Lead Story

Center for Retailing Studies announces partnership with (R)Tech Center for Innovation

Andrew Vernon, March 19th, 2018

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) proudly announces its partnership with the (R)Tech Center for Innovation. Texas A&M becomes one of 10 inaugural affiliate universities to align with the (R)Tech Center, organized by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and create a retail-tech talent pipeline.

RILA is the trade association for America’s largest and most respected retailers, representing more than 200 members. The partnership between Texas A&M and RILA strengthens corporate relationships with current CRS partners like H-E-B and Dollar General, while connecting CRS with other top retailers such as Best Buy, The Home Depot, and Apple.

The (R)Tech Center for Innovation, launched by RILA in 2017, focuses on helping retailers navigate the industry’s transformation through research, innovative technologies, and creating a culture of innovation – exposing retailers to the technologies and innovations driving change in retail.

“For 35 years, Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has promoted retailing as an aspirational career choice. Our graduates possess the business acumen to drive sales at America’s largest companies. The partnership with RILA enhances our ability to train students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build essential technical skills so they can become transformational leaders in retailing,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M.

The (R)Tech Talent Pipeline will attract and expose young graduates with tech backgrounds to opportunities in the industry, helping shape a 21st-century retail workforce as retailers continue to innovate.

“We are excited to bring innovation to the forefront of retail and provide a test bed for new concepts, technologies, and user experiences. Supported by strong research in the area of design, augmented reality and consumer behavior, we expect this will lead to significant new insights into today’s consumer, and what retail of the future will hold,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Hillman was among the Outstanding Doctoral Alumni from Mays Business School in 2008.

Beginning this year, RILA and the (R)Tech Center for Innovation will address the need for recruiting employees with technical skills in three phases. Phase one will focus on four strategies that initiate the talent pipeline: hosting hackathons that expose students to retail challenges, facilitating a global case competition for creative student ideas, creating multi-use experimental stores with physical locations on select campuses, and launching an online certification specifically for mid-to-senior-level retail executives to educate them on innovative trends. Phases two and three will involve a program to recruit new talent into the industry and help retailers build tech skills in-house.

For more on this announcement, visit www.rila.org.

George Fowler, professor of information and operations system management, has been named director for the Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS). Fowler, who received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from A&M, has held previous administrative positions, including coordinator of student affairs for CMIS and coordinator of the department’s internship program.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

The college recently lost its long-time friend Foreman Rush (F.R.) Bennett. An Aggie to the core, Bennett graduated from A&M in 1927 with a BBA and headed straight to Chicago for graduate school a year later.

He was a highly successful businessman, owning an insurance business in Dallas until he retired in 1970. Even in his 90s, he daily analyzed his investments, says his long-time friend Dr. Malcolm Richards, finance professor and director of the Texas Real Estate Center. “F.R. had a great sense of humor and incredible business insight,” he says.

Yet his business career came second to his love of his family, fishing and Texas A&M. Bennett was one of the college’s biggest champions, creating eight endowed scholarships and four chairs. Yet, Richards says Bennett expected nothing in return.

“He just adopted Texas A&M as his family and wanted to give back to his family,” says Richards. “A large number of students has benefited from the scholarships he established. His impact on the college and Texas A&M will be felt for years to come.”

Categories: Departments, Former Students

Tossing horseshoes is usually a hobby reserved for Saturday picnics and lazy afternoons. But, it has become a pastime two former students in the college’s Business Fellows Program won’t soon forget.

Adam Hutzell, an ’02 accounting graduate, and Josh Pierce, an ’01 finance graduate, paired up late last fall to compete in the first annual George H. Bush horseshoe pitching competition.

After losing in the first round, the Fellows pair came back to advance to the finals. But, the next opponent wouldn’t be as easy — going up against the former president and his grandson.

“We played our hardest, but they totally demolished us in the first round,” says Hutzell. “It was close in the second round, but they were definitely better than us.”

While pitching horseshoes, Hutzell had the opportunity to find out Bush’s strategy. “President Bush told us that when he was in office, he had horseshoe pits built behind the White House because he enjoyed playing so much,” says Hutzell. “But when Bill Clinton became president, he had them torn down. Now, George Bush Jr. is having the pits rebuilt again.”

Even though Hutzell and Pierce walked away from the tournament without the first-place trophy, Hutzell says the experience is one of his most memorable at Texas A&M.

“It was a lot of fun,” he says. “I was able to have very personal interaction with a former president, which most people can’t say they have ever done. If I had gone to college anywhere besides A&M, I might not have ever had this experience.”

Categories: Departments, Programs, Students

Mays students were among the selected winners in the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship’s (CNVE) second annual Business Idea Competition. More than 160 ideas were submitted this year, with the top 20 ideas each receiving a $1,000 prize.

