By Claire Clayton ’17, Business Honors and finance

Claire 01

It has always been a dream of mine to study abroad in Europe. Before I even knew I would be an Aggie, I had the summer of 2015 flagged as my “summer abroad.” The anticipation of five weeks spent halfway around the world in a foreign country, learning a new culture and looking at life from a fresh perspective made my decision to apply for a study abroad program a simple one. In exploring the various programs available through the Mays Center for International Business Studies office, I saw that my options were unlimited. After hearing the incredible stories of a student who had previously been on the trip, I eventually decided that Strasbourg, France, was my dream study abroad destination.

Looking back on my five weeks in France and the experiences I was fortunate to have there, I can truly say that my perspective and values were changed by my time spent abroad. This trip gave me my own little Aggie family to make memories with, the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to five countries in five weeks and to see the world from someone else’s perspective. Memories of canyoning in Switzerland, watching the Eiffel Tower light up at night, riding a gondola in Italy and visiting Neuschwanstein castle in Germany will remain treasured moments that I know years from now I will share with my children with the same excitement I felt the day those memories were made. In five weeks, I checked off countless “bucket list” items and was able to finally see the places that I had dreamed of seeing since I was a kid.

My time in Strasbourg did more than just provide me with a photo book stuffed full of precious memories, it changed me as a person. Initially, the idea of traveling throughout Europe on my own intimidated me. All of that changed when I landed in France and saw my home for the next five weeks. Living life alongside the French, I gained a confidence I had never known in who I am and in what I value. I adopted the French mindset of slowing down and taking the time to savor each moment of the day rather than rush through life from one thing to the next. I sought out local residents in France and other travelers we encountered on our weekend trips to hear their life stories and was surprised to find that, while our upbringings were very different, our outlooks and values were very much the same. Through the classes I took while studying at the École de Management Strasbourg, I came to understand the magnitude of significance each event taking place within the European Union has on the United States. I gained insight on various countries’ perspectives on current issues like Greece’s financial standing and the migration crisis, and what I learned ultimately enabled me to better understand the attitudes and personalities of people living within those respective countries.

Moving forward and applying what I have learned from my time abroad, I have come to realize the full value of my international experience. In recruiting for an internship this past semester, I was surprised by how inquisitive my interviewers were about my time in Strasbourg and about what I learned while I was there. One of my interviewers had even studied abroad himself in Strasbourg, France, and together, we reminisced on our favorite foods and landmarks in the city. I found that people, in general, appreciate and value someone who has proven themselves to be open to the culture and ideas of people from another country. It demonstrates that you, as a person and an employee, can look beyond your own set ways to consider how another person may choose to live their lives though it may be very different from how you live yours.

Claire 02



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


Sarah Stratta, Janet Parish and Ron Lamb

The Professional Selling Initiative (PSI) at Mays was launched mid-October, when PSI partners got to meet with faculty, staff, students and industry guests at a celebratory dinner at the Diamond Club at Bluebell Park. Mays Dean Eli Jones spoke, as well as Ron Lamb, president of Reynolds and Reynolds, Founding Partner of PSI. Representatives from the other partner companies – Altria, Pepsi, Phillips 66, AT&T and PepsiCo – also attended.

The next morning, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil a donor recognition wall in the Wehner building, followed by a networking breakfast. Then, some of the PSI partners and industry guests spoke to students in classes, while others took the opportunity to tour the renovated Kyle Field.

Afterward, the PSI partners and industry guests participated in a discussion with Mark Houston, head of the Department of Marketing, about the needs of recruiters that could be met by students coming through the PSI programs. That meeting helped fulfill some of the goals of the PSI – to provide enhanced educational offerings for students, increase research opportunities for faculty and give the PSI’s corporate partners greater access to the top sales students.

Students in the program will learn more about the sales career path and its job and salary growth potential. Job placement of students will improve through enhanced sales training, including expanded course offerings and high-impact learning experiences outside the classroom.

Employers will have access to a growing pool of top sales talent as the number of students who complete the Professional Selling and Sales Management career tracks increases.

PSI facilities will be enhanced with the addition of more role-play rooms, which are supported by state-of-the-art technology. And the PSI lays the foundation for a self-sustaining funding model in which corporate partners help support a long-term PSI facility, faculty and programming costs.




