By Molly Kulpa ’15
Marketing Specialist, Texas A&M Foundation


Support to Texas A&M: Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell ’85 Aggies on Wall Street Endowed Excellence Fund
Even when far from their alma mater, Aggies continue to help other Aggies succeed. Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell ’85 of New York City share a passion for giving Aggie students an advantage—particularly for helping them get their foot in the door on Wall Street.
The couple established an endowment to permanently provide funding for Mays Business School’s Aggies on Wall Street Program, which provides opportunities to students interested in investment banking, including internship placement and a two-week trip to New York where they meet Wall Street professionals at leading firms. Students who successfully complete the Aggies on Wall Street program are awarded a Certificate in Investment Banking upon graduation. In addition to giving his financial resources, Alan also spends time with Mays Business Honors students to share career advice and serves on the Wall Street Advisory Board for the Department of Finance.
“Investment banking firms in New York tend to recruit from East Coast schools, and primarily Ivy League graduates,” Alan said. “Schools in the South just don’t carry the same name recognition when it comes to recruiting in New York, but we hope this endowed fund will expand the Aggies on Wall Street Program and boost the number of Aggie graduates working on Wall Street over time.”
Alan’s career in investment banking led the couple to New York City, while Jackie’s work as a natural gas trader translated well to the Wall Street atmosphere.
In addition to their support of Aggies on Wall Street, Jackie also serves on the Board of Trustees at The Convent of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls school that their children attend in New York City. They also support the Children’s Museum of the East End on Long Island, the East Hampton Historical Society, The Thomas Moran Trust and the Sigma Chi Fraternity. The Mitchells have also established a family foundation to be more focused with their giving and to provide a family tradition for future giving.
The Lead by Example campaign, Texas A&M University’s third comprehensive fundraising campaign, began on Jan. 1, 2012. With a goal to raise $4 billion by 2020, it is the third largest public higher education campaign in the nation and the largest ever in Texas. Donations of any size to the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation count toward the campaign total, which stands at $2.91 billion as of January 31, 2018, representing 72 percent of the goal. Learn more at

Categories: Donors Corner, Finance, Mays Business, Programs, Texas A&M

Michelle Hickox ’89 graduated from Mays Business School’s Department of Finance and has spent her time over the years since giving back in numerous ways – as a donor, a mentor, and a member of its executive board.

She is currently executive vice president and CFO of Independent Bank Group Inc. – an expanding, publicly-traded bank based in McKinney, Texas.

She and her husband donated a $30,000 gift to establish the Michelle ’89 and Rob Hickox ’90 Commercial Banking Program Excellence Endowment. It aims to support the teaching, research, service, and professional development activities of the Commercial Banking Program at Mays Business School. The flagship internship program in the Mays Department of Finance is designed to equip students with the best practices for a career in commercial banking. CBP provides a rich developmental environment by combining formal learning, industry experience, and professional mentoring.

Hickox said that before the large Texas banks failed in the late ’80s and early ’90s, most new bankers started their careers in those large bank training programs. Since then, there has been an absence of formal training programs for community banks. Now that the banking industry is vibrant again, programs like the one at Texas A&M provide a depth of bank-specific training to prepare students for their first job in a commercial bank.

James W. Kolari, JP Morgan Chase Professor of Finance and Academic Director of the Commercial Banking Program, said Hickox’s leadership on its executive board is important to helping ensure the success of the Commercial Banking Program. “Michelle is Director of the Student Recruitment Committee, which is engaged with all aspects of recruiting, both external and internal, of students into the baking program,” he said. “Michelle’s generous gift works to ensure that our banking program will be permanently endowed to support the education of young Aggie bankers in the future.”

Dwight Garey, executive director of the CBP, stated that Michelle is steadfast in her involvement in and support of the banking program. “Advisory Board members like Michelle are the sparks that inspire us to remain unwavering in our mission of educating and training the next generation of bankers,” he said.

Categories: Alumni, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Finance, 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

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

For the first time in its history, Mays Business School hosted the Master’s in Finance (MSF) Career Lunch with Executive Professors for incoming students as part of the MS Finance Boot Camp on Aug. 8-25. This unique event gave students the chance to hear a panel of Texas A&M University faculty members discuss key insights and experiences within the finance field, as well as the opportunity to network with the panelists and ask questions.

The MSF curriculum provides intense study in finance, with supporting coursework in accounting. It is designed to help non-finance undergraduates launch a finance-related career. The 36-credit-hour curriculum begins in August with a mini-mester (MSF Boot Camp) and ends the next May. Twenty-four credit hours of required courses are completed during the fall and spring semesters, and includes a six-hour practicum spread over the August Boot Camp and fall semester.

The panel event was moderated by Len Cannon, a news anchor for KHOU Houston Channel 11 News. Cannon co-anchors the 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts and has a popular segment called “Len at Work.” He has won Emmys and the prestigious Columbia University Dupont Award for his work in reporting.

