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Unknown in Asia, Part III: Going home knowing by Daniel Pate ’20

Mays Business School, August 9th, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part 2 of Unknown in Asia here.


Singapore…the island city-state. The land of heavy regulation, gorgeous views and home of the ~1.5% unemployment rate. This place is amazing, and I don’t want to leave. Just getting off the plane, the ride to the hotel and the hotel have been 180-degree realities of the place we just left. I didn’t know you could take a 2-hour flight and be in an entirely different world. Though Singapore and Indonesia have some similarities: They both have flourishing business districts, tons of people from all over, and everyone is nice.

Everything about Singapore has been great, except for the heat/humidity. I thought I was prepared for it because I’m from Houston, but this is definitely worse. Besides that, Singapore is a melting pot of diversity. Just walking around during my free time, I have seen many different cultures and people. You can be walking in a high-end mall, pop out the other side and be in China Town that fast.

The first night we got to go on a tour of the town with a boat ride on the marina, top deck access at the Marina Bay Sands (the premier hotel, convention center, casino, and mall), and finally the light show at the garden by the bay. Definitely spectacular and memorable. Great way to kick off part 2 of the trip.

On Thursday, we got to meet with Halliburton and M-Daq. Two different companies, a multinational based in Texas and a fin-tech startup about to go IPO. Halliburton took us on a tour of their facility, which was fantastic since I grew up in a machine shop, just not one on this scale. The fact that they do the complete process of CNCing a part to final packaging all in-house is awesome to see. Not only did we see the machine shop, but we also got to see their material testing lab (which is the first time I’ve seen a company with a complete lab since most clients I’ve worked with send their stuff out to be analyzed.) David was a great host and he is so passionate about Halliburton.

After Halliburton, we had a brief detour to a mall and hawker center before heading to M-Daq. M-Daq has to be the smallest company we visited and truly a startup. It was interesting to hear about a foreign exchange problem that I never knew existed. Supposedly retailers and consumers are getting played by banks and credit cards when you buy things in foreign countries because of the exchange rates. M-Daq wants to tackle this by making a platform that overlays on other companies software to provide live data feed of exchange rates so that consumers can purchase things in foreign countries, see the price in their countries currency and fake the transaction as a domestic transaction on both ends so that neither party has to pay the foreign transaction fees. Interesting topic that seems easy to fix but no one is doing it. At the end of the day, we got to network with a few executives in the Singapore area at Level 33. Some we have met before; some we saw again on Friday and some new faces. Everyone was nice and fun to talk to. It’s fascinating to listen to their stories and how they got to Singapore.

On the last day of the trip, we had a non-stop day of activities. My day started out with getting to the venue early with some of my team to get an early start on what is going on to know how to host Microsoft’s very own Richard Koh.

I am a big fan of Microsoft, so it was great to be able to meet him and ask questions about the products and software I use every day. After Richard’s presentation, we got another presentation about PR in Asia by Bill Adams. It was interesting to hear about how public relations works in Southeast Asia and PR stories of various companies. The main thing to remember is to be authentic in your company statements. In the afternoon, we participated in a trash hero cleanup event as our volunteer project.

Trash hero is a non-profit organization that has many outfits around the world. It focuses on cleaning up the environment through trash clean up events in cities. We cleaned up the trash on the beach on the eastern side of Singapore. Volunteering is something that is near and dear to my heart, not just because I am an Aggie, so this was a great event to be a part of and I am glad we did it. We wrapped up the week with a meal at Forlino, an Italian restaurant that overlooks the marina.  This was a great way to finish things off. We got to hang out, talk about the trip and reflect on what we learned. Mike [Alexander] and Dr. Mahajan had great closing speeches for us, as did some of us. My classmate, Kenny, wrapped it up nicely with the fact that there are small ships, big ships…but the best ships of them all are friendships.