Categories: Centers, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

Startup Aggieland, the business incubator launched as an initiative of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University student entrepreneurs, has added a new partner to its roster: The College of Liberal Arts.

Startup Aggieland partnersStartup Aggieland is a cross-college collaboration with Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE); Texas A&M University’s Office of the Vice President in the Division of Research; the Dwight Look College of Engineering and Computer Science; and the College of Architecture. It started in January 2013 to provide qualified students of all majors with a peer-led startup community that helps students leverage public and private resources while launching early-stage ventures.

Startup Aggieland is administered by an advisory board that includes representatives from the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture and Mays. Now a Liberal Arts representative will be added. The partner entities also fund the program financially.

Pamela R. Matthews, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said she is looking forward to her college having closer ties to Mays. “We are excited about the potential for new collaborations that will benefit our students and faculty,” she said. “We’re also excited about helping liberal arts students benefit from the CNVE/entrepreneurship initiatives that Startup Aggieland offers.”

The liberal arts contribution to the program extends into the classroom, as well, Matthews explained. A new faculty member – Patricia Thornton – will teach sociology and have an adjunct appointment in management. “She is a leader in entrepreneurship, and she will collaborate with others to develop curricular and co-curricular opportunities,” Matthews said. “This is an exciting time for our young entrepreneurs.”

Thornton previously was an adjunct professor and an affiliate of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, where she taught entrepreneurship and new venture management. She is also visiting associate professor and affiliated faculty to the Program on Organizations, Business, and the Economy in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University, where she taught the social science of entrepreneurship.

Richard Lester, executive director of the CNVE, said he is pleased to increase the reach of the program. “Our goal from the beginning has been to engage as many current students as we can, regardless of their majors,” he said. “A good business is a good business, no matter what discipline the student originates from. We’re just here to help them get it to the next level.”

Startup Aggieland is a student-designed business incubator and accelerator. Mentors and coaches help qualified student-owned startups leverage Texas A&M University resources and private support without relinquishing equity ownership in their companies.

CNVE also offers a student-managed seed fund that can be used to cover certain business startup costs with no obligation for students to repay the money.

Startup Aggieland is open to students pursuing any major at any level of study at Texas A&M University. Six entrepreneurship courses for university credit meet each week at the Startup Aggieland facility.

Students retain ownership of any intellectual property they develop at Startup Aggieland, and are provided access to legal assistance to help protect student IPs or register their trademarks.

Startup Aggieland provides students with free or at-cost services such as accounting assistance, graphic design services, marketing support, $24,000 in free Rackspace webhosting, furnished student office space and free parking, and access to snacks and refreshments on site. Students also have opportunities to attend free out-of-town trips to companies, entrepreneurship events and pitch competitions.

Startup Aggieland has headquarters in Research Park on the western edge of campus. It is supported by several corporate and institutional sponsors. Some students qualify for residence in a Startup Living Learning Community, which is co-sponsored by Mays and Texas A&M Department of Residence Life.







Categories: Centers, Mays Business, News, Programs, Staff, Texas A&M, Uncategorized


The honorees were recognized by more than 700 attendees at an Oct. 23 luncheon held at The Zone Club at Texas A&M University’s football stadium, Kyle Field. This year’s list recognizes 32 companies in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. These entrepreneurs prove that despite recent economic challenges, nothing can hold back hard-working Aggie entrepreneurs.

With an average revenue of $2,126,186,333 and 253 percent growth, MODA Inc., of Portland, Ore., was named this year’s Aggie 100 Summit Award recipient. The Summit Award is presented to the Aggie company with the highest three-year average revenue (2012-2014).

The Top 10 companies on the Aggie 100 list combined to grow more than 1,505 percent in the past two years with the top company, Empact IT of Houston, experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 253 percent from 2012 to 2014. The complete Aggie 100 list can be found at

“As we enter our second decade honoring business excellence with the 11th Annual Aggie 100, we reflect on all the Aggie businesses that came before and look forward to the future success of Aggie entrepreneurs to come. From agriculture to technology and everything in between, this year’s list signifies that, no matter your background, the Aggie entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving,” said Richard H. Lester, Executive Director of Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. “Our sense of entrepreneurial pride swells each year, as we recognize how successful businesses can become by keeping the Aggie Code of Honor at the heart of everything they do.”

