Lead Story

Memories, Legacy, and Gratitude – Stories shared by Angie ’84 and Billy Lemmons ’83

Kirian Isaac, September 4th, 2019

Editor’s note: I was told of the Lemmons’ story and knew it was one I wanted to hear for myself. Endowment namesakes Billy and Angie bleed maroon. On August 07, 2019, I drove to Northwest San Antonio to sit down with the couple and hear about their time in Aggieland, about why they give to Mays and about all of the life they’ve lived in between.


Memories

Billy Lemmons ’83 stops mid-sentence to consult with his wife, Angie ’84, about a memory from yesteryear. “Senior year we took a political science class together,” he says, “I used to wait for her on the bench beneath the Century Tree… It was before the tree got its powers.” 

It’s one of the hundreds of memories that the Lemmons have of their time together at Texas A&M. He was a petroleum engineering major; she an accounting major. Their paths crossed one night as undergraduates when their friends all went out on the town together – their eyes widen, and their voices change a bit when they talk about it.  

“I remember the day Angie walked into my life,” he recalls, “it just so happened to be when I watched her walk through the doors at Rebels.”

The Lemmons are proud of their Aggie roots and legacy – Billy knows enough Aggie trivia to Stump The Schwab and Angie’s eyes well at a memory. 

“My mom had brought me to campus for a tour, and I already knew about some of the Aggie traditions,” she says. “We were walking by the MSC and there was a senior in the Corps in front of us. As I was explaining his tall boots to my mother, he stopped mid-stride. We watched him lean over the grass as far as he could reach to pick up a gum wrapper that was on the MSC lawn. At that moment, I knew that any place where a student was so proud of his campus and cared that much, was a place I wanted to be. That was when I decided to become an Aggie.”

In fact, they loved A&M so much that three years after the pair graduated, Angie quit her job and Billy took a leave of absence so that they could return to Aggieland to earn their MBAs. Angie jokes that you’re supposed to go someplace other than where you get your undergraduate degree to get your MBA, but Billy couldn’t resist another opportunity to watch two more football seasons in Kyle Field.

Legacy

They’re not the only Aggies in their family. All three of their daughters are Aggies and their smiles stretch ear to ear when they mention Hayley ‘15, Kelsey ‘18, and Avery ‘22. Two of them graduated from Mays and the last will do so in 2022 – all of them with Business Honors, all with numerous engagements with other student organizations. The Lemmons girls won’t be the only Mays grads with Billy and Angie’s support. Countless other students will have the opportunity to graduate as Aggies because of the Lemmons’ generosity. 

The Lemmons have two endowed scholarships – one for undergraduates in Business Honors, the other for veterans who come back to campus to earn an MBA. 

“It’s our way of helping create opportunities for future generations of Aggies, and assuring that Mays continues to grow in its reputation for developing great business leaders,” Billy explains. Angie adds, “We were so fortunate to attend A&M, twice, and because of the education we received, now have the ability to impact other students’ future the ways ours were through Mays and the MBA program.” 

Gratitude

One of Billy’s favorite parts of the endowments is the thank you letters. “We have met many of [the endowment recipients] over the years and always look forward to reading the thank you notes we receive,” Billy says excitedly. “It’s incredible to learn the individual stories of the scholarship recipients. We keep all the notes and have shared many of them with our girls.” Angie echoes the sentiment.

Billy and Angie both proudly note that giving back is how they were raised and it’s consistent with the Aggie Core Value of Selfless Service – one they take very seriously.

“Along the way, so many people have helped me that had no real vested interest in my future: they were friends and acquaintances that for some reason took an interest in me. It would be impossible for me to list them all and the only way I can even try to pay it back is by doing the same for others,” Billy gushes.

Aggieland

The Lemmons have a home in College Station, and Billy, an avid runner, jogs a route of nostalgia when he is in Aggieland. His route passes by his old bus stop, a memorial oak tree for his late parents (dedicated by his business partner and friend Jack ‘72 and Michele Lafield), and the Petroleum Engineering building. Angie adds in “the Century Tree” to which Billy nods in agreement. Their love for this community is evident in the way they beam when they talk about it. 

      

 “We love Texas A&M and are so grateful that God made us Aggies! Nearly everything of significance in our life is somehow connected to our Aggie experience – so this is our way to give back.” 

 


Billy and Angie Lemmons established their endowments in 2015. To date, four Aggies have been recipients of Lemmons funded scholarships and countless more will follow. To get more information on what it takes to pay it forward like Billy and Angie, contact Stephen Cisneros at scisneros@tamu.edu.

