Odin Clack ’02 was just looking for a hobby that would spur his creativity. Instead, his pastime has combined with Clack’s entrepreneurial spirit to turn into Odin Leather Goods, a thriving regional brand.

The seeds of the small business were planted in 2012 when Clack, a corporate director of online marketing, went into a leather shop on a whim and picked up the tools and materials he needed to make a laptop sleeve. 

Soon, his experiment bloomed into a hobby that began to consume a good portion of his evenings and weekends. “Hobbies are expensive,” he said. “I started wondering, ‘How can I get a return?’”

The Dallas-area resident quickly figured out how to turn his passion for leatherworking into a business and now makes a significant side income from his creations. He also has leveraged a small budget, his contacts, and social media to double his business and gain loyal customers around the world.

Clack – who handles all of the production, marketing and shipping – primarily focused on improving his processes in order to increase production. When he started working with leather, he made two to three wallets a week. Now he produces more than 50 wallets along with other types of leather goods in that time span. “I ship 20-30 orders per week. Half are outside the state of Texas,” he said. “It is also normal for me to have bulk orders each week that consist of 50-100 pieces. I would have thought this was impossible four years ago given that I’m a one man shop. By focusing on efficiently managing resources and my processes I’ve been able to dramatically improve production speed.”

Clack currently is focusing on making Oden Leather Goods into a significant regional brand. He also is starting to do co-branded work with a variety of well-established companies, including Southwest Airlines, Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion, Jack Mason watches, Renaissance Hotels, and Rolls Royce.

Adding fuel to the entrepreneurial spirit

Clack, who earned a degree in marketing, credits Mays and Texas A&M University for instilling a strong work ethic and fueling his entrepreneurial spirit. He especially appreciates Mays internships, which gave him the opportunity to get real-world experience.  

As a student, he held a staff position in Texas A&M’s Department of Multiultural Services Department and served as co-chair for the Southwestern Black Leadership Conference. During his time in school, Clack also started a few businesses, including a small company in which he created web designs. “I came out of Texas A&M with a resume that showed a history of production, a history of work, and a history of success,” he said. “And I had numbers to back it up instead of just having a resume full of activities.”

New horizons opening up

Unlike many entrepreneurs who have a side business, Clack doesn’t want to eliminate his day job. “I enjoy what I do, and I’ve put the last 10-15 years into building my professional career,” he said. “My side business is a way to keep my creativity going, generate some additional income, and network.”

In an unexpected turn, Clack is beginning to share what he has learned from Mays, his day job and his small business with other entrepreneurs who are part of the maker’s movement.  “I have met a whole lot of great people and worked with a ton of great businesses in the area (through Odin Leather Goods),” he said. “Some of those contacts now are turning into consulting gigs. They’re looking at how I have grown my business and they’re asking, ‘How can I grow my business too?’”

Clack believes the combination of entrepreneurship and creativity offers a very viable way to earn a living. “In this day and age, with very little money in your pocket and a little bit of determination, you can generate significant income just off of good ideas, focus and a lot of hustle.”

 

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Louis “Lou” Paletta, a founding partner and the chief operating officer of Kildare Partners, joined the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees on July 1.

Paletta, originally from San Antonio, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University in 1978. Prior to joining Kildare—a $4 billion private equity firm organized in 2013 to target distressed European commercial real estate-related opportunities—Paletta spent 20 years with Lone Star Funds, holding a variety of leadership positions. Paletta’s career has taken him to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

During his tenure at Lone Star, he was responsible for coordinating the formation of 10 private equity funds, representing $34 billion in capital commitments from a variety of global institutional investors including public pension funds, corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, and foundations.

Before Lone Star, he served as director of internal audit for Brazos Asset Management Inc. and senior audit manager of American Savings Bank. He spent the first 12 years of his career with Deloitte specializing in attestation, business reorganization and litigation support.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve Texas A&M University and am privileged to be working with an outstanding group of proven professionals that ‘lead by example’ in distinguishing Texas A&M from its peers,” Paletta said.

He has remained active in the Texas A&M community, serving in volunteer leadership roles for Mays Business School and the 12th Man Foundation. He and his wife, Wanda, are longtime benefactors to Texas A&M and are members of The Association of Former Students’ Century Club, the A&M Legacy Society and the 12th Man Foundation’s Diamond Champions Council. Paletta also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at Mays Business School and was honored as an Outstanding Alumnus in 2017.

