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 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.



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


(Editor’s note: Management Executive Professor Don Lewis coached two students to a first-place win in the pitch competition. Lewis is assistant director of Startup Aggieland, a business incubator that provides comprehensive training and mentoring for any Texas A&M student who wants to pursue a business.)
Texas A&M University students Brandon Sweeney and Blake Teipel were selected as winners of the first-ever Student Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition during the 2015 Southeastern Conference Symposium in Atlanta.Two other Aggies – Joey Gabriano and Tiffany Sanchez – also were recognized during the three-day symposium which began Sunday (Sept. 20). Gabriano, an accounting major and bugler in the Texas Aggie Band, was selected to join the SEC Jazz Ensemble, and Sanchez was asked to exhibit her applied interactive art piece, “Prey.”Sweeney and Teipel are both Ph.D. candidates in materials science and engineering. Based on breakthrough technologies within the field, they have created an innovative and accessible solution to the problem of high-cost and unreliable, high-mobility prosthetic devices by using smart nanotechnology and next-generation materials for additive manufacturing (3D printing).  They operate their business with assistance from Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M’s student-run business accelerator.“This competition was a first for the SEC Symposium, and given the incredibly positive feedback we received from the students, judges and attendees, it proved to be a special aspect of this year’s event,” said Torie Johnson, executive director of SECU, the SEC’s academic initiative. “All 14 teams should be commended for their achievements, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of them.”
SECU LogoThe student entrepreneurial pitch competition included teams from each of the SEC’s 14 universities presenting their pioneering ideas to a panel of SEC alumni judges in two preliminary rounds. The top three teams moved on to the final round, where they presented their plans to a different set of judges and all SEC Symposium attendees.In addition, Anna Marie Wisniowiecki, a senior biomedical engineering major, and Gerry Cote, engineering professor and director of the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems, were acknowledged at the symposium for their roles as student and faculty ambassadors.Also, Paulo Lima Fihlo, professor of mathematics, was applauded for his presentation on enhancing math education through intervention technologies and gaming; Adam Rothstein, a third year student in the Master of Fine Arts in Visualization program, and Priscilla Villareal, a senior theater arts student, were the hit of the undergraduate mixer with their storyboard, film concept and character portrayal for Visual Arts in Film; and faculty members Tim McLaughlin, Department of Visualization, Cote and Duncan J. Maitland, biomedical engineering, all presented on panels related to STEAM to STEM, Creativity in Interdisciplinary Design and Best Practices in Research Partnerships.Organizers say the primary goal of the SEC Symposium is to address a significant scholarly issue by utilizing the range of disciplinary strengths of all SEC universities in a manner that expands opportunities for collaboration among SEC faculty and administrators. With that in mind, organizers chose “Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Driving a 21st Century Economy” as the theme for this year’s symposium.This event is also intended to display the research and innovation of SEC institutions for an audience of academicians, government officials and other stakeholders.

— This story originally appeared in Texas A&M Today.

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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.

2nd Place Team

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

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.Jones and Cordani on Kyle Field

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

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 Accoun13160_019ting 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.

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Blue Bell did three things right as a business of integrity.

To bedrhoustonheadshotgin 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


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

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.

Chuck Hinton 2015I-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 (, 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


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.


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

 Knocki - Ohad


A Mays Business School MBA graduate, mentored six years ago as a student, is working this summer on an invention called Knocki. The portable device had not yet been “born” when Ohad Nezer ’08 was featured in a prophetic blog post, titled “Opportunity Knocks,” published in 2009 on the Mays website. (

Knocki can be attached or embedded into any hard surface, making the surface interactive. The battery-operated device can also be hard-wired to an electrical system and embedded behind a wall, eliminating unattractive light switches. The interactive area is large, so when the device is placed on the underside of a table, the entire table becomes interactive regardless of size. Possible uses for Knocki include turning off all the lights in a home by knocking on a night stand and sending a text message to a user at work if someone knocks on his home’s front door.