 

Venky Shankar, Coleman Chair Professor and Director of Research, Center for Retail Studies (CRS), was recently invited as a Thought Leader at the held Thought Leadership Conference hosted by the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He worked with an expert team of academics and practitioners and made a presentation entitled “How Technology is Changing Retail.”

The presentation started with a typology, or classification, of technologies that are impacting retailing.  Shankar presented different theoretical frameworks for a better understanding of the role of technology in retail. He covered technology adoption by shoppers and retailers, and presented some interesting future scenarios and concluded with research questions for scholars to pursue.

Shankar covered a gamut of technologies starting with 5G telecommunication, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, drones, robots, and 3D printing with many powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and how they are changing shopper experience and retailer business model. He discussed different organizations of technologies by stakeholder type (customer-facing, employee-facing, and supplier-facing), information technology (IT) versus non-IT, incremental versus radical, facilitating versus disruptive, and commoditizing versus value-adding. Among the drivers of retail technology adoption, his team identified advancement in core technology, consumer push, competitor innovation, and regulation as the main factors. His presentation highlighted customer and partner adoption, customer outcomes (e.g., satisfaction, purchase), supplier outcomes (e.g., on-time delivery) and financial outcomes (e.g., revenues, profits, shareholder value) as the key consequences of retail technology adoption.

From a retailer standpoint, Shankar discussed the “what, when and how” of technology adoption, management of technologies, and strategic versus tactical elements of technology. He presented different theories, including innovation adoption, technology acceptance, technology management, and option value theories.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the presentation was the articulation of possible future scenarios. Shankar presented his team’s ideas under four areas: retailer disintermediation, hybrid bundles, sharing economy, and retailer types. He speculated a scenario in which all consumables such as laundry for washers are replenished by AI in the machines directly ordering with the manufacturer and retailer becoming more of a repair agent—a possibility being tested by Proctor and Gamble. Another scenario he depicted involved consumers sharing or renting almost everything including, housing, clothing, and transportation. He discussed the near future possibility of, in addition to pervasive omnichannel retailing, smaller format stores for quick replenishment and instant gratification, stores that exclusively demonstrate new products, pop-up stores, repair stores, large experience stores, and community retail outlets, will start to dominate the landscape.

An article based on his presentation is being prepared and will be featured in a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Retailing.

Categories: Uncategorized

College Station, TX – November 18, 2019 – The Executive MBA program (EMBA) at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School was recognized as the #1 program in Texas, #5 program among public universities in the U.S. and #14 program nationwide according to the 2019 rankings released today by Financial Times.  In international standing, the Mays EMBA rose 19 positions to 77, up from 96th place in last years’ rankings.

Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School, said he is extremely pleased the program has entered the top 15 in the U.S. “This is a well-deserved accomplishment for this program,” he said. “Julie Orzabal, Arvind Mahajan, and the entire graduate programs staff deliver a transformational education to our executives. As lifelong learners themselves, they enhance the experience for the executives we serve.”

Mays performed well in the 2019 Financial Times rankings in other areas, too. Based on research productivity in the top business journals, Mays faculty ranked #5 among U.S. public schools and #12 among U.S. overall schools. Mays EMBA graduates ranked 1st in “Work Experience,” 1st in “Career Progress,” and 2nd in “Salary” for U.S. public institutions.

For the second year, a measurement examining the number of hours of Corporate Social Responsibility taught in each program resulted in Mays EMBA Program ranking #6 in the U.S. Coursework dedicated to corporate compliance, governance, and ethics, in addition to an integrated focus on ethics throughout the curriculum, is a central part of Mays Strategic Mission and Vision for developing transformational leaders.

EMBA Program Director Julie Orzabal believes participants experience a journey of personal leadership development through discovery, transformation, and impact. “The success of our graduates, captured in these rankings, is at the core of our twenty years of success in Houston. We are proud of the national and international recognition this ranking symbolizes.”

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Arvind Mahajan said, “Our location at CityCentre in Houston makes us centrally located for thousands of executives who want to expand their knowledge base. Our location and our success really entice that population and based on our elevation in rankings, it is paying off.”

The Executive MBA program at Mays Business School is a two-year program designed for experienced leaders that meets on alternate weekends in Houston, led by elite faculty experts at Mays who are renowned for their research and are passionate about teaching.

 

A new class begins July 2020. To join Mays EMBA Class of 2022, visit https://mays.tamu.edu/executive-mba/.

