“We are problem solvers and path finders – we work with our clients to realize their full potential and to help them become high-performing businesses or governments”, Blake Pounds ’89 told Business Honors students at Mays Business School. “Examining symptoms, diagnosing the problem, prescribing a solution and working with a business to improve productivity and efficiency is what consulting is all about.” Pounds shared his experiences and observations about the field, and described how students can thrive in an industry that demands problem solving, flexibility and interpersonal skills.

Pounds, a 25-year veteran of the field, is currently the managing director of Accenture’s Houston office. Since completing his bachelor’s in finance from Texas A&M University and an MBA in international business from The University of Texas at San Antonio, he has worked continuously with Accenture. He also serves on the board of directors of the Greater Houston Partnership and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

“I was attracted to consulting for three things: The opportunity to work with sharp people, the variety of the work and the continuous learning,” he explained. “You’re constantly learning and being challenged, and you’re always encouraged to grow – personally and professionally. These are the things that have kept me at Accenture for more than 25 years.”

At the Houston office, Pounds oversees 1,800 employees in five divisions – strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Under his leadership since 2013, the office has accelerated acquisition and recruiting efforts. Pounds has also been active in leading Accenture’s efforts to give back to the local community through its multiple Houston partnerships with organizations such as Genesys Works, Junior Achievement, KIPP and the Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program among others. “I like taking ideas, seeing an opportunity and working to grow it,” Pounds said of the progress of Accenture in Houston.

Throughout his career, Pounds has traveled to more than 30 countries, worked abroad on extended multi-year assignments to Mexico City and London, and gained experience working with clients in a variety of industries including financial services, chemicals, utilities and oil & gas. He shared his insights into how students can succeed in consulting.

  • Be comfortable with ambiguity

“The people I see struggling in this industry are those that don’t deal well with ambiguity,” he said. “These people want to be told exactly what to expect in any situation. But the folks who are successful are those that are confident and resourceful in any situation and say to themselves, ‘Wherever I am, I have the resources I need and my firm behind me, and we’ll be able to figure out any problem.’”

  • Work well with others

Pounds said consulting projects are similar to group projects in college courses, and that the team dynamics are not very different. “On a team, there are classic behaviors: someone who emerges as a leader, others who are hard workers and those who will contribute as required on specialist subjects. ” he said. Team-working is essential to the demands of the consulting industry.

  • Be digitally savvy

He shared advice for Aggies preparing for jobs: Stay abreast of digital technology. “Digital technology is changing so quickly, and it’s disrupting long-standing business models,” he said. “Staying up to speed is incredibly important, irrespective of what you study in school.”

His secret to success

Consulting is all about building relationships and partnering with the right people to solve problems, Pounds explained. No matter which industry, he believes that staying in touch with clients on a regular basis is crucial to success. “There can be a tendency to be opportunistic – only reaching out to a client when they have a problem,” he said. “But it is important to know your clients and to stay in touch with them, irrespective of whether there is a current opportunity. When the time comes when they have a challenging problem to solve, they’ll tend to call the person with whom they have an ongoing relationship based on mutual trust.”

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

The job of a financial advisor encompasses multiple elements of business – marketing and sales, management of staff and clients, and analysis of finance, capital markets and portfolios. But for Tom Jenkins ’92, it also means telling stories.

25386562385_6c7c1941ac_kAs Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at Jenkins & Associates of UBS Financial Services, Jenkins manages more than $200 million for 75 wealthy families and individuals. Managing wealth is a sensitive topic, and Jenkins has learned that stories can help him convey important advice in a way that both educates and resonates with his clients. He showed Business Honors students at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School how storytelling can be a powerful tool not just in financial advising, but in life as well.

“It’s important to have a story with everything – be it with a recruiter, interviewer, whomever you encounter,” he advised. “Stories help define who you are. Have those and practice those, and always be prepared to share them.”

Jenkins shared his own story with the students. He began his education at Texas A&M, where he studied marketing and enjoyed success on campus as a member of the Corps of Cadets and the Business Student Council. Also heavily involved in summer internships, he received multiple job offers and accepted a marketing position at NationsBank. Things were going well.