The panel included:

  • Executive Professor of the Mays MBA Programs Lemar Brown, who told the students to “Set goals, lay out a plan, and work the plan”
  • Executive Professor and Director of Real Estate Programs Cydney C. Donnell, whose advice was to “make opportunities happen by planning to be in the right place at the right time”
  • Executive Director of the Commercial Banking Program Dwight Garey, who suggested that “a strong work ethic outweighs talent, intelligence, and is a requirement for success”
  • Executive Professor of Accounting K. Sue Redman, who quoted Amelia Earhart in telling the students to “build and use runways”
  • Executive Professor of Finance Ed White, who encouraged the students to “be curious, add value, and have fun”

Students gained insights and key takeaways such as how to weigh job opportunity versus job salary, steps to networking, and how to impress people in your workplace. The panelists finished the session with advice like “don’t make the salary the reason you take a job,” “Networking never stops,” and “people will embrace you if you show a passion to grow and improve.”


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

The Professional Program in Accounting has announced two of its former students as recipients of the Rising Star Award and Outstanding Alumnus/Alumna Award. Phil Graves ’04 and Christy Baumann ’95 will be recognized at a dinner in College Station on May 9.

Rising Star

This year’s Rising Star award goes to Phil Graves ’04, senior director of corporate development for Patagonia and managing director of Tin Shed Ventures. He is in charge of the company’s investments and merger and acquisition activities. Graves also serves as a Senior Advisory Board Member of the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business’s Center for Responsible Business.

He has been recognized on Global Corporate Venturing’s Powerlist 100, and by Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students’ “12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight.” Graves was previously a senior manager in the Business Valuation practice at Deloitte, and he began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He models selfless service in the community as well through his work with the homeless and as a long-time Big Brother mentor. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Featured Stories, Finance, Mays Business, News, PPA, Programs, Texas A&M

Robert Kaplan, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told a group of Mays Business School students the best things they can be doing to prepare for a career are to pay attention to world events and invest in and watch the stock market daily. He suggested the Wall Street Journal and business magazines as good sources of that information.

Kaplan met on March 27 with students in the Commercial Banking Program at Mays ranging from juniors to graduate students, as well as other students and faculty members from Mays. That evening, Kaplan discussed economic conditions and the role of monetary policy as part of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University’s “Conversation in Public Policy.”

“If I were interviewing you for a job, the first question would be ‘What is the market doing now?’”  he said. “The second question would be, ‘What do you think it’s going to do? And why?’ If you can’t answer those questions, you’re not going to get very far with a lot of business people.”

…Read more

Categories: Departments, Featured Stories, Finance, Mays Business, News, Students, 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

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has named three of its most distinguished former students as 2017 Outstanding Alumni. The honorees are Gregory M. Cokinos ’79, Cydney Collier Donnell ’81 and Carri Baker ’84. They will be honored at the 25th-Year Outstanding Alumni Awards Dinner on April 6.

Mays Business School honors graduates who have led lives of distinction and who embody the Aggie core values – loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, selfless service and respect – with the Mays Outstanding Alumni Award. Recipients come from all industries, have been active in their communities and continue to serve their alma mater. The recipients learned of their honor when surprised in their places of business and other locations by a group of Mays Business School representatives, including Dean Eli Jones.

“Mays Business School’s 2017 Outstanding Alumni are great examples of Mays Transformational Leaders: Responsible, ethical leaders with entrepreneurial mindsets and vision, who have strong business competencies and personify selfless service,” Jones said. “Here at Mays, we have no shortage of leaders who have excelled beyond their college careers and who help advance the world’s prosperity. We are pleased to recognize and celebrate them at our annual awards dinner.”

To date, the school has honored 79 former students who have made outstanding contributions in their chosen fields with significant impact, innovation and influence at the school, in their community and beyond.

Gregory M. Cokinos ’79 is co-founder of Houston-based Cokinos, Bosien & Young, the largest law firm in Texas focusing on construction and engineering law. He has been named as one of The Top 100 Super Lawyers in the State of Texas by Texas Monthly every year since 2007. He was instrumental in the creation of the Construction Law Journal and has been the Journal’s editor since its inception. He is also an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He is a graduate of the Department of Management.

Cydney Collier Donnell ’81 is the Julio S. LaGuarta Professor in Real Estate, executive professor and associate department head of finance at Mays where she teaches graduate level classes in real estate capital markets. She is also the present Director of Real Estate Programs overseeing the Master of Real Estate Program and undergraduate real estate finance classes. Prior to this, she was the Managing Director for European Investors, Inc. in New York City, where she managed more than $3 billion in real estate securities on behalf of U.S. pension funds, foundations, endowments and high-net-worth clients. She is a graduate of the Department of Finance.

Carri Baker ’84 has served for 32 years as a key executive and chief operations officer for San Antonio-based Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a nationally recognized law firm representing governments and school districts throughout the U.S. Her civic leadership has made a significant impact in the education, health and economic development of San Antonio. She currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for Mays, and the Chancellor’s Century Council and the President’s Advisory Board for Texas A&M San Antonio. She is a graduate of the Department of Marketing.

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Finance, Management, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M