Sixth-graders from Bryan ISD’s Odyssey Academy visited Mays Business School for the second day of the Freshman Business Initiative’s project presentations.
Henry Musoma’s FBI students presented posters in the Wehner atrium that depicted their semester-long research on how certain global issues relate to business. Richard Johnson’s students presented posters the previous day.
The students worked in teams to research a specific global issue and find ways that a specific major of business – finance, marketing, supply chain, etc. – might address the issue. The presentations ranged from Health and Healthcare in South Africa to Coronary Heart Disease in Panama to Transportation in Brazil.
“I didn’t realize that many countries had so much problems,” said sixth-grader Reagan Barker, who was one of dozens of students from the STEM magnet program at Stephen F. Austin Middle School.
Musoma arranged the visit as an outreach to the community, to enhance the younger students’ understanding of global issues and business and empower them to reach their fullest potential and set college as a viable goal.
“You can see everything click in their heads,” said Mays freshman Reagan Brown, who partnered with freshman Carmen Guzman to present “The Poverty Problem” about poverty in Canada. “It’s really interesting to see how much they understand about the topic,” Brown said.
Guzman added: “It’s amazing to come here and work with these kids. They even taught me some things.”
Sixth-graders from Bryan ISD’s Odyssey Academy visited Mays Business School for the second day of the Freshman Business Initiative’s project presentations.
Kelli R. Levey, October 27th, 2015
Startup Aggieland, the business incubator launched as an initiative of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University student entrepreneurs, has added a new partner to its roster: The College of Liberal Arts.
Startup Aggieland is a cross-college collaboration with Mays Business School’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE); Texas A&M University’s Office of the Vice President in the Division of Research; the Dwight Look College of Engineering and Computer Science; and the College of Architecture. It started in January 2013 to provide qualified students of all majors with a peer-led startup community that helps students leverage public and private resources while launching early-stage ventures.
Startup Aggieland is administered by an advisory board that includes representatives from the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture and Mays. Now a Liberal Arts representative will be added. The partner entities also fund the program financially.
Pamela R. Matthews, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said she is looking forward to her college having closer ties to Mays. “We are excited about the potential for new collaborations that will benefit our students and faculty,” she said. “We’re also excited about helping liberal arts students benefit from the CNVE/entrepreneurship initiatives that Startup Aggieland offers.”
The liberal arts contribution to the program extends into the classroom, as well, Matthews explained. A new faculty member – Patricia Thornton – will teach sociology and have an adjunct appointment in management. “She is a leader in entrepreneurship, and she will collaborate with others to develop curricular and co-curricular opportunities,” Matthews said. “This is an exciting time for our young entrepreneurs.”
Thornton previously was an adjunct professor and an affiliate of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, where she taught entrepreneurship and new venture management. She is also visiting associate professor and affiliated faculty to the Program on Organizations, Business, and the Economy in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University, where she taught the social science of entrepreneurship.
Richard Lester, executive director of the CNVE, said he is pleased to increase the reach of the program. “Our goal from the beginning has been to engage as many current students as we can, regardless of their majors,” he said. “A good business is a good business, no matter what discipline the student originates from. We’re just here to help them get it to the next level.”
Startup Aggieland is a student-designed business incubator and accelerator. Mentors and coaches help qualified student-owned startups leverage Texas A&M University resources and private support without relinquishing equity ownership in their companies.
CNVE also offers a student-managed seed fund that can be used to cover certain business startup costs with no obligation for students to repay the money.
Startup Aggieland is open to students pursuing any major at any level of study at Texas A&M University. Six entrepreneurship courses for university credit meet each week at the Startup Aggieland facility.
Students retain ownership of any intellectual property they develop at Startup Aggieland, and are provided access to legal assistance to help protect student IPs or register their trademarks.
Startup Aggieland provides students with free or at-cost services such as accounting assistance, graphic design services, marketing support, $24,000 in free Rackspace webhosting, furnished student office space and free parking, and access to snacks and refreshments on site. Students also have opportunities to attend free out-of-town trips to companies, entrepreneurship events and pitch competitions.
Startup Aggieland has headquarters in Research Park on the western edge of campus. It is supported by several corporate and institutional sponsors. Some students qualify for residence in a Startup Living Learning Community, which is co-sponsored by Mays and Texas A&M Department of Residence Life.
Courtney Bosquez, October 15th, 2015
The 2015 Retailing Summit celebrated its 30th year by focusing on innovation, the empowered customer and omnichannel retailing. The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School hosted the Oct. 8-9 event at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.