But within just 10 months of starting his new job, he was laid off. He was jobless and faced with a dire financial situation due in part, he admits, to poor financial management during those first months after college. To make ends meet, he took jobs selling suits and delivering pizzas.

Take ownership of your career

“That was a real shocker for me. I was so discouraged from having gone from where I was in college to balancing those two jobs at once. I didn’t foresee it happening,” he recalled. Yet Jenkins had a plan. Knowing his ultimate goal, he decided to open his own financial advising business while holding the other two jobs. Though it was difficult holding multiple jobs at once, he said the lesson was that he was learning to take ownership of his career through hard work and financial responsibility.

“Things aren’t always going to go our way,” he said. “But think about and plan what you’re going to do – what you’re willing to do – to work hard and get where you need to be and want to be.”

Seek others’ wisdom

To grow his business, Jenkins said he harnessed the power of networking. “I had a shoebox full of business cards I had collected from recruiters during college, and I began calling the people on the cards,” he said. His contacts gave him guidance on how to succeed in the industry and referred people who became Jenkins’ newest clients.

“I really learned importance of finding mentors and seeking others’ advice and input,” he said. “Always ask yourself, ‘Who can I seek advice from?’”

To whom much was given, of him much will be required

For five years, Jenkins worked hard running his own financial planning practice before Merrill Lynch took an interest and approached him about moving his practice to join the company. He accepted and worked there for 12 years. During that time he participated in graduate work through the Harvard University Extension School and received the Certified Investment Management Analyst ® designation from Wharton’s Business School of Executive Education, a certification held by only a small percentage of his colleagues in the industry. In 2010, he joined UBS.

Jenkins explained how he appreciates the flexibility of picking his own clients, developing relationships with them and tailoring a portfolio that is best fit for their needs. “I take a lot of pride in helping people be good stewards of their money,” Jenkins said. “You’ve heard the saying ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ If you have intelligence, financial luxuries, whatever it may be, you have an obligation to use those gifts to help others.”

Advice for Millennials and financial wisdom

One student wanted to know what Jenkins would advise today’s college students. “Millennials have a greater access to information than those in times in times past. Unfortunately, they don’t always value the input of a financial advisor as much as previous generations.” Jenkins added: “Remember that you should always outsource areas that are not your expertise to those who can help you; invite them to be on your team.”

He also gave financial advice, drawing on principles he uses in his own practice:

  • Have an emergency reserve of cash for three to six months
  • Prioritize giving and saving with Dave Ramsey’s “out of sight, out of mind” principles
  • Allocate money to spend guilt-free on things you enjoy, but only after you handle all of your goals
  • Be careful with debt – only use it as leverage for a greater return in the future

Categories: Alumni, Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Catherine Flax ’85 has traversed many positions throughout her 20-plus years in the financial services industry. During her visit to Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, she described to Business Honors students what she called her “winding career path” and how she successfully navigated so many transitions.
“For me, I’ve never really been afraid,” said Flax, who is currently managing director, head of Commodity Derivatives & Foreign Exchange, Americas at European bank BNP Paribas.

She recalled how her early years prepared her to work hard and make the most of every opportunity, even in uncertain circumstances. “What holds people back the most is fear. People become afraid of making a mistake or a wrong decision. People imagine that there’s a path you can set out today and say,‘This is how we’re going to get to the next spot.’ It just doesn’t work like that. Thank goodness, because what actually happens is way better than you could have planned.”

Flax’s own journey started at Texas A&M, when she began as an engineering major. But she was inspired by a Texaco economist to switch her major to economics. “I decided to find something I was passionate about,” she said.

This passion led her to graduate within three years, after which she moved to Brown University for a master’s degree. She started out teaching at the University of Nebraska; began consulting projects for local businesses; worked at a local radio show, commenting on economics; and even worked as an economic advisor for a congressman.

Later, Flax was chief marketing officer at JP Morgan as well as head of the commodities business for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Before JP Morgan, she worked at Morgan Stanley for six years. Flax won the award for Most Influential Woman in European Investment Banking in 2012.

Students asked Flax how they can best use their time at Texas A&M to prepare for job opportunities and life in the professional world.