We definitely bonded on this trip, more than we have before. These types of trips don’t happen very often, but they seemed to always happen at Texas A&M. Between Fish Camp, Transfer Camp and now the professional MBA international trip, I can truly say that this school is definitely a top tier school. This only happens when you have professors and faculty that truly love what they do and are vested in seeing their students grow. I thank Nyetta Meaux-Drysdale, Mike Alexander, Deb Mann, Dr. Mahajan and anyone else in the decision-making process for giving me this opportunity to be a part of a wonderful program.

(COLLEGE STATION, Texas / August 16, 2019)  Mays Business School’s Strategic Philanthropy course, in partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation, is currently accepting applications from local area nonprofit organizations for the Community Grant Program. To be eligible, an organization must be a nonprofit entity based in the Brazos Valley and have at least one full year of operation. Applicants must submit a completed application detailing their proposal for funds to be used the following year. Applications can be submitted through the Strategic Philanthropy website at mays.tamu.edu/strategic-philanthropy. The deadline to submit applications is 5:00 PM on Friday, September 13, 2019. The 2019-2020 Community Grant recipients will be announced in December.

Kyle Gammenthaler, Lecturer and Coordinator of Social Impact Programs at Mays Business School stated, “We are excited to continue our partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation as they help provide resources for a dynamic educational experience while impacting the local community. We encourage all eligible organizations based in the Brazos Valley to apply.”

ABOUT THE STRATEGIC PHILANTHROPY COURSE AT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

The Strategic Philanthropy course began in the 2015-2016 school year as a unique educational experience for undergraduate business students. Since then, we have distributed almost $500,000 in funding to local community and international nonprofit organizations thanks to partnerships with various foundations and individuals. We will continue this tradition by partnering with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation in the upcoming fall semester to manage the Community Grant Program.

Some of the past recipients of the Strategic Philanthropy course have been Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach, BEE Community, Northway Farms, Health for All, Elder Aid, Boys and Girls Club, Down Syndrome Association of the Brazos Valley, Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, Mercy Project, SOS Ministries, Family Promise, K9S4COPS, Mobility Worldwide, Rebuilding BCS, Children’s Miracle Network, BCS Marathon, and Voices for Children.

 

# # #

Grant and Media Contact:

Kyle Gammenthaler

Lecturer

Mays Business School

kyleg@tamu.edu

979.845.1037

 

Categories: Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Strategic Philanthropy

Nonclinical and clinical-support personnel serve patients on the front lines of care. Their service interactions have a powerful influence on how patients perceive their entire care experience, including the all-important interactions with clinical staff. Ignoring this reality means squandering opportunities to start patients out on the right foot at each care visit. Medical practices can improve the overall care they provide by focusing on nonclinical and clinical-support services in 5 crucial ways: (1) creating strong first impressions at every care visit by prioritizing superb front-desk service; (2) thoroughly vetting prospective hires to ensure that their values and demeanor align with the organization’s; (3) preparing hired staff to deliver excellent service with a commitment to ongoing training and education at all staff levels; (4) minimizing needless delays in service delivery that can overburden patients and their families in profound ways; and (5) prioritizing the services that patients consider to be most important. We show how cancer care illustrates these principles, which are relevant across medical contexts. Without nonclinical and clinical-support staff who set the right tone for care at every service touchpoint, even the best clinical services cannot be truly optimal.

Read more about improving nonclinical and clinical-support services through the lens of oncology here.

Categories: Research

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part 2 of Unknown in Asia here.


Singapore…the island city-state. The land of heavy regulation, gorgeous views and home of the ~1.5% unemployment rate. This place is amazing, and I don’t want to leave. Just getting off the plane, the ride to the hotel and the hotel have been 180-degree realities of the place we just left. I didn’t know you could take a 2-hour flight and be in an entirely different world. Though Singapore and Indonesia have some similarities: They both have flourishing business districts, tons of people from all over, and everyone is nice.

Everything about Singapore has been great, except for the heat/humidity. I thought I was prepared for it because I’m from Houston, but this is definitely worse. Besides that, Singapore is a melting pot of diversity. Just walking around during my free time, I have seen many different cultures and people. You can be walking in a high-end mall, pop out the other side and be in China Town that fast.