The Aggie 100 focuses on growth as an indicator of job creation, product and service acceptance, and entrepreneurial vision. Those companies on the Aggie 100 list were selected based on compound annual revenue growth rate for the 2012 to 2014 period. In all, companies from nine states were honored at the event. The oldest company earning a spot on the list was founded in 1936.


Categories: Alumni, Centers, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School hosted campuswide H-E-B Day on Oct. 20. Executive leaders from the San Antonio-based retailer, including presidents, vice presidents and directors, will address more than 3,000 students in more than 30 classrooms across campus during the event.

“There is a tremendous culture match between H-E-B and Texas A&M. We both value history, service to others, excellence, people, respect, and leadership. Aggies who begin careers at H-E-B, both in stores and in corporate roles, thrive because behaviors that often motivate them to succeed personally and professionally are encouraged, even expected, at H-E-B,” says Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS).

hebday2015-2As one of H-E-B’s top university partners serving as a pipeline to talent, this interdisciplinary and educational event will also introduce students to various career opportunities at the retailer, which is also Texas’s largest privately-held company.

Freshmen through graduate students heard from H-E-B’s business leaders as they share day-to-day solutions for diverse, real-world workplace challenges for grocers, such as constructing stores, evaluating meat, globally sourcing products and managing technical systems.

According to Hollinger, the mission at CRS and through this event is to “showcase the many rewarding career paths that enable great retail companies to introduce unique products to their customers at the right time and place that encourages shoppers to return to stores as loyal, profitable customers.”

Executives from H-E-B coordinate with hosting professors to customize content for each class based on what students have been studying throughout the fall semester. By addressing classes across different majors – including marketing, agri-business, management, horticulture and information systems – the event communicates to students that the multibillion-dollar grocery chain encompasses all academic and business fields.

Ross Giambalvo, director of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Strategy explained H-E-B’s operational and financial decision making that go into justifying major capital investments. He challenged Supply Chain Management CMT students to evaluate expansion plans for an existing distribution center. To improve supply chain efficiency, H-E-B needs more space. Limited facility expansion would support two to three years of growth, however major expansion – planning five to seven years out – incurs interim financial losses from the facility being overbuilt for awhile.

Giambalvo reminded students that supply chain timelines in grocery are short, saying, “to preserve the freshness of eggs and milk, stock is maintained to only a half-day supply.”

Vic Nivens advised students to “be yourself” when applying for careers or internships. “Keep it real. It’s okay to be nervous, but take time to stop and think through interview questions for the best answer.” Nivens, the director of recruitment for the San Antonio Division, said that he looks for candidates to be engaging, energized, and with a great smile.

As a leader in H-E-B’s human resources department, Nivens said he believes H-E-B’s focus on its people makes the company unique. Store managers are given flexibility and autonomy to make decisions based on local needs. For example, his team met with partners (the term H-E-B uses for store employees) affected by the fires in Bastrop, Texas, to identify ways the best ways to aid them, such as hotels, supplies, food, insurance or mortgage advice. In a company that values people and community, Nivens concluded that his greatest accomplishment during his 20 years at H-E-B was “helping them get back on their feet after tragedy. At H-E-B we are a family, and that’s what families do.”




Categories: Centers, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

The 2015 Retailing Summit celebrated its 30th year by focusing on innovation, the empowered customer and omnichannel retailing. The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School hosted the Oct. 8-9 event at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.

Over two days, nearly 275 attendees explored how to make retail better through improved customer interactions, one-to-one marketing and store enhancements. Executives from JCPenney, Bluemercury, Mission Athletecare, The Futures Company, UPS, Pinot’s Palette, MasterCard Advisors and NatureBox headlined the conference, which also included two panels on technology innovation and retaining top talent.


Former U.S. Navy Blue Angel pilot John Foley kicked off the Retailing Summit conference with the empowering “Glad To Be Here®” mantra. His enthusiasm radiated as he recalled stories from his precision flying days, where he was nicknamed “Gucci” by fellow pilots.

In order to achieve their peak performance, Foley advised attendees to:

  1. Examine their present situation
  2. Define where they would like to be
  3. Focus on the positives that can help guide them there

Former U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot John Foley with Katie Burroughs, Haley Gooch and Lindsay La Rosa from the Master’s in Marketing program.