 

See the Financial Times full rankings here:  http://rankings.ft.com/businessschoolrankings/executive-mba-ranking-2019

Categories: Mays Business, MBA, Texas A&M

It is extraordinarily fitting that the 2019 Mays Scholarship Banquet was held in the Hall of Champions at Kyle Field. Everyone who attended the banquet is a champion in their own right. Whether the champion was a student blazing new trails for their friends and family or a champion for students to attend Mays Business School by giving their time, talent, and treasure, all 1,000+ people at the banquet were stalwart members of the Mays Family.

Dean Eli Jones ’82, the emcee for the night, noted how the banquet was hosted in a month ripe with gratitude. “November is a month synonymous with gratitude. While Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, tonight, we give thanks. We give thanks for the generous supporters of Mays who make a difference in the lives of students. We give thanks to the dedicated students of Mays, who will be our future leaders. Finally, we give thanks for the ability to gather this Mays family for an evening of thanksgiving.”

Keynote speaker David Shimek spoke about his gratitude to be there after his humble beginnings in a very small town. Shimek is now the Senior Vice President for Hardware Operations at Reynolds and Reynolds Company. He spoke about the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute and how selling is a critical piece of their career. Shimek mentioned not just selling products, but themselves as well. To sell themselves, he gave them two responsibilities. The first, to be a good steward of their scholarship by striving for success and being involved in their school and community. The second responsibility was to give. To be a donor and give monetarily when the time is right, to give physically through mentoring programs, and to give corporately by championing for their future companies to give to Mays.

The night was full of exchanged handshakes and stories. Donors were able to spend time with their scholarship recipients, and students were given a chance to update some of their biggest champions on their activities and ambitions. Three students, in particular, shared stories with the banquet about their scholarships. However, rather than listing their numerous accolades, Hannah Grubbs ’20, Nicholas Menchaca ’20, and Gabrielle Orion ’20, shared stories of how the scholarships are about more than the money. The students told how scholarships grant students the ability to persevere through hardships and give them access to experiences and opportunities that would otherwise be impossible.

Grubbs shared how her family fell apart in her first semester of college, and her mom and brother moved across the state. Because of her scholarship, the money she earned from her part-time job could help her family move without the fear of not being able to pay for school. Also, because of the scholarships she received, she could move through school with urgency, not haste, as she uncovered her passions.

Menchaca told the audience how he was raised by a single father who worked hard. Despite his father’s best efforts, Menchaca grew up acquainted with financial insecurity and with a slim chance to attend a higher education institution. Menchaca said, “Financial insecurity is a towering barrier that consumes your every thought. Growing up, I didn’t have time to chase passions because I needed to help pay bills. These scholarships give students like me the ability to knock down those barriers and an opportunity to put education first.”

Orion spoke of the donor impact she’s felt. Her family was affected by Hurricane Harvey. For six months, her childhood home in Houston was unlivable, and she worried about her family and their mounting bills, but never once did she have to worry about pausing her education, because of the generous donors at Mays.

Grubbs wrapped up their time on stage imploring everyone to have the seemingly hard conversations about just how much scholarships mean to those receiving them. “For most of us in this room, the money you so graciously give back to our school allows us financial freedom from hardship both now and in the future. Your generosity gives us the freedom to find passion and pursue excellence. In that pursuit, we aim to someday sit in your chair as scholarship donors.”

Categories: Mays Business, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

(L to R) Heather Cox, Leah Kelly, Ozgur Cetinok, Erica Millwater, Arvind Mahajan
Images by Texas Filmworks

HOUSTON – Nov. 15, 2019 – The student team of Ozgur Cetinok, Leah Kelly, and Erica Millwater from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has won the $30,000 First Place prize in the Humana-Mays Health Care Analytics 2019 Case Competition sponsored by health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Over 1,300 masters level students representing over 80 major universities in the U.S. registered for the national competition to compete for $52,500 in total prizes. The third annual competition was open to all accredited educational institutions based in the United States. Full-time and part-time master’s students from accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration programs, or other similar master’s programs in business, healthcare, or analytics, were eligible to enter.

Ozgur Cetinok, Leah Kelly, and Erica Millwater received the top prize following a presentation Thursday, Nov. 14 to an executive panel of judges at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School’s CityCentre Houston location. The Second Place prize of $15,000 was awarded to Saurabh Annadate and Tanya Tandon from Northwestern University, while the Third Place prize of $7,500 was presented to Hong Gao, Shuyu Wang and Jie Yang from New York University (NYU).

“This contest is an excellent way for students to practice their analytical skills on the current challenges we face in health care,” said Heather Cox, Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer for Humana. “Their creativity and passion is impressive, and those qualities are exactly what we need as we continue to leverage technology to simplify health care for consumers.”