Over two days, nearly 275 attendees explored how to make retail better through improved customer interactions, one-to-one marketing and store enhancements. Executives from JCPenney, Bluemercury, Mission Athletecare, The Futures Company, UPS, Pinot’s Palette, MasterCard Advisors and NatureBox headlined the conference, which also included two panels on technology innovation and retaining top talent.
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT: PERFORMANCE IN ACTION
Former U.S. Navy Blue Angel pilot John Foley kicked off the Retailing Summit conference with the empowering “Glad To Be Here®” mantra. His enthusiasm radiated as he recalled stories from his precision flying days, where he was nicknamed “Gucci” by fellow pilots.
In order to achieve their peak performance, Foley advised attendees to:
- Examine their present situation
- Define where they would like to be
- Focus on the positives that can help guide them there
According to Foley, research confirms that when a person feels satisfaction with where they are, they become more grateful, positive and productive. Companies can also foster teamwork by channeling positive visualization techniques.
MEET THE CENTENNIALS: WHO THEY ARE AND HOW THEY WILL IMPACT RETAIL
Youth marketing to the millennial customer is officially over.
Erik Medina, vice president of The Futures Company, defined millennials as the age group of 19- to 34-year-olds. His research through the TRU Youth Monitor dubbed the up-and-coming generation of those between 12 and 18 years of age as “centennials.”
Compared to their predecessors, centennials are more focused on mobile versus the internet, have faced financial upheaval and want to take a stand for something by supporting companies associated with a cause.
Centennials are also more inclined to want to buy niche products. They are interested in the “maker movement,” alongside the rise of Etsy and customized product choices. They view the future with wariness and grasp that personal success is not a guarantee in life. They are less concerned with fitting in and they value individual uniqueness.
Medina praised GameStop as a retailer effectively serving the centennial customer with fun, tech-savvy and personalized shopping experiences.
TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION AND THE IN-STORE TRANSFORMATION
Fittingly, the 2015 Retailing Summit featured the man behind GameStop’s store innovations: Jeff Donaldson, SVP of the GameStop Technology Institute. Donaldson led a panel discussion, which profiled companies that are revolutionizing their businesses through technology.
Moderated by Debbie Hauss, editor in chief of Retail TouchPoints, the panel also included Scott Emmons, enterprise architect for Neiman Marcus, and Michelle Bogan, partner at Kurt Salmon.
When defining what innovation meant to them, Emmons said building stronger customer relationships and Donaldson said innovation can either be a new idea or a reinvention of something old, by creating a novel approach. For example, a low-tech solution that customers embraced at Neiman Marcus included in-store charging stations, which encouraged customers to stay and shop longer.
Each also agreed that innovation directly correlates with growth. “The pace of change internally must exceed the pace of change externally,” Donaldson said.
The panel also briefly touched on incubator communities like REVTECH in Dallas — places where mentors guide entrepreneurs who are looking to refine their startup business ideas.
Forecasting hot trends, Bogan highlighted the increase of “buy” buttons on social media. She also mentioned the rise of subscription box offerings, including Birchbox. Donaldson said GameStop will look to crowdsourcing as it develops new products.
PAINT. DRINK. HAVE FUN. FIGHTING “A FAD” WITH INNOVATION AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Combining the wine and DIY art industries, Craig Ceccanti, co-founder and CEO of Pinot’s Palette launched his entrepreneurial and franchise concept in 2009. With more than 150 locations in 33 states, Ceccanti credits integrating innovation into his business plan and company culture as key to his success.
Franchise owners are expected to introduce new sales promotions, painting designs, and process improvements by reviewing customer surveys, asking for direct feedback, and effectively using customer data to stay relevant. Because, as Ceccanti concluded, complacency and “becoming a fad [will] make you vigorously prepared to not become one.”
BEYOND OMNI-CHANNEL: HOW TO REACH THE SPENDING CONSUMER
Sarah Quinlan, VP of Market Insights at MasterCard Advisors, debunked several retail myths by analyzing economic data from 2015 credit card transactions.
According to Quinlan, increased competitiveness from small businesses who provide superior customer service and specialized product offerings has driven down retail sales at department stores and other mass merchants. With reduced gas prices, consumers have additional disposable income that they have opted to spend on travel, at restaurants and on durable goods instead of apparel or more “stuff.”
Although ecommerce companies like Amazon are forcing traditional, physical stores to expand their offerings online, online-only companies like Warby Parker and Rent the Runway are opening brick-and-mortar stores to more personally engage with shoppers.
The store is and will always be the emotional heart and financial core of retail.
