander, Jarvenpaa worked closely with Amnesty International’s Swedish affiliate in a multi-year study. They attended local meetings, protests, and rallies, interviewed employees, and also analyzed five years’ worth of the organization’s social media posts. While it’s easy for people to quickly “like,” sign, and share an online petition, they often click away just as fast and don’t maintain any involvement. “The problem for organizations like Amnesty International,” explains Jarvenpaa, “is that if supporters don’t feel tied to the larger group,

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McCombs research examines, for the first time, how social movement organizations can strengthen online engagement by using digital tactics that promote the group’s core values.

they’re likely to become disconnected.” That can lead to declining membership, fewer donations, and an inability to fight for the causes that brought everyone together in the first place. In response, the Swedish AI team started to explore new digital action repertoires that would attract both digital and “traditional” members. This included not only experimenting with their social media but also developing new ways of mobilizing online and offline

members. AI reported that this, along with other new strategic initiatives, led to a more engaged digital supporter base. Meanwhile, AI’s website and other digital content, over which the team had full control, was easier to share with a more engaged digital supporter base. This research was published last year in MIS Quarterly and received the journal’s Paper of the Year Award.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y J E S Ú S S A N Z


VIX manipulation: An investor could overpay by $1 million for underlying SPX options, make $2 million in the upper-level, and be left with a $1 million profit.

EVIDENCE OF LARGE-SCALE INDEX MANIPULATION JOHN GRIFFIN PROFESSOR, FINANCE { After analyzing seven years of data, Professor John Griffin and McCombs Ph.D. candidate Amin Shams suspected investors might be manipulating S&P 500 Index option prices to generate a financial gain on the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index. THE ISSUE:

The CBOE VIX, or “investor fear gauge,” tracks market volatility levels based on rising or falling prices of S&P 500 options. The more expensive options are, the more volatile the market is thought to be. That’s because higher prices indicate that investors are uncertain about future stock performance and are looking to hedge their bets. The problem, says Griffin, is that the VIX design leaves it open for potential gaming. “VIX futures and options settle once a month based on the prices of these underlying S&P 500 options,” Griffin explains. “We find that at the exact moment of settlement, trading volume jumps on the S&P 500 options multiple times. Those volume patterns are exactly consistent with the VIX settlement formula.” The researchers tested competing explanations of hedging and liquidity trading but found consistent support for manipulation. “The VIX is jumping 31 basis points, on average, using our most conservative measures,” Shams says.

WHAT MAKES ANALYSTS TICK? MICHAEL CLEMENT PROFESSOR, ACCOUNTING { THE ISSUE: Buy-side analysts are employed by

mutual, hedge, and pension funds to make profitable stock recommendations. “For anybody who has a retirement fund, this is the person who’s managing your money,” explains Professor Michael Clement. Because they control two-thirds of all U.S. equities, buy-siders hold enormous sway over a company’s stock. But to most people, they’re nearly invisible. Who are they, and what drives their stock picks?

THE RESEARCH:

Those on the other side of the VIX derivatives market, such as individual investors who rely on settlement pricing to be accurate and fair, are losing money because of this market manipulation. The researchers say that settlement design is extremely important for alleviating large and costly settlement deviations.

Clement and co-authors surveyed 344 buy-side analysts in a first-ever study of its kind. Buy-side analysts are paid to provide accurate stock pick recommendations, but not the public picks most people read about. They advise their fund managers to drop poor-performing stocks or buy ones with promise. How well the fund performs based on those stock recommendations determines how well they’re paid. Contrast this to sell-siders: They’re the brokerage house analysts whose public buy-sell-hold recommendations get media attention. Yet the profitability of those recommendations has minimal impact on their compensation. Instead, sell-siders’ pay is largely determined by how well buy-siders rate them. High marks go to sell-siders who provide buy-siders with valuable industry information. When buy-siders, with their broad industry knowledge, gain access to sell-siders’ deep company-specific expertise, they get the best of both worlds, and their stock picks reflect that. THE RESEARCH:

OUTCOME:

I CO N BY DA I LY I CO N

Buy-side analysts want quality primary research, including the best industry data, access to C-level executives, and the ability to tour facilities to see operations. But do they listen to their peers’ stock recs? No. As one surveyed analyst said, “I disregard buy, sell, and hold ratings. They’re useless.” OUTCOME:

TRYING TO DECLUTTER? TAKE A PHOTO JULIE IRWIN, PROFESSOR BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT & SOCIETY { Most people have a difficult time parting with things they no longer use, often because the possessions have sentimental value. How might a better understanding of this issue help nonprofits see an increase in item donations? THE ISSUE:

Professor Julie Irwin and her co-authors, all consumer psychologists, conducted several experiments to see if people were more easily able to part with meaningful but unneeded items if they took pictures of them first. They considered a likely source for people struggling with sentimental clutter: college students moving out at the end of the school year. The researchers posted signs for a donation drive in undergraduate dormitories on one college campus. Signs in some dorms encouraged students to take pictures of items first; the others didn’t. When photography was suggested, dorm residents donated 35 percent more. The researchers then repeated the exercise the following fall. Even during a time period when most students weren’t moving out, the research team still saw a 15 percent higher donation rate in dorms where students were encouraged to photograph their belongings. Similarly, when researchers asked people outside of a thrift store if they could take instant photos of donations with sentimental value, those donors later reported feeling significantly less identity loss after parting with cherished possessions compared to donors who did not receive pictures. THE RESEARCH:

Photography can make parting with sentimental objects much easier. Charities that rely on donations might see an uptick if they encourage donors to snap photos. OUTCOME:

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CH IN A’ S SOCIAL MEDIA

MAESTRO CHARLES CHAO, MPA ’93, TALKS ABOUT HIS PATH TO THE TOP JOB AT ONE OF CHINA’S BIGGEST ONLINE MEDIA COMPANIES by Todd Savage

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C

HARLES CHAO was 24 years old when he landed

in the United States for the first time. The year was 1990 and the World Wide Web had just been invented. He was more than 7,000 miles away from home, about to begin graduate school in journalism at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He had left behind a job as a TV reporter in Shanghai, China’s fast-growing city, where he had attended a top high school and gone on to the country’s best journalism school. 18 TODAY.MCCOMBS.UTEXAS.EDU

Little did he imagine that his next stop would be business school at The University of Texas at Austin and a path that would lead him to the C-suite at one of China’s most prominent tech companies. In 1993, after getting a master’s degree in public accounting at UT, the top-rated program in the country, he was hired by Arthur Andersen in Silicon Valley for an auditing job. Two years later, he took a position with PricewaterhouseCoopers as an audit manager, working primarily with tech clients. “At that time, Silicon Valley was in a boom stage,” Chao says, speaking by phone from Beijing. “There were a lot of new companies, a lot of activity, a lot of new technologies coming out, and a lot of IPOs and M&A activities. I was getting experience in the high-tech business and the financials behind it. That helped me to learn very quickly and get a real understanding of the industry.” In 1999, Chao was well-placed for his next career move, a job that would combine all his skills and experience and take him back to China. The online media company Sina Corp., considered at the time a kind of “Chinese Yahoo,” was struggling with a new IPO and brought him aboard as vice president of finance. With his help, the company became the first Chinese internet company to be listed on the Nasdaq. “They wanted to have somebody with U.S. experience to help them in the process,” Chao says, “and I was the one who was hired.” The job was the start of what has been an 18-year tenure at Sina and a rise through the ranks. He became CFO and then COO as his role overseeing portal operations expanded. He says watching a succession of three others in the CEO role helped prepare him when the time came to ascend to the top job in the company. In 2006, he was named CEO and in 2012, chairman of the board. Chao has been listed as one of China’s most powerful people, a star in the nation’s business world. He was recognized by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people and one of “Ten Big-Hitting Asian Businessmen Under the Age of 50” by Forbes. Sina is one of the first Chinese companies to set up a charity and a public welfare platform. Under his leadership, the company has expanded its influence and launched what has become one of the most dominant social media platforms in China — and one of the biggest in the world. Started in 2009, Weibo is a digital network that combines many of the features


of both Twitter and Facebook. By the second quarter of this year, it reported 361 million monthly active users (and about 159 million daily users) in China, a growth of nearly 30 percent over the previous year. That makes

“In our business, there is always a lot of challenge, a lot of risk,” he says. “We always worry about new competition and new technology. New products will overtake this big product. That’s always the case, so we have to keep

I WAS GETTING EXPERIENCE IN THE HIGH-TECH BUSINESS AND THE FINANCIALS BEHIND IT. THAT HELPED ME TO GET A REAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE INDUSTRY.

a lot of things, made the society much more transparent, and has engaged public sentiment. You can imagine what kind of impact that has on China or any society.” Like other Chinese internet companies, Weibo monitors what users can post with its own internal system to vet what is shared online in a way that meets government standards. Users who violate its standards, such as publishing “fake news” or slandering people online, can lose their account. While the Chinese government is often criticized for censoring media, Chao argues

CHARLES CHAO’S CV AT A GLANCE BORN Shanghai, 1965

Weibo (pronounced way-bwo and translated as “microblog”) bigger than Twitter, which is banned in China along with Facebook and many other Western internet outlets. Chao has served as CEO for 11 years now, and it has been a time of rapid change in the way people get and share information. As CEO, he oversees both Sina Corp. and its subsidiary, Weibo. Sina now has a market cap of about $8-9 billion, and Weibo is valued at $20 billion. Both are listed on the Nasdaq. “It’s an internet business, but it also has a lot to do with content and the media,” Chao says. “I’d say my media background helped me to understand this business much better than a lot of other people would. At the same time, my financial background helped me to be able to set up the right structure, strategy, and financial model for the company. In some ways, Sina is a perfect fit for me.” The rapid changes in the tech world — from emerging competitors to new technological advances like video, new ways of sharing content, and artificial intelligence — have required Chao to be nimble. In recent years, the company has sought to fend off competition from Tencent’s WeChat messaging platform (similar to WhatsApp) by adding live streaming and its own mobile payment functionality.

innovating, to grow bigger and move faster with those innovations. For our business in particular, we are already very large-scale in China in terms of our user base and our activities. How to keep growing our business, how to keep growing our user base, is a challenge.” Chao made one of the boldest moves himself to show his faith in the company’s future. In 2015, he acquired 11 million newly issued shares in Sina valued at $456 million. He believed the company’s stock was undervalued and placed his own optimistic bet. “I wanted to show my confidence in the company,” he says. “And it also gave our employees a lot of confidence in pursuing future business.” The risky move got the attention of investors, and shares surged. Weibo has opened up new ways of communicating in a traditionally closed society in which the government pays close attention to the flow of information. Chao reflects on the fact that back when he was a student, there were fewer ways of getting information in a closed society. “It allows everybody who has a mobile phone, who has a PC, to share content and engage in a proper discussion of a lot of social matters,” Chao says. “That has changed

