Thirty business honors students spent four days at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., in November 2013. In one of the most enviable trips of a college career, the students enjoyed behind-the-scenes tours and interactive sessions with company leaders on topics such as capital planning, leadership, pricing, finances, international opportunities and marketing.

Categories: Perspectives

Ever since I was 3 feet tall, I was trying to sell things and turn a profit. My mother used to go to craft shows, and she would let me sit at her booth and sell little bead key chains and “rexlaces.” Hard work and all, I loved doing business, and I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.

Categories: Perspectives, Students, Texas A&M

After spending an eventful, memorable and bizarre week in Moscow, we headed for St. Petersburg for yet again another eventful, memorable, and bizarre week.

Categories: Perspectives, Students, Texas A&M

Cancun, Cabo, Gulf Shores and Panama City Beach—these are some of the top Spring Break destinations for college students. However, for the third year in a row, I found my suitcase filled with heavy overcoats, sweaters, gloves, scarfs, long pants and dress shirts. I was once again headed to New York City with the Mays Business Fellows Program.

Categories: Perspectives, Students, Texas A&M

Categories: Perspectives

Categories: Perspectives

Mays Business School is a place where outstanding business faculty and outstanding business students meet to create outstanding business education. On Sept. 9, over a Friday afternoon lunch, faculty and students met with the goal of understanding each of their roles in the education process from the perspective of the other through an exercise called Mutual Expectations.

The session was hosted by the Mays Academy of Learning and Teaching (MALT), a newly formed coalition of faculty, staff and students of Mays Business School committed to excellence in the learning process. MALT was born through the collaboration of faculty across departments, specifically fellows of the Wakonse and Wakonse South conferences for college teaching.

The Wakonse Fellowship brings together faculty, teaching and learning professionals from postsecondary institutions who recognize and are devoted to the inspirational aspect of the teaching and learning process. Participants at Wakonse Conferences on College Teaching return to their campuses to share and promote the excitement of teaching — particularly in higher education.

Mutual Expectations, an exercise brought home to Wehner from Wakonse, was the centerpiece of the inaugural MALT event. The session began with students and professors talking over lunch to become acquainted (or to catch up from the summer) before being broken into groups. Small groups of faculty were asked to answer three questions: First, what are students’ expectations of their professors? Second, what are professors’ expectations of their students? And third, which of these expectations are held by both parties? The MALT team provided Venn diagrams to be filled in with the answers to these three questions. After the diagrams were full, the results were shared to establish a group consensus among the faculty.

The panel of students participating in the exercise then presented their results. As they did, the discussion began.

From the professors:

  • “What does is mean for us to be “transparent?'”
  • “What should we do about the use of cell phones or laptops in the classroom?”
  • “Feedback on student evaluations affects us personally and professionally.”

From the students:

  • “Fairness in grading is better than giving an easy “A.'”
  • “Where is the line between participating in class and monopolizing class time?”
  • “We expect teaching to be the top priority when you are in the classroom.”

The beauty of the exercise is that it happens in a safe setting where students and faculty alike can speak freely and honestly. This environment draws out issues, promotes the development of solutions, and gives each side the opportunity to understand the other.

Feedback from the session reflects this better understanding. Students’ eyes were opened to the sheer scope of responsibilities that come with being faculty at a university like Texas A&M. Faculty were able to grasp the pressures, opportunities, and challenges of being a student in the Millennial generation. Both sides were reminded of the reality that their counterparts in the classroom are humans with strengths and flaws, successes and failures, professional and personal lives, needs and expectations.

One of the transcendent themes learned in this session is that optimal teaching practices promote optimal learning, and at the same time, optimal learning practices promote optimal teaching. Governed by a cycle like this, the quality of the education that occurs in our building never stays the same; it is constantly increasing or decreasing. Through sessions like Mutual Expectations, MALT is ensuring that the quality of our learning and teaching remains on the rise.

Categories: Perspectives

I am about to start my junior year at Mays, and I could not be more excited about it. In just a few short weeks, I will get to meet the new freshmen in my small group as an FBI peer leader, and I will teach my first course in Mays. I am not sure what to expect of this year, but I am certain it will be a year to remember.

