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

Alex CabanasFinding passion in leading and growing a company that makes a profound difference in the lives of employees, guests, owners, industry partners, and the community, Alex Cabanas ’98 exemplifies what it means to be a Mays Transformational Leader.

Cabanas graduated from Texas A&M University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance, and went on to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School. He currently serves as the CEO of global hospitality company Benchmark. To Cabanas, speaking to business honors students at Mays Business School was “a huge privilege.”

Cabanas kicked his session off by emphasizing the main theme he was discussing, that “it all starts with culture.” Cabanas said that “everything we do is about culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast; culture is a lot of things to a lot of people.” Culture drives how his company behaves and what motivates them.

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Business Honors, Finance, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Every year, the Mays Business Honors program takes a corporate trip to a U.S. city in an effort to learn from corporate businesses as well as learn about the culture of the city. This year, they traveled to Portland, Ore. to visit the Nike Headquarters and Nossa Familia Coffee on Oct. 18-22.

While in Portland, the students learned about the business strategies for both companies, and also had free time to explore the city however they pleased.

During the trip, students learned about not only the companies, but also about business as a whole. Frazer Mulugeta, Business Honors student class of 2019, said the trip “showed [him] that creating team buy-in is possible, and that communicating goals and motives can help foster a culture of excellence.” He also said being on the same page with others in order to serve a higher purpose can benefit not only the individuals, but also the group. Mulugeta plans on incorporating what he learned on the trip both in his professional career and his relationships with others.

According to Allison Riffe, Business Honors ’20, Delaney Elliot at Nike revealed to her the emotional power of marketing. “I cried when she showed the video of the shoes made for individuals with disabilities,” Riffe said. “Nike was the first time that I have ever felt passionate about the power of marketing in a corporate setting.”

Augusto, the owner of Nossa Familia Coffee, enhanced George Smith’s perspective on implementing a value throughout an entire company. Smith, Business Honors ’19, said Augusto “truly embraced the essence of family” and “inspired [him] to dream big but never forget about [his] terminal values.” Swift said he will create a similar, value-centered atmosphere within his own teams, community, and family.

“The people I encountered in Portland were an example of how powerful a positive and purposeful mindset can be in achieving your goals, related to business or not,” said Chelsea Rios, Business Honors ’18. Rios mentioned that the people behind the organizations they visited took steps that aligned with their company’s values before anything else, despite any financial obstacles or competition, which was important to her.

Everett Francis, Business Honors ’19, captured the special moments, learnings, and fun of the trip in the following video. See for yourself the kind of impact this trip had on the Business Honors students who embarked on this journey.

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

A firm believer in giving back, Alan Mitchell ’85 recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series to provide them with not only career advice, but also advice on school and life.

“Be comfortable hearing your own voice in a room of people,” is guidance he would offer to junior members of his team. “If you don’t speak up early in a discussion, people will think of you as being irrelevant,” he added.

Additionally, while recalling how he evaluated opportunities presented during his first job out of college with KPMG, he said “If there is opportunity out there, take it, even if it presents challenges. You will always grow and expand and it will generally make you a more important part of your company and make you make you worldlier.”

Mitchell retired from investment banking in 2017 after a 23-year career at Wells Fargo Securities and Citigroup. He left Wells Fargo as the head of the telecom investment banking within the Technology, Media, and Telecom group. Mitchell earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M and his MBA in finance and international business from Columbia Business School, where he graduated with honors.

The students found value in Mitchell sharing his story of advancing himself by going back to business school to pursue his MBA after being in the workforce for seven years. For him, his MBA was a game changer because of the influence it carried. It also taught him that “you need to like what you’re doing in your specific career.”

Mitchell’s talk then turned to the topic of “building the resume of your life,” which starts with college and continues with everything a person does thereafter. He emphasized that students need to “make sure every subsequent step on one’s resume is additive to their prior experiences and makes them more interesting and unique.”

Business Honors student Payton Fanning ’20 said Mitchell cautioned that the ability to have relevant experiences diminishes with each passing day. “He encouraged us to make every one of our actions meaningful, and to make sure every job/opportunity we seize is something we will be proud to see on our resume,” Fanning said.

As the students continued to ask questions about resumes, Mitchell said their resumes should “demonstrate a desire for experience,” and showcase a level of commitment to their undertakings. Mitchell advised the students to set goals for pursuing their next opportunities. He said a good rule of thumb is three to five years at a job before you re-evaluate where you are with each job.

Mitchell closed with his last piece of advice when he stated, “Remember, first choices in life won’t be your last choices in life. Identify and reach for every opportunity presented to you, as it can be life-changing.”

The impact of his words was felt by all of the students attending. “I left with a gratitude for Aggies like Alan Mitchell who seek to provide opportunities to younger Aggies in high-profile fields,” said Adam Warnke ’17, a Business Honors & Accounting-PPA student.

 

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Business Honors, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Attributing his current success to what he learned during his time at Texas A&M University, Tim Meyer was ready to share some of that knowledge when he recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series.

“Stay disciplined in this field” seemed to be the common theme Meyer conveyed throughout the duration of the session. Meyer is a co-founder and managing partner at Angeles Equity Partners, and is responsible for overseeing all aspects for the firm’s investment activities. He received his Bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M and an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurial finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Meyer knew the value in sharing his decision to return to school to pursue his MBA, enlightening the students on how he went back to school without being sponsored by the firm he had been working for at the time. He then gave students a rule of thumb for planning when he said, “if you get into a top 5 school for your MBA, go, regardless of money. If it’s not a top 5 B-school, try to see if you get sponsored by your company/firm first.”