REDEFINING FOOD RETAIL: CREATING A WORLD OF ON-DEMAND INNOVATION, PERSONALIZATION, AND ACCESS
The Retailing Summit also featured healthy snacking subscription provider NatureBox, led by one of Inc.’s “30 under 30,” co-founder and CEO Gautam Gupta. Providing customers an algorithm-curated assortment based on previous purchases, NatureBox has become a leader using the business model of monthly replenishment.
Eighty percent of the nearly 5,000 new products introduced every quarter fail.
By mining its extraordinary data warehouse of customer flavor preferences, ingredients, etc. NatureBox reduced the product development cycle from 12 months to 12 weeks and increased its percentage of successful product launches.
SIMPLICITY THROUGH SUCCESS
Newly named JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison inspired the audience by detailing his career path at Target and Home Depot, and vision for JCPenney’s turnaround. JCPenney’s decline did not result from increased or new competition, a revolutionary technology or fewer customers, he said, but from a disaster in leadership.
To reverse the damage, Ellison pledged to attack differently. He started by plugging as many holes as possible and simplified the company’s strategic focus. Moving forward, each business decision will be evaluated on how it benefits JCPenney’s omnichannel strategy, growth of private brands and increase in revenue per customer.
JCPenney has turned the corner, and its future success hinges on a pledge for clarity of purpose and balance between the art and science of retail, he said
INNOVATION FOR THE SPECIALTY RETAIL CHANNEL
Newly acquired by Macy’s, Bluemercury—a friendly neighborhood store where customers can seek advice from “self-proclaimed beauty junkies who love people”—has high hopes of becoming the next “Starbucks of the makeup industry.”
Celebrating the mom-and-pop shopping experience, co-founder and chief operating officer Barry Beck described the company’s foundation as built on the three P’s: people, product and place.
Beck claims that Bluemercury’s people strategy is the chain’s secret weapon. By offering real career paths and higher wages, Bluemercury hires style consultants who have genuine client focus. Like “human Googlers,” they provide beauty solutions for customers, not just product recommendations.
The company, headquartered in Georgetown/Washington, D.C. has intentionally placed 14 stores within a 28-mile radius to increase brand awareness in the area.
According to Beck, innovation is important because “it’s a winner-takes-all game.”
THRIVING IN THE AGE OF THE EMPOWERED CONSUMER
With the expansion of ecommerce, home delivery is now integral to the customer experience. Steve Brill, Vice President for Global B2C Strategy for UPS, described the importance of strengthening relationships between retailers and delivery providers like UPS who interact directly with the purchaser.
Choice, control, and convenience top what customers want in efficient distance delivery. UPS recently created the “My Choice” program to allow people to select the most convenient delivery option when receiving a package, including flexibility on shipment date, delivery, location, etc. Brill identified this as an innovative response to the “situational need” that always accompanies shipping.
No single size delivery option fits all in an omnichannel world where options now include ship to store, ship from store and ecommerce returns.
RETAINING HIGH-PERFORMING PEOPLE
The second panel at the Retailing Summit, moderated by the Center for Retailing Studies’ Director Kelli Hollinger, sought to identify characteristics of high performing individuals and tactics for how companies can retain them.
Karyn Maynard, recruiting director at The Container Store, quoted the company’s philosophy that “one great person equals three good people.” She said it is essential when hiring to select the right candidate who can:
- Speak up and contribute
- Show perseverance
- Nurture others
Karla Waddleton, division vice president at ALDI, Inc., said the German grocery chain tests the resiliency of new hires by challenging them with real responsibility. “We want to see their potential for leadership.”
According to Jennifer Lustig, senior director of human resources at PetSmart, employees want to feel valued. They also become more motivated when the career path for growth within the company is clearly outlined.
THE CLUTCH EN/INTREPRENEUR
Aggie graduate and football star Chris Valletta propelled himself from the NFL to the Apprentice to head entrepreneur and co-founder of Mission Athletecare. Inspired by basketball legend Michael Jordan, Valletta used his failures to work harder and perform under pressure—what he describes as being “clutch.”
Talent and motivation are not enough to set you apart, he explained. Having emotional intelligence or the ability to hold tight to your emotions while making decisions is key.
Being “clutch” requires being obsessed with details because the little things matter greatly.
Similar to a game of football, the retail landscape is constantly changing. You have to be able to adapt, think quickly and execute during the hard moments, he explained.