For those of you who are not familiar, FBI stands for the Freshman Business Initiative. It is a great program for incoming freshmen that allows them to have at least one class in Mays during their first semester and to meet some of their peers. The class is set up so that the freshmen go to large lecture once a week with Professor Shontarius Aikens and then go to small group once a week. Each small group is made up of about 15 freshmen and has two upper class peer leaders who serve as mentors, teachers and event planners.

Each FBI small group is made up of about 15 freshmen and has two upper class peer leaders who serve as mentors, teachers and event planners.
Each FBI small group is made up of about 15 freshmen and has two upper class peer leaders who serve as mentors, teachers and event planners.

This is my second year as a peer leader, and my small group last year had some great times together. To help the freshmen bond and get to know their peers in Mays, we had events like glow-in-the-dark capture the flag, trips to Spoons Frozen Yogurt, an Italian dinner, a Halloween party, and a Christmas party complete with cookies and hot chocolate! I was surprised by how close our small group got by the end of the year and how much our freshmen looked up to us. I was so proud when one of my freshmen texted me in January and told me he had gotten into the Business Honors program that I had encouraged all of them to apply for. I still call my peer leaders from freshmen year for advice, and I hope that my freshmen feel that they can do the same. Last semester, there was talk that FBI was going to be cut due to a smaller budget for Mays, and I could not be happier that the program was saved. Programs like FBI help to set Mays apart from other competitive business schools and instead foster a friendly environment of collaboration that Texas A&M can be proud of.

Last spring, I took a course on the environment of international business with the executive director of the Center for International Business Studies, Dr. Kerry Cooper. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken at Mays and left a lasting impression on me. It was the first class I had been in that spent hours discussing current events and how international occurrences affect us here at home. When my friend Kyle Klansek and I found out that the class would no longer be offered at Mays due to Dr. Cooper’s retirement, we decided that we had to do something about it.

Kyle and I decided to create our own one-hour seminar to fill the void that the elimination of Dr. Cooper’s class would leave. Our seminar, The International Importance of Emerging Markets, essentially concentrates on the BRIC countries and how they will affect business in our lifetime. The BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China make up the emerging markets that are in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. We will stress how to do business with these different cultures and what each country’s advancement means for Americans in business.

I was fortunate enough to go on a study abroad trip to India to experience firsthand what I was learning about in the classroom.
I was fortunate enough to go on a study abroad trip to India to experience firsthand what I was learning about in the classroom.

For example, while it can be argued that China has already emerged as the Chinese now hold the largest portion of the United State’s debt, there is no contesting that anyone who wants to be successful in business today needs to understand how the Chinese are artificially depressing the value of their renminbi, the official currency of the People’s Republic of China, in order to remain competitive in today’s manufacturing sectors. Likewise, while India has made huge strides in becoming a world player in the computer programming market, India needs to put an end to government corruption to be able to have the funds for the proper infrastructure that the country needs for quick transportation. I was actually fortunate enough to go on the study abroad trip with Dr. Julian Gaspar to Bangalore and Mysore, India, to experience firsthand what I was learning about in the classroom.

To make learning about emerging markets fun, Kyle and I want to set up a game type atmosphere in which the students are placed in four teams representing Brazil, Russia, India, and China. We will bring a real international event that has recently occurred to class, discuss it, and then give the teams time to decide how their country would respond. The country with the best response will earn points and the team with the most points at the end of the semester will get extra points added to their grade. We feel that this will be an interesting way to learn about the emerging markets and discuss international events at the same time.

Kyle and I hope to also utilize guest speakers and videos in the classroom to keep things exciting. I am nervous about teaching students my own age, and I keep thinking of small details that I had never thought of before. Should Kyle and I wear business casual when we teach the class to set ourselves apart from the students? How should we advertise our class to make it seem worthwhile? How much homework do we assign? I hope our class is a success, and I hope this is the best semester yet – but only time will tell!