EDUCATION Fudan University BA ’88, Journalism University of Oklahoma MA ’91, Journalism McCombs School of Business MPA ’93

FIRST JOB Journalist, Shanghai Media Group 1988-1989

AUDIT MANAGER Arthur Andersen 1993-1995 PricewaterhouseCoopers 1995-1999 SINA CORP. Vice president of finance, 1999-2001 CFO, 2001-2006 COO, 2004-2006 CEO, 2006-present Chairman of the board, 2012-present WEIBO Chairman of the board, 2014-present

#McCOMBSMAGALUMNI 19


UT’S GLOBAL AMBASSADORS: HELPING CREATE CONNECTIONS ACROSS THE WORLD   CHARLES CHAO IS ONE OF A DOZEN prominent international influencers helping to raise the global profile of UT Austin. They were invited to join a new International Board of Advisors established this year by UT Austin President Greg Fenves. He asked for their expertise in developing and implementing an international strategy to expand the university’s global reach and impact.  “WHILE OUR BRAND IS RECOGNIZED across the continents,” Fenves explains, “we must be intentional in threading global engagement through our mission and vision to assure our students’ confidence and awareness in a multicultural world, while expanding our competitiveness as a top research university.”   FENVES MET CHAO LAST YEAR when visiting China. “I’m always willing to contribute my experience, my influence in this part of the world to the school,” Chao says. “The world has become more connected in many ways. So if you want a university that is more advanced, more globally oriented, you need to have international exposure. I hope I can do something that helps and will benefit the school and the university.”   THE BOARD GATHERED at UT for the first time in September. The board members, all but one of whom are UT alums, represent diverse industries, including energy, media, investments, humanities, and technology, and have distinguished records of community service and roots stretching across Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

M EMBERS O F UT’S IN T E RN AT ION AL B OARD O F A DV I SO R S *McCombs alumni CHRISTOPHER P. BAKE, BBA ’88 London, U.K., Head of Origination, Vitol Group JULIET BERKOWITZ, BS SPEECH COMMUNICATION ’86 New York City, New York, U.S., Fashion Industry Professional (retired) WILLIAM BOLLINGER, BBA ’78, MBA ’80 London and Singapore, Chairman, Judico Capital Pte. Ltd., Co-founder, Egerton Capital (UK) LLP CHARLES CHAO, MPA ’93 Shanghai, China, Chairman and CEO, Sina Corp., Chairman, Weibo Corp. MICHAEL HOFFMAN, BA GOVERNMENT ’68 London, U.K., Chairman, Hoffman Ventures, IBA Chair GWEN HOUSTON, JD/MPAff ’85 Seattle, Washington, U.S., Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, General Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Microsoft Corp.

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TAE HAN KIM, MS CHEMICAL ENGINEERING ’86, PH.D. ’88 Seoul, South Korea, CEO, Samsung BioLogics Co. Ltd. JA-KYUN KOO, PH.D. ’90 Seoul, South Korea, Chairman and CEO, LSIS Co. Ltd. HENNING KREKE, BBA ’89, MBA ’90 Hagen, Germany, Chairman, Douglas Holding AG PENG ONG, BS ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING ’86 Jakarta, Indonesia , Co-founder and Managing Director, Monk’s Hill Ventures ADRIANA PACHECO ROLDÁN, PH.D. IBERIAN AND LATIN AMERICAN LANGUAGES AND CULTURE ’15 Puebla, Mexico; and Austin, Texas, U.S., Scholar and Community Advocate CARLOS QUINTANILLA, CORNELL MBA ’80 Monterrey, Mexico, President and Owner, Quintanilla, Hache Y Asociados (QHYA)

that Facebook, in the aftermath of the 2016 election campaign, has played catch-up as it has sought to beef up its own internal monitoring of so-called “fake news.” “We have been doing that for many years,” Chao says. He argues that this type of new media requires more order and regulation. “All that cannot just be maintained or governed by the existing laws and regulations. It needs to be managed. The platform should have the system and mechanism to manage people’s behavior and how content is created and distributed.” What issues does he see Sina facing, beyond the critical issues of technology, cybersecurity, and competitive challenges? “Sina was a portal company. We were able to develop a social media business within our portal business. They’re actually quite different. We created a new model from an old model, and that’s difficult to do. That’s very rare. Going forward, of course, Weibo is a success. But Sina itself is in the process of transforming into more of a mobile business. In the process, there are challenges. It’s a very different world with a lot of new competitors. Whether we are able to compete on the mobile stage for the news business is a challenge for us, and we are working very hard on that.” In many ways, China is ahead of the U.S. in mobile, he says. Mobile penetration is higher, and as a result, the ways people use their mobile phones is more varied. Namely, mobile payment is much more widespread, allowing more innovation in business models. “A lot of people have begun to live in a cashless society in China. They need not carry cash. They don’t need to carry credit cards. They carry a mobile phone to get around in many cities.” Chao’s career, straddling two sides of the Pacific, has given him insight into the challenges of working in different countries and cultures. He advises U.S. businesspeople looking to operate in the Chinese market to have an open mind in such a different market. “In the internet business, a lot of U.S. giants operating in China have failed,” he says. “A lot of people blame the country or the government. That’s a small element of it. Mostly, it’s because they use U.S. experience to operate in China. In some ways, the Chinese market is different and even bigger than the U.S. market, and so you have to have a local strategy, local marketing, a local product, and a local operation to sell that. Using your experience in the U.S. probably would not work.”


Above left: Charles Chao in Shanghai, 1988; above right: on the way to a press conference during the Weibo IPO in 2014; bottom: Chao with colleagues and Weibo celebrities celebrating the company going public.

The world is certainly a different place than it was when Chao was a student, arriving on a plane without the benefit of social media to connect him to home. It has been a time of uncertainty about the future of relationships between the

two countries where he was educated. “We all hope that these two countries can work together very closely and remain friendly so the world will be in peace. It’s going to be a very bad situation for the world if they fight each other.

“There’s a lot of mutually beneficial cooperation. Each has different strengths, and they are complementary to each other. The relationship between China and the U.S. is the most important bilateral relationship in the world.”

#McCOMBSMAGALUMNI 21


Incubating E

Doug Baum, BBA ’90, MSTC ’07, co-founder of Vindolor Pharmaceuticals; Jagath Narayan, Naruby Schlenker, and Sangram Kadam, all MBA ’10, co-founders of Ordoro; James Walsh, MBA ’05, founder of Cutting Edge Gamer; Michael Garel, MBA ’12, founder of eyeQ; Amy George, MBA ’00, founder of Earthly Labs; Judson Kauffman, Brent Looby, and Ryan Campbell, all MBA ’17, co-founders of Desert Door. LEFT TO RIGHT:

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Entrepreneurs

PROMISING COMPANIES GET A KICK-START AT McCOMBS’ JON BRUMLEY TEXAS VENTURE LABS

Entrepreneurial students learn the ropes in TVL Director Rob Adams’ New Venture Creation class. Austin start-ups tap into student talent by applying to the TVL Accelerator program. And aspiring entrepreneurs from both inside and outside the university participate in the twice-yearly Shark Tank-style TVL Investment Competition.

By Mary Ann Roser

Photography By Drew Anthony Smith #McCOMBSMAG 23


DESERT DOOR

DISTILLING WILD SOTOL IN TEXAS He said it’d be memorable. And for Judson Kauffman, MBA ’17, his first sip of moonshine certainly was. Kauffman’s a sixth-generation Texan from Longview, and if you do the math, that means his family’s been here about as long as there’s been a Lone Star on the flag. And for as long as he can remember, his family’s been trekking across the state to hunt in Fort Stockton. To hunt, yes, and to indulge in the local brew as well. Fast forward 20 years. Kauffman is now a former Navy SEAL and a managing partner at consulting firm Exbellum, a boutique management consulting firm in Austin. Still, he says, he wanted to make himself “more agile.” So in 2015, Kauffman enrolled in the Texas Executive MBA Program. He registered for the New Venture Creation class taught by Rob Adams, director of the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs. TVL draws in graduate students from many fields, from business to engineering to law. Some students take part in the TVL Accelerator, earning credit as unpaid consultants to Austin startups. Other students, like Kauffman, pursue their own entrepreneurial aspirations by working in teams to develop a business plan. And it was during one of his team’s brainstorming sessions that he thought back to that West Texas hooch, hidden in garages and sheds, made from a spiny plant called sotol, or “desert spoon.” Sotol grows wild in the Southwest, and once distilled, it invites comparison to bourbon, tequila, mescal, and H I S U N C L E R AV E D A B O U T I T.

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cognac simultaneously. Problem is, it’s only distilled in Mexico. Or maybe it wasn’t a problem. Why not create the nation’s only sotol distillery right here in Central Texas? asked Kauffman. His team was in. “This is where they get to see what an entrepreneur goes through,” says Luis Martins, chairman of the McCombs Management Department, which houses TVL. “They meet reality.” By the end of the course, teams test out their ideas on other classmates, then each team presents to local investors who help grade the projects. Kauffman’s team got a big shot of confidence when an investor told them to keep going. “If you do,” he said, “I would like to invest.” Adams also encouraged them to pitch the idea, Shark Tank-style, to entrepreneurs and investors as part of the TVL Investment Competition. “That forced us to apply some rigor,” Kauffman admits. “We were full of assumptions that hadn’t been vetted yet.” Knowing they’d need access to the desert plant, team members drove to West Texas to meet with landowners. They also spoke to Aus-

tin retailers, restaurateurs, and bar owners who were enthusiastic at the prospect of being among the first to sell sotol locally. And that’s what Adams teaches. He tells his students to call 100 possible customers to avoid sinking time and money into a product no one wants. They have to do “good, old-fashioned outreach” on the phone or face-to-face, Adams insists. No email surveys. “You really have to get personal.” Kauffman’s team won third place in the fall 2016 TVL competition. They received a $2,000 prize and picked up investors, raising enough capital to build a state-of-the-art distillery and cover 18 months of operating costs. Adams believes he’ll soon be toasting Kauffman and his co-founders, fellow New Venture Creation classmates and military veterans Brent Looby and Ryan Campbell, both MBA ’17. “I would bet on those guys 100 percent,” Adams boasts. The three call their company Desert Door. They’ve opened a distillery in Driftwood and plan to trot out the first bottles of the smooth, herbaceous liquor in time for the holidays this year.