The analytics case received by the students was designed to be multi-faceted and complex, similar to a real-world business problem. This year’s competition focused on chronic pain and the treatment of this condition through long-term opioid therapy, which has increased dramatically over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 in 4 patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting will struggle with opioid disorder. Using de-identified data, the students were asked to predict long-term opioid therapy post initial treatment. The goal is to identify patients at risk for continued long-term use of opioid therapies allowing for early intervention.

“Mays Business School is a model academic institution championing responsible research and teaching on every aspect of decision making in businesses. To that end, I am pleased that the students’ analyses will help Humana shape the way the industry delivers healthcare to alleviate the opioid epidemic,” says Arvind Mahajan, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School. “This case study is an example of how students learn to apply their analytical skills to solve complex business problems which can have a social impact, and in this case, improve the lives of patients and their families.”

The teams were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to establish key performance indicators aligned to business needs
  • Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
  • Ability to provide unique insights for business improvements
  • Professionalism and visualization skills

This is the third year of the competition, which has grown to be one of the top healthcare analytics case competitions in country. In its inaugural year in 2017, the competition attracted more than 300 master’s degree candidates representing 109 teams from 19 major universities in the U.S.

For more information, visit HumanaTAMUAnalytics.com.

 

About Texas A&M’s Mays Business School

Mays is a full-service business school that steps up to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its programs and for faculty research

About Humana

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
  • Calendar of events
  • Corporate Governance information

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Media Contacts:

Categories: Mays Business, Texas A&M

November 14, 2019 (College Station, Texas) – Texas A&M University has once again been recognized as a top university for both graduate and undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurship by the Princeton Review. For the third consecutive year, Texas A&M University ranks within the top 25 U.S. schools, coming in at #22 for Undergraduate students and #23 for Graduate students.

Texas A&M boasts a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, which operates Startup Aggieland and Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars. Blake Petty, Director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship stated, “We proudly acknowledge this recognition on behalf of the vibrant entrepreneurial community continuing to grow throughout Texas A&M. Our campus culture is rooted in developing students who want to change the world, and our recognition as a top 25 entrepreneurship program for 3 consecutive years proves we excel in this area.”

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship is housed within Mays Business School but its resources and programs are available to all future, current, and former students of Texas A&M University. Dr. Eli Jones, Dean of Mays Business School commented, “We are excited to once again be recognized for the importance we place on entrepreneurial education at Texas A&M University. Entrepreneurship is a strategic pillar of the Mays Business School’s mission, and recognition of our excellence in both Graduate and Undergraduate programs speaks well to our emphasis.”

Specialized entrepreneurial programs are also offered through the Texas A&M Colleges of Engineering, Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Liberal Arts, Architecture, the School of Innovation and many other academic units across campus. Students at Texas A&M have a myriad of pathways to pursue entrepreneurship and innovation during their college careers.

More than 300 schools reported data about their entrepreneurship offerings to Princeton Review. Rankings are based on entrepreneurial curriculum, student, faculty and staff entrepreneurial ventures, extracurricular offerings, and scholarships and aid provided to students pursuing entrepreneurship.

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Programs, Rankings, Texas A&M

SIA Solutions has been ranked as the #1 Aggie 100 Company for 2019 with an astonishing growth rate of 284.88%. At the helm, Dr. Srini Neralla, CEO of SIA Solutions, LLC, leads the company with an entrepreneurial attitude that seamlessly incorporates his academic background. His innovative and solution-oriented mindset lends itself to an uncanny ability to poignantly serve clients in a way that benefits their local community and the surrounding environment.

Dr. Neralla credits the growth of the company to their client-first attitude which serves as the foundation for SIA Solutions’ company culture. “Our culture is based around a client-first attitude,” he said, “if we can take care of our clients and we can take care of our people there’s nothing better than that.”  Dr. Neralla believes that SIA Solutions is able to successfully deploy a client-first culture because “[We] focus on understanding the needs and challenges of our clients and providing them solutions as appropriate.  We help them navigate through the maze of technical, regulatory and funding challenges, which makes our clients successful and hence we are successful.”  SIA Solutions believes in building strong and trusting relationships with their clients. In fact, approximately 95% of their clientele are repeat customers. “Our philosophy is establishing ourselves as a trusted advisor to our clients. That is the key to our success.”