Categories: Perspectives

Texas A&M Global Business Brigades just arrived back in the United States after an amazing week in Tortí Abajo, Panama. The mission of Global Business Brigades is to create sustainable change by empowering students and communities. Our organization provides a hands-on international business experience by taking a group of Texas A&M students on a week-long brigade to Central America to help micro-entrepreneurs realize their dream of escaping poverty and experiencing true economic development. With this organization, we traveled down to Panama and used our business knowledge to consult with various families and communities that need assistance. However, instead of simply giving them a material solution, such as money or some kind of donation, we instead impart knowledge. Our Texas A&M chapter uses the motto, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

Our most recent brigade took place in Panama just a few weeks ago.
Our most recent brigade took place in Panama just a few weeks ago.

Our most recent brigade was during May of 2011, about a week after finals ended for the spring semester. While in Panama we learned a new dance move called “el choque.” If interested, you can learn this move on your own time. However, choque can have several meanings in Spanish, and one of the most literal translations is “shock.” This trip has definitely shocked me in many ways, both good and bad, on which I will elaborate.

I was shocked at the amazing bond 31 people were able to form. Our brigades in the past have been 18 and 11 students, respectively, and both times we had two brigade leaders from Global Brigades. This trip consisted of 25 Aggies, one professional from Apple, and 5 Global Brigades staff members! And yet, there is not a single person I did not get to know about. I truly feel I learned as much from interacting with these different individuals as I have through my college classes.

I was shocked at the success of Global Brigades newest model. It’s not often that an organization can completely reinvent itself, and do so successfully. However, Global Business Brigades has done just that. With an emphasis on the community and individual family goals/needs, GB has truly implemented a model that defines sustainable development. Instead of allowing the simple act of giving a physical object define our work, we learned to focus on the intangibles such as education on savings, budgets, loans, project planning, business organization, and co-operative assistance. In the long run, this knowledge is what can bring this community economic growth and can create an independence that will benefit its members in the long run.

I was shocked that I now see a long-term relationship for Global Brigades and myself. After my third brigade this past week, I truly thought this would end my time with Texas A&M GBB and Global Brigades at large. It was just an organization that I participated in during college, and amazing as it was, nothing more. However, this trip has opened up a truly remarkable plan for my life that I cannot wait to embark upon. I was taken aside by the GB staff members on the trip and literally told that this cannot be the end of my relationship with GB. Whether I come back on another brigade, come back as a translator for a summer, or as a member of the GB staff, I want to remain involved. I would take a job with GB in a heartbeat! Although, logistically there are some things to work out, it is amazing to know what kind of career opportunity could await for me with such a worthwhile organization.

Business knowledge can bring communities like this economic growth and create an independence that will benefit its members in the long run.
Business knowledge can bring communities like this economic growth and create an independence that will benefit its members in the long run.

I was shocked at the parallels I drew between my future internship and the work in Panama. This summer I will be interning with Bain & Company. I remember preparing for the case interviews and spending countless hours addressing business problems and strategic plans and assessing issues, etc. Case interviews I was presented with included anything from qualitative marketing issues to quantitative mergers & acquisitions. For example, I had one case that was about how to open up a car rental business. In the interview, I looked at potential revenue streams, the market available for such a venture, the various fixed and variable costs associated with this project, and came to a conclusion on the reasonableness of this idea. WE DID THE EXACT SAME THING IN PANAMA! However, instead of looking at things on a corporate level, we addressed issues on an entrepreneurial level. For example, one of our families wanted to start a chicken business, and we helped him assess all the startup costs and continuation costs, his potential sales, and devised a plan for him to take out a micro-loan with the upcoming cooperative. Truly astounding, the parallels that can be found.

I was shocked at the amount of stuff I personally learned. Ask me about chicken farming, planting yucca, or Coca-Cola distribution in Panama and I can tell you almost everything you need to know!

I was shocked to realize that my love of international development work and my awesome opportunity with Bain & Company at the corporate level can actually go hand in hand. With the newly implemented idea of Professional Brigades, I can actually taken my passion for Global Brigades with me to Bain and hopefully implement some kind of partnership. In the long run, I would love to have Bain become a major partner in Global Brigades work, where each time a university across the nation goes abroad on a brigade, we send any willing Bain employee with them to give more business expertise to the work being done. I was skeptical at the thought of mixing professionals with students’ brigades at first, but after having an employee of Apple from California assist us on this past brigade, I have nothing but high hopes for this idea!

Our Texas A&M chapter uses the motto, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

This information does not even begin to cover all the small and minor details and stories that made this trip unbelievably amazing!