Brent Looby, Ryan Campbell, and Judson Kauffman, all MBA ’17. They came up with the idea for their distillery as students in TVL Director Rob Adams’ New Venture Creation class, and they gained investors by participating in the TVL Investment Competition. CO-FOUNDERS OF DESERT DOOR:

P H OTO G R A P H S B Y D R E W A N T H O N Y S M I T H


EARTHLY LABS

CO 2 RECAPTURE TECHNOLOGY FOR SMALL-SCALE CUSTOMERS

Jagath Narayan, Naruby Schlenker, and Sangram Kadam, all MBA ’10. Their back-office management software company for online retailers was born in the New Venture Creation class and nurtured through the TVL Accelerator program. CO-FOUNDERS OF ORDORO:

ORDORO

FULL-SERVICE APP FOR ONLINE RETAILERS isn’t the one that flies. Just ask Naruby Schlenker, MBA ’10, head of business development for the successful seven-year-old venture Ordoro. Born in McCombs’ New Venture Creation class, Ordoro initially planned to offer a web tool for small- and medium-size online retailers to optimize their inventory. The platform allowed customers to know how many items were on their shelves and when to restock. They’d also avoid wasteful overstocking. But when the team followed Adams’ 100-call rule, the students were stunned that they didn’t get any interest from potential customers. “It turned out that one of the biggest problems these companies had was printing shipping labels,” Schlenker explains. “We realized the needs were much more basic than we thought they were. Once we figured it out, we knew we had to solve those problems first.” The team came back with an app to manage all of the back-office activity after each online sale. Ordoro placed in the top five ventures in the 2010 semi-finals for Moot Corp, the predecessor to the TVL investment competition. “By the time we graduated in 2010, we were starting to build the actual software,” Schlenker SOMETIMES, YOUR FIRST LOFTY IDEA

says. Ordoro’s software simplifies functions so customers no longer have to use multiple sites to print labels, send packages, track shipments, and organize data for every order. And, yes, managing inventory — a critical function — is built in, including alerts to reorder supplies. Still, Schlenker had a hard choice to make when Johnson & Johnson offered her a job. She had interned with the company as an MBA student, and before she enrolled at McCombs, had worked six years for another corporate giant, Eli Lilly, including a stint in her native Venezuela. But for Schlenker, the chance to launch a business with two talented classmates proved irresistible, even if they’d have to forgo salaries the first year. “We all turned down offers,” she says of her teammates and co-founders, CEO Jagath Narayan, and Marketing and Sales Head Sangram Kadam. Soon after the partners graduated, Ordoro was accepted into the TVL Accelerator, entitling it to help from student-consultants. Today, the co-founders give back to the center that brought them together, speaking to classes and judging competitions. “If we hadn’t called those 100 online retailers, we would still be developing an inventory tool that no one wants,” she says. But they did call, and today, Ordoro has raised $4.75 million and has 17 employees.

AMY GEORGE, MBA ’00, began her career in marketing for a pioneering architect in green-building technology. She was inspired. “I started looking at sustainability as a lens for business,” she says. It’s through that lens that George has defined her career path. She enrolled at McCombs in 1998, studying management and entrepreneurship. Afterward, she worked for seven years at Pavilion Technologies, which helps major multinationals decrease their energy footprint while at the same time increasing their productivity. In 2008, George and MBA ’00 classsmate Melissa Nathan, along with Nathan’s sister Paige Davis, created BlueAvocado. The award-winning company makes reusable storage bags to replace the plastic throwaways typically used for sandwiches and other everyday items. George was president and CEO until last year when she stepped down, took a seat on the

founder of Earthly Labs, says that sustainability is the lens through which she views business. Her ambitious project is aimed at figuring out an economically viable way to recapture CO2 emissions for small businesses and residential customers. Her company is a recipient of TVL Accelerator graduate student consulting services. AMY GEORGE, MBA ’00,

#McCOMBSMAG 25


board, and leapt into her newest and possibly most ambitious venture: founding Earthly Labs, which is laying the groundwork to capture and recycle carbon dioxide emissions for small businesses and residential customers. “I revisited my tech roots at Pavilion,” she says, “and wanted to solve one of the most pressing problems of our time.” Large-scale CO2 emitters have access to recapture technologies, but for smaller customers, not so much. She applied for student consulting help through the TVL Accelerator, and this spring, “a really cool” group of grad students in business, pharmacy, physics, and law teamed up to act as Earthly’s advisers. The students helped assess the market, devise incentives, and identify a big potential funder. They “refined Earthly’s approach and accelerated the timeline,” George explains. She recently began pilot recapture projects with breweries that use and expel CO2, a major contributor to greenhouse gases. Once Earthly purifies the gas, the brewers can reuse it to make future beer batches. George wants to expand into the residential market because homes emit CO2 when using natural gas and electricity. The plan is for Earthly to pay homeowners for the CO2 it recaptures and then sell it to larger customers. “I have kids, and the things I’m doing now affect the future they will inherit,” she says.

VINDOLOR

DEVELOPING ALTERNATIVES TO OPIOID PAINKILLERS OVERDOSE DEATHS FROM OPIOIDS have reached

record highs, and federal and state lawmakers are casting a critical eye on painkiller prescriptions. The race is on to develop alternatives that are non-habit-forming. Doug Baum, CEO at Vindolor Pharmaceuticals, is in the chase. Baum, BBA ’90, MSTC ’07, has partnered with researchers at UT Health San Antonio who are formulating new non-addictive painkillers. Vindolor plans to license two of the medications in development, one of which is already in clinical trials, Baum says. Prior to co-founding Vindolor earlier this year, he served on pharma company boards and was president and CEO of Austin-based Xeris Pharmaceuticals for four years. He’s been involved in drug development since 1991. While a master’s student at McCombs, his team won the Moot Corp competition in

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2007 with another company he co-founded, MacuCLEAR, which develops medications to treat macular degeneration. Earlier this year, Baum sought help from the TVL Accelerator. The graduate student consultant team assigned to him conducted market research and validation. Their financial projections estimated a $200 million market for the two drugs, Baum says. “They helped an entrepreneur and a company of one person do a lot of work over a relatively short period of time,” he says.

EYEQ

COMPUTER VISION FOR RETAILERS WHAT MOTIVATES SHOPPERS to buy the things

they buy? Why are they drawn to one display but ignore another? And how can retailers make shopping more satisfying? Arming brick-and-mortar retailers with insights into shoppers’ behavior is the goal of eyeQ, an Austin startup founded by Michael Garel, MBA ’12. Before enrolling at McCombs, Garel worked for nearly a decade at Dell as a mechanical development engineer and then went to Xplore, a maker of rugged computer tablets. It was there that the entrepreneurial bug bit. Garel wanted to create a company that uses computer vision, enabling machines to “see” and analyze information from images. He was taking Adams’ New Venture Creation course when he wrote the business plan for eyeQ. After talking to retailers, Garel discovered they loved the idea of using artificial intelligence to gain insights into shoppers’ behavior — but they weren’t willing to pay for it. So, he kept the idea of collecting data on customers as they interacted with displays, but downgraded the sophistication of the data-gathering. Instead of using a computer with artificial intelligence, he created a lowcost ($75) battery-powered device with a variety of sensors to compile simple information about shoppers, including age, gender, and purchasing behavior — all while protecting the person’s anonymity. Retailers can use the data to determine whether a display is in the right place and attracting the shoppers they want. With eyeQ in place, Garel says clients are seeing increased sales and shopper engagement. “We’re working with a brand right now that’s testing two different displays,” he says. “They’re trying to decide whether they can justify spending the $1 million it will take

Michael Garel, MBA ’12, founder of eyeQ, which helps retailers track data about how customers respond to displays. Above bottom: Doug Baum, CEO of Vindolor Pharmaceuticals, is working to license two promising new non-habit-forming painkillers. ABOVE TOP:


to go to the next level and employ artificial intelligence.” Garel is no stranger to TVL. Five years ago, his eyeQ team won the competition. And with help from student-consultants in 2012 and again this year, the company has raised $3.2 million from investors. In its most recent goround as a TVL Accelerator firm, eyeQ learned how much retailers spend on market research so it could price its product competitively.

CUTTING EDGE GAMER

GRAPHICS CARD LEASING PROGRAM OFFERS BIG BENEFITS realism and speed matter. A lot. “They want the latest and greatest way to play,” says James Walsh, MBA ’05, co-founder and president of Cutting Edge Gamer. But new graphics cards that can translate computer pixels into realistic images for fast-paced 3D games come out often, and they’re expensive. Walsh’s solution? Lease the cards instead. Gamers can pay a small monthly fee with the option to buy the graphics card at the end of a 12-month contract. It winds up costing the customer more in the end than an outright purchase would, but the leasing option gives gamers two big benefits. First, says Walsh, the upfront expense of buying a graphics card can be too much for some. Monthly installments make the cost manageable. Second, and just as important, Walsh’s company allows members to swap their cards for an upgrade — and a new lease — as better technology becomes available. Customers seem to like the approach: Business has doubled since 2014, and Walsh admits they’ve got more demand than they can meet. “Cutting Edge Gamer offers a great, affordable option for staying on the edge of the technology,” says Harlan Beverly, TVL’s assistant director. Beverly, who founded gaming hardware and software firm BigFoot Networks in 2005, now serves as one of Cutting Edge Gamer's advisers. That means Beverly has had to recuse himself from TVL activities that involve the graphics card company, but even so, it’s not unusual for TVL faculty to work with students after they graduate from McCombs, he explains. “It’s part of what sets TVL apart from similar centers at other universities.” FOR SERIOUS GAMERS,

Earlier this year, Cutting Edge Gamer was selected for the TVL Accelerator, where a team of six UT students was tasked with identifying ways to finance the company’s inventory, a longstanding problem. “Typically, banks won’t lend to us,” Walsh acknowledges. So, the students vetted other

options, including equipment financing firms — some of which said yes. “That’s huge,” he insists. “This year we’re raising a million in new capital, thanks in large part to McCombs and TVL.” Mary Ann Roser owns Roser Prose LLC and was an Austin American-Statesman reporter.

MBA '05, president of Cutting Edge Gamer, which leases graphics cards to video gamers. Customers pay Cutting Edge Gamer a small monthly fee to lease graphics cards on a 12-month contract, with the option to trade up as better technology becomes available. Walsh’s company is a recipient of TVL Accelerator graduate student consulting services. JAMES WALSH,


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HEN THE FIRST PUBLIC

A McCOMBS CLEANTECH FELLOW SHARES INSIGHTS ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY’S IMMINENT TRANSFORMATION — AND THE POTENTIAL DISRUPTIONS THAT MAY FOLLOW

self-driving car fatality occurred in May 2016, the emerging autonomous vehicle industry found itself at the center of a firestorm. On the surface, things looked bad: A Tesla Model S in autopilot mode plowed directly into a turning semi-truck on a city street in Williston, Florida, killing Tesla driver Joshua Brown. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration dispatched an investigative team to find out what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, everyone else waited and wondered: Was this the public relations disaster that would put the brakes on the political, legal, and societal acceptance of self-driving vehicles?   Fast forward to January 2017. The NHTSA exonerates Tesla from fault in the crash. The autonomous vehicle industry is ecstatic. The car’s low-level autonomous autopilot mode is considered an enhanced safety feature, not a substitute for human control. The vehicle was never billed as having the capacity to drive itself. The driver should have kept his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road at all times.

by Edgar Varela, MBA ’18 illustration by Eddie Guy


Instead of stopping the autonomous vehicle industry in its tracks, the Florida crash set in motion a fact-finding mission that led to a resounding endorsement of Tesla’s safety record. The report showed a 40 percent reduction in Tesla accidents since the introduction of low-level autonomy safety features like lane-change assist and automatic braking. Tesla could now lay claim to having the safest fleet on the roadway. A report that could have been disastrous ended up serving as an official seal of approval. Very quietly, the autonomous vehicle revolution began shifting into high gear.   My belief in the imminence of this revolution led me to pursue my McCombs CleanTech fellowship at UT’s Center for Transportation Research. My work there has focused on what transportation will look like in the coming decades. I have learned that we are standing on the brink of a massive societal transformation that will go far beyond the auto industry.