Although SIA Solutions is a small-sized business they aren’t afraid to take on challenges that many firms their size may shy away from. “Because of our client-first philosophy, we’re willing to take on tough challenges and deliver. It’s in our culture. It’s natural to us. We put together strong teams comprising of firms our size or larger, including universities, in order to deliver what our clients want,” said Dr. Neralla. SIA Solutions is constantly pushing boundaries, including their own core business lines. One such example is a project that SIA Solutions is working on right now for the US Army Corps of Engineers. The project’s mission is to support and protect the mainline levees across the Mississippi River in order to keep excess material out of the channel and maintain a favorable channel alignment and depth. “This is currently done through the use of a Mat Sinking Unit (MSU) which, due to its age, requires significant upgrades to its infrastructure and health and safety of its operations,” said Dr. Neralla. SIA Solutions was selected to develop and field a full-scale prototype system that employs modern technologies to automate the processes of handling, assembling, and placing articulated concrete mat on the banks of the Mississippi River.  The system is purposefully designed to utilize robotics to help ensure the safety of the USACE employees and/or contractors implementing the program.  This modernized system will also help to reduce the time it takes to place the mats and increase the operation’s cost efficiency. SIA quickly recognized the unique opportunity for the company to take on one of their client’s biggest and most challenging projects in a way that has never been done before. “We put a team together that included Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) to develop a process that includes robotics that will allow this project to be automated. We are willing to take on challenges and we’re willing to deliver.”  SIA’s willingness to think and work outside the box paid off and they were recently awarded the next project phase during which they’ll build the actual robotics system on a barge and begin placing the mats.

A large part of SIA Solutions’ portfolio includes their infrastructure asset management services where they deploy sophisticated strategies and processes to help solve complex asset management challenges for government and industry clients. Many times, this requires innovative solutions to existing assets such as underutilized property or facilities that are beyond their useful life. Dr. Neralla recalled one project where a Department of Defense (DoD) base had invested in a state-of-the-art water/wastewater treatment plant, but a few years later the base was downsized due to BRAC actions. Although DoD didn’t need the full capacity of the plant moving forward, the plant still had a high market value. The surrounding local communities needed additional water treatment capacity because of their own population growth. “We were able to assess the value of the plant and basically marry the local communities’ needs with the excess capacity of the DoD plant. This is a “win-win” situation for everybody, by providing a solution and reducing costs for both government agencies through the transfer of the asset! At the end of the day, anything we do has an impact on the community and an impact on the environment. Whether it is disposing of radiological waste properly or providing increased energy efficiency within a community around a military base.” SIA Solutions is a multi-faceted company that is able to identify innovative opportunities regardless of the project size or scope.

Dr. Neralla says that a key component in providing clients with unparalleled service and solutions is building the right team at SIA. He humbly expressed the integral role his staff has had in the growth of SIA Solutions. “You need to hire the right kind of people with the right mindset and right mentality,” said Dr. Neralla “You need a good staff that believes in your culture and believes in your vision. We could not have been as successful without the wonderful staff that we have at SIA.  Our clients have given us the opportunity to do what we do best and helped us in our growth and success”. “If you can develop solutions to address client needs in an efficient manner, that helps the community and helps the environment then it’s a win on all fronts,” said Dr. Neralla.  SIA Solutions has also developed a robust teaming network that allows them to leverage the resources of partner corporations. “There are a few small and large businesses that we team with that have helped us in our delivery to our clients. Such mutually beneficial relationships are possible due to a similarity in culture and values.”

Dr. Neralla stressed that entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with a supportive network, “hire quality staff that believes in your company culture, values and vision; surround yourself with a network of individuals and resources to guide the success of your company.” He believes that patience, persistence, and perseverance are key elements for success, and he has even woven these characteristics into the culture of SIA Solutions. He also noted that his success, and the success of SIA Solutions, would not be possible without the continuous support of his wife and family. Dr. Neralla is a truly inspiring Aggie entrepreneur and it comes as no surprise that his leadership and hard work have led SIA Solutions to new heights of success. Congratulations to Dr. Neralla and the team at SIA Solutions for being awarded the 2019 Aggie 100 #1 ranking.

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Alibaba’s Singles Day event. Source: National Today

11/11 or November 11 is celebrated as the Singles day that witnesses the largest online sales, in particular, among Chinese people. The November 11 date was chosen to appeal to potential shoppers who are single because it contains multiple instances of the number one. This year, it is expected to ring in the biggest single day sales online anywhere in the world. Think of Amazon on steroids!

Led primarily by Alibaba, the Chinese tech behemoth, sales revenues from Singles Day has taken off from just $7.8 million in 2009 to $30 billion in 2018 for Alibaba. Not far behind was Alibaba’s main Chinese rival, JD.com, which sold $23 billion over 10 days surrounding Singles day last year. This year, Alibaba expects to sell $37 billion worth of products through its Tmall online marketplace. By comparison, the combined sales from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Thanksgiving day in 2018 was $29 billion! In fact, Singles day sales revenues could surpass the GDP of countries like Bolivia and Serbia!