  • Chasing frogs around at 4 AM
  • Late night sessions crunching numbers for a community member
  • Dancing to Spanish music and learning moves I didn’t know were possible
  • Learning that every single member in the community is probably related to each other
  • Experiencing the joy of seeing the excitement of a community member when they finalized realized the benefits of the information we taught them
  • Volleyball in the rain in Panama with indigenous Embera
  • Attempting to learn the nasally indigenous Embera language
  • Eating a freshly killed and cooked deer at the urging of one of our families
  • Softball game with the community
  • Late night conversations about life, our future, and our pasts
  • Haircuts from the future community salon owner
  • and much, Much, MUCH more!

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Categories: Perspectives

Studying for finals is always a bummer, but when you just found out you won a coveted fashion scholarship and are going to New York on an all expense paid trip, studying is impossible. When I started the case study for my marketing elective class, little did I know that I would win one of the YMA FSF scholarships. The non-profit organization founded by fashion designer Geoffery Beene to grant scholarships and mentorships to students. It was such a surprise when Professor Sandi Lampo called me and told me the news; studying was so off the menu.

The trip gave us an incredible opportunity to meet CEOs, designers, and presidents of huge fashion corporations. Here our group is with Kenneth Cole CMO Doug Jakubowski.
The trip gave us an incredible opportunity to meet CEOs, designers, and presidents of huge fashion corporations.

Landing at La Guardia sent a shiver of excitement over my body, I was actually in New York and the next day I would be attending the awards dinner and meeting CEOs, designers, and presidents of huge fashion corporations. The taxi ride to the Waldorf Astoria was actually a great experience, I felt like a real New Yorker. After about a 20-minute ride, I arrived at my hotel and stood in awe of the Waldorf. This hotel was once home to Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, and a million other famous and successful people; everything about the hotel dazzled me.

That night the group of Texas A&M girls gathered in the lobby and decided on a big dinner to celebrate our accomplishments. We took a taxi, yet again, and arrived at a posh restaurant in the meatpacking district. When we walked up to the restaurant we were informed that it was closed for a private party, but we didn’t care about the inconvenience because we were in New York and everything, no matter how annoying, it felt new and fresh. So we walked half a block and found an adorable little French restaurant and ate a wonderful meal that was much needed after hours of walking earlier that day in the city.

The whole next day was devoted to practicing for the awards dinner. We had to make sure that we were on cue with the music, our pace was right on time, and we were in the right groups according to school. Even though we were all college students, this took a substantially long time because we were in awe of the grand ballroom and all the festivities that were taking place to prepare for the dinner.

After practicing ended, we had a little time to primp our hair and fix our makeup before the VIP reception with the board of executives. As we walked into the cocktail reception, the executives and our mentor, Sherri Rosenfeld, greeted us. She had been helping us with our cases throughout the semester and being our advocate to the board who were deciding which cases were worthy of winning. I was mingling with the executives, when a man walked up to our group. I recognized him because, being the overachiever I am, I had made a dossier of the executives and memorized their faces and positions. The man was Tom Hutton, the CEO of Geoffrey Beene, and he was coming up to talk to us because he said our papers impressed him. This was a surreal moment for me, the CEO of a major company thought that my ideas were impressive and was congratulating me for my accomplishments. The reception lasted for about an hour and we met the CEO of Macy’s, the CEO of Phillips-Van Huessen, and the presidents of both of these companies — along with many, many more people of the same stature, and all of them seemed impressed with us.

The awards dinner was an amazing experience; the master of ceremonies, Mary Alice Stevenson who is a celebrity stylist, honored us. All of the scholars sat at a long elegant table in the center of the ballroom because we were the highlight of the dinner. I felt so honored to be congratulated for my achievements among a group of such highly esteemed and successful individuals. It was an event that I will never forget, and I am so blessed to have been chosen to receive the scholarship.

Thanks to my mother and father for helping me with this amazing achievement and to Dr. Lampo for pushing us through all the obstacles of this case study. I think she probably spent more time on our projects than we did, editing them and sending them to us to revise and keeping us motivated to work hard. And thanks to God because without Him, none of this would be possible.

Categories: Perspectives