According to Foley, research confirms that when a person feels satisfaction with where they are, they become more grateful, positive and productive. Companies can also foster teamwork by channeling positive visualization techniques.


Youth marketing to the millennial customer is officially over.

Erik Medina, vice president of The Futures Company, defined millennials as the age group of 19- to 34-year-olds. His research through the TRU Youth Monitor dubbed the up-and-coming generation of those between 12 and 18 years of age as “centennials.”

Compared to their predecessors, centennials are more focused on mobile versus the internet, have faced financial upheaval and want to take a stand for something by supporting companies associated with a cause.

Centennials are also more inclined to want to buy niche products. They are interested in the “maker movement,” alongside the rise of Etsy and customized product choices. They view the future with wariness and grasp that personal success is not a guarantee in life. They are less concerned with fitting in and they value individual uniqueness.

Medina praised GameStop as a retailer effectively serving the centennial customer with fun, tech-savvy and personalized shopping experiences.


Fittingly, the 2015 Retailing Summit featured the man behind GameStop’s store innovations: Jeff Donaldson, SVP of the GameStop Technology Institute. Donaldson led a panel discussion, which profiled companies that are revolutionizing their businesses through technology.

Moderated by Debbie Hauss, editor in chief of Retail TouchPoints, the panel also included Scott Emmons, enterprise architect for Neiman Marcus, and Michelle Bogan, partner at Kurt Salmon.

When defining what innovation meant to them, Emmons said building stronger customer relationships and Donaldson said innovation can either be a new idea or a reinvention of something old, by creating a novel approach. For example, a low-tech solution that customers embraced at Neiman Marcus included in-store charging stations, which encouraged customers to stay and shop longer.

Each also agreed that innovation directly correlates with growth.  “The pace of change internally must exceed the pace of change externally,” Donaldson said.

The panel also briefly touched on incubator communities like REVTECH in Dallas — places where mentors guide entrepreneurs who are looking to refine their startup business ideas.

Forecasting hot trends, Bogan highlighted the increase of “buy” buttons on social media. She also mentioned the rise of subscription box offerings, including Birchbox. Donaldson said GameStop will look to crowdsourcing as it develops new products.


Combining the wine and DIY art industries, Craig Ceccanti, co-founder and CEO of Pinot’s Palette launched his entrepreneurial and franchise concept in 2009. With more than 150 locations in 33 states, Ceccanti credits integrating innovation into his business plan and company culture as key to his success.

Franchise owners are expected to introduce new sales promotions, painting designs, and process improvements by reviewing customer surveys, asking for direct feedback, and effectively using customer data to stay relevant. Because, as Ceccanti concluded, complacency and “becoming a fad [will] make you vigorously prepared to not become one.”


Sarah Quinlan, VP of Market Insights at MasterCard Advisors, debunked several retail myths by analyzing economic data from 2015 credit card transactions.

According to Quinlan, increased competitiveness from small businesses who provide superior customer service and specialized product offerings has driven down retail sales at department stores and other mass merchants. With reduced gas prices, consumers have additional disposable income that they have opted to spend on travel, at restaurants and on durable goods instead of apparel or more “stuff.”

Although ecommerce companies like Amazon are forcing traditional, physical stores to expand their offerings online, online-only companies like Warby Parker and Rent the Runway are opening brick-and-mortar stores to more personally engage with shoppers.

The store is and will always be the emotional heart and financial core of retail.


The Retailing Summit also featured healthy snacking subscription provider NatureBox, led by one of Inc.’s “30 under 30,” co-founder and CEO Gautam Gupta. Providing customers an algorithm-curated assortment based on previous purchases, NatureBox has become a leader using the business model of monthly replenishment.

Eighty percent of the nearly 5,000 new products introduced every quarter fail.

By mining its extraordinary data warehouse of customer flavor preferences, ingredients, etc. NatureBox reduced the product development cycle from 12 months to 12 weeks and increased its percentage of successful product launches.


RetailingSummit2015-48Newly named JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison inspired the audience by detailing his career path at Target and Home Depot, and vision for JCPenney’s turnaround. JCPenney’s decline did not result from increased or new competition, a revolutionary technology or fewer customers, he said, but from a disaster in leadership.