The first night we got to go on a tour of the town with a boat ride on the marina, top deck access at the Marina Bay Sands (the premier hotel, convention center, casino, and mall), and finally the light show at the garden by the bay. Definitely spectacular and memorable. Great way to kick off part 2 of the trip.

On Thursday, we got to meet with Halliburton and M-Daq. Two different companies, a multinational based in Texas and a fin-tech startup about to go IPO. Halliburton took us on a tour of their facility, which was fantastic since I grew up in a machine shop, just not one on this scale. The fact that they do the complete process of CNCing a part to final packaging all in-house is awesome to see. Not only did we see the machine shop, but we also got to see their material testing lab (which is the first time I’ve seen a company with a complete lab since most clients I’ve worked with send their stuff out to be analyzed.) David was a great host and he is so passionate about Halliburton.

After Halliburton, we had a brief detour to a mall and hawker center before heading to M-Daq. M-Daq has to be the smallest company we visited and truly a startup. It was interesting to hear about a foreign exchange problem that I never knew existed. Supposedly retailers and consumers are getting played by banks and credit cards when you buy things in foreign countries because of the exchange rates. M-Daq wants to tackle this by making a platform that overlays on other companies software to provide live data feed of exchange rates so that consumers can purchase things in foreign countries, see the price in their countries currency and fake the transaction as a domestic transaction on both ends so that neither party has to pay the foreign transaction fees. Interesting topic that seems easy to fix but no one is doing it. At the end of the day, we got to network with a few executives in the Singapore area at Level 33. Some we have met before; some we saw again on Friday and some new faces. Everyone was nice and fun to talk to. It’s fascinating to listen to their stories and how they got to Singapore.

On the last day of the trip, we had a non-stop day of activities. My day started out with getting to the venue early with some of my team to get an early start on what is going on to know how to host Microsoft’s very own Richard Koh.

I am a big fan of Microsoft, so it was great to be able to meet him and ask questions about the products and software I use every day. After Richard’s presentation, we got another presentation about PR in Asia by Bill Adams. It was interesting to hear about how public relations works in Southeast Asia and PR stories of various companies. The main thing to remember is to be authentic in your company statements. In the afternoon, we participated in a trash hero cleanup event as our volunteer project.

Trash hero is a non-profit organization that has many outfits around the world. It focuses on cleaning up the environment through trash clean up events in cities. We cleaned up the trash on the beach on the eastern side of Singapore. Volunteering is something that is near and dear to my heart, not just because I am an Aggie, so this was a great event to be a part of and I am glad we did it. We wrapped up the week with a meal at Forlino, an Italian restaurant that overlooks the marina.  This was a great way to finish things off. We got to hang out, talk about the trip and reflect on what we learned. Mike [Alexander] and Dr. Mahajan had great closing speeches for us, as did some of us. My classmate, Kenny, wrapped it up nicely with the fact that there are small ships, big ships…but the best ships of them all are friendships.

We definitely bonded on this trip, more than we have before. These types of trips don’t happen very often, but they seemed to always happen at Texas A&M. Between Fish Camp, Transfer Camp and now the professional MBA international trip, I can truly say that this school is definitely a top tier school. This only happens when you have professors and faculty that truly love what they do and are vested in seeing their students grow. I thank Nyetta Meaux-Drysdale, Mike Alexander, Deb Mann, Dr. Mahajan and anyone else in the decision-making process for giving me this opportunity to be a part of a wonderful program.

Categories: Mays Business, MBA, Students, Uncategorized

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part I of Unknown in Asia, here


Heading into the unknown of Asia, I think one thing that was also largely unknown was just how long our flight would be – it is the longest flight that I have ever been on and it felt that long, too. One redeeming part of it, though, was the time it allowed me to get up and talk to fellow classmates. On the first leg of the flight I got to spend some time with Mike [Alexander] talking about traveling and I got to hear some of his stories from his time with the Professional MBA program.