This year, Alibaba promises to offer over 1 million products from 200,000 Chinese and global brands, including about 3,500 categories from 78 countries. About a quarter of American retailers have expressed an interest to participate in the event this year. Even Kim Kardashian is launching a new line of fragrances on Singles day. However, the U.S.-China trade imbroglio could throw some cold water on the success of American brands. About three-fourths of Chinese consumers were unsure about their intention to purchase U.S. products on Singles day.

An interesting way in which sales takes place is through livestreaming. Livestreaming commerce at Alibaba include products ranging from cosmetics to cars with flash exclusive deals on items that attract hordes of shoppers.

What is the significance of Singles day for the future of retailing? By 2022, Chinese middle-class shoppers are predicted to surpass U.S. shoppers both in number and (550 million vs. 340 million) spending. By being online, Singles day allows U.S. brands and retailers to leverage a large global shopper base.

This trend bodes well for retail’s future. In the future, retailing will be further driven by experience and technology. Globally, commerce is accelerating online as shoppers use their mobile devices  to browse, compare, click, purchase and return items, and communicate with others and retailers. Does this mean that physical stores are going out of fashion? True, many predominantly brick-and-mortar retailers such as Forever 21 and Sears are closing several stores. But far from the doomsday scenario predicted for brick-and-mortar stores, retailers are going omnichannel with digitally native retailers such as Amazon, Warby Parker, and Bonobos opening more stores.

What’s driving these changes? Shoppers demand 360-degree access to retail from multiple touchpoints and seamless shopping experience. Customer experience is defining retail disruption. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping both the demand and supply sides, including customer relationship and inventory management, as AI is being deployed at scale. Technology will accelerate “chore” shopping routines, while experience-focused initiatives will drive “cherish” shopping tasks. Retailing is becoming increasingly AI-driven, mobile-led omnichannel.

And global sales growth on Singles day is a harbinger retailing’s future.

 

Categories: Marketing

As the largest electrical contractor in the state of Texas, it’s no surprise that Walker Engineering is the 2019 Aggie 100 Summit Award recipient with $342,698,749 in total revenue. Brent Walker, President of Walker Engineering, said that receiving the award was incredibly meaningful, “it’s something we’re very humbled by but also very proud of. We’re really excited.” Walker Engineering’s portfolio ranges from museums to hospitals to corporate campuses, and even includes Texas A&M University’s beloved Kyle Field. But Walker Engineering is more than a company, it’s a family. Founded in 1981 by Charlie Walker the company is now led by his son Scott Walker ‘00 and nephew Brent Walker ‘97. “We’ve learned a lot over time, about what not to do to avoid making mistakes and our goal is to be the best partner we can for our collaborators and customers.” Brent attributes the continued growth and success of Walker Engineering to Charlie’s mentorship which has shaped both him and Scott as leaders and entrepreneurs. “[Charlie] taught us about the necessity of keeping our employees happy and motivated. Having good, talented folks around him was how he built his business.” Charlie also taught them to prioritize and respect their employees. “The best leaders have a natural social awareness and empathy of others,” said Brent. “When you have thousands of employees who are coming to work each day they each have their own things going on in their life. That can make them great at their job one day and maybe they struggle the next because they have something that’s taxing their well-being. Being conscientious of that is something we learned from Charlie and something we try to continue to emulate today.”

Although Walker Engineering is a family business Scott and Brent had to first prove themselves as employees before they could pursue a leadership role within the company. “It didn’t matter that my last name was Walker,” said Brent, “without question we had to earn our stripes. No one would have respected us if we were given the keys to the kingdom without earning them.” Both Brent and Scott have worked for Walker since they were teenagers. “We started working in the warehouse when we were in High School. We were working on job sites when we were in college. We were in the field, learning how hard it is to be an electrician. Without question, the empathy I have for those in our field and our employees is because I’ve done their job and I understand that it’s hard and challenging. Having to do that earned us the respect of our employees and in turn, gave us respect for our employees.” In total Brent has been working for Walker Engineering for 28 years and now as president, he has a deep understanding of the mechanics of the company.