“I suggest that you find situations to put yourselves in, that are uncomfortable, where you feel a bit over your head. Seek that out regularly. It’s a muscle.” She also recommended that the students spend more time networking and “understanding what people in the business actually do.” She encouraged students to take advantage of the modern tools that make building relationships and networks easier than ever. Finally, “be open to geographical mobility,” she advised, recalling her experience working in London with JP Morgan for a year and a half.

Flax’s openness to her many experiences resonated with Alin Piranian ’16, a Business Honors and finance major. “My main takeaway from speaking with Catherine Flax was that you have to be 100 percent ‘in’ in everything you do,” she said.

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

Alan Mitchell ’85 believes that knowledge about a job in investment banking is key to scoring an entry-level position in the field, he told Business Honors students on his visit to Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

“It’s important that you are comparable in your knowledge base with other people you are competing against,” he said. “Not just your resume, not just what you’ve done at school, but your knowledge about what the job is. If you don’t have that, that’s a disadvantage.”

Mitchell is managing director of Wells Fargo Securities in New York City with a career in investment banking that spans over two decades. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Mitchell was a managing director at Citigroup. His career first started in the Houston office of KPMG, where he left as a senior manager in 1992. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M in 1985.
He believes there is value in understanding the investment banking field, whether students intend to go into investment banking or not.

“If you’re going to be in business, you’re going to be dealing in some way, shape or form with investment bankers. Understanding what we do as a profession is going to be helpful.”

He took the opportunity to explain to students the different types of positions such as the analyst and the associate as well as the challenges and rewards of the field.

“In his presentation he mentioned that investment banking is challenging because every bank is fighting over the same clients,” said Aniket Patel ’18, Business Honors and finance major. “Because of this, it is crucial to create innovative and creative solutions to win a client.”

Mitchell also cited several ways he sets himself apart in his job. “Creativity, personality, long-term relationships, intellect, unique thoughts – these are how we differentiate ourselves from those other 10 or 15 people trying to do exactly the same thing,” he explained.

Though he admits investment banking requires long hours and a strenuous environment, Mitchell reminded the students that someone with analyst experience could be “one of the most sought-after individuals after that period of time because employers know what that person has been through.”

Luke Wheeler ’17, Business Honors and accounting major, called the presentation “informative and inspirational” and said Mitchell “provided unique insights into the industry in a way that only someone who has achieved his position could.”

Business Honors major Hallie Skansi ’18 called Mitchell engaging and charismatic, and said he explained investment banking “in a way that made sense and opened my eyes to a world of business I had never heard much about before.” She said her biggest takeaway from the presentation was “the importance of familiarizing oneself with an industry before seeking a career in said industry. I can honestly say I learned something from this event, and have another possible career path to consider as a result.”

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

Wayne Roberts ’85 is driven and motivated to help others. His fascination with the unique strengths and skills of each person is the cornerstone of his leadership approach and something he leverages extensively to put people in roles and opportunities that best leverage their abilities, interests and strengths. This focus on understanding the individual has defined Roberts as a coach and leader.Wayne Roberts Roberts told a group of Business Honors students at Mays Business School recently that you must truly know and manage yourself before successfully managing others. According to Gallup’s StrengthsFinder Assessment, “Individualization” is consistently his top strength. “When you get to the point of understanding your strengths and how you’re wired, you then get comfortable with yourself and how to leverage your own strengths,” he said. “Coaching others is when it really gets fun and rewarding.”

Roberts is chief operating officer at Accruent, an Austin-based company that provides real estate management software and services.

He shared specific recommendations with students to put into practice communication, meeting, coaching and leadership practices. For example, he shared the company meeting cadence, which is derived from Patrick Lencione’s Death by Meeting. He holds weekly tactical team meetings with his direct reports, monthly strategic full-day meetings, quarterly off-site meetings and ad hoc strategic meetings when needed. Each of the meetings has a specific agenda, purpose, cadence and attendance.

But where Roberts believes everyone gets the most benefit is in weekly one-on-one meetings with each employee. “Each of my one-on-ones are different. I tailor them to the individual, which is another example of playing to my strengths,” he said. “We get more done in that one hour together every week than in any other setting.”