Nezer and cofounder Jake Boshernitzan are building a prototype of their startup’s product at Seed Sumo in Texas A&M’s BioCorridor. Seed Sumo is a for-profit business accelerator that helps launch investable early-stage ventures in 90 days. It opened last summer, and this summer is hosting seven companies.

Nezer, a former public relations officer in the Israeli Army and co-owner of Swan Solutions, founded his first startup as a student in an entrepreneurship course taught by Richard Lester, executive director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Mays. Lester is also a clinical professor in the Department of Management at Mays and one of several cofounders of Startup Aggieland at Research Park.

“I do not always remember past students, particularly from years back, but I specifically remember Ohad and his teammate from SeatKarma as they worked on that project during my class six years ago,” Lester said. “It was evident that Ohad had a great career as an entrepreneur, and I am extremely pleased to see his venture is going well.”

Knocki was one of 1,200-plus ventures that applied for seven spots at Seed Sumo, guaranteeing a $50,000 minimum investment.

Knocki – Make Any Surface Smart from Model2Web, LLC on Vimeo.

The company’s other invention is Sleepra, a patent-pending device that enables users to control smart homes from their mobile device while in bed. The project was temporarily shelved after Seed Sumo accepted the innovative duo, which opted to launch the more portable version Knocki.

Boshernitzan, co-owner of Swan Solutions and co-inventor of Knocki, is a serial entrepreneur who founded Ridester, the first online ridesharing marketplace, in 2006. Ridester foreshadowed the more popular Uber, but still received accolades in Time Magazine, Austin Business Journal and other media outlets. It was one of the first five startups flown to San Francisco for Facebook’s first app pitches.

“Working with Ohad is exciting,” Boshernitzan said. “He definitely sees things on a unique wavelength that brings creativity, innovation and fun to our venture.”

Nezer’s history with Lester dates back to when Nezer was an MBA student. He helped found SeatKarma with fellow MBA student Chris Nicolaysen for $30,000 in seed capital. The two developed SeatKarma during study breaks at Ag Cafe on West Campus and in Lester’s class.

“Dr. Lester was very influential in helping us sort through the early struggles with SeatKarma,” Nezer recalled. “We welcome his experience and advice working on Knocki.”

SeatKarma was an event search engine that scoured ticket resellers to find the best second-hand market prices for athletic, theater and music events at more than 1,600 venues nationwide. Though it was founded during a shaky economy, SeatKarma received a boost from positive reviews by TechCrunch and LifeHacker and a 2009 feature in TechCrunch.

Nezer said he and Ohad enjoyed returning to College Station to work on their current venture. “It feels like going full circle,” he said. “Getting reconnected with Mays professors has been very useful. We are fortunate to be so close to such a great pool of business minds.”

 This summer, the cofounders meet at least once weekly with their mentor, Startup Aggieland Marketing Coordinator Shelly Brenckman, during the team’s “Deep Dive” roundtables at Seed Sumo. Those meetings are also attended by Seed Sumo Managing Director Bryan Bulte, Seed Sumo associate Steve Tinkle and other Seed Sumo personnel.

“We didn’t accept Ohad and Jake into Seed Sumo because of their idea,” explained Bulte. “We accepted them because they are extremely talented entrepreneurs. They understand ‘lean’ and can maneuver a business model.”

Mays professor Don Lewis, a Startup Aggieland cofounder and its manager, works with Brenckman to recruit mentors and help about 120 student startups annually. They have facilitated nearly $3 million in equity funding for students.

Brenckman said the Seed Sumo alliance contributes to the area’s reputation as a fertile climate for investors. She said the startup culture embraces entrepreneurs as “family.”

“Ohad and Jake are great to work with and exemplify all that is fun and rewarding about mentoring startups,” Brenckman said.


Startup Aggieland is an award-winning business accelerator for student startups launching from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Opened January 2013 with one full-time employee and one part-time manager, Startup Aggieland was named among the top three U.S. programs for student entrepreneurs by C-E-O in 2014.