Paletta also serves as chairman of the Board of Managers of Cerebrum Health Centers, a nationally recognized brain rehabilitation center. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Aggie Golf Association and the Vaquero Club in Westlake, as well as captain of the Dallas Area Champions Council. He has regularly visited campus to speak to business honors students about his experience in the finance and investment worlds. In 2016, he was recognized with an Outstanding Alumni Award from Mays Business School.

“Lou and Wanda are action-oriented volunteers who live by our Aggie core values,” said Tyson Voelkel ’96, president of the Texas A&M Foundation. “They embody the Aggie spirit and consistently support athletics and academics. I am proud to welcome Lou to our exceptional Board of Trustees and look forward to his influence on our endowment performance and impact on the university’s ‘Lead by Example’ campaign.”

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This story is posted on Texas A&M Today

Texas A&M Foundation 
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.

For additional information or for photographs, please contact Dunae Crenwelge at dcrenwelge@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-7461.

Media contact: Dunae Crenwelge, Texas A&M Foundation (txamfoundation.com) at (979) 845-7461 or dcrenwelge@txamfoundation.com

  • by Texas A&M Foundation staff

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

Texas A&M University is tied with the University of Michigan for having the most graduates currently serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to a new Fortune magazine study.

With four former students serving as CEOs of some of the largest companies in the United States, Texas A&M has the most of any university in Texas and is only matched by the University of Michigan. Other schools on the Fortune list include Cornell University and Harvard University, both with three CEO graduates.

Texas A&M also is the only Texas school in the survey with a CEO on Fortune’s Top Ten list. Darren Woods, CEO and chairman of Exxon Mobil, studied electrical engineering at Texas A&M and is a 1987 graduate. His wife, Kathryn Woods, is also a 1987 Texas A&M graduate who earned a degree in accounting from Mays Business School.

This year’s Fortune list also includes Bruce D. Broussard, CEO of Humana, Class of 1984; David M. Cordani, CEO of Cigna, Class of 1988. Both Broussard and Cordani earned degrees in accounting from Mays Business School.

“Texas A&M has always been committed to developing leaders of character and the mission of Mays Business School is to develop transformational leaders,” says James Benjamin, head of the department of accounting at Mays Business School. “Beyond that, accounting is often referred to the language of business and graduates are well positioned for success is all aspects of organizations. Both Mr. Broussard and Mr. Cordani worked as auditors with major public accounting firms and became CPA’s before transitioning to the corporate world. Many believe that the discipline and work ethic required in public accounting provides good preparation for leadership roles in business.”

Not included in this year’s survey is Jeff Miller, who was recently appointed as president and CEO of Halliburton Co.  Miller received an MBA from Mays Business School in 1988.

Read more here: http://today.tamu.edu/2017/07/05/texas-am-heads-fortune-magazine-ceo-list/

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Departments, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, News, Texas A&M

Three Mays graduates are among the 10 2017 recipients of the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students are proud to welcome as Distinguished Alumni: Jorge A. Bermúdez ʼ73 of College Station, Craig Brown ’75 of Houston, and William M. “Bill” Huffman ’53 of College Station and Marshall.

A full list of the 10 recipients and their biographical information may be found here.

Jorge A. Bermúdez ʼ73, in a 33-year career with Citibank and Citigroup, was chief risk officer for Citigroup/Citibank, CEO and president of Citibank Commercial Banking Group and CEO of Citigroup Latin America. He is president and CEO of the Byebrook Group. He is an Outstanding International Alumnus of A&M, received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumnus Award, and is on the Department of Agricultural Economics’ Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry. He has served on the board and as chair for The Association of Former Students and is on the Texas A&M Foundation board as well as on the College of Agriculture Development Council, the Dean’s Advisory Board for Mays Business School and Texas A&M’s International Advisory Board. He is a board member and past chair of the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley’s investment committee. He serves on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. …Read more

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

Each semester, the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) hosts 15-20 industry leaders for the Executive Professor Speaker Series, designed to connect retail students with working professionals as guest lecturers.

“Visiting executives share their personal experiences with students and promote career opportunities within their companies,” said Lauren Osborne ’05, program manager.

“Hearing first-hand from our speakers is the highest-rated learning experiences by our students as they incorporate what they learn from their coursework.”

…Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, Students, Texas A&M

A group of Mays Business School students attended the annual New York City Market Tour, which the Center for Retailing Studies hosts, immersing students in business tours and dynamic cultural experiences they cannot get in Central Texas.

Open to the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars and members of the Student Retailing Association, this one-of-a-kind spring break travel opportunity provides students aspiring to careers in retail a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s greatest brands and retail flagship stores in Manhattan.

“In preparation, I thought about all the different versions of the city that I had seen from sitcoms and movies and had high expectations going in,” said Allison McGraw ’19. “New York blew my expectations out of the park!”

…Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Some Mays MBA graduates answer the question: “How has your MBA program help you see new opportunities and achieve your career goals?” 

The Mays Executive and Professional MBA Programs are held in Mays’ Houston CityCentre complex.

The Executive MBA Program is ranked in Financial Times (2016): 1st public in Texas, 1st in salaries among Texas public schools, 1st in work experience among Texas public schools,  8th U.S. public and 19th in U.S. overall. The Professional MBA Program is a rigorous 22-month program designed for working professionals who want to immediately apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to their jobs.

Mays also offers a Full-Time MBA program at the Texas A&M University’s main campus in College Station.

Executive MBA, Class of 2017

Kayvan Zarea, Development Partner, Hanover Company

“The Mays MBA program was a highly transformative journey on both personal and professional levels. I expected professional growth but was surprised by the personal growth. I learned things about myself that no one can take away from me. Disaster City was a very insightful experience in which all of your strengths and weaknesses are immediately exposed for you and your team to analyze. It was instrumental in identifying strengths that I was unaware of, and quickly highlighted weaknesses that need further development.”

…Read more

Categories: Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M

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

…Read more

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

Healthcare customers are a unique type of consumer reluctant to purchase, at risk and often highly stressed. During a visit with business students in the Improving Service Quality in Healthcare course, J.R. Thomas, executive vice president of Optum, shared some of the complicated challenges healthcare providers face today.

The visit was the second day of a trip to Mays for Thomas and Optum senior executives Doug Hansen ’89, Allison Miller ’99 and Kevin Kuhn. The first day, Thomas presented to Business Honors students in the Executive Speaker Series, followed by a networking session and student dinner sponsored by Optum. The second day Thomas and his team members from Optum spoke with MBA students and to students from the School of Public Health.

Leonard Berry, University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, taught the lecture for the Improving Service Quality in Healthcare course discussion and facilitated discussion between students and their visitors. The focus on Healthcare is one of Mays’ Grand Challenges.

Managing stress

In the discussion, Thomas underscored one of the most important issues facing healthcare providers: stress. “Patients and their families are faced with life-altering decisions, nurses and doctors work long hours and endure emotional exhaustion to provide the best service possible, and management is stressed with striking a balance between good will toward those who can’t afford expensive healthcare and staying in business,” he said.

The key, he said, is to remember that patients are more than customers; they’re people. He provided an example of an end-of life scenario: “If a patient is dying, it’s important to personally talk to the family. Give them your instinct. You can’t always prevent death, but you can control how it will happen.”

He elaborated on another complex situation: “Some customers can’t always afford healthcare. But remember you also owe it to patients to stay in business.”

Technology creates new challenges, opportunities

Thomas also shared how technology is changing the landscape of medicine. “Routine visits and checkups for common maladies are moving towards telemedicine, such as simple phone calls instead of expensive in-office visits,” he said. “But for the more serious cases, the value of a personal touch in an in-person visit will never go away. Patients need that.”

Marketing senior Rachel Claggett said she was impressed by the amount of involvement the business side of healthcare has in the lives of patients. “It’s reassuring to know that there is humanity and passion in this industry – it’s not just about profits.”

Thomas received his master’s of business administration focusing on finance and management at the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Arkansas.

Categories: Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Former Students, Health Care, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

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As a Mays Business School student, Hans George ’91 decided to combine his passions for marketing and sports into a meaningful career. However, his career path took unanticipated detours through high-end men’s suits and mac-and-cheese before George reached the holy grail – a position working at sportswear giant Nike.

George shared stories and lessons learned during his career, including his two decades at the global athletic wear company, with Mays Business Honors students at a recent roundtable discussion. “My biggest takeaway from Hans was the importance of pursuing your passions strategically,” said Loryn Setterquist ’18. “Through the decisions he made in his career, he developed tangible skills, fostered important relationships, and learned about the retailing industry.”
…Read more

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