We landed in Jakarta and it was an eye-opening experience. There are so many people in this city, traffic is crazy, and there was a blatant disparity in the nice buildings and the poor areas. There was seemingly no in-between. It made me grateful for my life and the opportunities I have at home. We made our way to a welcome dinner where they eased us into local cuisine, and we all fought off jetlag.

Our first full day was spent on a “1000 Islands Tour” where we got to learn a bit about the history of where we were and see some cool, old relics of the colonization of the area. It ended with some beach time, dinner and camaraderie.

Monday, our second day in Jakarta and our first working day, was amazing. We had a chance to grasp the full spectrum of the economy where we were in Jakarta – we learned about everything from the government and business to the slums. It was a very diverse day. We heard from fantastic speakers that addressed startup culture in Indonesia, intangibles as an imperative for success in today’s business world, and how society is going cashless. We were taken on a tour of the slums and it is something that I will never forget. Seeing how the people in the slums live and then meeting all of the kids was really moving. It seems like the only way out of the Indonesian slums is to catch a lucky break, while back home, if you work hard and “demonstrate capabilities,” you can go somewhere. It really makes you think of all those times you complain about something not going right and how insignificant that really is.

Tuesday we visited Javara and Go-Jek while participating in Batik Tuesdays – a new PMBA tradition. A Batik is the button-up shirt of Indonesia that is similar to Hawaiian shirts and can be worn to work. Some of our PMBA group had picked one up after Monday’s festivities and decided to wear them. Javara, the first company that we visited, is all about agriculture and social entrepreneurship. We were able to meet Helianti, the incredibly ambitious backbone of Javara. She showed us a presentation about how Javara is trying to revive the farming culture in Indonesia by creating pride and a sense of ownership in the industry. The way she empowers the farmers to be their own entrepreneurs is amazing. Afterward, we were able to shop all of the organic products that the farmers produce in her store and she treated us to a sustainable/organic meal that was absolutely delicious. The purple bungus tea was the star of the show, which is strange coming from a non-tea drinker. Go-Jek is a for-profit startup that revolves around utilizing technology to make society better. Go-Jek’s offices definitely put out some Silicon Valley feelings. It seemed like organized chaos with how everyone was working, and stuff was thrown on the desks. I would hate to be late to work, since the limited desk space means you are working in one of the many lounge areas. They shared a presentation that gave us insight into the company and how they got started by trying to help out the traffic with a ride share app. Now, they are giving back through Go-Life by training people in different skill sets to help them provide a better life for their families. This is a company that keeps trying to find new challenges to tackle through their services.

Tuesday culminated with an interesting and fantastic “foodie tour.” Our tour guides were patient, understanding and very knowledgeable.  We were taken to 6 food stalls around the Chinatown area of Jakarta.  Each of them had a signature dish or snack that we tried.  Supposedly it is normal for people to come to the area and hop around to get a complete meal.  My favorite was the first stop with the chicken rice dish, though it felt like that was our entire meal because they kept bringing out more and more food.

It was a fascinating few days leaning into the culture and business of Indonesia. There is a rich history, vibrant culture and great people there that I won’t soon forget. Now, onto Singapore!

Read Part I of Unknown in Asia, here

Categories: MBA, Programs, Texas A&M

The primary mission of health care is to facilitate healing. People often associate healing only with “cure,” but it is much broader. A clinician heals when she reassures a patient that a symptom does not signal a feared health condition. A treatment heals when it mitigates pain and slows progression of disease. Healing even occurs when a very sick patient dies at home surrounded by family instead of in a hospital attached to machines. Each unique instance of healing represents a physical and emotional journey through difficulty, toward contentment and even peace. All patients need healing, and when clinicians and their institutions actively foster it, they renew themselves, too.

Read more about the importance of realigning healthcare with healing here.

Categories: Research

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.


As a Texas A&M Professional MBA (PMBA) student who has completed their first year of the program, the time has come to tackle the infamous international field trip. The PMBA class of 2020 is going to Indonesia and Singapore to see how business, culture, and people work and live in Southeast Asia. Our class is stepping into the unknown – an international trip with 47 PMBAs from Mays Business School.

