AgScents

By Kristopher Muir, Clinical Assistant Professor

Imagine you’re a Mays graduate student and you just got out of class. In addition to walking to the library, you’re checking voicemails on your phone related to your team’s startup company. In addition to looking at social media to see what your friends are up to, you’re checking your company’s social media page for analytics. During your coffee break, you’re huddling with your CFO, CEO, and other team members in order to solve the latest crisis: your supplier has canceled your order. What do you do? If you can imagine any of these scenarios, you might be a Master of Science (MS) in Business student.

In its second year, the MS Business program is the newest graduate program offered at Mays Business School. MS Business is a 36-hour, 11-month general business graduate degree offered to students who do not have a business undergraduate education.

Mays Business School students have spent this semester “learning business by doing business” through the integrated business experience (IBE) course, designed to teach MS Business students how to start and run their own business in only one semester. In only its second year, the four student-run companies earned a collective profit of $18,352 that they were able to donate to local charities in addition to the 229 service hours. These numbers serve to validate that the MS Business program aligns with both the Mays vision of advancing the world’s prosperity and the Mays Grand Challenge of Entrepreneurship. …Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Philip Mann and fellow interns dressed for scavenger hunt.

Philip Mann, left, dressed in traditional African clothing in an immersion exercise for an internship. The scavenger hunt around Disney World gave them insight into how they would look and feel wearing their American clothes while traveling overseas.

The light at the end of the tunnel is finally within sight for the Dec. 15 graduates of Mays Business School. 

Each student’s experience at Mays has been unique, each path afterward just as varied.

Shawn Mays

Shawn Mays

Some students are already immersed in the real world, and have been for awhile. For example, Shawn Mays is a 44-year-old husband and father who has commuted from Houston since fall 2012, working full-time as an automotive instructor at Universal Technical Institute while working to obtain his degree.

The daily drive is 201 miles from his house to College Station, back to his job, then back home after work. “I did that every day I had class and over the five years I only missed four days of class – and they were all serious events, that’s why I remember. One was a funeral, my wife had surgery, I was seriously ill one time, and the last was due to Hurricane Harvey.”

Mays said he had always admired Texas A&M and regretted not attending directly after high school. “I decided one day I wanted to further my education, and the only option I would accept was attending A&M,” he explained. “My best friend growing up and his wife both are both graduates of A&M. There are countless reasons as to what influenced me to attend A&M.  My favorite color is maroon (imagine that).”

Mays finished every class he started, and he currently has a 3.704 GPA. As far as his motivation is concerned, he relates it back to high school, when he was a long-distance runner. “I am a very determined person and don’t give up easily,” he said. “I will see things through to the end and won’t quit till the job is done. I am the type of person that if you tell me something can’t be done, I will do it to just prove to myself it could be done. 

He added: “I am proud of everything I have accomplished and of having had the honor to attend Texas A&M. If I can be an inspiration to one person, to motivate them to do half the things I have done, it would be heart-warming.” …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

The holidays are approaching, and Amanda Vigil knows there is nothing better than the feeling that comes with putting a smile on someone’s face during the holiday season. Vigil, a University Studies major in business, embodies what it means to be a giver. She finds joy in projecting happiness onto others, and wants to extend the opportunity to everyone else.

From now until Dec. 14, Vigil will be accepting holiday cards to distribute at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) at the medical center in Houston. Her goal is to give 1,000 cards.

Vigil has been distributing cards there every holiday season for the past 11 years. “I was born with a cleft lip and palate and have had roughly 12 surgeries on my mouth and face since the day I was born, 21 years ago,” Vigil said. As a 10-year-old in the hospital, she received countless cards from strangers wishing her a happy holiday. Since then, she has made holiday cards every year in the hopes that the children in the hospital will smile the same way she did.

For the past five years, Vigil has enlisted the help of her friends, family, and fellow Aggies to help with the cause. “My goal this year is to deliver 1,000 cards,” Vigil said. “I am confident that I will not only reach that goal (of 1,000 cards), but surpass it.”