Undergraduates Philip Blakeman, Derek Franks, Jennie Warthan and Eric Wilson submitted winning entries, as well as MBA students Benjamin Cosby, Steven Dickson, William Nixon, Jay Rege, Lance Smith, Romney Stewart and Bryan Wright.

According to CNVE Director Bert Cannella, the contest allows students from all majors to enter their ideas for new businesses. Entries can be based on anything from hobbies to university research, and students can enter individually or as a group. This year, the contest awarded a $200 bonus for winning ideas that incorporated technologies that could be licensed by the Texas A&M University System. Six entries qualified for the additional prize this year.

“We are really excited by the commitment and dedication put into all of these ideas,” says Cannella, a management professor and Mays Faculty Fellow.

Categories: Centers, Faculty, Programs, Students

Acknowledging his numerous contributions to the college, Dr. Benito Flores, professor of information and operations management and assistant department head, has been designated the Tenneco Professor in Business. Prior to joining Texas A&M, Flores taught at several institutions, including Indiana University, the University of Monterrey and Stanford University. He has published numerous articles and papers in leading industry journals, as well as served on several editorial review boards.

Categories: Departments, Faculty

The college recently launched a new Web site for high school and transfer students interested in attending Texas A&M. But, don’t expect any dull academic jargon here. It’s geared with an 18-year-old in mind.

It provides college and A&M entrance information, the lowdown on financial aid and tips for how to wade through the admissions process. Check it out at: http://business.tamu.edu/bizaggie.

Categories: Perspectives, Students

Certainly not every marketing student will end up owning a high-class department store like Neiman-Marcus, but at the Mays College he or she at least has the chance to think like a marketing entrepreneur.

Mays students will have the opportunity this spring to compete in the Stanley Marcus Retailing Communications Competition, which gives them the opportunity to generate solutions to businesses’ real-life problems.

Essentially, students choose a local retail business and try to come up with changes in strategy that would improve the operation, says marketing professor Larry Gresham. Then they will spend time with the business owner, observing how the company runs and conducting primary research.

“The primary objective of the project is to provide students with a first-hand look at the problems and opportunities faced by retailing organizations in a competitive and rapidly changing environment,” Gresham says.

Sponsored by Neiman-Marcus and administered by the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS), the competition is open to students enrolled in Marketing 325, an upper-division retailing course. The teams who are selected as finalists will present their projects to a panel of judges, including representatives from the CRS and its student committee, as well as local merchants and representatives from Neiman-Marcus.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Students

Marketing Professor Dr. Rajan Varadarajan has been named the first Ford Motor Company Chair in Consumerism/E-Commerce/E-Business. Ford established the chair position last year to support a nationally recognized marketing scholar who provides academic and professional program leadership in the areas of e-commerce, e-business and consumerism.

Varadarajan, who also serves as the head of the Department of Marketing, has published a number of journal articles on corporate, business and marketing strategy, marketing management and global competitive strategy, as well as co-authored a textbook. He has been recognized by Texas A&M and the Mays College for his research achievements.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Texas A&M

In today’s tight job market, Mays MBA students are keenly aware of the one the thing they must learn how to do. (And, do it well.) Network.

With the help of corporate professionals, more than 100 Mays MBA students got a chance to polish up their social skills at the Business Skills Development Conference. Sponsored by the MBA Association (MBAA), panelists provided tips on topics, such as how to work a room, networking and succeeding in your career.

According to Heath Barber, a first-year MBA student and vice president of the MBAA, having good networking and business etiquette skills are even more critical today.

“I believe more companies are placing higher importance on these skills,” he says. “It may not be that glamorous of a topic, but the conference was very helpful, especially for our international students.”

Categories: Programs, Students

Mays graduate student Daniel O. Reyes recently received a $5,000 scholarship given by the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) and the Hispanic Scholars Fund (HSF).

The Harlingen native is earning a master’s in management information systems at the Mays College and Graduate School of Business. “It’s really nice to receive an unexpected grant to finance my education, especially since I’m supporting myself in grad school,” he says.

Reyes believes he was chosen to receive the award, funded by NSHMBA and Lockheed Martin, not just because of his academic progress and leadership abilities. But also because of his commitment to community service — something he plans to continue in the future.

“I love children, and I love teaching,” Reyes explains. “For years I’ve volunteered to help in various programs that work with kids, most recently for Helping One Student to Succeed and America Reads.”

Reyes also worked for two years with the Bush office in Houston, an experience, he says, that taught him the importance of public service. “I think NSHMBA gave me this award because they view philanthropy as a cyclical process,” he says. “They’ll help me, and I’ll help future generations.”

Categories: Former Students, Students