Attendees also heard from breakout session leaders Matt Schmitt, President and Chief Innovation Strategy Officer at Reflect, with Lee Summers, Manager of Marketing and Technology at Nebraska Furniture Mart; Mathew Sweezy, Vice President of Marketing and Insights at Salesforce, with Aaron Stevens, Senior Sales Manager, Carrier Indirect & Regional Carrier at OtterBox; and, Jim Sturm, President and Chief Executive Officer at Brierley+Partners with representatives from Half-Price Books.
The 2016 Retailing Summit will take place on Oct. 13-14 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.
Visit retailingsummit.org for more information.
Kelli R. Levey, September 25th, 2015
Mays Business School Marketing Professor Leonard Berry co-wrote an article for Harvard Business Review on improving customer service in high-emotion customer experiences like cancer care. In “When the Customer is Stressed,” Berry and his colleagues identify reasons why certain services provoke high emotions. They also provide guidelines for ways organizations can design these services to better anticipate and respond to customers’ emotional needs.
The article is available online at https://hbr.org/2015/10/when-the-customer-is-stressed? and in the October 2015 print issue of the Harvard Business Review.
Berry conducted the research for the article with Scott W. Davis, a postdoctoral fellow at the Jones
Graduate School of Business at Rice University who studied at Mays; and Jody Wilmet, the vice president for oncology, diagnostics and hospital physicians at Bellin Health Systems in Green Bay, Wisc.
The team chose to focus on cancer care in part because Berry is conducting an ongoing study of how to improve the service journey that adult cancer patients and their families take from diagnosis through treatment, recovery and in some cases end-of-life care. So far, the research has involved interviews with more than 350 cancer patients, family members, oncologists, surgeons, oncology nurses, nonclinical staffers, and leaders of health care organizations, primarily at 10 highly reputed cancer centers in nine U.S. states.
Berry is a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass. He is Distinguished Professor of Marketing and holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. He is the founder of Texas A&M’s Center for Retailing Studies and served as its director from 1982 through June 2000. He is a former national president of the American Marketing Association. He has written the books Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic, Discovering the Soul of Service, On Great Service, Marketing Services: Competing Through Quality and Delivering Quality Service.
— This story originally appeared in Texas A&M Today.
Wesley Rondinelli, MBA Class of 2017, (second from left) and his team received the second-place prize in the inaugural PepsiCo MBA Invitational Case Competition, held at TCU on Sept. 20. His teammates, randomly assigned, hailed from Duke, TCU and UT-Dallas.
Participating MBA programs were Wharton, Duke, Maryland, Washington University, Vanderbilt, Iowa, Rice, UT, UT-Dallas, TCU, University of Houston and SMU. It was only open to first-year full-time MBA students.
Also representing Mays were Alex Bardeguez and Rongchao Lu.
Faculty members who are helping develop leaders of tomorrow with new skills in entrepreneurial thinking and creativity were recognized at the Sept. 19 Aggie football game. Mays Business School Dean Eli Jones and special guest David Cordani, president and CEO of Cigna (right) were joined by professors Carol Lafayette and Charles Samuelson.
Shannon Deer has accepted the position of Full-Time MBA Program Director at Mays Business School, effective Dec. 15. The director serves as the senior leader and administrator of the Mays Full-Time MBA Program and the MBA Program Office.
Deer has been the assistant department head and a senior lecturer in Mays’ Department of Accounting since 2007. She has been a leader in bringing energy industry related courses to Mays. She founded the Certificate in Energy Accounting and developed related courses for the program. She received the Professional MBA Faculty Teaching Award two years in a row for her work in the energy finance course she developed for our MBA programs. She also teaches Excel and math boot camps for the Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA programs. Deer has spearheaded several innovative teaching methods in Mays, including implementing a flipped course model in her classes. She has coordinated many high-impact experiential learning opportunities for students through case competitions and business simulations, including the Halliburton Energy Case Competition.
Deer graduated from Mays with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in finance. She is a CPA. She is also pursuing a Ph.D. in adult education at Texas A&M University. Before returning to Texas A&M, Deer worked as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she served large SEC filers as well as large private exploration and production companies. In addition to the Professional MBA Faculty Teaching Award, Deer has received numerous teaching recognitions, including the Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award, the Ernst & Young Teaching Excellence Award, Mays Faculty Teaching Fellow and the Baggett Teaching Award. She was also honored to serve as a Fish Camp (freshman orientation camp) namesake in the summer of 2013.
Blue Bell did three things right as a business of integrity.