Among the many lessons learned and recommendations Roberts shared with the group is the notion of “FOUR” – an acronym he created that summarizes what he has observed that defines those most successful in the business world. “The F in FOUR stands for Failure. Those that aren’t afraid to fail, who stretch themselves, get out of their comfort zone, fail smartly and then learn from those failures are the ones that succeed long term.”

Similarly, being “Outcome oriented (“O”) rather than immersed in the tasks and processes means you never lose sight of the ultimate objective and can see the forest for the trees. Those that are big picture oriented and long term greedy are more successful than those that maximize short terms results.” Not surprisingly, Roberts believes that true Level 5 leaders are also Unselfish (“U”).

Resiliency (“R”) is another common trait of the successful people Roberts has known. “Their grit, determination, iron will and work ethic is remarkable and sets them apart,” Roberts said.

While not the only factors, Roberts shared with students that FOUR seems correlated to success in his experience.  “It’s the old adage – common sense, uncommonly practiced.”

The students who heard Roberts speak at Mays said they were impressed with his humility and insistence on getting to know his employees. “I want to be able to apply his ideas to my career down the road if I am ever a manager, and I hope to be able to stay as humble and patient as Mr. Roberts seems to be,” said Caitlin Smith ’17, a Business Honors and supply chain major.

Sam Richter ’16, an accounting and Business Honors major, said he was interested to learn how a relationship-oriented leader operates in a workplace. “Over my four years in college I have discovered that I am a relationship-based leader, so it was an amazing experience getting to see what that practically looked like in the workplace,” he said.

Business Honors and finance major Conrad Shillings ’16 described Roberts as a “very friendly and outgoing man, with a lot of wisdom and care for us.” He recalled one of the specific lessons Roberts shared with the group. “My favorite takeaway was the F in FOUR, the failure,” Shillings said. “He said to embrace and welcome failure, because we learn the most from our failures and only grow stronger.”




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

You don’t have to know your career aspirations in order to have a successful career.

That’s what Steve Lovejoy told Business Honors students on his recent visit to Mays Business School. Lovejoy is Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Starbucks Corporation, where he provides leadership in global manufacturing operations and store development.

Lovejoy said he couldn’t have foreseen his current role when he was an industrial engineering major at Purdue University. “Supply chain didn’t even exist,” he told students. “It found me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated. My journey went with people putting opportunities in front of me and then me deciding if I wanted to take that next challenge. Because when you make changes, you’re taking a little bit of challenge – especially changing companies.”
After 18 years in supply chain, he joined the coffee company in 2010. His responsibilities have taken him internationally as he oversees global operations in all of Starbucks’ manufacturing sites and contract manufacturing sites around the world. He even worked abroad for six months in Shanghai, China.

Lovejoy advised students about making career decisions: “Take some chances, don’t be too quick to rotate out of an experience especially if you don’t like it. Because you have to ask yourself ‘am I learning something that’s going to foundationally help my career later on?’”

He recalled his own experience working third shift in a manufacturing plant as a sanitation supervisor in food operations. “That was not a fun 18 months – not at all,” he admitted. But working in a food company –learning about inspections, sanitation and the FDA – proved to be invaluable for his work at Starbucks. “Did I enjoy it? No. Am I glad I had the experience? Yes.”

Lovejoy also shared insight into Starbucks’ values, mission statement and five-year strategy and how all of it ties together to some of its recent social initiates. Starbucks is offering tuition to college students and opportunities to veterans; giving increased attention to sustainability and nutrition; and raising awareness of various social issues. Though this social involvement is controversial, Lovejoy said the company is simply trying to do the right thing.

“Many of the things we’re doing we’re not trying to do for competitive advantage,” he explained. “We’re doing them because they’re the right things to do. The more companies that join in, the better our world will be.”

Many of the students received this message well. “I really enjoyed his point of view on Starbucks’ social goals and the ensuing discussion,” said Rusty Hundley ’16, a Business Honors and finance major. ”It is great to see companies making an impact outside of their business.” Hundley also said the discussion of Lovejoy’s personal career “highlighted to me the importance of foundational experience and the non-reversibility of some decisions we make.”