Brent comes from a family of proud Aggies and estimated that there must be over 30 Walkers who have graduated from Texas A&M throughout the years. “I grew up in a maroon household and I knew the Aggie War Hymn before Jesus Loves Me” he joked. Although Brent learned many things during his time as a student in the department of construction science, one key lesson he gained from Texas A&M was that “you’re going to have to work hard to be successful.” In addition, Walker Engineering tries to incorporate a bit of Texas A&M’s culture within their own. “There’s a family environment at A&M and we very much try to incorporate that into our own company.” Peer-to-peer support and mentorship is a pervasive cultural aspect at Walker Engineering. They aim to create an environment where people enjoy coming to work. “Even though we’ve grown so big we try to continue to keep that small-town family feel, just like Texas A&M.”

More than anything Brent stressed the value that Walker Engineering places on their people. “We are nothing without our employees,” he said. “Finding folks who want to come in and work hard and rewarding that is what we’re all about. We’re not micromanagers. We hire people to do a great job and have great ideas. We very much like to recruit, train, and promote from within our company.” They’re trying to change the culture of their job sites as well. Gone are the old guard ways of running a site like a military operation. “We’ve tried to really promote a different mindset. We want young people to come into the trade and feel like they have a chance to succeed. You can share your wisdom without screaming at some poor kid.” When asked what advice he would give to a leader who wants to develop a strong company culture, Brent emphasized the importance of hiring the right people. “Identify talent that organically has that mentality. You get a better environment of collaboration and long-term tenure when you have a family culture. There are a lot of folks who are smart and good at their jobs that we don’t hire because they don’t fit our culture. A lot of folks job hop and we look for that. We want someone to be here for the long-term.”

Walker Engineering is also dedicated to making an impact outside of the industry. “In every community where we build we owe it to be generous with our success.” Walker Engineering is a charitable giver to many non-profit organizations including Joey’s Dream Builders, Make a Wish, and March of Dimes. “When we have big fundraisers we involve our employees whether that’s through volunteering or helping to raise money.” As a company, they’re aware of the power that they have to be a force for good. “We want to continue to be a great place to work, provide for thousands of people’s families, and continue to build cool buildings.”

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Some of the world’s greatest advancements have come from strong women. Amelia Earhart, Madam Curie, Rosa Parks, and countless others have left lasting impressions in history. While the world has exponentially changed, the potential for women to enact change has not. At the 2019 Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference women gathered from across the local community, state, and country, with great excitement for another year of encouragement, equipping, and edification.

The conference opened with a welcome from Eli Jones ’82, Mays Business School Dean and Professor of Marketing, and a champion of the Women’s Leadership Initiative in Mays. “The Women’s Leadership Initiative is directly in step with Mays vision to advance the world’s prosperity. In all of our endeavors we aim to embrace change, paint vision, and move our organization towards it,” Jones said. “This conference is a part of the vision painted to include women in the advancing of the world’s prosperity.”

A common thread

This year’s speakers all spoke to that common theme – Advancing the World’s Prosperity.

Laura Arnold, Co-founder of Arnold Ventures, proposed the idea that maybe advancing the world’s prosperity had more to do with improving people’s lives, not just their situation. That to truly advance the world’s prosperity we, as a society, need to leave people better than we find them. And in order to do so, we need to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. That sentiment is not without challenge though. Arnold was quick to acknowledge, “It’s not like smart people haven’t thought about improving people’s lives and just didn’t feel like doing it. It’s a slow process because it’s hard.” Arnold also mentioned that “there is nothing abstract about the American Dream” as she advocated for better access to education for all people. She shared her own story of success after moving to America from Puerto Rico and working hard to earn the opportunity to study at Harvard. “We can continue to write checks, but the real power is to set the system right by law and public policy. To create a chance for prosperity for all, not just a few. We don’t need to just lift people over barriers but remove barriers entirely.”

Jacquie Baly, President of BalyProjects, gave the conference her rules to advance prosperity, achieve dreams, and defy odds. Baly walked us through her life, in which adversity is a reoccurring cast member. She moved to Florida from the U.S. Virgin Islands when she was seven and was subsequently bullied for her accent. She was the first female department head in the city of Sugarland. Baly was a single mother to two boys while juggling a full-time, very public career as a tv show host. Through all of these stages, she learned to believe in herself, to prioritize her time and commitments, and to be flexible. All of these lessons, she imparted upon the WLIC audience saying, “Maybe you’re not where you thought you’d be. Or maybe you don’t know where you’re heading… Those are just speed bumps. Adjust. Adapt. Keep moving forward.”