To begin with, I quote what one of my best friends recently posted to Facebook: “When it is back on the shelves, I’m going to eat my body weight in Blue Bell!” I start with that reaction because it is indicative of the deep passion for Blue Bell that is playing a big part in their ability to recover from a disaster on a scale that would have destroyed many businesses. Even with such strong brand devotion (“Blue Bell is part of my family”), a company facing a recall that involves consumer harm has a very short period of time to make some key decisions – and they have to get them right.
First, with the speed with which information spreads today – and consumers who increasingly value authenticity – a firm cannot appear as if they are trying to hide anything. Research on many product recalls suggests that you have to acknowledge the scale of the problem, accept responsibility and declare the specific actions you will take to make it right for those harmed and to make sure that the problem does not reoccur. Blue Bell was, for the most part, very transparent – they communicated through traditional advertising channels, but also worked with retail partners to post signs on the ice cream shelves that explained, apologized sincerely, and announced steps to continue to investigate the sources and to fix the problem.
Second, as the full scale of the problem becomes clear, it becomes critical to make sure that the response adapts and is big enough to matter. In my recollection, there were a few waves in which it became clearer that the problem was not isolated to just a small niche of product lines or one machine in one plant. Although there was some negative reaction among consumers and business writers as the problem seemed to continue to grow for a period, I thought Blue Bell reacted with a level of candor that is pretty rare. But it was interesting to me that the majority customer opinion seemed to be one of “hoping an old friend would quickly get well” instead of wondering what else the firm might be hiding. This only happens if customers are devoted to the brand (beyond simple positive feelings) and if they have a high level of trust in the integrity of the firm and its management. Researchers refer to these factors as a firm having high “social capital.” Blue Bell will still have to get the “re-launch” right, as I’m guessing there will be some supply shortages—they will have the chance to hit the right tone of expressing appreciation to customers while re-emphasizing their commitment to product safety and quality.
Finally, I think financial partners and channel partners recognized that Blue Bell’s social capital would, more likely than not, result in customers welcoming Blue Bell back rather than being afraid to resume using the product. So these partners, who faced tough decisions of their own, appear to have recognized the value in remaining committed to Blue Bell and helping the beloved brand regain their footing in the marketplace.
Mark B. Houston is department head and professor of marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, as well as the inaugural Blue Bell Creameries Chair in Business.
He can be reached at email@example.com
Kelli R. Levey, July 27th, 2015
The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) welcomes Charles “Chuck” Hinton Jr. as the new director for I-Corps Programming. He will be responsible for promotion of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Innovation Corps (I-CorpsTM) program, a set of entrepreneurial activities that prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory, and broaden the impact of select NSF-funded basic research projects.
I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that solicits three-member teams – composed of an academic researcher, a student entrepreneur and an industry mentor – to participate in an intensive seven-week program to determine commercialization opportunities for their innovations. Selected I-Corps Teams are eligible for up to $50,000 in NSF grant funding to support their efforts in the combined on-site and online curriculum, which is based on the Lean Launch Methodology for business model validation.
Hinton will lead the CNVE’s efforts as part of the Southwest I-Corps Node (http://swicorps.org), one of seven national partnerships of universities funded by NSF to support I-Corps expansion. Texas A&M University, along with UT-Austin, Rice University and Texas Tech University, share responsibilities for promotion of this high-impact program and recruitment of I-Corps Team applicants. To date, I-Corps has trained more than 500 teams nationwide, many of which have efficiently determined a pathway through which to commercialize their NSF-funded innovations.
“Chuck’s efforts for the CNVE will focus first on recruitment and preparation of Texas A&M teams for enrollment in this elite program,” said Blake Petty, CNVE director and a National I-Corps faculty member. “He’ll then be responsible for expanding I-Corps participation throughout the Texas A&M System, around the state, and ultimately, across the southwestern U.S.”
Hinton received two degrees from Texas A&M: a bachelor’s degree in business in 1976 and an MBA in 1978. After a successful career in natural gas exploration/drilling/production, Hinton more recently became familiar to CNVE as a volunteer mentor working with entrepreneurial students at Startup Aggieland, the Texas A&M campus’ student business accelerator. While leading efforts to recruit and train mentors for their student programs, Hinton developed a deep understanding and appreciation for Startup Aggieland’s Lean Launch Methodology – which shares the same principals applied in I-Corps training.
“We’re very fortunate to add someone of Chuck’s caliber to the CNVE team,” Petty said. “His expertise and enthusiasm for I-Corps will be infectious to everyone he engages.”
Academic researchers and students interested in learning more about I-Corps and non-academic leaders wanting to serve as industry mentors to an I-Corps Team are encouraged to contact Hinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 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 and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.