PATHWAY TO FULL AUTONOMY The NHTSA defines six levels of autonomy that range from zero (no autonomous features) to five (fully automated with no driver necessary). The Tesla involved in the Florida fatality had level-two autonomy capability with lanechange assist and automatic braking. Glare from the sun interfered with the car’s ability to “see” the truck that turned into its path. The vehicle failed to automatically brake. But this car was not fully autonomous and should not have

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AUTO INSURANCE DISRUPTION At first glance, the idea that vehicles with even low levels of autonomy can significantly reduce roadway accidents seems like a win-win proposition, but according to James Kuhr, research associate with the Network Modeling Center at the Center for Transportation Research, the kind of large-scale accident reduction that is on the horizon could put a major dent in the $220 billion auto insurance industry. “I gave a presentation at an insurance conference last month,” says Kuhr, “and, oh boy, did the crowd look unhappy after I was done.” Kuhr says that in 10 years, it is likely that enough vehicles with low level autonomy will have saturated the roadways that we can anticipate 40 percent fewer automobile accidents across the board. So doesn’t that mean that insurance companies end up better off?

Won’t they have fewer expenses due to payouts? Yes, but a reduction in payouts leads to lower premiums. Of course, there will always be some risk for accidents, so premiums won’t completely disappear, and neither will the insurance industry. But if there are suddenly far fewer accidents, the 315,000 U.S. insurance claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators will experience a significant reduction in job security. Fewer accidents equates to fewer client interactions, less case work, and, ultimately, fewer adjusters. The story could be the same for the nearly 385,700 auto insurance sales agents nationwide. Beyond the insurance industry, there are 40,000 U.S. collision body shops and numerous emergency response personnel who might find themselves with a greatly reduced clientele. Moreover, insurance companies are major U.S. bondholders — what happens if they suddenly decide they need to liquidate these assets? And the kicker to all this: The 40 percent reduction described above is most likely a minimum. With continued improvement of autonomous vehicle technology a near certainty, we should expect

BELOW:

to see meaningful reductions in roadway accidents and deaths well beyond what we are already beginning to see now.

PREDICTION UNCERTAINTY Granted, these “what if ” scenarios could play out in an infinite number of ways. But as we continue to see brick-and-mortar retail businesses shuttering in the face of online competition, it is safe to say that industry-wide upheaval due to new technology is not uncommon. In the process, some business sectors will falter while others come to life. Yet it’s highly speculative predicting how this major shift in the transportation ecosystem will play out in the future. “It’s very easy to take an existing transportation model and start adjusting numbers arbitrarily to try to predict effects,” explains Center for Transportation Research Director Chandra Bhat. “However, determining what actual adjustments will occur is very difficult. It requires going deep into the foundations of human behavior and how we adapt to the technological revolution in terms of our residential and work locations, vehicle ownership and use, and

The first completely autonomous vehicles on the road are likely to be introduced through ridesourcing enterprises.

ST E V E L AG R E C A / S H U T T E R STO C K .CO M

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE SAFETY

been used as such by its driver. While vehicles with level-four autonomy will not be available for sale to the general public for a number of years, production of vehicles with lower levels of autonomy is increasing rapidly. For instance, Toyota, seeking to lead the way in safety, has made its suite of low-level autonomous technologies standard on all 2017 models. This is well in advance of an agreement between the NHTSA and the majority of U.S. automakers to have automatic emergency braking on all new vehicles by 2022. And beginning next year, the NHTSA intends to make the availability of low-level autonomous safety systems a consideration in its 5-star safety rating qualifications. What looks to be a rapid course toward improved highway safety is greatly welcome, given that there were more than 40,000 deaths on U.S. roadways last year. But this good news may have unintended negative consequences for certain business sectors.


WE ARE STANDING ON THE BRINK OF A MASSIVE SOCIETAL TRANSFORMATION THAT WILL GO FAR BEYOND THE AUTO INDUSTRY. activity-travel pattern choices.” For instance, center researchers have produced several adoption prediction models that indicate decades of mixed traffic made up of semi-autonomous, fully autonomous, and traditional vehicle types. However, if the market experiences an influx of other disruptive technologies in addition to those we are already seeing — everything from electric vehicles to flying drones — current projections could play out in innumerably different ways. Ridesourcing, for example, could disrupt a system that is already being upended by autonomy.

RIDESOURCING, AUTONOMY, AND LIABILITY  Ridesourcing has experienced a meteoric rise since Uber began service just eight years ago. Since then, its private market valuation has eclipsed that of the largest auto manufacturer in the U.S., General Motors Co. And the traditional auto industry powers have taken note by making huge investments in ridesourcing entities — GM, for instance, owns 10 percent of Lyft. Official statements from GM, Ford Motor Co., and others indicate that the first completely autonomous vehicles on the road are likely to be introduced in ridesourcing enterprises by 2021.   From both a legal and business perspective, this makes sense: Auto manufacturers earn the majority of their profit from SUVs and trucks, while their small car divisions account for a minor, volatile piece of their portfolios. If they move from selling small cars to selling rides, this could introduce a more consistent market demand.

Additionally, if auto manufacturers begin working with transit agencies, they could move even further toward replacing an erratic line with steady, assured revenue. Liability considerations attached to autonomous vehicles support this model: From a legal perspective, if an autonomous system malfunctions, the liability is likely to stay with the auto manufacturer. Maintaining control of self-driving fleets would allow for steady maintenance and updates — providing greater control of this risk. The liability risk alone could be significant enough to assure that fully autonomous vehicles remain almost exclusively within ridesourcing enterprises for a long time.   Chevrolet is already out of the gate with this idea. Its new level-four autonomous Chevy Bolt is now in production and expected to be released in a ridesourcing capacity as early as next year.

CONSUMERS ARE LEARY Even as the auto industry makes its plans, there is another aspect to the autonomous vehicle issue: How interested is the broader American public? Will individuals and households want to own their own self-driving cars? Or will they move en masse to ridesourcing autonomous transport? And how will the driving public react to sharing the road with this new breed of vehicle? According to industry surveys, nearly 50 percent of respondents across the socioeconomic spectrum have no (or only slight) interest in autonomous vehicle ridesharing or ownership. More than 60 percent said they were

very worried about equipment failure — they simply do not trust the technology.

AIR TRAVEL PARALLELS One explanation for this reticence could simply be fear of the unknown. A similar apprehension about a dangerous-sounding new transportation technology took place in the 1910s and ’20s when commercial airlines were literally taking off. Imagine how scary it was to consider climbing aboard a massive, winged, cylindrical steel object that transported you by flying through the sky? Yet, as more people experienced safe flights, trust in air transportation grew. It took commercial aviation many years to achieve today’s safety standards. As safety improved, so did the number of travelers: Airline ridership grew from 6,000 passengers in 1926 to approximately 173,000 in 1929. A decade later, it had risen to nearly one million. More than 60 years elapsed between the first scheduled U.S. commercial airline flight in 1914 and the industry’s achievement of a sustained safety plateau in the 1970s. In 2016, more than 3.7 billion passengers flew safely on more than 40.4 million commercial flights, according to the International Air Transport Association. Unfortunately 10 fatal air accidents caused 268 deaths, but compare that with 40,000 deaths on U.S. roadways last year. That equates to approximately 86 airliners falling from the sky per year. Unlike flying, driving is still one of our most dangerous activities, and most of us do it every day.

Compare that with self-driving cars. In more than 3 million logged miles on public roads since Google pioneered self-driving technology in 2009, it has experienced only one minor accident where the autonomous vehicle was at fault.

A FAR SAFER FUTURE I personally take great comfort in knowing that 10 years from now, there will be far fewer deaths on roadways thanks to autonomous vehicles. And I believe that the majority of people will start to feel the same way once the technology becomes an integral part of everyone’s lives. Yet, as we stand at the dawn of this new transportation age, business professionals in every industry must be forward-looking. We must adapt our business strategies and interests with eyes wide open about potential upheavals. We must be vigilant in tracking how changes up and down the supply chain might play out. Otherwise, someone will likely come along and optimize our industry right out from under us. And beyond self-interest, in striving to be good citizens of the world, we need to consider the wider societal effects of autonomous vehicles. For instance, how do we address potential layoffs in the insurance and truck driving industries? Is it possible to retrain drivers for other high-demand professions? How do we handle a potential 20 percent reduction in organ donations due to fewer fatalities on the roadway? Right now, we don’t have the answers to these questions, but it’s not too early to begin thinking about the solutions. Edgar Varela, MBA ’18, is a McCombs CleanTech Fellow whose work with the UT Center for Transportation Research has focused on how global automotive megatrends can create value for a variety of interrelated industries.

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CAUGHT in the Moment as told to Kim Brown | photographs by Lauren Gerson

ore than 1,600 students graduated this spring from the McCombs School of Business, participating in one of five ceremonies as well as a university-wide ceremony on the UT main mall. Each walk across the stage represented years of preparation and hard work, along with support from friends and family. We asked a handful of them to share what was going through their minds during these once-in-a-lifetime moments.

M


Jesus Del Rio, BBA ’17 I FELT AN IMMENSE sense of accomplishment as I walked across the stage. I was born and raised in Houston, but both of my parents were born in the state of Michoacan in Mexico. I grew up in a low-income community where going to college isn’t the norm, but my parents always emphasized the importance of education. I was raised with American values but taught not to forget our rich Mexican heritage. For this reason, stitching together the Mexican flag and the American flag was symbolic to me and serves as a reminder that the American dream is alive and well. After commencement: Del Rio is working toward an MPA degree at McCombs and will graduate in May 2018.