David Jordan ’16, a Business Honors and finance major, added: “I have a lot of respect for Starbucks’ mission of being excellent through a lens of humanity not being afraid to voice opinions on sensitive issues.” He said the presentation helped him “see Starbucks as providing a place of comfort and normalcy for customers across the world.”

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

David Cordani ’88 credits Texas A&M University – particularly Mays Business School – with preparing him to lead Cigna’s 37,000 employees and operations in 30 countries. His double major in accounting and finance and his background as an Aggie helped to form who he is today, he told a crowd of students, faculty and community members on Sept. 18.

He said entering Ray Auditorium conjured memories of anxiety during his college days because the big tests were administered in similar rooms. Now he speaks with ease to groups of all sizes, all around the world – including with President Barack Obama and other leading CEOs about health care issues.


Cordani said a love of learning, not a master plan, has propelled his career. “I was fortunate in that I left here with a great foundation of skills and experiences and most importantly a lot of what I would call the ‘X Factor of Texas A&M’ – the values, the beliefs and what is the underpinning in terms of the loyalty, the sense of service, the sense of respect.” Early in his career, he became interested in two industries: financial service and health care. “I was bitten by health care because health care was an opportunity to touch and change people’s lives in a very intimate way. I’ve been on a journey for what’s going to be approaching 30 years and I am still learning each and every day.”

He said one of the most important things being imprinted on the students is what and how to learn. “I would challenge you to open your arms and embrace an environment of learning for the rest of your life. Every day you’ll have an opportunity to learn from those around you. My perspective is the day you stop learning is the day you start dying.”

Cordani said individuals who think they have all the answers tend not to be the best leaders. He cited one of his favorite quotes: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” by President Harry Truman. He said many people are oriented around having a right answer, but the right answer doesn’t exist, in most cases. “Most of the things you confront in life and in business don’t have a right answer, they have a series of alternatives,” he said. “And oftentimes the best alternative is the alternative that works for the culture, the environment and the team you are working with. The key for leadership is actually figuring out how to get the best answer that a team will come together and support, wrap their arms around and help you drive going forward.”


Cordani shared some pointers on how to pursue continuous learning:

  • Seek and adapt to change quickly. “Most people say they like change. Most people like change that is comfortable to them.”
  • Be persistent and relentless. “You will confront – as you do in your academic careers – barriers, speed bumps, potholes, surprises in your entire professional careers. It’s how you confront those speed bumps, it’s how you confront those challenges that makes a difference.”
  • Be courageous. “You will be confronted throughout your professional career with many challenges. You could be around a lot of people, but you’ll feel like you are all alone. You’ll feel like maybe you’re the only one who sees the issue. Maybe you’re the only one who has that point of view. You have to take courageous steps. You don’t have to be rude, just have conviction where conviction is necessary.”
  • Be accountable. “There are two types of people: People who make things happen and people who take credit for things that happen. Try to be in the former because it’s far less crowded. If you’re a person committed to learning, there’s as much to learn from success as there is from failures. If you ask people what their failures are and they have trouble finding them, I would submit they’re either not honest or reflective enough because everybody fails. Some are small, some are medium, some are big. The key is if you are committed to learning, you probably won’t have the same kind of failure time and time again.”
  • Be an active listener. “The most effective leaders are great listeners. They have the ability to understand the nuances and then connect with what’s important to an audience. It is what uncaps the opportunity for communication. I actually think one of the fragile dimensions of what technology does today – because we’re all wired – is it enables so much, but it also creates a higher risk in the way we communicate. The brevity of how we communicate, the lack of eyeball-to-eyeball communication, leads to misunderstanding.”
  • Treat people as you want to be treated. Cordani credits his grandparents with teaching him this lesson – “The Golden Rule.”

Cordani asserted that leadership is not a position, but a gift given by those around you. “As CEO, my job is to enable and support the team,” he said. “It’s not about me.”


