A group of MBA students in the Texas A&M Mays Business School got some realistic training in crisis leadership and team-building during a “Leadership Challenge” exercise at Disaster City® on Jan. 22.

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“This is useful training,” said Shannon Deer, director of the Full-Time MBA Program at Mays. “It gives the students the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and be challenged outside of an academic setting.”

The exercise is designed to teach leadership and communication skills, crisis management and teamwork.

In the aftermath of a mock tornado, the students must work together in teams to search for and rescue “victims” from a collapsed building, a train derailment and more. They also face other challenges, such as moving a large piece of concrete from a roadway, which can only be accomplished by working as a team.

“Every station has a new team leader, so the students have to learn to follow as well as lead,” said management Associate Professor Michael Wesson. “It’s a great day for them to become more aware of their strengths and areas they need to work on.”

They must also answer questions during a mock press conference about the disaster. This applies to situations where managers must deliver bad news as well as communicate under stress, said Executive Professor John Krajicek.

The simulated disaster exercise is overseen by experienced instructors with the Texas A&M EngiMaysMBAjan2016_269neering Extension Service (TEEX) and faculty from Mays Business School.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Several Mays programs placed well in the 2016 Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking Financial Markets.

  • MS in Marketing ranked 3rd in the worldeduniversal
  • MS in Accounting ranked 3rd
  • MS in Management Information Systems ranked 6th
  • MS in Finance & Trading, Risk & Investments Program (TRIP) ranked 7th
  • MS in Human Resource Management ranked 9th
  • MS in Management ranked 12th
  • MS in Real Estate ranked 13th
  • MBA in Finance ranked 23rd

For more details, go to http://www.best-masters.com

Categories: Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Stepping up to Mays’ future

deanjones

Eli Jones calls himself an “accidental dean”–and says most deans are “accidental” because academics rarely join the profession to be administrators. Academics are teachers, researchers and authors. One typically takes an administrative role as selfless service–a way to serve those he or she leads. As Aggies know, selfless service is one of the Aggie Core Values.

Early in Jones’ career, he finished an undergraduate degree in journalism at Texas A&M and pursued broadcast journalism. Later, he and his family returned to Texas A&M for a two-year MBA degree and Jones became a sales executive and sales manager at three Fortune 500 companies. Still, becoming a dean of a business school had not entered his mind.

However, there was a time in his corporate life when he thought back to something a Mays professor said to him–pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor. Back to school Jones and his family went, and four years later, Jones began his academic career–the path that would eventually lead to the dean’s office at Mays Business School.

Through a series of intentional decisions that led him back and forth between the corporate and academic worlds in an effort to continuously enhance his knowledge, skills and capabilities, the self-professed “hybrid” finds himself today at the helm of a leading business school–one that is on an upward trajectory and positioned to break into the ranks of the nation’s elite institutions.

“One might view Mays Business School as a highly talented, well-coached football team that has marched down the field to our opponents’ 20-yard line,” Jones said. “We have gotten where we are today through hard work, smart decisions and strong leadership. And we are poised to get into the end zone…to score a touchdown. But at this point in the game, our competitors have tightened their chinstraps, the playing field has shifted a little bit and the winds of change are swirling. In order to make that last push over the goal line, we will have to leverage the considerable strengths we’ve built to date. Just as important, we need to reimagine the roles that engagement, innovation and impact will play in the future of business education.”

The changing landscape of business and business education

Jones takes the helm of Mays at a time when companies are facing formidable challenges, such as technological advances, digitization of data, increasingly diverse and dispersed workforces and changing employee attitudes and expectations.

Business schools are pipelines to the corporate and entrepreneurial world – suppliers of new knowledge, young talent, and retooled managers and leaders. Thus, business schools are uniquely positioned to help businesses successfully navigate today’s turbulent environment.

Engagement, innovation and impact

While his professional background working in the corporate and academic sectors gives Jones unique perspectives and experiences to lead Mays at this time, he recognizes “At the end of the day, we need to actively engage our stakeholders; continuously innovate our research and programmatic efforts, and positively impact the students, companies and business and academic communities we serve,” he said.