Startup Aggieland is sponsored by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School; Dwight Look College of Engineering; College of Architecture, Office of the Vice President of Research; and the RVP.


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.





Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Skeet teamFinance major Vidal A. Cantu Jr. describes himself as a “competition junkie.” After aiding the Texas A&M University Trap and Skeet team in winning the National Championship title for the first time since 1982 as a sophomore, he shows no signs of slowing. “My decision to come to Texas A&M was driven by the camaraderie that I see with the Aggie family, the Aggie spirit, its rich traditions and the opportunities and quality education that is provided here at Mays,” said the 19-year-old.

Cantu has an internship at LPL Financial office in his hometown of Laredo, Texas. He is a member of the Texas A&M branch of the Texas Dove Hunters Association, plays intramural softball and plans to apply this fall for the Traditions and Business Student Councils. He also plans to study abroad in Stuttgart, Germany in the summer of 2016.

He credits Mays Business School, the Trap and Skeet team and both of his grandfathers who started their own businesses from the ground up with keeping his competitive spirit alive – not just as a marksman but also in other aspects of his life.

“I thoroughly enjoy rivalry and competition, and I have always wanted to do something on my own and have this same sense of pride that comes with owning a business,” he said. “I know that Mays is going to help me achieve this success.”

After his graduation in 2018, he plans to further pursue his education and earn an MBA at Texas A&M.

“I truly fell in love with the school,” Cantu said. “I hope to learn more about the field of finance and become a skilled investor and entrepreneur.”


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.





















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

This year’s 14th annual Raymond Ideas Challenge featured the top 40 “big ideas” from more than 100 applications. Students from across campus and varying majors were asked to explain “What is your big idea?” through both a written proposal and a video pitch. The top 40 ideas were presented live to judges with the selected winners honored at an awards reception.

In addition to the live pitches, the top 40 ideas also participated in an online video pitch competition hosted by Aggie-owned web platform The top three winners were selected based on the number of votes they received by the general public.

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Mays Business School hosted the May 6 event, which is held annually on Reading Day so that Texas A&M students of all majors and classifications can participate. Students were able to enter the contest individually or in teams.

Pitch presentations allow the students five minute to explain their idea and why it is unique to the judges, as well as their competitive advantage in the market and the overall goal of the student(s) and their idea. A question-and-answer session followed each presentation, in which judges raised concerns and questions that were not addressed during the presentation.

This year’s judging team featured approximately 130 judges from throughout the community and campus who have backgrounds in entrepreneurship, industry, government and academia.

The top awards went to:
– First place ($3,000): Customizable Prostheses via 3D Printing – Charles Sweeney and Blake Teipel
– Second place ($2,000): Wireless Mouse Tracking System – Richard Horner, Lindsey Jenschke, Cody Lewis & Nick Reinoso
– Third place ($1,000): EyeNav System – Lyndon Kageler, Omar Lira, Stephen Sun and Tiffany Turner
– Honorable mentions ($500)
– Lost & Found – Amy Brodeur, Joshua Dunegan, Daniela Garcia, Aaron John and Samuel Kancewick
– Hack.Connect – Jeffrey Zhao
– FireCAT – Ratika Gandhi, Vasiliy Khmelenko, Benita Mordi, Timothy Paulsen, Cameron Shaw and Kyle Yates
– Aggieland Exchange – Daniel Pattison

The video pitches that received the most votes were:
– First place ($1,000): Ea$yList – Tarang Lal & Paola Perez
– Second place ($500): Dutch – Pratheek Lakur & Krishna Murthy
– Third place ($250): Bridgin – Sangeeta Isaac

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s Product Development Center (TEEX-PDC) sponsored a Go-to-Market Award. This year’s winner, FireCAT, has the opportunity to work with TEEX-PDC – at no cost – to finalize a marketable produce based on their idea.

For more information on the Ideas Challenge, visit

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