Dr. Patricia Sulak took the stage after lunch. At a time of day where it is easy to lose focus, Sulak had the crowd sitting on the edge of their seat. With a heavy focus on advancing your wellness as a piece of advancing prosperity, Sulak really dug into defining wellness. Wellness has five categories: physical, social, psychological, financial, and spiritual. To achieve true wellness, Sulak posited that we must fulfill each role’s expectations, but we tend to self-limit ourselves. She asked, “If we have self-limiting thoughts, how will we fulfill the expectations of our roles?” and then followed it with, “Inside all of us is the ability to have a great life, but you have to get the imposters out of the way. Things happen that cause us to be someplace we don’t want to be – while it’s not your fault, it is your problem. How will you solve it?” Sulak gave us her 12 essentials to wellness and gifted a copy of her book to conference attendees.

Mays Talks live

The conference wrapped up with Mays Talks – a live podcast taping of Mays MasterCast. Host Ben Wiggins facilitated a conversation with Bridgette Chambers, Shannon Deer, and Janet Turner Parish. The hour-long conversation covered topics like the balance of work and life, the impact our words have, and the power that the millennial generation holds.

Next year’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference, on October 16, 2020, is already generating excitement. With a rapidly growing attendance rate, the conference is sure to remain an impactful and important space for cultivating women in leadership and generating connections that will advance the world’s prosperity for years to come.

 

Whether you missed this year’s conference or had the opportunity to experience the power, share your story with #MaysWLI and @MaysBusiness

Categories: Mays Business, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

COLLEGE STATION, OCTOBER 28, 2019 – Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship is proud to reveal the businesses from across Texas and around the world who are part of the 15th Annual Aggie 100. The ceremony, held Friday (10/25), honored the fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses. Members of the exclusive club were honored by hundreds of attendees at a private event held at the Hall of Champions at Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field.

The top 10 ranking companies were:

10. 91.38% Growth Rate- LASAL, LLC of Water Valley, Texas

9. 96.32%Growth Rate- Steel Frame Solutions & Drywall, LLC of Kerrville, Texas

8. 103.19% Growth Rate- Diamondback Energy, Inc. of Midland, Texas

7. 104.90% Growth Rate- Escondido Resources of Katy, Texas

6. 109.59% Growth Rate- Premier Coil Solutions, Inc of Waller, Texas

5. 115.19% Growth Rate- Ark Financial of Austin, Texas

4. 117.46% Growth Rate- Odin Heavy Industries, LLC of Bryan, Texas

3. 143.56% Growth Rate- LJA Infrastructure of Houston, Texas

2. 190.07% Growth Rate- Raider Pumping Services, LP of College Station, Texas

1. 284.88% Growth Rate- SIA Solutions, LLC of Houston, Texas

Summit Award Winner: Walker Engineering of Irving Texas with an average revenue of $342,698,749.

A full listing of the 2019 Aggie 100 honorees with detailed ranking information was publicly released Friday night and can be found at Aggie100.com.

The Aggie 100 program identifies, recognizes, and celebrates the 100 fastest growing Aggie owned or operated businesses throughout the world. To be considered for the Aggie 100, companies (corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships) must operate in a manner consistent with the Aggie Code of Honor and in keeping with the values and image of Texas A&M University and must meet specific criteria.

“As we mark the 15th Crystal Anniversary of the Aggie 100 program, we celebrate our success by raising up the newest class of Aggie 100 honorees. Knowing how each member company of the Class of 2019 has overcome their own adversities to reach astounding levels of growth and prosperity, we dedicate this significant milestone to the excellence exhibited by our newest additions to the Aggie 100 family.”

About The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The Texas A&M McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship provides encouragement, education, networking and assistance to entrepreneurially-minded students, faculty and Texas businesses. Founded in 1999, The McFerrin Center is part of Mays Business School’s Department of Management. The McFerrin Center enhances student education through campus speakers, competitions, work experiences and financial support. Texas A&M faculty and students benefit from the center’s educational programs, extensive business community network and entrepreneurial support services.

The McFerrin Center also reaches out to the state’s business community offering educational programs, business assistance and access to University resources. The McFerrin Center is supported by corporate and individual members and sponsors who believe in the value of entrepreneurial education and the value of Texas businesses working with Texas A&M University.

 

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Media contact: Kiri Isaac, Communications Specialist, Mays Business School, (979) 845-3167, kiri@mays.tamu.edu.

 

Houston Companies: SIA Solutions LLC (1), LJA Infrastructure (3), Slate Construction, LLC (14), AmTex Machine Products, Inc (16), Eventellect, LLC (21), Able Industrial (22), 3-C Valve & Equipment, LP (23), CIMA Energy (33), JP Services (36), Method Architecture (47), SagisDx (57), Satori Marketing (69), Sallyport Holdings, LLC (78), Big Data Energy Services (83)

Categories: Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Texas A&M