She has instituted a few rules regarding the cards:

  • No candy, since many children are on restrictive diets and can not have sweets
  • No glitter glue (it doesn’t always dry fully and is messy)
  • Small toys such as pencils, erasers, and stickers, are accepted
  • No envelope is required
  • No signature stating who the card is from is required, though many people like to write that the cards came from “Texas A&M students, professors, etc.”

To donate a card or get more information about the program, contact Vigil at amanda2778@tamu.edu.

 

Categories: Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M

Recalling her career of achievements and offering inspiring industry advice, Cathy Works Helmbrecht ’85, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series. Helmbrecht received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University and has affiliations with the Aggie Real Estate Network, Texas A&M Greek Former Student’s Network, and the Women Former Student’s Network.

Helmbrecht started with PwC right after her graduation from Texas A&M and has been with them since, serving in various roles throughout her career. She realized pretty quickly into her first job that she was using skills from all of her classes, not just what she learned specifically from her major. She told the students, “the skills you learn as a business major branch across degrees. You won’t just stick to one thing, like accounting.”

She shared her personal struggles in finding a work/family balance and dealing with feelings of burning out on certain things. One student asked whether Helmbrecht had experienced critics in being a woman in her role. She explained the pressure she experienced in the industry stemmed mostly from herself. The toughest time of her career was when she had kids. She experienced an internal struggle of wanting to continue her success in her career, but also knowing she needed to step back to be a good mother to her children. “You don’t always have to be the top at what you’re doing,” she said. “You need to be satisfied, and doing well for the sake of your kids and family. You have to take things one step at a time and truly find that balance.”

Helmbrecht went further into detail about the key things that have brought her success in life and in her career:

  • Communication is key in all aspects of your career
  • Learn how to keep people around you motivated
  • Keep an organized schedule
  • Have a strong team/support network behind you
  • Take vacation time when you have the opportunity

Business Honors major Taylor Wiest ’19 said Helmbrecht’s talk encouraged her “to find my own support network and not be afraid to rely on others when the time calls for it.”

When the conversation turned to internships and entry-level positions, Helbrecht advised the students to “intern somewhere that you would want to eventually work, as those companies are investing in you as a potential hire.” She also urged the students to “explore a lot of opportunities out there, ask a lot of questions, and understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. Have a roadmap for the big picture and a purpose of what you are doing.”

Helmbrecht’s story was an inspiring one, and clearly had an impact on the students attending. Business Honors major Bridget Davies ’20 said Helmbrecht’s story “encouraged me to try new things and continue to challenge myself so that I am always learning.” Business Honors major Asad Engineer ’20 said Helmbrecht’s story “inspired me to find a company that I can trust and stay with.”

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Holiday shopping is increasingly migrating online, according to the 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study. This is the first consumer holiday report conducted by Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

In 2016, about half of the participants (52 percent) did more than 40 percent of their holiday shopping online. This year, 62 percent plan to do more than 40 percent of their holiday shopping online. The vast majority of all consumers intended on shopping both store aisles and via digitally engaged devices, with fewer than 10 percent of respondents planning to only patronize physical stores.

This shift in consumer buying behavior is most affecting fashion products such as clothes and shoes, which top many wish list items at Christmas. About one in three respondents (34 percent) shop for these goods online.

The study is based on a nationally representative online survey of 5,881 adults conducted during October through November 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

“Shoppers are the most clear about their shopping preferences during the holidays because of the planning it requires. These changes are here to stay,” said Shrihari Sridhar, Center for Executive Development Professor of Marketing at Mays Business School. Particularly retailers dealing in trend-influenced goods – like apparel, shoes, and jewelry – need to develop stronger digital options, because customers find online shopping to be a time saver and value generator.”

The 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study was conducted by the Collaborative for Customer Based Execution and Strategy. Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies and the R.C. Barclay Endowed Library Fund sponsored the research, which analyzed shopping preferences across several consumer categories including fashion merchandise, grocery, health/beauty, office supplies, and pharmaceuticals. The goal of the study is to provide an evidence-based approach to incorporate the customer’s perspective in strategic planning and execution for retailers. “The report confirms that consumers are rapidly transitioning their holiday shopping from brick-and-mortar stores to online purchasing. The findings should guide retailers to invest in omnichannel capabilities, such as in-store apps, social media platforms, and efficient product search,” added Sridhar.

