MBA ’03 graduate Lisa Buckley is a thriving New York City-based account manager for shopper-marketing company Saatchi & Saatchi X.

Shopper-marketing creates a theater experience for in-store customers, Buckley explains in a July 12 first-person column in BusinessWeekOnline’s “MBA Insider.” To read more about her life since her 2003 graduation, click here

Categories: Former Students

Three Mays undergraduates were awarded the 2005 Thomas S. Gathright Scholar Academic Excellence Award by the Association of Former Students this spring.

They are: accounting major Shannon Stolle ’05, accounting major Samuel Sommer ’06 and business administration major Amanda Sulak ’07.

Named in honor of Texas A&M’s first president and first established in 1973, the Gathright Award recognizes sophomores, juniors and seniors with the best academic records in each of Texas A&M’s colleges, making this the most prestigious award granted for academic performance.

Seventeen Mays students were also among the 52 students named Buck Weirus Spirit Award recipients, honored for their enthusiastic involvement in campus organizations and their enhancement of the Aggie Spirit.

The Buck Weirus winners for 2005 are:

• Kyle Chielack ’08, business administration
• Amy Boone ’07, business adminitration
• Corey Nichols ’07, business administration
• Ryan Rocha ’07, finance
• Kristin Ryan ’07, finance
• Kristen West ’07, accounting
• Jordon Baucum ’06, marketing
• Greg Bergeron ’06, finance
• Molly Dean ’06, accounting
• Stephanie Lee ’06, management
• Jacob Scher ’06, marketing
• Brandon Foster ’05, marketing
• Jackson Hildebrand ’05, accounting
• Sara Lott ’05, finance
• Jordan Mullins ’05, management
• Laura Pergola ’05, management information systems
• David Hollon ’04, finance

Categories: Departments, Students

Blooming in the hands of patients at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston are several copies of a new children’s book, “Colorful Spring,” donated by illustrator and accountant-turned-artist Danny Pickett ’85.

Pickett painted the original flower scenes for “Colorful Spring” in his first experience as an illustrator, donating copies this June to the Children’s Hospital library where he often browsed when visiting a nephew who spent two months in neonatal intensive care. Created for an audience of 2- to 8-year olds, book author Erin Moran uses 13 original flower paintings by Pickett to symbolize the coming of spring.

Pickett, a CPA, worked for 15 years in the accounting field at Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young and Pepsi-Cola before turning a knack for painting into a full-time career. Now an avid supporter of children’s causes, Pickett splits his time between studios in Longmont, Colo., and Bangkok, Thailand, where he volunteers and provides financial support for 120 kids in the Ban Kru Noi Home for Poor Children orphanage.

Categories: Former Students

In 20 minutes, teams of high-achieving high school students turned piles of wooden tinker toys into product prototypes and tried to sell a set of mock Wal-Mart buyers on their ideas. In one July session of Texas A&M’s Summer Honors Invitational Program, the potential National Merit Semi-Finalists who scored high on their pre-SAT tests pitched marketing plans for stackable dorm furniture, all-in-one exercise equipment and remote-controlled baby strollers.

And that was in their first half-hour in the halls of Wehner.

“We really like these students to experience what business is like and what they’ll run into studying here — it’s the best kind of introduction,” explains Kris Morley, the program coordinator for Business Honors who also hosts the students in a handful of separate two-hour sessions each summer.

The introduction to Mays also serves as a pitch to potential honors students from across the state and beyond on the merits and rewards of a business degree. The soon-to-be seniors spend two days at A&M learning about college life and spend two hours at the college of their choice. Each year, Mays plays host to 125 interested students.

Andrew Dittmar, a student from Boerne whose group formulated plans for a remote-controlled fan-on-wheels in the business crash-course, said he is an avid Forbes reader and wants to go into corporate law. The preferred area of expertise for this student, who hasn’t yet attended his senior prom? The laws governing mergers and acquisitions.