Cordani showed a short video that he said illustrates the need to focus on health care and prevention, rather than sick care. “What we strive for is the ability – at the discretion of the individual – to deliver insights about that person’s health in a much more real-time basis,” he said. “We are working to get better information back to the individual and the health care providers, all with the goal of changing lives – one at a time.”


Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 6,000 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 programs, MBA programs and faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.


Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits and other related products, including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 89 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.


Categories: Executive Speakers

Ann Rhoads ’85 says she considers herself lucky because she has always known her career path: Banking. She told a group of Business Honors students she worked as a teller in the summers during school, then after graduating with a finance degree she started with a training class of 12. Only three or four of them are still bankers, but she said it was valuable training that introduced her to a broad spectrum of business fields.

Rhoads said her first motivation for working was to have financial security and to give back. “Now what drives me is the enjoyment of what I do and getting to do it with people I like,” she added.

Throughout her career, Rhoads said, she has been fortunate to learn various skills and work with great bosses. “I look at what has happened in my 30 years and look ahead to what’s going to happen in the next 30 years, and it is exciting,” she said.

Ann Rhoads

The last 19 years, her career has been focused on the energy sector. She is currently a managing director at Houston-based BNP Paribas, covering upstream clients. Previously, she was Head of the Americas for Global Energy and Commodities at Natixis, based in New York. She has been part of several interesting deals and has lived in London and traveled to Germany, France, Iraq and Italy. She encouraged the students to be open to traveling for their jobs.

Ashley Shinpaugh ’14, a fifth-year Business Honors and PPA student, said she learned several important business lessons from Rhoads. “First, the importance of people in a business environment is essential because of the impact they can have on the success or failure of your business,” she said. “I also learned that even though performed at high rates, mergers and acquisitions rarely result in a good business transaction. Lastly, I took away her own valuable lesson of stepping outside your comfort zone in order to push yourself to the next level. Overall, it was an excellent presentation.”

Neil Rabroker ’15, a senior Business Honors and accounting major, said Rhoads delivered “a highly informational presentation of life as a professional in investment banking and what it takes to succeed in any way of life.” He recalled her description of her at BNP Paribas and at a firm in London, and then on the importance of M&A activities and how people love to do it even though they have a reputation of being unsuccessful. “Personally, Mrs. Rhoads spoke on how as a young professional having the ability to think and push yourself out of your comfort zone will lead you to a life of success.”


Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, 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: Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Mays Business


Keep an open mind on your career journey. That’s just one piece of advice Frito-Lay’s Laura Maxwell offered Business Honors students. She serves as the senior vice president of the Transformation Integration Office at Frito-Lay, and executive sponsor of their Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN).

After Maxwell recently took time away from her busy schedule to visit with students at Mays Business School, they said they appreciated her candor and thoughts on preparing for a career after business school.

Angela Lowak ’16, a junior Business Honors major, said Maxwell’s talk was the best professional development event she has attended. Lowak said it helped her make some decisions about her own career path. “I have been debating between finance and supply chain, and after listening to her I concluded supply chain was the best route for me,” she said. “Most importantly, I learned that if I make the wrong decision, it isn’t the end of the world. I just need to be adaptive and eager. I also learned the importance of evaluating each year individually. In fact, I need to do a better job of focusing on the short-term goals rather than basing everything off of the long term.”

Maxwell’s background includes engineering and supply chain, and now, she has transitioned into more of a business management role. Her current responsibilities include the development and leadership of all business transformation activities and she works closely with external partners to develop new strategies and manage business implementations.

Maxwell’s career with parent company PepsiCo has spanned 25 years so far. Most recently she led the Supply Chain Growth and Commercialization team, where she was responsible for Product Supply, Service to Sales, Asset Strategy, Economic Development and Supply Chain capability to support Customer Growth.  She began her PepsiCo career as an Operations Resource and spent 17 years in field manufacturing roles prior to coming to Frito-Lay’s headquarters in Plano. Her previous roles include Director of Manufacturing, Senior Director Supply Chain and VP Marketing Services.

Her connection to WIN as the executive sponsor is a welcome activity she says illustrates the company’s culture. “It is a great company and a fun company,” Maxwell explains.  “We make Mountain Dew and Doritos – products people know and love.” She advised the students to find an activity or area of their jobs that they enjoy and are passionate about.

