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Jana Ahlfinger Bell ’86 on finding a company culture that fits with you

Jamison Moore, February 19th, 2018

Having learned what it means to find good culture during her time at Texas A&M University, Jana Ahlfinger Bell ’86 wanted to share with current students the insights she has gained in her career on her way to becoming the Executive Vice President and CFO of RMG Networks.

Bell, who received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M, also worked as the CFO of EF Johnson Technologies, Inc., as president and CEO of Simple Products Inc., and as the CEO, president, and director of @TRACK Communications, Inc. Bell recently visited with Mays business honors students as part of the Mays Transformational Leader Speaker series, which recognizes business leaders in today’s society and gives them the opportunity to share their expertise with the Mays Community.

“Interviewing is important for both the employer and the potential employee,” Bell said, when she explained her wish for the students in the session – that when they go to their first job, they find a place that is interesting and get to work with great people.

“But how can one decipher what a company’s culture is like just based on the first initial interview?” one of the students asked. Bell responded: “You have to interview as if you’re already there, inside the company. See yourself there, and then you will ask more in-depth questions.”

Bell continued to highlight other ways to discover a company’s culture:

  • Think about yourself actually working there and what that would be like. Delve into their daily happenings to gain that understanding.
  • Pay attention to the tone at the top of the company, what is important to the leadership of the company, because it really matters.
  • Do your homework on the company and the industry to gain insight into the culture. A defense contractor, for example, has a different culture as compared with a media company, or a technology company, or a professional firm, or an oil & gas company.

Bell closed the discussion by telling the students, “I love what I am doing, and I have found that ethical center in what I do. I love being a mentor.”

Bell advised the students to “make the most of the opportunities presented to you during your time at Texas A&M like these speaker sessions.” Bell told the students she wishes she had the opportunities that the students have now to network with speakers like herself, and she encouraged them to take advantage of all of the networking opportunities provided to them during their time here.

No matter how much equity executives own in their organization, company performance isn’t affected, says a new paper co-authored by assistant management professor, Trevis Certo.

The paper was the subject of a recent New York Times article (“Options Do Not Raise Performance, Study Finds”) and notes that the paper combines more than 200 studies from the past 30 years.

Certo authored the paper with colleagues Dan R. Dalton, dean of Indiana University School of Business and Cathryn M. Daily and Rungpen Roengpitya, who are both professors at Indiana.

Certo recently presented the paper at the Academy of Management’s annual meeting. In addition, a version of it will appear in an upcoming issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

Accounting professor L. Murphy Smith recently received the Outstanding Educator Award given by the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies Section of the American Accounting Association.

The award recognizes his many contributions to the accounting field. Smith has authored more than 40 technology-related journal articles and eight technology-oriented books. In addition, he has written two educational novels that introduce students to current issues such as e-commerce, global trade, expert systems and computer crime.

“I want my students to be informed of the latest developments in technology,” he says, “and to be able to use technology to make superior contributions in the firms where they go to work after graduation.”

Categories: Departments, Faculty

Former doctoral student, Kathy Seiders, was recently interviewed on “60 Minutes” about retailer Malden Mills. Seiders is an associate professor of marketing at Babson College, where she focuses on retailing strategy, consumer shopping behavior, food marketing and service quality.

While at the Mays College, Seiders was affiliated with the Center for Retailing Studies. Her research has appeared in numerous academic journals and has been featured in such publications as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Inc. Magazine and USA Today.

Categories: Departments, Former Students

A team of researchers from the Department of Marketing was recently honored at the 2002 American Marketing Association Summer Educator’s Conference. The team members included marketing professor David Szymanski, doctoral student Michael Kroff and former doctoral student Lisa Troy.

Their paper, “Does Product Innovativeness Really Enhance Performance?” was selected as the Best Overall Paper at the annual event. The paper was chosen by a panel comprised of the executive director of the Marketing Science Institute, a former editor of the Journal of Consumer Research and the current editor of the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management from among 12 winning papers presented at the conference.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Former Students

In the wake of corporate scandals and a struggling market, European businesses’ love-hate relationship with America continues. At least that’s the analysis of finance professor Julian Gaspar, who serves as the director of the college’s Center for International Business Studies.

While teaching in France this summer, Gaspar observed that even though Europeans continue to hold fast to international accounting standards, they would like to implement corporate governance structures more like those found in America.

“Although current events may exert some negative influence on Europe’s opinions of U.S. business, Europeans’ basic business approach has been the same for some time,” Gaspar says. “European businessmen and politicians are edging closer to the American approach, trying to adapt the good things we do, but not accepting our system lock, stock and barrel.”

In the aftermath of U.S. business failures, Gaspar says the focus is now directed to the differences in accounting systems, disclosure and transparency.

“As globalization increases, the United States will most likely move toward international accounting principles, a step that would facilitate international comparisons,” he says.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

Executive Associate Dean Ricky Griffin has recently been named a Distinguished Professor of Management by Texas A&M University. Griffin becomes only the third faculty member in the college to garner the honor.

Since joining the Mays College in 1981, Griffin has written several highly successful management textbooks and served as the editor for the Journal of Management.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

Former Dean Benton Cocanougher has recently been named special assistant to Texas A&M’s new president, Robert M. Gates.

Cocanougher, dean emeritus of the college and Wiley Professor, will help build and maintain communications with external constituencies of the university. He will also provide advice on priority issues and undertake special projects and studies as requested by President Gates.

Categories: Texas A&M

Two finance faculty members and a former doctoral student were recently honored at the PACAP/Financial Management Association conference in Tyoko, Japan.

Finance professors Donald Fraser and James W. Kolari, along with former student G. Hwan Shin, who is now on the faculty at University of Texas-Tyler, received a Best Paper Award at the international event.

Their paper, “How Does Banking Industry Consolidation Affect Ban-Firm Relationships? Evidence from a Large Japanese Bank Merger,” was supported by grant funds from the college’s Center for International Business Studies.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Former Students

Starting Aug. 1, Dr. Robert Gates assumes the top position at Texas A&M University. The former CIA director takes over as university president upon the departure of Dr. Ray Bowen, who is stepping down after eight years of service.

This will be a return for Gates, as he served as interim dean of the Bush School of Government and Public service from 1999-2001. Prior to that post, the Kansas native spent 27 years with the CIA, serving six presidents, as well as nine years with the National Security Council.

Categories: Texas A&M

Curious as to how construction on the college’s new Cox Graduate Business Center is progressing? Well, now you can keep tabs on the new building right from your desktop.

A Web camera is tracking construction on the 66,000- square-feet (gross) expansion. The facility, named after Kay and Jerry ’72 Cox, is slated to open in fall 2003.

To check out the Web cam, visit http://wehner.tamu.edu/Cox-GBC/ or visit the Cox Business Center site for more photos and information.

Categories: Featured Stories, Uncategorized