Elevating engagement

Jones recognizes that the school cannot redefine innovation and impact in a vacuum, solely on its own terms. Rather, it must solicit the input of various constituencies–internal and external–to understand what innovation and impact mean to them. So this summer, he embarked on a “listening tour” traveling across Texas to engage key external stakeholder groups and give them a voice in the school’s larger strategic planning and visioning efforts.

The listening tour has included town hall meetings with students, faculty and staff as well as networking events with former students. In addition, Jones is conducting a series of small-group gatherings and one-on-one meetings with academic department heads, donors, corporate partners and recruiters, business clients and development council members. In each of these interactions, he is asking for opinions on a range of topics and questions, including “When you think of Mays Business School, what is the first thing that comes to mind?” as well as “Do we have the right mission, and how can we leverage the school’s mission to continuously improve as measured by innovation and impact?”

In January, Jones and his leadership team will begin discussing the stakeholder input and integrating key insights into the school’s formal strategic planning initiative. To help guide this overall effort, he has created a new position—interim director of innovation and strategic planning—and has asked Mary Lea McAnally to serve in this role.

Already, Jones has gleaned insights in some of the early meetings with stakeholders that will help shape the school’s plan going forward.

“We are writing the next chapter in the remarkable story that is Mays Business School, and I believe our opportunity to join the ranks of the nation’s truly elite business schools is now,” he said. “We will build on the momentum here, leverage the experience I gained from my two previous deanships, combine that knowledge with that of the amazing team of faculty and staff at Mays Business School, and generate the support needed to build to world-class status by fully engaging our Aggie network.

Increasing innovation

In addition to elevating stakeholder engagement, Mays’ world-class faculty is being enhanced by the addition of new faculty. This summer, Mays welcomed 11 new professors with degrees from other top institutions, including Duke, INSEAD, Stanford, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“This group of scholars provides just the right influx of fresh perspectives, insights and experiences we need to complement our existing faculty,” Jones said. “They include seasoned professors, those in the middle of their careers and newly minted Ph.D.s who are just starting out on one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding careers imaginable. And they will pursue diverse research interests ranging from sales leadership and behavioral economics to corporate governance and information asymmetry.”

One of the new additions is Assistant Professor of Marketing Cexun “Jeffery” Cai, who comes to Mays from Wharton. Of his decision to join Texas A&M, Cai said, “No other place promises the combination of dynamic, productive and helpful colleagues; engaged students who are eager to push their limits; a warm and friendly environment made up of people with a deep sense of values; and the opportunity to contribute to a highly reputable institution that is on the frontier of knowledge discovery and dissemination.”

In addition to recruiting new faculty, Mays plans to develop innovative educational programs to meet the evolving needs of today’s students, corporate partners and the market. The new Master of Science in Business (MS Business) is one example of the kind of innovation to which Jones is referring. Scheduled to welcome its first class of students fall 2016, the MS Business is an intensive 11-month program designed to help non-business majors compete more effectively for jobs in the global marketplace. The program will provide students with core business knowledge, solid quantitative skills and a basic understanding of best practices in leadership—with emphases on experiential learning, teamwork and career preparation. Students will apply to the MS Business during their senior year, and the program will enable undergraduate students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. No prior job experience is required for admission.

Jon Jasperson, academic director for the program, says it will showcase some of the latest innovations in higher education. “We plan to build a challenging, innovative learning environment for the MS Business students that incorporates education best practices into the classroom,” he said. “The concentrated, block delivery schedule for the courses combined with role play, simulations and flipped classroom active learning techniques will provide better engagement for students in the learning process.”

High-impact learning

For many years, Mays faculty have challenged students to apply what they learn in class to solve problems in a variety of real-world contexts—from consulting engagements and capstone projects to internships and study-abroad programs. The school’s undergraduate Business Honors and Business Fellows programs along with the Freshman Business Initiative offer a range of active learning experiences, including visits to corporations, guest speakers on campus, community service activities, and regional and national trips. Mays’ Full-Time, Professional and Executive MBA programs all feature a consulting or capstone project in which students work with actual businesses as well as some kind of travel-study component—either overseas or through the school’s Washington, D.C. Campus.