Maxwell lives in Plano with her husband, Marty, and two daughters, Maddy (19) and Molly (16). She has relocated several times for her work, and encouraged the students to think about whether relocation is an option in advance of being asked to move.  “When considering a job, consider whether or not you are willing to move for that company,” she said. “Have that conversation before it becomes a hard conversation.”

She also advised asking questions during the interview such as, “Hypothetically, where could I be in four years?” and to understand the company’s culture as deeply as possible.

Sarah Solcher ’15, a senior Business Honors and management major, said she considered Maxwell informative, candid and insightful. “She had great wisdom about navigating corporate life with personality, professionalism and passion,” she said. “She encouraged success in the traditional workforce, but also challenged us in that success may be found in taking a road less traveled.”

Michael Formella ’18, a freshman Business Honors major, called Maxwell “an impressive, distinguished executive who was very professional yet casual and down-to-earth all the same.”

“Her easy-going speaking style and simple presentation were straightforward and easy to obtain valuable information from, and not only just advice for business, but also for life,” he said. “In fact, Ms. Maxwell gave advice to ‘not worry so much about your first job,’ as she had a degree in engineering before joining Frito-Lay and working her way up.”

He cited three pieces of advice Maxwell offered:

  • Choose one thing besides school or work that you enjoy doing and, do it;
  • Surround yourself with positive people;
  • Know that there will probably be a curveball. Plan for it.

“In life, you never know what to expect,” Formella explained, “but with these three things in mind, Ms. Maxwell explained that you will be happy and content with your professional life, and your personal life will follow suit.”


Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, 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: Executive Speakers, Mays Business

Mike Shaw ’68

Mike Shaw ’68 has parlayed his motto – “When the sun comes up, I’m up” – to achieve financial and personal success in the auto industry. He owns and operates six car dealerships in three states, and he has garnered numerous awards, including TIME Magazine’s national “Dealer of the Year” in 2012 – which he called the Heisman Trophy of car dealers – and Automotive News’ “Dealer of Distinction” in 2013.

Shaw shared business tactics and stories when he spoke to Business Honors students at Mays Business School. He said he learned his work ethic at Texas A&M University – in the Corps of Cadets and with jobs selling donuts in dorms, selling newspaper subscriptions and running a pizza parlor. For the first 10 years of his career, he worked 12 to 15 hours a day.

His first dealership failed and he said he “lost everything except my ethics.” He repaid his debts and kept working to build his empire, paying cash for every dealership with no guarantees or cross collateralization.

“Spoken like a true entrepreneur, his ‘never give up’ attitude has translated into both financial and personal success,” observed Erika Arthur ’15, a senior Business Honors and accounting major who was at the breakfast meeting. “However, his success did not come without valuable lessons learned. These lessons highlighted the value of business ethics and doing the right thing, maintaining a consistent business philosophy and appreciating the benefit of human resource differentiation. Both new and seasoned Business Honor students can apply Shaw’s wisdom as we move about our respective pursuits in life.”

Shaw said he runs his business similarly to a football team. “It’s about business and process. We map out our strategies, then go execute them,” he said. “If you give me a good attitude, enthusiasm and hard work, you’ll have a place on my team. And sometimes a player doesn’t work out and you need a quarterback change.”

Alin Piranian ’16, a junior Business Honors and finance major, said Shaw’s presentation was “less abstract and cheesy than what most people say about work-life balance.” Piranian said Shaw’s advice “was more realistic, which is more applicable.”

“Mr. Shaw claimed that when it came to work, the more hours he put in the ‘luckier’ he got,” Piranian said. “He mentioned that in whatever field you’re in, the number one thing is people. When it came to family and work-life balance, Mr. Shaw claimed that some things would have to be sacrificed, and to him it was his hobbies.”

Shaw said he maintained strong family ties because he made it a priority. He ate dinner at home every night, then returned to work or worked from home. “I made every family conference, soccer games – everything. But I didn’t golf or go hunting or things like that,” he said. “I was at home or at work. I lived my priorities.”

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, 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: Executive Speakers