Kelli R. Levey, April 20th, 2016
What started as a celebration at the Texas A&M Foundation to express appreciation to Phillips 66 for a $500,000 donation soon transitioned to a tribute to the company’s generosity and ties to Texas A&M University.
Brian Bishop, the development officer for Mays Business School, surprised Judith Vincent, general auditor of Phillips 66, during the luncheon, saying he wanted to express the college’s appreciation for all the company has done. He gave her a plaque designating Phillips 66 as Mays’ 2016 Corporate Sponsor of the Year.
Vincent has been instrumental in coordinating the company’s gifts to Mays, which have helped fund annual trips to Africa for several Regents’ Scholars.“Your willingness to listen and engage with our students made the recognition for P66 very easy,” Bishop said.“We look forward to working with you and your team for many years to come.”
The clear glass plaque reads: “Mays Business School is proud of the corporate partners who invest in the academic and professional development of our students. These generous contributions allow us to accomplish our mission of creating knowledge and develop ethical leaders for a global society.”
Vincent said she was touched by the unexpected award. “We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished together in a short four years,” she said. “Our partnership works because of aligned values and shared objectives, but our partnership thrives because of the amazing people at Mays and the Foundation that I get to work with. The administrators and faculty I work with are committed, passionate and care deeply about the success of the students. I could not ask for better collaborators. Again, we deeply appreciate the recognition.”
Before the luncheon, Sonya Reed, senior vice president of human resources at Phillips 66, spoke of how impressed she has been with Texas A&M since joining Phillips 66 and moving to Houston 10 months ago. “A&M is a special place – and one that people are clearly passionate about,” she said, noting how her observations fuel her fascination with the culture of organizations – their inner life, character and behavior. “In my experience, you can quickly figure out what a particular culture encourages or discourages, and whether there’s a common sense of purpose. We know that culture determines the level of trust in an organization as well as its overall health and vitality. From colleagues I’ve learned that A&M has a strong, distinct, values-based culture.”
Reed said the partnership between Texas A&M and Phillips 66 has been far-reaching. “Currently, 271 Aggie graduates are working in a range of engineering and business positions at our company – including the CEO,” she said. “And Texas A&M is the company’s top resource for interns and new hires for our university recruitment efforts.”
One of those partnerships is the SHIELD Scholars Program, which currently has 24 Aggies enrolled. It awards $3,500 scholarships to full-time students who are recruited by Phillips 66 and who demonstrate leadership abilities, involvement in student and professional organizations and an interest in a career in the energy industry. In addition to financial support, SHIELD Scholars participate in enrichment activities such as career development, leadership seminars, lecture series, community service and visits to Phillips 66 locations. Texas A&M is one of 10 universities participating in the program.
Partners in discovering the world
In another partnership, Phillips 66 helps Mays send 15 college sophomores each summer on a two-week expedition in Africa. The students are all Regents’ Scholars – first-generation college students. “For a few of them, this trip was their first time on an airplane and outside the U.S.,” she said. “For many, it was their first opportunity to explore a new part of the world and learn about its many cultures. And for all of them, it presented challenges that advanced their maturity. The bond between A&M and Phillips 66 keeps getting stronger.”
Tyson Voelkel, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, said he has been impressed by the company’s focus on values and its generosity with Texas A&M students. “I don’t call it a gift, I call it an investment in our university and our students.”
Henry Musoma, a lecturer at Mays, accompanies the students to his homeland of Africa each summer. He described a correlation between Phillips 66’s dedication to the students and his favorite quote: “You can count the number of seeds in an orange, but you can never count the number of oranges in a seed.”
“Their company culture is grand in that it is sowing in a universal field,” he said. “Phillips 66 sponsors our programs because it is the right thing to do. Their sponsorship is matched by their active participation in our programs. They are fueling a renewed sense of purpose, passion and power in our student population.”