The time leading up to the trip has been hectic for me. I have never been out of the country before – I have just lived vicariously through other people’s pictures and videos of their experiences. The stunning photos of foreign countries have always guided my interest in traveling abroad. As an engineer, I am always researching everything I plan to do to the fullest, and this trip has been no exception. I have consulted many people about their experiences and sought advice and tips. Surprisingly, everyone has a different point of view, which is both helpful and problematic. Helpful in that their stories and advice continue to grow my anticipation for the trip. Problematic in the sense that when I’m trying to make decisions, it doesn’t help that everyone’s perspective is different. As with any analysis, I take all the inputs and average them to make a good prediction or decision on the matter. I find that if I keep an open mind and put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything, which includes this trip.

Some of my academic expectations for this trip are…

  • to expand my understanding of the world
  • to experience different cultures
  • to find out how business is conducted in other parts of the world

I can’t wait to put everything that I have heard or read about these locations to the test and see it for myself. This trip may only be one week, but looking at the itinerary, it will definitely be jam-packed. One of the things that I am most looking forward to is hosting Microsoft. Our team was selected to host them, which is truly a treat for me. I am a huge tech nerd, and I have known Microsoft since the first computer I ever used with MS-DOS. To be able to meet some of the folks that work there, even if it isn’t from their Redmond Washington office, will still be a truly remarkable experience.

My nonacademic expectations are…

  • to get to know my classmates better
  • to create better bonds
  • to expand my comfort zone

I feel like I know everyone in the class, though some are just on a, “Hey I am here with you” level. The PMBA program is not only about classroom study, but it’s also about learning from my peers and creating lasting friendships.

I look forward to seeing our cohort out of our element. I suppose that when you take us all out of our element, Houston, that’s when everyone will open up more. It’ll be even easier to get to know everyone. I suppose that being in our comfort zone lets us sneak away too easily, missing the opportunity to truly know one another. On this trip, we won’t have conflicting plans, or work stopping us from getting to campus early – we’ll have a shared agenda and purpose. That shared purpose and agenda, I hope, will create a shared sense of growth and adventure – for me, each of my classmates, and our cohort as a whole. I believe this trip has the potential for us to grow individually and together. A shared purpose and a sense of dependence will lead to deeper knowledge and deeper relationships. I know it will for me. I have no clue what I am doing outside of the U.S., so I will be relying on the collective mindset of the group to find my way through the unknown.

Categories: Center for Business International Studies, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, Programs, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

A truck driver entered a Mayo Clinic emergency room, severely short of breath. The diagnosis was a bacterial infection requiring immediate surgery. The patient indicated that her truck was illegally parked at the front entrance and her dog, also sick, was in the truck. Surgery would have to wait. But surgery could not wait, and a nurse volunteered to move the truck and attend to the dog. The truck turned out to be a semi. Finding a parking place, a licensed driver, and dog care fell far outside the nurse’s job description. But promises had been made. The nurse found a Mayo employee who was a former trucker to park the truck in a local shopping center parking lot (with permission). He took the dog to a veterinarian and cared for it in his own home until the patient was discharged. When asked in an interview why he went so far outside the normal service role, the nurse replied, “At Mayo Clinic, the patient’s needs come first.”

This true story, one of many exemplary service stories found in Mayo Clinic’s nearly 160-year history, illustrates the true potential of service: creating a customer experience so valuable and exceptional that the customer feels gratitude afterward. This is the acid test for every organization: how do customers perceive the organization following the service?

Read more about the creation of quality service and the value it begets here.

Categories: Research

Next week, a class of 25 veteran entrepreneurs will be traveling to Aggieland to participate in Texas A&M’s annual Reynolds & Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV). EBV is hosted by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, a member of the Mays Business School. From July 20-27 participants will engage in an intensive, experiential training program where they will learn and practice the skills needed to succeed as small business owners. They’ll be taught by Texas A&M faculty and staff, network with local entrepreneurs, and will depart as honorary members of the Aggie family. This year’s program marks the 12th anniversary of EBV at Texas A&M.