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1

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4 1. Summer Wang, MS Business Analytics ’17 IT MEANT A LOT TO walk the stage with my threemonth-old son. I was pregnant at the beginning of this master’s program, and he accompanied me through the whole 10-month program. Being a mom and a student isn’t easy, but I was fortunate to receive help: My classmates delivered groceries to my house and reviewed work that I missed, and my professors were flexible about absences and deadlines. In a way, my son earned part of this diploma. I named him Austin — after the city in which he was born, and of course after UT Austin as well. After commencement: Wang started a job at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, as a senior statistical analyst. 2. Michael Chao, BBA/MPA ’17 IN A CROWD OF thousands of people, it was easy to spot my friends who came to support me. A group of them had made a huge cardboard cutout of my face and were waving at me. I felt so appreciative — and so happy and grateful for my experience and time at McCombs. After commencement: Chao started a job at KPMG in Houston as an audit associate. 3. Sean Sellers, BBA ’17, Business Honors and Plan II Honors AS A BANNER CARRIER, I was required to attend a training session. All the trees along the procession route made it very awkward to walk around. After this picture was taken, I placed the banner on the main stage. The view was amazing — I could see the band, my friends, the deans, and everything behind the scenes. Being there re-instilled the idea that the university and its mission are so much bigger than one person. And, in that moment, I was shocked how quickly four years went by. After commencement: Sellers starts a position with Deloitte Consulting in Dallas as a strategy and operations business analyst in January. 4. Maddy Flores, BBA ’17 IN THIS MOMENT, my graduation truly became a reality. I was sitting with the friends I often met in the atrium, at student organization meetings, and around McCombs. I was representing the school that gave me resources and opportunities to change my life. I felt proud not only to be a Longhorn but a future McCombs alum, too. After commencement: Flores (right) starts a job at Accenture in Dallas as a consultant in January.

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Rachith Srinivas, MBA ’17 I COULD NOT BELIEVE that one of my longtime dreams of getting my MBA had come true. My whole family — my parents, my twin brother and his family, my sister, and my auntie — came from India to UT to witness my graduation ceremony. Some of my best friends were also present. And the best part — my five-year-old son, Viren [in arms], was right there with me to enjoy this important moment in my life. It had been about three months since I last saw him, and it was his first trip to Austin. I felt that the balancing act between work, MBA, and my travel back and forth to India to be with my son was all worth it. I felt on top of the world. After commencement: Srinivas started a job at SAP America in Dallas as a business processes consultant.

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COMMUNITY

TITANS OF REALTY HOW TRAMMELL CROW NURTURED A GENERATION OF COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE STARS

BY J U D I E K I NON E N

J

EFF SWOPE , BBA ’72 ,

MBA ’74, recalls the Saturday morning in 1973 when he met Dallas real estate legend Trammell Crow. “I went in for an 11 a.m. interview, and by 11:10, he said, ‘I’m going to hire you.’” Swope, now founder and CEO of Champion Partners, Ltd., accepted in a heartbeat. He chuckles at his phone call three weeks later to Crow’s assistant: “I said to her, ‘I think I’ve been offered a job. Would you have a look through your file?’” He had taken his first job without knowing exactly what he was going to do or even which city he would be working in. “We’re about to hang up, and I say, ‘Can I ask you one more thing? How much am I going to make?’” he says, laughing. “All I knew was that I wanted to go work for Trammell Crow.” Swope’s story is echoed by dozens of McCombs’ most accomplished alumni who began their real estate careers with Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co., eventually becoming industry titans in their own rights. Crow was an accountant and World War II veteran who founded the company in 1948 >

CREDIT TK

Real estate icons Trammell Crow and John Stemmons pose prayerfully as representatives from Equitable Life Assurance Society and Mercantile National Bank discuss financing for the Dallas Apparel Mart.

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COMMUNITY with the construction of a one-story warehouse on the banks of the Trinity River. By the time of Swope’s job interview, the business had offices around the country, and by 1986, Crow was named the nation’s largest landlord by the Wall Street Journal. At the company's peak, it held more than 300 million square feet in real estate. But even more impressive is Crow’s lasting influence through those who trained under him, explains McCombs Dean Jay Hartzell. “A huge number of people who started their own companies and have done all kinds of amazing things came out of that family tree,” Hartzell says. “My running joke when I meet a Texas real estate person is, ‘What did you do for Trammell Crow?’” In fact, a great number of the state’s top real estate firms today were founded by UT business alumni who got their start at Trammell Crow Company. That comes as no surprise to Sandy Gottesman, BBA ’73, founding principal of Live Oak Development in Austin. “You could not meet Mr. Crow without thinking ‘I would love to work for him.’ It was obvious that he loved his work and his partners,” Gottesman says. “His warmth, sincerity, and enthusiasm were captivating. What I was going to get paid was secondary. When Mr. Crow asked how I was going to overcome the fact that I didn’t have an MBA and most of the other applicants did, I responded ‘Well, I guess I’ll have to get up earlier and work harder.’” It was the kind of grit that Crow found irresistible. Indeed, Crow tended to hire entrepreneurial types — people who would eventually build their own businesses — and, in the late ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s, he pulled most of them from Stanford, Harvard, and, of course, UT. In those years, UT was among Crow’s “happy hunting grounds,” Gottesman recalls. Graduates were likely to have strong character, high ambition, a friendly personality, and — just as important — a stomach for risk. “You were taking a risk just entering the commercial real estate business at the time,” says Swope. “It wasn’t really considered a great job for an MBA because it was just a fledgling industry and totally fragmented.” So Trammell Crow Co., with its emphasis on the relatively new arena of speculative build-

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One of Trammell Crow’s early development projects, a Dallas warehouse nearing completion in 1952. Crow’s wife Margaret Crow is in the driver’s seat of the car while he steps back to take the picture.

ing, attracted young people who were willing to trade the security of a steady paycheck at a large corporation for the chance of greater influence at a smaller, less structured company. Marc Myers, BBA ’69, MBA ’76, founder of Myers & Crow Company Ltd., credits Ernest Walker, a long-time professor of small business in UT’s business school, for advising him and other entrepreneurial-leaning students to take jobs at smaller organizations. “In those companies, you might have more rapid advancement if you’re willing to take some risk,” Myers says. “Crow was hiring a lot of guys who’d been in Vietnam flying airplanes and helicopters,” he adds. “He was looking for people who were friendly but didn’t fold under stress.” By the late ’70s, he had hired about 25 people — “who were eating nails for breakfast,” Swope says. “They were betting on America in those years, which was a good bet,” says Harlan Crow, BBA ’74, Trammell’s son, who now serves as chair and CEO of Crow Family Holdings. “Of course there were mistakes — plenty of them — but more often than not, they were smart guys who did their homework, worked really hard, and made it successful.”

Myers says a young hire’s top priority at Trammell Crow Co. in those days was the cold-call. “We learned the business by going door to door to our tenants and other people’s tenants,” he says. In this way, they discovered which industries were growing, where they were located, and what drove tenant demand. “Once you know where the demand is, and you know who’s looking, then you know what to build,” says Myers. “We learned the development business by always staying close to the market, measuring the market, talking with the tenants.” The practice steeped this group of budding business leaders in an important concept: “You build what the market wants — not what you want, not what the architect wants,” Myers says. The other important lesson learned, he adds, is optimism. Especially vital in speculative building, an “absolute faith in the future” colored Crow’s dealings, Myers says. “You have to have that if you’re going to build a spec building, because you’re building something before there’s a lease,” he says. Crow also had faith in his team, and he was one of the pioneers of a generous profit-shar-


FALL 2017 ing model that made many of his young hires “partners” in his success. Profit-sharing was not unheard of in those days, but it was not very common, says Harlan Crow. “Most people who went to work for a company back then earned a basic salary and maybe a bonus,” he says. “But my dad’s mentality was to share the profits, and he did share those quite liberally.” Gottesman agrees. “Trammell was one of the most generous partners anywhere. The company gave young people more responsibility and more opportunity than we probably deserved,” he says. He recalls one high-stakes deal early in his career — the Arboretum at Great Hills, an Austin mixed-use development with more than one million square feet of proposed office, retail, and hotel uses. A number of the senior partners thought the project was too risky and that we didn’t have the local expertise for it,” Gottesman says. After hearing a long list of reasons not to buy the land, Crow turned to Gottesman. “He said, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I want to do it.’ And he said, ‘So let's go do it. I'm going to build the nicest hotel Austin

has or ever will have.’ That was one of those moments when you just didn’t know if it was a dream or really happening,” Gottesman says. Myers compares the rush of making a good deal to flying. “Not only did we think we were jet pilots, taking risk and flying fast,” he says, laughing, “but we thought we were carrier jet pilots.” “Trammell Crow found these highly entrepreneurial people who absolutely had dominant personalities, loved the competition, loved the spirit of it all, and then they all wanted to go do it on their own,” Swope says. The company, which went public in 1997 and was sold to CBRE in 2006, still actively recruits at UT, and two employees of Trammel Crow Co. serve on the McCombs Real Estate Center’s advisory council. “If you think about the way people talk about pro sports, with coaching family trees and all the head coaches one team would spawn, there’s a certain equivalent here in the number of industry leaders who have been spawned out of the Trammell Crow Company,” Hartzell says. “And it turns out a lot of those people are Texas business graduates.”

Trammell Crow partners in 1988. Far left front row: Trammell Crow’s son Harlan Crow. Center front row: Don Williams, then CEO of Trammel Crow Co. Far right front row: Trammell Crow. Far right between second and third rows wearing red tie and glasses: Trammell Crow’s son Trammell S. Crow.