This is the first of five planned trend reports based on the survey. On April 11, 2018, the Center for Retailing Studies will host a half-day seminar in Houston for business executives to explore the findings in-depth.

The research team for the Benchmark Retail Study includes Vikas Mittal and Kyuhong Han at Rice University along with Biwong Im, a doctoral student at Texas A&M.

For more information, contact:
Kelli Hollinger, Director, Center for Retailing Studies
khollinger@tamu.edu; 979-845-5898

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

“Imagine that it is a Friday night, you’re tired from a long week, and you just do not want to do much,” freshman Daniel Shulkin said to the crowd. Shulkin added to the narrative by mentioning how the weekend flies by, then Sunday rolls around and suddenly, “It’s 7 p.m. and you have economics homework due at midnight and two tests coming up.”

To help the average college student, a group of Mays Business School freshmen have come up with a nearly foolproof framework for beating procrastination.

Procrastination is something most students have struggled with at some point in their college years. Most college students become stressed, and force themselves to stay up late getting school work and studying done at the last minute. Daniel Shulkin, Allison Kaczynski, Hannah McNease, Tanner Malone, and Zoher Darugar from Richard Johnson’s Freshman Business Initiative (BUSN 101) class were competing against 5 other groups which had developed mental frameworks for tackling college’s challenges. These freshmen were chosen amongst six other groups to give a presentation on Nov. 13 introducing a plan for procrastination, a GAME Plan to be exact.

Out of the entire class, 35 students were chosen to be apart of the Freshman Excellence Initiative (FEI), which is a more exclusive branch of the Freshman Business Initiative that included an intense application process. Students who were chosen exemplify not only the Mays Business School core competencies, but also have the skills and the drive to make a difference in the business world. Jack Youngblood, a BUSN 101 peer leader, came up with the idea to split the students up into groups of five, and then have them come up with a framework in just one week to present to all the BUSN 101 peer leaders. After this, one group was chosen to present in front of the entire class.  

The group presented to their 200-person class a four-step plan for beating procrastination, which consists of:

  • The Gathering stage. In this step, students are to write down dates for everything they need to do or might do in a planner or in their phones.
  • The Assigning stage.This is when students sort all their gathered information and prioritize each event, giving each activity a time slot.
  • The Making stage. Once students sort through their gathered information, they should make a concrete schedule of what they need to do during the day.
  • The Execution stage. This final step is when students actually put their plans into action.

Gathering, Assigning, Making, and Execution make up the acronym GAME, which is an almost foolproof way to beat procrastination, if implemented correctly. Darugar said “the acronym made [their] presentation stand out amongst the other groups, because it is so memorable.” He also mentioned that he thinks their group was chosen over all the other groups because their plan was the most applicable to students, since every student has procrastinated at some point.

McNease added that she now knows how to manage her time better, because she has actually started using The GAME Plan in her everyday life. “Once you get used to the process, it is really easy to implement” McNease said.

“This process has really helped me improve my presentation skills and increase my confidence, considering I have presented more in this one semester than I have in my life” Kaczynski exclaimed. “As a freshman, getting up in front of so many people is intimidating, but now that I have done it, I am ready to take on any other presentation in the future.”

Categories: Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

For this season’s #GivingTuesday, Jon and Debbie Bethancourt have generously committed to a $10,000 matching gift if current and former students from the Strategic Philanthropy course raise $10,000 in additional funding for future grant making. The gift and the match will go straight to nonprofit organizations in the form of grant funding in the 2018-2019 school year.

The Strategic Philanthropy course at Mays Business School is heavily oriented toward the sustainable, responsible, and measurable ways in which nonprofits address and solve problems in local, national, and global communities. This course provides opportunities for students to practice strategic giving as a group while also developing a personal approach to philanthropy to carry forward into their personal and professional lives.

Donations to this initiative not only fund other nonprofits, but also provide a unique learning experience for students to learn how to “give well.”

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School welcomed new CRS board member and partner Jeff Mooney to campus on November 15. Mooney serves as Divisional Vice President for Dollar General, overseeing 1,800 stores in Texas and Oklahoma.

Speaking to students in three marketing classes and the Student Retailing Association, Mooney highlighted Dollar General’s rapid expansion, impressive shareholder returns, and humble company culture.