When asked why the McFerrin Center views EBV as an invaluable program, Director Blake Petty responded, “We take pride in the quality and impact of each of our Center’s 30 annual programs, but EBV holds a truly special place in our hearts. For these military veterans – many of whom deal with service-related disabilities – we recognize that transition back into civilian life can be daunting. Accepting additional risks by deciding to launch their own business only compounds these challenges. We aim to provide a comprehensive educational experience and support network to help ensure the success of our EBV participants. We’ve seen this one-week intensive experience save careers, change lives, and build lasting relationships between Texas A&M and these military heroes. As we prepare to launch our 12th annual EBV program – our ‘Maroon Anniversary’ requires that we once again raise the bar on our commitment to serve those who have served our country, and help them successfully launch and grow their entrepreneurial dreams.”

EBV is a 12-month-long program divided into three phases. Phase 1 is a three-week online, instructor-led course where participants shape their business plans. Phase 2 consists of an intensive eight-day residency at a university where participants learn the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership from established entrepreneurs and educators. Phase 3 provides post-graduation support and mentorship through EBV Technical Assistance — managed by the IVMF.

Founded in 2007 at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, EBV has expanded to include ten world-class universities. These institutions deliver EBV to post-9/11 veterans who desire to develop the skills and tools needed to launch and maintain successful businesses. Assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), corporate partners, foundations, and private donors allow participants to attend the program cost-free.

Visit ebv.vets.syr.edu for more information.

Categories: Entrepreneurship, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School is pleased to welcome Scott Benedict as its new director. An accomplished retail executive, he comes to Texas A&M University with more than 35 years of experience spanning traditional brick-and-mortar, eCommerce and international retailing.

Scott Benedict

Benedict most recently served as the Divisional Merchandise Manager for Health, Beauty & Grocery at eCommerce leader Groupon in Chicago. He has also held positions at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Service Merchandise and Montgomery Ward.

Leveraging extensive experience in retail business strategy, process refinement, and multichannel eCommerce, Benedict brings a track record of helping companies seize opportunities to increase operational efficiencies, control operating costs, and optimize profits while serving customers across multiple business channels.

“We are pleased to have Scott joining us as the Director of the Center for Retailing Studies, and he comes to us with significant executive experience and an impressive record of accomplishment across retail formats,” said David Griffith, Marketing Department Head. “We are happy to welcome Scott into the Mays Business School family and look forward to his leadership of the Center for Retailing Studies.”

With a desire to help influence the next generation of retail leaders, Benedict spent time keeping an eye on various retailing programs across the country on social media, including CRS. When the opportunity came along to join one of the top retailing programs in the nation at a Tier 1 institution, he didn’t hesitate.

“I have a strong passion for retailing, developing future leaders, and working with retailing professionals to share challenges and best practices,” Benedict explained. “CRS gives me the opportunity to do all of those things. We have a wonderful foundation in place.”

At Walmart, Benedict particularly appreciated the company’s core basic beliefs of respect for the individual, service to the customer, striving for excellence, and operating with integrity. His affinity for organizations with strong cultural beliefs is something that makes the transition from the corporate world to the academic world in Aggieland a seamless one.

“I have really enjoyed being a part of organizations with strong values and cultural beliefs,” said Benedict. “Texas A&M’s Aggie Core Values align strongly with what I feel strongly about, and have been taught to believe in my entire professional career.”

Some of Benedict’s areas of expertise include the development of category strategies, supplier performance management, retail merchandising, product marketing, inventory management, omnichannel strategy, and competitive price strategy. In an ever-changing era of retail, he seeks to bring that industry experience and perspective to Mays, and to the Center for Retailing Studies.

“I was taught as a buyer the concept of ‘divine discontent’,” he explained. “In other words, never be satisfied with the status quo and always seek to improve the business and your people.”

Benedict sees the opportunity to deepen the relationships already formed between CRS and its industry partners while examining how the program can grow and change to better equip the retail leaders of the future. “We need to continuously evolve and change in order to serve the dynamic needs of the retailing community now, and in the future” he added.