Case competitions and other business skills challenges have provided another fertile field of high-impact leaning for students. By testing business knowledge and problem-solving skills in a range of areas—from tax, entrepreneurship and ethics to fashion and retail—these activities force teams of students to merge theory and practice while dealing with the same kind of time, resource, and knowledge constraints they will face on the job after they graduate.

In recent years, Mays departments, centers and programs have expanded the number of competitions they host. Newer events such as the Wall Street Journal Challenge for undergraduates, hosted this year by Mays, have joined longstanding activities such as the MBA Venture Challenge and the Ideas Challenge, which is open to all students. Students are also participating in more external competitions, ranging from National Retail Federation Student Challenge to Deloitte’s FanTAXtic tax case competition and the National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership. In 2013, a team of Mays Full-Time MBA students (composed of Janette Barnard, Matt Johnson, Lloyd McGuire and Robyn Peters) won the case competition in ethical leadership. Peters remarked on the impact of the learning experience: “Given less than 24 hours to dissect the case, craft recommendations and develop a flawless presentation, this competition was a test of critical problem solving and prioritization. Experiences like this are what really prepare us for our roles as future professional leaders.”

Mays will continue to participate in these and other experiential learning activities to ensure that its students are ready and able to put their hard-earned knowledge into action.

Impact on business

Corporate partnerships play a vital role in many of the high-impact learning experiences enjoyed by Mays’ students, as organizations help underwrite competitions or host students for consulting engagements or capstone projects. By forging new partnerships with industry, as well as deepening relationships with existing partners, Jones is confident the school can also boost its impact on business.

Mays’ Professional Selling Initiative (PSI) is one example of a new program that provides a platform for creating innovative, mutually beneficial partnerships with industry. Its existence, in fact, is born out of the school’s ongoing dialogue with corporate partners and a careful assessment of marketplace forces and trends. In recent years, the Department of Marketing has witnessed significantly increased demand from firms looking to hire graduates for professional selling jobs—in both consumer and business-to-business settings. After examining sales initiatives at other universities across the nation and talking to a number of the school’s current recruiters, the department launched the Professional Selling Initiative to meet a range of student, faculty and employer needs.

The initiative will provide enhanced educational offerings for students, including a Certificate in Sales along with a Professional Selling and Sales Management career track. Faculty will enjoy increased research opportunities along with more role-play rooms supported by state-of-the-art technology. Corporate partners will gain greater access to Mays’ top sales students through a variety of recruiting activities, social events and guest-speaking opportunities.

Perhaps most importantly, through more frequent interaction and closer collaboration, Mays and its corporate partners will be able to explore new opportunities to develop custom programming and conduct applied research that is tailored to the unique business needs and objectives of different partners.

Looking ahead

As Jones looks to the future, he is humbled by the opportunity to lead his alma mater into a new era, mindful of the challenges that lie ahead and exhilarated by the opportunities they present.

“Moving into the ranks of the very best business schools is going to require everyone at Mays to step up their game,” he said. “We have to create new knowledge that is relevant and useful to companies. We need to offer unique education programs that prepare students to make valuable contributions to their employers from day one on the job. And we must develop leaders who are as focused on serving their organizations and transforming their communities as they are on maximizing shareholder wealth. There is no more important or rewarding work than this.”

Categories: Alumni, Faculty, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Welcome Dean Eli Jones back to Mays, get to know new management Department Head Wendy Boswell and catch up on the latest at Mays Business School in the new @Mays Magazine. It is available online, and soon will be in magazine racks throughout the Wehner Building.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Texas A&M University students presented their original solutions for judges to some of the world’s most pressing social and economic challenges in early November, when Mays Business School hosted its first Sustainable Solutions to Social Problems Case Competition.

Team_PicShannon Deer, senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting, who was coordinator for the competition, called the first year a success.

“Our teams demonstrated an aptitude for critical thinking skills and problem-solving applied to some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as waste, hunger, malnutrition, inhibited food distribution, childhood poverty, inaccessibility to electricity, the refugee crisis, unfair labor practices and unproductive agriculture practices,” she said.