To reverse the damage, Ellison pledged to attack differently. He started by plugging as many holes as possible and simplified the company’s strategic focus. Moving forward, each business decision will be evaluated on how it benefits JCPenney’s omnichannel strategy, growth of private brands and increase in revenue per customer.

JCPenney has turned the corner, and its future success hinges on a pledge for clarity of purpose and balance between the art and science of retail, he said


Newly acquired by Macy’s, Bluemercury—a friendly neighborhood store where customers can seek advice from “self-proclaimed beauty junkies who love people”—has high hopes of becoming the next “Starbucks of the makeup industry.”

Celebrating the mom-and-pop shopping experience, co-founder and chief operating officer Barry Beck described the company’s foundation as built on the three P’s: people, product and place.

Beck claims that Bluemercury’s people strategy is the chain’s secret weapon. By offering real career paths and higher wages, Bluemercury hires style consultants who have genuine client focus. Like “human Googlers,” they provide beauty solutions for customers, not just product recommendations.

The company, headquartered in Georgetown/Washington, D.C. has intentionally placed 14 stores within a 28-mile radius to increase brand awareness in the area.

According to Beck, innovation is important because “it’s a winner-takes-all game.”


With the expansion of ecommerce, home delivery is now integral to the customer experience. Steve Brill, Vice President for Global B2C Strategy for UPS, described the importance of strengthening relationships between retailers and delivery providers like UPS who interact directly with the purchaser.

Choice, control, and convenience top what customers want in efficient distance delivery. UPS recently created the “My Choice” program to allow people to select the most convenient delivery option when receiving a package, including flexibility on shipment date, delivery, location, etc. Brill identified this as an innovative response to the “situational need” that always accompanies shipping.

No single size delivery option fits all in an omnichannel world where options now include ship to store, ship from store and ecommerce returns.


The second panel at the Retailing Summit, moderated by the Center for Retailing Studies’ Director Kelli Hollinger, sought to identify characteristics of high performing individuals and tactics for how companies can retain them.

Karyn Maynard, recruiting director at The Container Store, quoted the company’s philosophy that “one great person equals three good people.” She said it is essential when hiring to select the right candidate who can:

  • Speak up and contribute
  • Show perseverance
  • Nurture others

Karla Waddleton, division vice president at ALDI, Inc., said the German grocery chain tests the resiliency of new hires by challenging them with real responsibility. “We want to see their potential for leadership.”

According to Jennifer Lustig, senior director of human resources at PetSmart, employees want to feel valued. They also become more motivated when the career path for growth within the company is clearly outlined.


Aggie graduate and football star Chris Valletta propelled himself from the NFL to the Apprentice to head entrepreneur and co-founder of Mission Athletecare. Inspired by basketball legend Michael Jordan, Valletta used his failures to work harder and perform under pressure—what he describes as being “clutch.”

Talent and motivation are not enough to set you apart, he explained. Having emotional intelligence or the ability to hold tight to your emotions while making decisions is key.

Being “clutch” requires being obsessed with details because the little things matter greatly.

Similar to a game of football, the retail landscape is constantly changing. You have to be able to adapt, think quickly and execute during the hard moments, he explained.


Attendees also heard from breakout session leaders Matt Schmitt, President and Chief Innovation Strategy Officer at Reflect, with Lee Summers, Manager of Marketing and Technology at Nebraska Furniture Mart; Mathew Sweezy, Vice President of Marketing and Insights at Salesforce, with Aaron Stevens, Senior Sales Manager, Carrier Indirect & Regional Carrier at OtterBox; and, Jim Sturm, President and Chief Executive Officer at Brierley+Partners with representatives from Half-Price Books.


The 2016 Retailing Summit will take place on Oct. 13-14 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.

Visit for more information.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Mays Business, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Mike Hitt, Mays professor emeritus of management, was named the 2015 SMS Service Award Recipient for his significant contributions to the Strategic Management Society.

The award recognizes individuals who have given outstanding service to the Society and its members.

In addition to serving as director-at-large, treasurer and president, Hitt oversaw a change to more democratic governance, introduced an Interest Group structure, and he was integral to the creation of the Strategic Research Fund and the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. Hitt was in the management field for 40 years, and was given the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at Mays, where he was a University Distinguished Professor and Joe B. Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership.