SOME OF THE STARS IN THE TRAMMELL CROW/ McCOMBS FAMILY TREE LUCY BILLINGSLEY, BBA ’75

Trammell Crow’s daughter Billingsley Company, Partner

MIKE BIRNBAUM, BBA ’65

Birnbaum Property Company, CEO AL BRANCH, MBA ’87

Moriah Real Estate Company, LLC, President TIM BYRNE, BBA ’70

Lincoln Property, President, Residential Division DON CHILDRESS, MBA ’7 1

Childress Klein Properties, Senior Managing Partner HARLAN CROW, BBA ’74

Trammell Crow’s son Crow Holdings, CEO

RICHARD CROW, MBA ’84

Myers & Crow Company, Ltd., Partner LYNN DAVIS, BBA ’83

Fidelis Realty Partners, Executive Vice President R. SCOTT DENNIS, BBA ’81

Invesco Real Estate, CEO/Managing Director ROBERT DUNCAN, BBA ’70; MBA ’7 1

Transwestern, Chairman

WILLIAM C. DUVALL

Lincoln Property Company, President, Commercial Property Operations SANDY GOTTESMAN, BBA ’73

Live Oak Gottesman, Founding Principal, Retired JIMMY GRISHAM, MBA ’83

Foundry Commercial, Principal, Development & Investment ALAN HASSENFLU, MBA ’87

Fidelis Realty Partners, President and CEO BARRY HENRY

Crow Holdings, Former Managing Director RICHARD HILL, BBA ’76

HPI, Partner and Co-Founder

BRUCE HOSFOD, MBA ’72

Hosford Ventures, Principal

JOHN HOLLAND, BBA ’81

Crow Holdings, Senior Managing Director JOHN KILTZ, MBA ’83

Stonelake Capital Partners, Co-Founder/Managing Partner MIKE LAFITTE, BBA ’83

CBRE, Global Group President

KENT LANCE, BBA ’84

HPI, Partner and Co-Founder

BRYCE MILLER, MBA ’84

Endeavor, Managing Principal

MARC MYERS, BBA ’69; MBA ’76

Myers & Crow Company, Ltd., President DAVID ROCHE, BBA ’79

Endeavor, Managing Principal

KIRK RUDY, BBA ’83; MBA ’86

Endeavor Real Estate Group, Managing Principal JEFF SWOPE, BBA ’72; MBA ’74

Champion Partners, Founder and Managing Partner ROBERT WATSON, MBA ’72

ProLogis, CEO European Properties/President and COO North America, Retired

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C O M M U N I T Y: U P C LO S E

NEXT LEVEL GAME PLAN y

CHARLIE ADKINS, BBA ’16, MPA ’17

Charlie Adkins is settling into his first full-time job. He’s the new football operations assistant for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. It’s a hybrid role in operations and administration that’s perfect for him. As a student in the five-year BBA/MPA program, Adkins strategically combined business honors coursework in accounting, analytics, and management with an impressive array of sports-related internships and extracurriculars. Now, he has earned exactly the type of post-college job he had worked to achieve. “Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to go into sports management,” says Adkins. “I felt that studying business — learning how businesses operate — would be the right kind of preparation for that.” As a McCombs freshman, he scored a job as a marketing student assistant for the UT athletics department. During his junior year, he was named director of strategic partnerships for the newly founded UT Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation and joined the Men’s Basketball staff in advanced analytics. Alongside a range of extracurricular activities, including the Intercollegiate Men’s Athletics Council, UT Student Government, and the Texas Cowboys, Adkins completed a summer 2015 internship with the NFL and a summer 2016 internship with the Texas Rangers. A month and a half before commencement, Adkins nabbed a baseball operations internship with the Oakland A’s. Foregoing his walk across the graduation stage, Adkins moved to California to learn under the legendary Billy Beane, the team’s executive vice president of baseball operations and minority owner. Beane was the first baseball general manager to recruit players using advanced analytics rather than intuition, turning the nearly bankrupt and losing A’s into a top team. His revolutionary approach became the subject of Moneyball, the best-selling novel later adapted into a 2011 film starring Brad Pitt as Beane. Back in Arizona, it’s about 7 a.m., and Adkins is in the office looking over recent contracts, data and statistics, and the collective bargaining agreement. “Each day, I’m seeking new challenges to become the best team member I can be. Where that leads, it’s hard to say,” says Adkins. But right now he’s got one destination in mind: the Super Bowl. — Danielle Ransom NINE DAYS BEFORE TRAINING CAMP,

BUBBLING UP y

VALENCIA BIVENS, MBA ’91

WHEN COCA-COLA ROLLED OUT its newest beverage

brand this summer — Latin American-inspired Barrilitos Aguas Frescas — Valencia Bivens played an important role in the new product’s launch. She and her team developed and activated the strategy for introducing the beverage to top restaurant chains in the Central United States. “Our customers let us know they wanted healthier drink options,” says Bivens, who was promoted to director of marketing for the company’s Central U.S. food service division just before the new product rollout. “Barrilitos meets that need in a really authentic, appealing way.” The drink combines non-carbonated water and fruit with traditional Mexican herbal and floral flavorings. Offerings include strawberry hibiscus, mango lime, pear cucumber, and tamarind. The product won a 2017 Food and Beverage Innovation Award, a first for Coca-Cola. Before Bivens started at Coca-Cola six years ago as a senior marketing manager, she worked in senior management for the video rental chain Blockbuster LLC. By the end of her seven-year tenure there, Blockbuster had been upended by new video streaming technologies. Nevertheless, she learned a lot there. At Blockbuster, she managed multicultural marketing efforts, strategic planning — and layoffs, which she says helped toughen her up. “The experience was really difficult but it taught me a lot about how to weather the storms of business,” says Bivens. “And I gained a deep appreciation for the need to always innovate.” As for what’s next, Bivens is looking forward to leading an energized new group of marketing managers who are looking to make their own mark at Coca-Cola. “It’s about building the capabilities of my team so that they can each find their own path,” she says. — Danielle Ransom


FALL 2017

TO THE RESCUE y

FILLING MUSIC’S VOID y

COLIN KENDRICK, MBA ’98

“I HAVE A PROFOUND LOVE FOR MUSIC,” says Colin Kendrick, with a laugh, “but I have no rhythm.” Kendrick is the co-founder of Black Fret — a nonprofit revolutionizing the Austin music scene by accelerating artists’ careers. “There’s definitely a hole that’s not being addressed by the current art infrastructure.” Over the past five years, Black Fret has distributed $500,000 in grants to musicians, allowing them to record songs, release records, and tour. “Record labels used to provide advances to artists to help them develop their craft. Today those are largely gone,” he says. The organization produces 30 private music events each year for its members. “It’s for the diehard music fan,” Kendrick says. Their votes decide which artists receive the annual grants. “We built something that is trending toward a symphony or opera model,” Kendrick says. “We’re adding staff and hope to push past the $1 million-a-year revenue mark soon.” He also hopes to add chapters in musicianbirthing cities Nashville, Seattle, and Chicago. Kendrick, who also founded the Austin Music Foundation, credits his MBA for his executive leadership skills. “It’s priceless; I had no form of business training prior,” says the music maven, who studied radio, television, and film at UT as an undergraduate. Kendrick splits his time between Black Fret and his work as a senior manager at SunPower Corp. “Black Fret has this special place in my heart,” and I’ll always make time for it.” — India Ogazi

MARY JENNINGS “MJ” HEGAR, MBA ’16

MJ HEGAR IS FAMILIAR WITH HIGH STAKES. In 2009, during the defining moment of her 13-year career in the Air Force, she returned fire against the Taliban after her plane was shot down in a medevac mission in Afghanistan. She was a combat rescue pilot just doing her job, she says, but her actions — and the injuries she sustained — earned her a Purple Heart. She also became the sixth woman ever awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. (Amelia Earhart was the first.) But that’s not her only claim to fame. In 2012, Hegar successfully sued the Defense Department to repeal a policy banning women from serving in direct combat jobs. The policy prevented women — who were already regularly engaging in combat — from attending combat leadership schools and assuming roles that were stepping stones to top military jobs. Hegar herself was a casualty of this policy. After her combat injury, she could no longer fly, but she would have liked to have remained in the military as a special tactics officer. That role wasn’t available to women at that time. Instead, after separating from the military, in addition to suing the government, Hegar enrolled in the Executive MBA program at McCombs, received her degree, became a professional public speaker, and taught at the business school, mentoring cadets at the university and serving on the Air Force ROTC advisory committee. She also wrote a book detailing her military experience, Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan, published this year.It is currently being optioned for a film adaptation with Angelina Jolie in talks to play Hegar. “All the movies about women in war that you can name off the top of your head are fiction,” says Hegar, pointing to titles like Courage Under Fire and G.I. Jane. “There are plenty of nonfiction stories out there to be told.” And now, Hegar is focusing all her leadership skills and personal energy on her latest effort: running for the U.S. Congressional seat representing Texas’s 31st Congressional District of Williamson and Bell counties. “If you’re faced with the ability to do some real good in the world,” Hegar says, “you have to take it.” — Danielle Ransom

#McCOMBSMAG 41


FALL 2017

CHEMISTRY IN MOTION y

CHRISTOPHER SHENG, MBA ’15

involving liquid nitrogen planted an idea in Christopher Sheng’s imagination that has been growing ever since. In December 2015, Sheng and two cousins opened SPUN Ice Cream in East Austin. Their concept blends fresh, locally sourced dairy, liquid nitrogen, and theatrics to create a frozen product that is exceptionally creamy. “Customers are so curious about how we do this and whether it really tastes as good as they’ve heard,” says Sheng, an Austin native and the principal investor and operations manager of SPUN. Sheng’s scientific spin on ice cream drew upon his education: Besides his MBA, he also received an M.S. from UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering. “McCombs professors train you to think strategically, but inspire you to think A MIDDLE-SCHOOL SCIENCE PROJECT

BANKING ON CHANGE y

KATTIYA INDARAVIJAYA, MBA ’91

of Thailand’s fourth-largest bank, Kattiya Indaravijaya is no stranger to change, from weathering the country’s financial crisis to navigating political unrest. When she started working at Kasikornbank two decades ago, she remembers it being a male-dominated institution. Now, the bank has twice as many female employees as males. Kasikornbank outperforms its peers. Its 2016 return on equity was 13 percent compared with the 11 percent average of other Thai lenders. Indaravijaya got her first professional job at the bank at her father’s advice. She had planned to go into advertising but soon learned that she loved banking. And the bank loved her right back, supporting her pursuit of an American MBA. “The Texas MBA was a great value for an education of its caliber,” she says. Indaravijaya says her MBA gave her an understanding of capital markets and statistics that she continues to draw on today. After she graduated, her country experienced an economic meltdown that led to the closure of 14 Thai banks. Only two were left standing: Kasikornbank and the Bank of Thailand. Indaravijaya helped draft an initial public offering. The risky bet was successful, raising the funds needed to enable the bank to survive. And now, Indaravijaya is steering the bank into a new future. In June, Kasikornbank announced a new tech startup investment product, a fund called Beacon, valued at $30 million. It marks a new chapter, says Indaravijaya. “The dynamics of the finance industry have changed,” she says. “The challenge now is planning how to optimize all our channels.” — Danielle Ransom AS THE FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT

42 TODAY.McCOMBS.UTEXAS.EDU

big, too. And classmates were a favorite part of my experience at McCombs,” Sheng says. “They’ve come back as ice cream customers.” SPUN’s second location — a pink and blue shipping container — opened in 2016 at the Domain. A third location on Burnet Road opened this summer. Sheng’s cousin Christina Cheng, with a patisserie and baking certificate from Austin’s Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, is largely responsible for the seasonal menu of ice cream flavors. Each serving is made from scratch on the spot using a liquid nitrogen spinner to both freeze and whip simultaneously. Because liquid nitrogen is so cold (minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit), the process is almost instantaneous. Since the ice cream is made fresh, it needs no preservatives, stabilizers, or emulsifiers. “We know the names of the cows who make our dairy,” says Sheng, “and we’ve even met all of them. How many ice cream shops can say that?” —David Canright

C H R I S TO P H E R S H E N G P H OTO G R A P H B Y A N D R E W C H A N


C O M M U N I T Y: G AT H E R I N G S

FALL 2017

A REVIEW OF McCOMBS CELEBRATIONS, HONORS, AND ALUMNI EVENTS.