The competition was the culmination of the newest Applied Business competencies course Business Solutions to Social Problems (BUSN 302). In this discussion-oriented course, students explored social problems of their choice and developed appropriate sustainable solutions.

Each team comprised students from different disciplines from around Texas A&M, including at least one student from Mays. The students spent the semester preparing presentations for a panel of judges that included Kyle Gammenthaler of Mays, and Chris Field and Gretchen Nickson of Mercy Project, a non-profit organization.  

First place was awarded to Team Entomon, which included Mays marketing major Garrett Hayslip ’17, Landry Tucker ’16 of Allied Health and Sloane Ansell ’16, a bioenvironmental sciences major. The team won $5,000 to fund their solution, “Entomon,” a stackable insect farm made from a 55-gallon food barrel.

The purpose of Entomon is to feed people and their livestock,” said Hayslip, who managed the team’s digital media. He and his team members hope to help people around the world efficiently and inexpensively raise insects, especially where insects are an integral part of the local diets – which encompasses 116 countries.

He explained the reason the team chose the 55-gallon food-grade barrel: You can find them ubiquitously throughout the world; they’re cheap (some companies even donate their surplus); they are tough and practically weather-proof; and last but definitely not least, they make for a great stackable insect farm.”

Since the case competition concluded, Team Entomon has been working to improve their product and eventually put it in the hands of people that need it most. “Right now, we are using our friends as beta users to uncover potential problems that others may face.”  He added, “Yes, that’s right, other Texas A&M students are farming bugs, too.”

The runner-up team was Tengo, which included finance major Philip Wang ’16, economics major Rosalyn Kamp ’16, computer science major Kaveet Laxmidas ’18 and Allen McDonald ’15, who is studying public administration at the The Bush School of Government and Public Service. Tengo is a texting service for Costa Rican farmers that directly connects buyers and sellers at market prices, avoiding the exploitation common among distributors there.

Other presentations included a solar light for areas lacking electricity; a mobile phone app to allow consumers to search products for an ethical supply chain before purchase; improved recycling on West Campus; wider distribution of fresh produce across A&M campus; an app to improve childhood literacy in America; and methods to increase agricultural productivity in Costa Rica through the distribution of coffee and use of innovative greenhouse technology to control rainfall.

“The case competition was incredibly inspiring, and I am so proud of what our students are doing,” Deer said.

Several teams plan to pilot their solutions internationally this winter or summer in several countries, including Costa Rica and Uganda.

 

Categories: Faculty, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

In July 2015, Dean Eli Jones named Wendy R. Boswell as the head of the Department of Management, succeeding Ricky Griffin who served from 2011 to 2014, and Duane Ireland, who was interim department head for a year after Griffin became interim dean. Boswell is a powerhouse among researchers, particularly in the field of human resource management. Her scholarship that is concerned with employee attraction and retention, job search behavior and the work/non-work interface has appeared in various scholarly and practitioner journals.

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Boswell was recruited to Texas A&M University in 2000 as an assistant professor at Mays Business School after she earned her Ph.D. from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She was an assistant professor until being promoted in 2005 to associate professor and appointed as director of the Center for Human Resource Management. She has held the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in Business at Mays since 2013.

She serves on the editorial boards for several academic publications and is an associate editor for Personnel Psychology. She also served as the 2012-13 Chair of the HR Division of the Academy of Management and is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association.

Boswell said that her willingness to accept different roles in the management department over time (such as her service as Director of the CHRM Center and as the department’s Doctoral Program Coordinator) yielded valuable opportunities for her to learn about the challenges associated with leading what is an eclectic management department. These experiences, coupled with her strong commitment to observe others in various leadership roles, have served as an excellent foundation for her work as head of the management department.

Her former department head, Murray Barrick, shared accolades about Boswell. “Every day is a fun day with Wendy Boswell. She is smart, persistent, loyal, and as just noted, enjoys having fun,” he said. “She has impressed me with her thoughtful approach to capitalizing on someone’s strengths to re-organize work and by doing so has ensured that her faculty and staff experience even more success and embrace the opportunity to showcase their talents. I expect Wendy will have a long and successful career as a leader of the department.”