He retired in the spring of 2015.Michael Hitt photo

Categories: Centers, Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Blue Bell did three things right as a business of integrity.

To bedrhoustonheadshotgin with, I quote what one of my best friends recently posted to Facebook: “When it is back on the shelves, I’m going to eat my body weight in Blue Bell!” I start with that reaction because it is indicative of the deep passion for Blue Bell that is playing a big part in their ability to recover from a disaster on a scale that would have destroyed many businesses. Even with such strong brand devotion (“Blue Bell is part of my family”), a company facing a recall that involves consumer harm has a very short period of time to make some key decisions – and they have to get them right.

First, with the speed with which information spreads today – and consumers who increasingly value authenticity – a firm cannot appear as if they are trying to hide anything. Research on many product recalls suggests that you have to acknowledge the scale of the problem, accept responsibility and declare the specific actions you will take to make it right for those harmed and to make sure that the problem does not reoccur. Blue Bell was, for the most part, very transparent – they communicated through traditional advertising channels, but also worked with retail partners to post signs on the ice cream shelves that explained, apologized sincerely, and announced steps to continue to investigate the sources and to fix the problem.

Second, as the full scale of the problem becomes clear, it becomes critical to make sure that the response adapts and is big enough to matter. In my recollection, there were a few waves in which it became clearer that the problem was not isolated to just a small niche of product lines or one machine in one plant. Although there was some negative reaction among consumers and business writers as the problem seemed to continue to grow for a period, I thought Blue Bell reacted with a level of candor that is pretty rare. But it was interesting to me that the majority customer opinion seemed to be one of “hoping an old friend would quickly get well” instead of wondering what else the firm might be hiding. This only happens if customers are devoted to the brand (beyond simple positive feelings) and if they have a high level of trust in the integrity of the firm and its management. Researchers refer to these factors as a firm having high “social capital.” Blue Bell will still have to get the “re-launch” right, as I’m guessing there will be some supply shortages—they will have the chance to hit the right tone of expressing appreciation to customers while re-emphasizing their commitment to product safety and quality.

Finally, I think financial partners and channel partners recognized that Blue Bell’s social capital would, more likely than not, result in customers welcoming Blue Bell back rather than being afraid to resume using the product. So these partners, who faced tough decisions of their own, appear to have recognized the value in remaining committed to Blue Bell and helping the beloved brand regain their footing in the marketplace.


Mark B. Houston is department head and professor of marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, as well as the inaugural Blue Bell Creameries Chair in Business.

He can be reached at


Categories: Centers, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School will host its 30th Retailing Summit conference Oct. 8-9, featuring Bluemercury co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Barry Beck.



The two-day conference at the Westin Galleria in Dallas aims to join more than 300 executives as they deep dive into macro-industry trends, disrupting retail models and discussions on future predictions about “big-picture” retailing concepts.

Bluemercury, recently acquired by Macy’s for $210 million dollars, is a high-growth luxury beauty and cosmetics chain. The partnership provides the company access to omnichannel technology, supply chain and retail operations to continue its expansion efforts next to Macy’s national operation network of over 850 department stores.

“This year’s Retailing Summit theme of ‘Redefining: Retail’ is particularly exciting to me given the recent acquisition of Bluemercury and the innovative vision we have for the future,” Beck said. “I’m looking forward to sharing key insights from this rapid growth period and learning from some of the Industry’s leading executives.”

Beck has appeared as a speaker for the Showcase on Great Consumer Brands at NASDAQ, the Future of Bricks-and-Mortar Retail at the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Mobile Payment and Omnichannel Retailing at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and has spoken on the subject of entrepreneurship and innovation at Cornell University and Columbia University’s Lang Center for Entrepreneurship’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Making their way to Texas, the company has “plans to expand our footprint throughout [the state], including Southlake Village in September and in the near future at one of the first Macy’s stop-in-shops at Memorial City in Houston, with additional free-standing heritage stores following in 2016 and beyond.”

As well, the Retailing Summit will welcome JCPenney’s Marvin Ellison, one of the most-watched retail CEO’s across the country.

Texas A&M University former student Chris Valletta ’01, a contestant on The Apprentice, also joins the group as the co-founder of Mission Athletecare. Its distribution expanded nationwide within the first year to more than 5,000 locations, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Sports Authority, Hibett Sports, Brookstone, HSN, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Kroger.