LOOKING AHEAD IN 2018: “Business Forecast: Driving Innovation.” Top C-level McCombs alums join with FRB economists and Dean Jay Hartzell in Dallas (Jan. 9), Austin (Jan. 19), Houston (Jan. 23), and San Antonio (Feb. 2).

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JULY 26, 2017 NEW YORK CITY ALUMNI CHAPTER EVENT

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AUGUST 8, 2017 ATLANTA ALUMNI CHAPTER EVENT Alumni, summer interns, and newly admitted McCombs students living in Atlanta networked with one another and Dean Jay Hartzell. Pictured left to right: Lance Stafford, MBA ’97, and his daughter; Drew Bolton, MBA ’06; and Dean Hartzell. 2

The New York City alumni chapter and Wall Street for McCombs group hosted the second annual “Welcome to New York” summer brunch. They discussed their efforts to create pathways for students and alumni to establish careers and build community in the Big Apple. Pictured from left to right: Chirag Shah, BBA ’97, MBA ’06; Mark Moores, BBA ’88; and Rishi Rajan, MBA ’09.

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SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 ALUMNI BUSINESS CONFERENCE The conference focused on Texas entrepreneurship and featured alumni panels, discussions, and keynotes by Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation with the UT Cockrell School of Engineering, and former Texas Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst. Professor Luis Martins moderated a UT alumni entrepreneur panel, including (pictured left to right) Ken Cho, MBA ’03, CEO of People Pattern; Heather Bonfield, BBA ’98; Joah Spearman, BS ’05, CEO of Localeur, as well as Patrick Terry, BS ’80, founder of P. Terry's Burger Stand.

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SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 SAN FRANCISCO ALUMNI CHAPTER EVENT

SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 MBA REUNION 2017

The San Francisco chapter hosted a barbecue to welcome new graduates who recently moved to the area. The event featured Texas fare, including Salt Lick barbecue and Shiner beer. Pictured: Grant Cope, MBA ’15, Breanne Cope, Texas LLM ’11, and their daughter.

Alumni from MBA classes celebrating their five-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, and 30-year reunions gathered for two days of festivities. They enjoyed a welcome reception, faculty lectures, and a barbecue tailgate before the Longhorns football game against San Jose State. 3

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CREDIT TK

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#McCOMBSMAG 43


C O M M U N I T Y: A L U M N I N OT E S Please send your updates to alumni@mccombs.utexas.edu for publication in the spring issue of McCombs magazine and online at McCombs Today. Feel free to share news on behalf of a fellow graduate.

1960s Edward H. Reischling, BBA ’65, pub-

lished his latest novel, Sent From Another World, a sequel to his previous science fiction adventure novel, Return to Another World. He has published four novels, a memoir, multiple essays, and poems. Reischling, who lives in San Antonio, spent most of his working career as a corporate executive in the IT industry, retiring in 2007. John L. Adams, BBA ’66, JD ’69, was

named a UT Austin distinguished alumnus. Each year, Texas Exes award the most impressive alumni with this honor in recognition of their professional accomplishments and service to UT. Adams is the former CEO of Chase Bank and the former vice chairman of Trinity Industries, a Dallas-based industrial manufacturing company. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, chairman of the UT Austin Development Board, and member of the Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee.

1970s Joe Holt, BBA ’71, announced his retire-

ment in April after a 45-year career at JPMorgan Chase. Holt rose to prominence in Austin for funding some of the city’s biggest companies, including Dell, and pushing for the development of the new medical school at UT. He is chairman of the McCombs School of Business Foundation, a member of the McCombs Advisory Council, and a board member at the Austin Economic Development Corporation.

leadership category by Trust & Estates magazine. Blum was nominated for his article “Filling in the Gaps: Create a Red File to Cover Issues Beyond Traditional Estate Planning.” Blum runs his own company, the Blum Firm, and is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He currently serves as secretary-treasurer and board member of the Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities. Toby Pennycuff, BBA ’77, was appointed

chief information officer at Hilltop Holdings, where he will oversee day-to-day IT functions to support the operational needs of Hilltop’s banking, mortgage origination, financial advisory, and insurance units. Pennycuff previously worked in various senior roles with JCPenney, PennMann Technology, and Essex Property Trust, in addition to working with the IBM Power System Board of Advisors and the McCombs School of Business Information Management Advisory Council. Lynieve “Lyn” Beatty, BBA '78, was

named a “breakthrough woman” by the Houston Business Journal. Beatty is senior vice president of finance for Halliburton and is a member of the McCombs Accounting Advisory Board.

1980s

2017 Distinguished Author in the thought

44 TODAY.McCOMBS.UTEXAS.EDU

paport has more than 17 years of experience in the legal field with a primary focus on tax law and estate planning.

1990s Ken Takayama, MBA ’94, was promoted to

Aries Clean Energy, a synthetic gas and solar plant, as its chief financial officer. He oversees executive, financial, and risk management services to energy firms.

external director of the Japanese companies Metaps and TechMatrix after joining both in 2016 as a corporate advisor. Takayama previously served as president of Rakuten Media Investment, where he worked from 1999 to 2014.

Michael Dillon, MBA ’86, was promoted to

Brian Livingston, BBA ’98, was elected to

Mark Witt, BBA ’81, joined Nashville-based

vice president of sales and marketing at PLx Pharma. Dillon joined PLx from Publicis Healthcare Communications Group where he served as the national sales and operations director for six years. Prior to Publicis, Dillon spent 17 years at Pfizer in several senior sales and marketing positions, including New York regional sales director. Edward “Ed” Jon Rappaport, BBA ’86,

Marvin E. Blum, BBA ’75, was named the

Jamey Gage, BBA ’02, took up organic farming and purchased his first plot of land to open B5 Farms in Lockhart, Texas, where he grows heirloom vegetables and fruit.

has accepted a position as a senior counselor at the Saylor Law Firm in Atlanta. Rap-

the city council in Frisco, Texas. Livingston was market president for Viewpoint Bank and CFO for Firebird Restaurant Group, where he oversaw a $100 million budget. He is currently vice president at the American National Banks of Texas, which recently opened an office in Frisco. Carla Vernon, MBA ’98, was promoted to president of Annie’s operating unit at General Mills. She was previously vice president of the natural and organic growth


acceleration division, where she oversaw the growth strategy of General Mills’ portfolio of natural and organic foods. Vernon has been with General Mills for 20 years in a variety of roles. She currently sits on the national board of directors of the Make-A-Wish America Foundation. Marissa Jarratt, BBA ’99, MBA ’04, joined

Dean Foods as vice president of marketing, where she will oversee and drive growth in the company's brand portfolio across multiple categories. Jarratt previously worked for PepsiCo for 14 years in several roles, including vice president of marketing for Global Snacks.

2000s Chris McColpin, BBA ’02, MPA ’02,

joined HFF’s Austin office as a director. He will supervise debt and equity placement transactions for all property types. McColpin broke into the commercial real estate industry in 2005 as an analyst with HFF's Dallas office before assuming roles with loan origination teams at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Ryan Cunningham, MBA ’04, was promot-

ed to a senior consultant position at investment firm Arnerich Massena, where he will focus on all aspects of investment consulting. Cunningham also serves on the company’s investment and portfolio management committees. He was an investment consultant with RVK before joining Arnerich. Trevor Dallas, MBA ’04, joined Avesta

treasurer, in addition to volunteering as a board member with the HBAA Charitable Foundation, which provides scholarships to low-income students in Central Texas. Mathis Martines, BBA ’05, joined

Brittany Johnson, BBA ’12, is the digital and social advertising manager for the National Football League in New York City, where she creates marketing content for digital platforms and works alongside creative agencies developing advertising campaigns. Earlier, Johnson interned with ESPN, and was a producer for Publicis and Grey Group.

brand development firm Concentric as vice president of brand and strategy. Previously, Martines served as a consumer packaged goods industry leader for Kroger, where he was in charge of growth for innovative and natural food products. Before that, Martines worked in various leadership and innovation roles in category management and merchandising for Whole Foods and the Fresh Market.

Krystel Baeza, BBA ’07, was named a strat-

egy director for Wunderman UK, a digital agency based in London, where she oversees global strategy for Dassault Systèmes. She recently completed a three-year rotational fellowship with WPP, the world’s largest marketing services company, where she worked with numerous brands including Volkswagen, Hasbro, Nestle, Canon, and Heineken.

Holdings as the new managing director in its Austin office. An industry veteran, Dallas comes from CWS Capital Partners, where he was the managing director of the CWS Strategic Apartment Fund, leading the acquisition and disposition of 5,000 units across the Southeast.

Vishal Dhanuka, MBA ’07, joined the Dal-

Salvador Davila, BBA ’04, was named pres-

Ella Gendel, BBA ’08, was appointed to

ident-elect of the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin. Davila, an attorney at the Austin office of Littler Mendelson. He has been active with the association for five years. He served as its

las office of consulting firm Egon Zehnder in its global technology and digital practice department. Dhanuka previously was the vice president and global head of customer innovation and strategy at Hortonworks, a data management platform.

the board of directors at real estate firm Stratus Properties, where she will oversee its compensation committee. Gendel is a director at Oasis Management Company, a Hong Kong-based

investment company with a U.S. presence in Austin that manages global, market-neutral, multi-strategy funds. Ronnie Shah, Ph.D. ’08, joined Deutsche

Bank as a director of research, overseeing quantitative equity strategy. Shah previously worked at Gerstein Fisher Funds after holding senior quantitative research roles at BlackRock and Dimensional Fund Advisors.

2010s Sam Acho, BBA ’10, and his family are

building a medical facility, the Living Hope Medical Center, in their native Nigeria. Acho has traveled and volunteered in Nigeria through his father’s mission trips since childhood and witnessed how the lack of adequate health care for treatable medical conditions devastated communities around Africa. Lisa Seacat DeLuca, MSTC ’10, was in-

ducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. In April, she received an honorary Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. DeLuca is a distinguished engineer for IBM Watson, where she leads a team focused on bringing “internet of things” consumer cases to market. DeLuca has more than 300 registered patents under her name and was honored as one of the

#McCOMBSMAG 45


C O M M U N I T Y: A L U M N I N OT E S

Brian A.M. Williams, MBA ’13, accepted a temporary position as the Google/Code240 Diversity Coordinator at Capital Factory, where he is responsible for increasing the involvement of black and Latino audiences. Williams hopes to bridge the gap between the startup ecosystem and minority communities in Austin. He is a fellow at the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management in Missouri and is an alumnus of the Venture Fellows Program.