For more information, please visit crs.mays.tamu.edu

Follow us on social media: @crstamu

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The first step is the hardest

If you have ever asked a 6-year-old what they want to be when they grow up, you know that there are few things that dissuade them from their dreams. In their mind, the possibilities are endless. However, at some point in their journey of becoming, they’re told there’s a step that has to be made, a benchmark to be accomplished, a kink in the plan. Often, higher education can feel like that. When I finish all my research, then I can genuinely make a difference… If I could get one more certification, then I can prove I’m a world-changer… Once I have my degree, I can really do something… Jim Kolari’s Finance 462 “Live Bank Case” students are already changing the world for a bank in Hondo, Texas.

Humble beginnings

Community National Bank (CNB) has found itself between a rock and a hard place. A mostly rural town, Hondo has been watching the Texas giant, San Antonio, slowly encroach on their city limits. CNB board member, Bill Freed said, “Our community is changing, and if there is anything I’m interested in seeing in the overall growth product, it’s what can help us define our community and what happens when a community changes so rapidly.” Freed likened the Hondo/San Antonio growth to that of Sugarland to Houston and McKinney to Dallas. “They were their own well-defined communities for years, then the sprawl of the metropolis comes in and not only encroaches but actually acts like a tsunami and washes over the area,” Freed explained.

For a once small-town bank like CNB, the imminent danger of large-city encroachment with big bank players like Frost and Wells Fargo could be detrimental to the local bank. CNB was started with a group of businessmen who formed a small-town community financial institution and obtained their charter in 1980. CNB Chairman of the Board, Tom Rothe, said, “The bank opened in 1981 with $1.6 million. That sounds like nothing now: you can’t get a bank off the ground without $10 or $15 million capitalization, but then that was a lot of money.”

Banking in the real world

And Kolari’s students know that. The 41 commercial banking students who took the field trip to the bank are either graduating seniors or graduate students and have taken multiple banking classes, completed internships, and are all about to enter into the real world of banking. Kolari said, “This (live bank case) is ideal for us. This portion of the program is focused on community banking. They get to get in here and find out real problems that community banks are having in the U.S. and Texas, and they’re happening all over, with small, community banks being challenged by the growth that they have in their communities, and also the survival, against bigger banks.”

This Live Bank Case is the first that Kolari has executed in his 40 years at Texas A&M, and Kolari could not have predicted the outcome. For the study, the students were broken into small groups to come up with solutions to maintaining business, while creating new customers and establishing a sustainable strategy. “I was flabbergasted,” Kolari said. “I had a front-row seat to the Aggie Spirit at work. [The students] took this project to heart – it wasn’t just a grade to them. They sought counsel from industry professionals, drew on experience from past internships and jobs, and even looked into the fine details (like finding the coordinates of the busiest intersection and calculating the cost of a billboard installation) to create actionable plans.”

Kolari mentioned, “I can tell you that 99% of schools don’t have a banking class in their college of business. We’re a very rare program; we have a little over 100 students, graduate and undergraduate.”

CNB executives saw the effort and knew that the Commercial Banking Program students would deliver, so they traveled from Hondo to College Station to hear the students’ presentations.

“We had not been able to share the presentations with all of our board members before the May board meeting, but now we have all seen the presentations and it is on our agenda to discuss at the June meeting,” Rothe explained when talking about the solutions they were presented. “[Other board members] and I have been discussing many of the ideas presented and have been scouting locations and opportunities for growing our brand using the input received.”

High impact learning yields high impact results

At Mays, it is common to hear that we are committed to providing high-impact learning experiences. That means we commit to educational experiences that deepen learning and foster student engagement. Rather than simply listening to a lecture, learning by rote, and taking an exam, Mays students are given the opportunity to actively pose and solve problems, work collaboratively in a community of peers, experience real-world applications of knowledge, and reflect on their learning processes. Through these high-impact learning experiences, Mays students change the world, a degree in hand or not.

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