“As a university-hosted event, the Retailing Summit is about genuine sharing knowledge, not sales pitches. The conference gathers retail leaders who are willing to discuss best practices (or lessons learned from failures) that improve business,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies. “Attendees will hear stories from the trenches of retail about improving the customer experience, elevating the role of the store, rewarding loyalty and leveraging technology to drive sales.”

Joining Beck, Ellison and Valletta are Gautam Gupta, CEO of NatureBox; Erik Medina, Vice President, Head of U.S. TRU Youth Monitor at The Futures Company; Sarah Quinlan, SVP and Head of Market Insights at MasterCard; Bryan McCormick, Vice President of Human Resources at PetSmart; Jeff Donaldson, SVP of GameStop Technology Institute at GameStop; Steve Brill, SVP of Corporate Communications at UPS; Scott Emmons, Enterprise Architect and Innovation Lab Manager at Neiman Marcus; Karyn Maynard, Recruiting Director at The Container Store; Michelle Bogan, Partner at Kurt Salmon; Craig Ceccanti, CEO and Co-Founder of Pinots Palette; and, Karla Waddleton, Division Vice President at ALDI.

BDO, Reflect Systems, Salesforce, Brierley + Partners, Kurt Salmon and PetSmart will serve as corporate sponsors of this year’s event.

Funds raised by the annual conference support retail curriculum and scholarships for students pursuing retail studies at Mays Business School by educating the next generation of retail leaders and providing executive education to the industry.

For more information or to register, visit or call 979.845.0325


The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) was created in 1983 to meet the demand for highly-educated innovators in the fast-paced world of retail. Since its founding, the Center has become a renowned source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing leaders in the retail sector. We work in collaboration with the Mays Business School to provide an excellent repertoire of coursework, internship and leadership opportunities for professionals interested in all facets of the retail experience.


Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, business, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.


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

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) welcomes Charles “Chuck” Hinton Jr. as the new director for I-Corps Programming. He will be responsible for promotion of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Innovation Corps (I-CorpsTM) program, a set of entrepreneurial activities that prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory, and broaden the impact of select NSF-funded basic research projects.

Chuck Hinton 2015I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that solicits three-member teams – composed of an academic researcher, a student entrepreneur and an industry mentor – to participate in an intensive seven-week program to determine commercialization opportunities for their innovations. Selected I-Corps Teams are eligible for up to $50,000 in NSF grant funding to support their efforts in the combined on-site and online curriculum, which is based on the Lean Launch Methodology for business model validation.

Hinton will lead the CNVE’s efforts as part of the Southwest I-Corps Node (, one of seven national partnerships of universities funded by NSF to support I-Corps expansion. Texas A&M University, along with UT-Austin, Rice University and Texas Tech University, share responsibilities for promotion of this high-impact program and recruitment of I-Corps Team applicants. To date, I-Corps has trained more than 500 teams nationwide, many of which have efficiently determined a pathway through which to commercialize their NSF-funded innovations.

“Chuck’s efforts for the CNVE will focus first on recruitment and preparation of Texas A&M teams for enrollment in this elite program,” said Blake Petty, CNVE director and a National I-Corps faculty member. “He’ll then be responsible for expanding I-Corps participation throughout the Texas A&M System, around the state, and ultimately, across the southwestern U.S.”

Hinton received two degrees from Texas A&M: a bachelor’s degree in business in 1976 and an MBA in 1978. After a successful career in natural gas exploration/drilling/production, Hinton more recently became familiar to CNVE as a volunteer mentor working with entrepreneurial students at Startup Aggieland, the Texas A&M campus’ student business accelerator. While leading efforts to recruit and train mentors for their student programs, Hinton developed a deep understanding and appreciation for Startup Aggieland’s Lean Launch Methodology – which shares the same principals applied in I-Corps training.

“We’re very fortunate to add someone of Chuck’s caliber to the CNVE team,” Petty said. “His expertise and enthusiasm for I-Corps will be infectious to everyone he engages.”

Academic researchers and students interested in learning more about I-Corps and non-academic leaders wanting to serve as industry mentors to an I-Corps Team are encouraged to contact Hinton at


Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, business, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.


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