“I’m a fairly competitive person, and this seems like a field where there’s competition,” Dittmar said. “I can perform better when there’s competition, when I know I can figure out how to get a leg up on the others.”

And A&M, says this high achieving student with a mind for business, is definitely on his application list for the fall.

Categories: Faculty, Programs

More than 60 students competed in the first-ever Wells Fargo Finance Case Competition at Mays in late April, putting their skills to the test on a real-world finance problem that Wells Fargo bankers once faced.

The competition was a joint academic-industry effort. Finance professor John Groth and Department of Finance Advisory Board member Frank Schageman, senior vice president and leader of Wells Fargo’s Houston commercial banking group, worked together to develop and organize the competition.

Case materials were drafted by a Wells Fargo team led by Schageman. In the case, an industrial wholesaler is faced with losing its largest retail customer to an acquisition by a competitor. Students were asked to scrutinize the financials to value the retailer and decide if the wholesaler should be willing to acquire their biggest customer as well as determine how they would finance the acquisition.

“Real business is a set of case studies strung together throughout your career,” Wells Fargo’s Schageman says. “We’re involving students in what we do, and seeing A&M’s top financial talent at the same time.”

The winning team of students earned $3,000. They were first-year MBA students Luke Friesen, Chase Paxton, Ralph Schickel and David Brodniak. The second-place team, finance graduate students Craig D’Andrea, Ben Goodyear, Paul Mason and Jennifer Hess, split $1,000, while the third place team of finance graduate students Robert Rohlfs, Jean-Pierre Breaux and Jeff Baker received a plaque.

Prize money and/or judging talent were provided by lead sponsor Wells Fargo and co-sponsors Clear Channel Communications and Accenture. Department of Finance Advisory Board members Julie Hill of Clear Channel and Steve Schwarzbach of Accenture coordinated the participation of their firms. Two teams of judges consisting of industry professionals and Mays faculty members evaluated students on the content and style of each presentation.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase the sophistication of our students by exposing them to real-world problems,” says David Blackwell, finance department head. “This case was developed by industry professionals from a situation that they actually faced in the corporate world.”

Showcasing Mays’ top students to industry judges from Wells Fargo and Accenture and giving them the opportunity to mingle during the awards dinner also gave students, in what Blackwell hopes will become an annual event, networking and exposure opportunities. “We’re providing students with a great educational opportunity,” he says, “and planting the seeds for future job placements at top companies.”

Categories: Departments, Programs, Students

Both the improving economy and the revitalized emphasis on MBA candidates’ personal responsibility in the job search process have improved job placement gains for recent MBA grads.

Just over 95 percent of December 2004 MBA grads (class of 2005 in the 18-month MBA program) walked across the stage with jobs in hand at commencement. Ninety days after graduation, the class of 48 students (with 42 seeking employment) had placed 41 students, meaning 98 percent of seeking December graduates had jobs.

Compared to the December 2003 graduating class of MBAs, more graduates in December 2004 reported bonuses and more received multiple offers, Mays’ Graduate Business Career Services reports.

For the school year of fall 2004 and spring 2005, GBCS also reported a 37.5 percent increase in the number of job opportunities posted through the service’s MasterLaunch job-seeking tool. There were 422 internship and full-time opportunities in 2004-2005, as compared to 307 in 2003-2004.

Categories: Programs, Students

The picture most Americans have of Egypt — its pharaohs, pyramids and Nile trade boats — is from history lessons that tell of the early civilization. Though much of that lies below the surface of modern Egypt, students in America would be as surprised as one Mays Business School professor was to discover that Cairo’s city culture has grown to within a few hundreds yards of the great Giza pyramids.

Finance professor and assistant department head Larry Wolken spent a month in Egypt this summer on a Fulbright Study Tour that immersed a group of Texas educators in the culture and practices of the developing Middle Eastern country. Floating in former trading boats along the Nile that are now mainly used for tourism, Wolken watched as farmers carried harvests home on water buffalo and observed the desert creeping up to the shore of the world’s longest river.