Dollar General is ranked #128 on Fortune 500, with 127,000 employees in over 14,000 stores across the U.S. Mooney’s territory alone recorded sales exceeding $2 billion. Dollar General has more stores nation-wide than any retailer outside of the food industry. In an era of store closure, Dollar General accounts for 80 percent of net new store openings in the U.S. since 2008.

Because of this growth and strong brand, Mooney stated “We cannot hire enough talent, we have to grow it.” Texas A&M is the first university to partner with the Nashville based retailer to launch an accelerated district manager career program. Recent graduates would start as store managers and progress to district supervisors with responsibility for 18 stores averaging $30 million in sales within two years.

To take care of its customers, Dollar General takes care of its employees. “The customer experience will never be better than the employee experience,” Mooney explained. Dollar General’s friendly employees are willing to make things more efficient for the customer. According to Mooney, it is easier to teach skills than to teach others how to connect with people.

Mooney also emphasized Dollar General’s culture of serving others. The company understands its customers, who are largely value-conscious consumers living paycheck to paycheck. Many rely on government assistance. He pointed out that delivering on the promise to serve others is crucial.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The world of 3D printing is no longer an unattainable dream; 3D printers have been set up in Startup Aggieland, a facility operated by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. These 3D printers can be used by any students who want to print out their innovative new ideas, but as a 3D model and not just as a 2D image.

Charles Hinton, I-Corps Director and Startup Aggieland veteran, is facilitating the startup process for these new 3D printers. As a Texas A&M graduate, Hinton understands the importance of students expressing their ideas in creative ways. According to Hinton, these printers will serve as the beginning of the development of a makerspace in Startup Aggieland, where students and faculty can come to design, experiment, and learn.

These 3D printers will give students the opportunity to build a touchable “first look” at the ideas and gadgets they have created in their head or on paper. This is an incredible feat for students who are looking to become entrepreneurs or students who just want to know if their idea could have any commercial value.

Users of the printer must first generate a model of the product they want to manufacture, which they can do on a 3D modeling software called Solid Works that can be acquired for free from the university. The students then bring their design to Startup Aggieland, where a different software will slice and convert the design to a printable format. The 3D printer can then get to work by adding layer upon layer of raw material fed into the printer to create a final product. …Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, I-Corps, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

Giving Tuesday – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – has become an international day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. The movement, which started in 2012, kicks off the charitable giving season.

Occurring this year on Nov. 28, Giving Tuesday is held annually after the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

The movement has gained in popularity over the last five years and points to recent shifts in philanthropy for both individuals and nonprofit organizations. Promoted as the hashtag #GivingTuesday for purposes of activism on social media, nonprofit organizations around the country will be making appeals for supporters to contribute to their causes.

Giving Tuesday provides nonprofits with an opportunities to attract new sponsors, donors, and volunteers, according to Kyle Gammenthaler, Coordinator of Social Impact Initiatives and instructor of the Strategic Philanthropy course at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. For nonprofit organizations looking to maximize their donations and support Gammenthaler offers the following tips:

  1. Tell your story: People are naturally drawn to stories and examples of impact. Do not simply rely on the generosity of people, but make a compelling case for why your organization is making a strategic difference in this world. Telling the community how many meals you distributed is one thing. However, it would be more advantageous to tell a story about “John Doe” and how his interactions with your organization not only filled his stomach but helped give him tools to improve his overall well-being.
  2. Develop a strategy that cultivates online and one-time givers: Year-end and online gifts can be the beginning of a long-term relationship. Figuring out a way to engage these givers is paramount to an organization’s long-term viability.
  3. Keep it simple: Make it easy for people to give. In our fast-paced world, it shouldn’t take more than one or two clicks on a website for someone to give. Make the process to give obvious, simple, and quick.
  4. Mind your manners: Follow up with givers, no matter the size, to appreciate the gift. Thank you goes a long way in developing long-term relationships with donors.
  5. It’s not all about the money: Of course, nonprofits need funds to operate, but so many people have skills, knowledge, and abilities that can drastically impact your organization and your beneficiaries. Find ways to engage and appreciate the individuals that give the “gift” of time or service.

…Read more

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M