Boswell’s goals for the management department include those of preparing for faculty retirements that are imminent and working with others to further enhance key high impact programs within the department involving entrepreneurship and human resource management as well as help shape innovative programs within Mays such as the new Master of Science in Business degree and customized executive programs for the Center for Executive Development.

Based on her field of study, Boswell is committed to leading employees in ways that capitalize on their strengths. She aims to foster inclusion within the department between the varying groups non-tenure track faculty, the tenured and nontenured professors, staff and the center directors. “Just a few months ago, I may not have understood why some things were done the way they were,” she said. “Now, I may have a new perspective but I also bring insight from being a faculty member here in Mays for a while and from serving in different roles within the department. With this perspective, there are a few things I can do. For instance, our intradepartmental communication can be improved and we can better capitalize on the unique strengths individuals bring to the department and school.”

John Boudreau, who was Boswell’s dissertation chair when she was a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, said she was patient and gifted when working as a research assistant through several rounds of writing and editing research articles.

He described her as “remarkably modest. “On one paper, I gave her a conceptual outline of something I thought might be interesting. In her customary way she did a very thorough job producing quite a nice first draft,” he recalled. “When I noted how much work she had done, she simply said, ‘It was all in your outline, I just filled it in.’” 

At Mays, the department head must also be a full professor. Boswell teaches courses on human resource management at the undergraduate, graduate (master’s and doctoral) and executive levels, and was the recipient of the Center for Teaching Excellence Montague Scholar Award (2004) and the Dr. Ricky W. Griffin Research Award (2012).

Being a department head is like a double or triple dose of responsibility, because you’ve got commitments to your class and research program but also a whole lot of administrative tasks including plenty of meetings,” she said. “You have formal responsibilities, but you also have ‘fires’ – all these peripheral things to deal with when things pop up. You cannot schedule for those things and I have learned that each day cannot be planned. If I get one thing done on my ‘to-do’ list, I feel like that’s pretty good.

Another of Boswell’s challenges will be continuing to balance her job with her role as wife and mom of two children. Even though she has done extensive research on work-nonwork conflict and had a study on the pros and cons of constant connection to work published recently in Academy of Management Journal, Boswell says the delineation doesn’t come easily to her. “I think you can have it all, it just depends on how you define ‘all.’ I’ll just have to keep shifting to meet the demands before me.”

“Even though it wasn’t strategized, I could see this new role coming,” she said, referring to preparation by her predecessors Ricky Griffin, Duane Ireland, and Murray Barrick and a key mentor Don Hellriegel. “I knew my colleagues believed in me and had faith in my ability to lead.”

Boswell added: I’m truly happy to be here, that’s why I’ve been here my entire academic career, and I’m excited about the future and our leadership.

BOSWELL’S ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS

2015 – Head of the Department of Management, Mays Business School

2013 Holder of the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in Business

2012-2013 Rebecca U. ’74 & William S. Nichols III ’74 Professor of Management, Mays Business School

2005-2011 Director, Center for Human Resource Management (CHRM), Mays Business School

20052012 Associate Professor of Management, Mays Business School

20002005 Assistant Professor of Management, Mays Business School

EDUCATION

Cornell University, Ph.D., May 2000, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Major: Human Resource Studies, Minors: Management, Statistics

Cornell University, M.S., May 1997, School of Industrial and Labor Relations

California State University, Fresno, B.S., December 1994, Craig School of Business, Major: Human Resource Management, Graduated Magna Cum Laude

 

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

IMG_5305Sixth-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.

Musoma“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.”

Categories: Faculty, Mays Business, Programs, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

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 partnersStartup 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Centers, Mays Business, News, Programs, Staff, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

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:

  1. Examine their present situation
  2. Define where they would like to be
  3. Focus on the positives that can help guide them there

Former U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot John Foley with Katie Burroughs, Haley Gooch and Lindsay La Rosa from the Master’s in Marketing program.

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

RetailingSummit2015-48Newly 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.

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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.

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The 2016 Retailing Summit will take place on Oct. 13-14 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.

Visit retailingsummit.org for more information.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Mays Business, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

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.

Berry

Berry

Categories: Faculty, Mays Business, News, Research Notes, Texas A&M, Uncategorized