Dispelling the mystique of a foreign nation and exposing its underlying cultural, social and economic structures is key to educating the students and future business leaders of tomorrow, Wolken says. And being present to actually witness the world firsthand, he says, is far more precious a tool for this lifelong educator than reading about it in a book.

“Other than the fact that there are Arabic signs and people dressed a little different, these people are the same as Americans,” Wolken explains. “They have the same concerns about family, about their jobs. They’re just dealing with a lot of different things than us in a different land with an enthralling history.”Wolken will apply much of what he’s learned about the reality of modern Egypt to the Scholastic Assistance in Global Education (SAGE) project he directs for Mays’ Center for International Business Studies. Social studies teachers from across Texas access for course lesson plans and source materials that help them globalize their classrooms. The resources gathered at SAGE advance the quality and depth of education of Texas’ K-12 students.

Mays students also benefit from Wolken’s extensive experiences abroad in his international finance graduate and undergraduate courses. Though the courses focus on currency and exchange rates, Wolken — who has also traveled to Japan and had extensive visits to Russia and China, where he watched the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests — hopes a little reality rubs off on his students.

“Things are not as easy as they seem and you can’t just throw money at a developing country,” he says. “You need to get an understanding of the culture, economic and political system before you can suggest ways to improve and change it.”

Categories: Centers, Departments, Faculty, Programs

Rebecca Upham Nichols ’74 and William S. Nichols III ’74 of Houston have established an endowed professorship at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. Their gift, which creates the Rebecca U. ’74 and William S. Nichols III ’74 Endowed Professorship, supports the teaching, research, service and professional development activities of a faculty member.

“Our outstanding faculty is one of the greatest assets we have at Mays,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “The Nichols’ generous gift will enable us to recruit and retain the very best faculty, who create educational experiences that will continue to set our students apart from the competition.”

“It is my and Becky’s privilege to be part of the momentum that’s currently underway at Mays Business School,” William “Nick” Nichols said. “From our own experiences at Texas A&M, we know that outstanding faculty and students are the catalysts for any great program. We hope that our commitment will assist the Mays program in recruiting the very best faculty to Texas A&M.”

Nick, a CPA, graduated from Woodville High School in 1970 and was a member of the Corps of Cadets, unit A-1. He earned his BBA in accounting in 1974 and worked for Arthur Young and Co. until 1984, when he co-founded Houston-based Suncor Development, a commercial real estate development firm. He currently serves as president of Suncor.

Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Upham Nichols graduated from A&M Consolidated High School in 1970. She earned a bachelor’s in veterinary medicine from A&M in 1974 and a DVM in 1976. Becky co-founded Kingsland Blvd. Animal Clinic in 1981 and retired in 2004.

Categories: Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students

David R. Norcom ’73 of Dallas has committed $250,000 to support the teaching, research, service and professional development activities of a Mays faculty member. The gift will be matched with other sources from Mays to create a $500,000 quasi-endowment, the David R. Norcom ’73 Endowed Professorship in Business.

“David has long been a supporter of Mays Business School through his active leadership on our development councils and support of Presidential Endowed Scholarships for deserving students,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “His most generous gift will allow us to leverage the university’s commitment for faculty resources to attract and retain the very best faculty.”

Norcom, born in Bryan while his father attended A&M, is President and General Partner of Norcom Capital, LLC of Dallas. His firm manages two hedge funds. Norcom graduated from Richardson High School in 1969 and graduated early from Texas A&M in December 1972 with degrees in business management and economics.

“It is the moral obligation of all Aggies to give back to Texas A&M a portion of the great benefits we have received as a result of our education and experience at Texas A&M,” Norcom says. “My gift to Mays Business School is but a small token of the benefits I have received.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Faculty, Former Students