“Most Influential Woman in IoT” by the Internet of Things Institute in 2016. Kendrick Worrell, BBA ’10, was named

to the Forbes 2017 “30 under 30” list, which recognizes the brightest entrepreneurs, innovators, and game-changers across various industries. In 2016, Worrell co-founded Accelerate Resources, a tech company that specializes in non-operated oil and gas acquisition and utilizes laser technology to drill in the Permian Basin. He previously worked as a treasurer at Barclays Capital. Tam Le, BBA ’11, joined the international

brand and design consultancy Cowan as its regional director of business and strategy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This marks Le's fourth post abroad and second in Asia, after a regional Asia Pacific role in Singapore. Jon Petrucelli, MBA ’14, joined Arbela

Technologies Corp. as vice president of sales and client success. He is responsible for leading the sales team, accelerating revenue in new markets, developing new revenue channels, and contributing to the company's marketing and business strategies. Deven Hariyani, MBA ’16, won $72,000

at the 2017 WeWork Creator Awards for his company Kwaddle, a mobile and web

46 TODAY.McCOMBS.UTEXAS.EDU

app that allows parents to find immersive extracurricular activities and enrichment programs for their kids.

U.S. State Department in the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain. Dana Le, BBA ’17, will be attending Colum-

bia University for her master’s in health administration. Le created Dell Medical School’s Health Leadership Apprentice Program, which introduces undergraduate and graduate students to the intersection of business and health care and promotes value-based care. Rahim Karim, BBA ’17, began his first full-

time position as a consulting analyst with Accenture in Houston. Karim previously worked as a financial analyst intern with General Mills, a student brand ambassador with Kaplan Test Prep, a finance intern with Ethical Consumers Australia, a business data

Timothy Carreon, MBA ’17, joined Ama-

zon as a senior financial analyst, overseeing its web services at the company’s Seattle headquarters. Carreon previously worked as an economist with California-based law firm DLA Piper before pursuing a master’s at McCombs. Tenaj Ferguson, MBA ’17, was crowned

Ms. Corporate America in March. She is the first MBA Consortium Fellow to take home this national title. Ferguson is an associate brand manager at Campbell Soup Co. where she manages the food service division's beverage portfolio. She is also a competitive bodybuilder and the founder of Lady Epicure Gourmet, a natural food brand and food tech company. Caitlin Goodrich, MBA ’17, Master of Public Affairs ’17, joined Deloitte as a man-

ager in the firm’s human capital practice. As a graduate student, Goodrich interned with the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, a venture philanthropy fund that provides jobs for people with high barriers to employment in California. She also completed a public policy internship with the

Deborah Navarro, MSTC ’16, is co-founder and chief commercialization officer for Guadaloop, a hyperloop startup founded at UT. The team, composed of 20 undergraduate and graduate students, was selected by Elon Musk after competing at the hyperloop pod design competition in 2015. They raced a prototype pod at the Hyperloop Pod Competition this summer, where they were honored with an innovation award.


analyst at Sierra Marketing Inc., a Dell Scholar Ambassador, and a teaching assistant in the Gateway Mentor Program.

to volunteer as a member on the board of directors of the Central Texas Model United Nations organization.

Jonathan Kaskow, MBA ’17,

Chris Ogbonnaya, MBA ’17,

was hired as a senior associate for Blue Sage Capital, where he evaluates and structures investment opportunities. Previously, Kaskow worked as the director of business development for Construction Partners, where he led mergers and acquisitions and various strategic initiatives.

joined JPMorgan Chase as an associate banker. He was formerly a running back for the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns, where he served as a team captain and member of the team’s NFL Leadership Council before retiring and pursuing his master’s. Ogbonnaya is a member of the Strake Jesuit College Preparatory Board of Directors and the Harvard Law and Ethics Advisory Panel.

Katherine Magee, BBA ’17,

joined Bain & Co. in September as an associate consultant in the firm’s Dallas office. Magee has worked as an acquisitions intern at Upland Software and as a legislative intern under state Sens. Jane Nelson and Eddie Lucio Jr. She continues

interned twice for the firm as a student.

Humza Tariq, BBA ’17, joined

PricewaterhouseCoopers as a senior associate in its people and organization practice.

Isabel Shelton, MBA ’17,

joined Whole Foods Market as a human resources strategy consultant. Shelton interned

Goldman Sachs as an investment banking analyst. He

Launa Wood, MBA ’17, joined

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in the company’s global talent development program while pursuing her degree.

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Carlos Gonzalez de Cosio, MBA '17, was named vice president of operations for the taco chain Tacombi. Casio previously co-founded a coffee farm in Mexico, where he became a certified barista while pursuing a law degree. Cosio sold his coffee business to Toks, the second largest restaurant chain in Mexico. He stayed on with Toks for three years, where he oversaw their coffee training program and distribution.

30 W. 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

The Penn Club of New York, located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, is an exclusive private club for alumni, students, parents, family members and business associates of the University of Pennsylvania and select affiliate schools and organizations. The clubhouse offers members a wide range of facilities and services to enhance their visits to New York City. The Penn Club is a true “home away from home” for all our members.

THE PENN CLUB: Your Home Away From Home in New York City Membership is rich with benefits, some of which include: • Two complimentary all-you-can-eat and drink parties each year • Socialize and network at our monthly programs and events • 39 well-appointed guest rooms at discounted rates for members • Business Center with complimentary wi-fi • 150+ reciprocal clubs in the United States and around the world

New Benefit for UT Alumni UT alumni can now become affiliate members of the Penn Club in New York. Whether you live in New York or travel there regularly, as an affiliate member you have access to all the club’s amenities.

For more information, contact the club’s membership department at membership@pennclubny.org or 212-403-6627

#McCOMBSMAG 47


M c C O M B S : B OT T O M L I N E

A LITTLE LUCK AND A LOT OF TALENT 91-YEAR-OLD “HANDSOME RANSOM”JACKSON, BBA ’47, TALKS ABOUT HIS JOURNEY FROM UT TO WRIGLEY FIELD AND BEYOND. As told to David Canright

48 TODAY.McCOMBS.UTEXAS.EDU

and smashed into my right shin, leaving a knot and a memory to last a lifetime. In 1959 I was traded to the Chicago Cubs, back where I started. There were a few more moments of glory with the Cubs, but I wasn’t playing or contributing much. I decided to quit baseball for keeps. Now I had to face the question, “Where do I go from here?” I had just enough experience as a sports commentator to know that there wasn’t a future for me in broadcasting. But I got lucky again. And it didn’t hurt that I had a business degree from UT. A friend introduced me to some people starting a new company: Georgia International Life Insurance. They invited me to join them as a sales agent. My dad made a living through the Depression selling life insurance, and I turned out to be good at it too. After the major leagues, I knew a lot of people. They trusted me, and I could offer them good products. Between commissions and stock options in the growing company, I made more money than I ever did as a baseball star. I’m modest, but not that modest. I did pretty well for my time spent in the majors. I played for two storied teams: the Cubs and the Dodgers. I was elected to represent the National League twice at the All-Star Game and played in the 1956 World Series. Baseball always was a job, but it was also a game, and being able to play for a living was really something. David Canright is a freelance writer based in Galveston, Texas.

Ransom Jackson with his teammate Jackie Robinson in 1956. From the book Handsome Ransom Jackson: Accidental Big Leaguer, by Ransom Jackson Jr., with Gaylon H. White, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

R A N S O M JAC KS O N CO L L E C T I O N

I’M

I’ve always just gone with the flow. But I’m a mighty lucky guy. I never played formal sports during my boyhood in Arkansas — just pickup games in vacant lots — but I wound up in the majors. After high school, I joined the Navy, enrolling in their officer training program. They sent me to Texas Christian University, and we were required to take 21 credit hours each semester: three Naval courses and three regular ones. If you failed even one class, you were gone. Shipped out to sea. I didn’t have much spare time, but coach Dutch Meyer persuaded me to join the football team. We ended up winning the Southwest Conference title and a spot in the 1945 Cotton Bowl. Then I joined the baseball team, and surprised both the coach — and myself — by leading the Southwest Conference with a .500 batting average. In May 1945, the Navy sent me to The University of Texas at Austin. I joined the football team, and we won the Southwest Conference again! I became the only player in history to play in two consecutive Cotton Bowls for two different winning teams. I also played baseball at UT; in two seasons, I hit .349 and .400 to win the league batting title for three straight years. I majored in business and graduated with a BBA in 1947. Then a scout for the Chicago Cubs invited me to come up for a tryout at Wrigley Field. They offered me a two-year contract at $6,000 a year. In my wildest dreams, that would never have happened. That’s how I became an accidental big leaguer. They called me “Handsome Ransom,” a nickname that had less to do with my looks than the sportswriters needing something to rhyme with Ransom. Everyone had to have a nickname in those days. After five seasons with the Cubs, I was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers to back up and ultimately replace Jackie Robinson at third base. Jackie was a great guy, as well as a great ballplayer. And he and I shared one thing that set us apart: We were both college graduates at a time when very few ballplayers were. As it happened, I was the last Brooklyn Dodger to hit a home run. It was at the end of the 1957 season before we became the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then a series of injuries began affecting my game. I was batting .185 when I was sold to the Cleveland Indians in August 1958. I was eager to play again after too much time on the bench, but at my first start for Cleveland, I pulled a leg muscle. I was sidelined again. After I recovered, back at third base, I felt honored to face Ted Williams, maybe the greatest hitter to ever live. He always hit to right field, so I was surprised when he shot a drive right for me that hopped NOT A PLANNER.


“There’s no question that I would not be where I am today without my Texas business education. It has played such an important role in my career — and quite frankly — my life.” JD Moore, BBA ’93 Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey McCombs Endowed Excellence Fund Donor Kerry Hall, BBA ’83 President, Texas Capital Bank, Austin

One Invested Person in the CanCommunity Make a Difference JD MOORE REMEMBERS ONE PERSON IN PARTICULAR WHO HAD a major impact on his undergraduate experience — Assistant Dean Arthur Allert. “It really matters to a kid who's on his own for the first time, alone in a big school where everyone is so accomplished. Sometimes you feel like you might not be able to find your way, but then someone takes an interest in helping you succeed. For me that was such a stabilizing force.” To thank the McCombs mentor who was so supportive of him when he was a young finance major, Moore established the Arthur T. Allert Endowed Excellence Fund in Business, which supports the BBA Program Office, where Allert is still assistant dean.

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Invested in the Community KERRY HALL GRADUATED IN 1983 and went straight into banking. She moved from internal audit to lending to commercial middle market work. She made it through the banking collapse of the late 1980s. In 2002, Texas Capital Bank in Austin named her president, and she’s been a major voice for economic development in the city and the state ever since. As president, giving back to the community has been one of her strongest imperatives. She’s been deeply involved with Opportunity Austin, Texas One, the E3 Alliance, the American Heart Association, Caritas, Junior Achievement, and of course, McCombs, where she supports female business students through mentorship.

Kerry Hall, BBA ’83 President, Texas Capital Bank, Austin

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McCombs Magazine Fall 2017  
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