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Business Honors, Finance, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, News, Students, Texas A&M

By Jeffrey Quinn ’20

Business Honors and finance

On May 10th, I embarked on my journey to Mbale, Uganda, where I volunteered with an organization called HELP International. HELP International is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has volunteer programs in multiple locations across the world, but has had volunteers on the ground in Uganda for the last seven years. My volunteer experience lasted for six weeks from May 12th to June 23rd. I had a lot of individuals try to discourage me from traveling to Uganda because of the danger they associated with living in Africa, but I was determined to empower Ugandans in their fight against poverty.

I will never forget the six weeks I spent working in Mbale and the lessons that the truly amazing local men and women taught me.

A problem to solve

One of HELP’s most important partnerships was with an orphanage in the Sibwala Village that is home to 300 orphans. The most immediate problem that faced the orphanage was its failure to be sustainable if HELP International no longer provided funding. One of the most vital lessons I learned during this internship is the importance of sustainability when doing developmental work. The most effective form of developmental work is providing individuals with knowledge and the ability to be sustainable without any outside intervention. This is why I felt it was important to immediately tackle the failure of the Sibwala Orphanage to be sustainable.

…Read more

Categories: Business Honors, Center for Business International Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Finance, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

In a conversation with Business Honors students at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, Curtis Hite ’91, CEO and chairman of Improving Holdings, talked about his career and explained why his company has been hailed by The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal and Texas Monthly as one of the best places to work in Texas.

Hite studied computer science at Texas A&M as an undergraduate and graduate student, receiving his master’s degree in 1994. He started his career as a software engineer in the intelligence sector, working first for Rockwell International and then at E-Systems. Later, he cofounded Expede, a software development company, before cofounding Blue Ocean Group in 2007, later renamed Improving Holdings, or better known simply as Improving.

Improving, an informational technology service firm, is centered on restoring trust in the IT profession across several industries, and offers training, consulting, recruiting and project services.

Restoring trust in an entire profession is no easy feat, but Hite believes the best way to do so is to model a culture of integrity. “At Improving, we stick to our core values of excellence, dedication and involvement,” he said. “These are our identity as a company.”

…Read more

Categories: Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

While many business majors are preparing for careers in advertising, investment banking, or corporate accounting, sophomore Elizabeth Popp’s sights are set on medicine.

The Business Honors and management major is using her time at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School to prepare for a career in pediatric surgery. “I love working with kids,” Popp said. “They are so resilient and happy, which makes them a joy to be around.”

She said she decided to major in business so she will be better equipped to run her own practice. “I wanted to broaden my horizons with business knowledge to complement my future studies in medicine.”

Popp said studying at Mays has helped her learn skills that are important for doctors – like effective communication and leadership. “At Mays, I’ve learned how to work in diverse team settings by using different leadership styles and decision-making frameworks.” She added that outside the classroom, too, “Wehner’s social atmosphere adds a nice contrast to the more serious tone found in the science buildings.”

Popp can also add to her resume being published in a global research journal. As a research experience undergraduate (REU) at Texas A&M’s Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT), she contributed to a research project overseen by Bita A. Kash and Jane N. Bolin that aims to develop a healthcare model for the state of Texas. The study was recently accepted for publication in the International Journal for Innovation Science. …Read more

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

Curiosity has always been at the heart of Steve Harding ’84’s career. Just after graduating from Texas A&M University with a business degree in accounting and management, he took a job in audit at KPMG Peat Marwick to learn about as many different businesses as possible. Later he took his inquisitiveness with him as he moved into the corporate real estate industry and held controller positions at privately held commercial and residential real estate companies, where he became interested in understanding the financial impact of engineering decisions in buildings such as the Dallas and Houston Gallerias, and finally to his current role as a chief financial officer.

…Read more

Categories: Accounting, Business Honors, Departments, Executive Speakers, Former Students, Management, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Kris Chester ’87 was there during one of the most successful banking mergers in history. In fact she oversaw the entire treasury management integration when Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in 2008.

In a conversation with Business Honors students at Mays Business School, Chester, executive vice president of treasury management implementation and delivery at Wells Fargo, said it was one of the most fun and challenging jobs she has ever held in her 27-year-long career at the international banking and financial services company.

“I had the opportunity to be on the forefront of deciding what the new bank would look like, including what treasury products it would offer, how its operating model would be structured, which people were needed,” she said. Chester studied accounting and finance at Texas A&M University as an undergraduate student.

At Wells Fargo, she manages a team of 800, overseeing the implementation of domestic and international treasury management solutions, designed to help customers manage their treasury operations and succeed financially. 

She said implementing solutions for customers can be tricky because customers expect the process to be intuitive and “as easy as setting up an iPhone.” However, she said a true customer-centric approach often requires painstaking care to ensure the implementation goes well. “If you implement well, it makes it easier for customers to continue doing business with you,” she said.

Likewise, she said the secret to the merger’s success was that the decisions kept the customer at the center. She advised students to “always put the customer first when developing products and services; the financial results will follow,” no matter the type of business.

She offered this parting career advice:

    1. Looks matter – match your appearance to the expectations of the job.
    2. Take company culture into account.
    3. Choose your boss wisely. Seek someone you can learn from.
    4. Don’t stop learning.
    5. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
    6. Always have a mentor.

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