Women and work have become acquaintances that are no longer out of the ordinary. When it comes to being a woman in a leadership position, though, the path becomes far less traveled. This spring, Mays’ Center for the Management of Information Systems continued its annual Women in Information Technology forum, delving into work-life issues that successful executive women face.

Women students from Texas A&M-College Station, Prairie View, Corpus Christi and International campuses came together in February to learn from a panel of corporate women in IT.

The 28 women leaders from such companies as Dell and Texas Instruments gave an outlook on what corporate life in an upper-level position consists of, and how to manage life while in that role.

Panelists discussed the fine line between being an assertive leader and being bossy, and the differing approaches of women and men to group management. They also agreed that to move up in a company, you have to lead. Panelist Katherine Garner, senior manager of global online support & services IT at Dell, told the students there are many opportunities to lead, regardless of your title.

Kim Smith, manager of IT at Texas Instruments, introduced a point valid to all women in all fields looking to move up, or to simply stay afloat. “Don’t let conventions or history constrain your thinking on what you can or cannot achieve,” she said. “Because all that sets you apart is a label.”

Categories: Centers, Programs

When most people think of retail, they picture a department store of clothing-racks adorned with inventory for the average Joe. For students at Mays, the Center for Retailing Studies’ Retailing Career Fair on Jan. 30 was the gateway into a booming industry—with a networking night that gave an extra edge to early birds.

Since a free-for-all career fair can be a bit overwhelming, students at Mays had the opportunity to meet with recruiters the night before. While students attending the fair can go online to get a list of employers, attending the pre-event lets them see the personalities they might be working with, giving a better idea of which firms are a “perfect fit.”

Recruiters from 40 companies headed to Mays—many of them coming home when coming back to Aggieland. One was Jennifer Norbin ’05, a former intern at JCPenney and now a full-time employee who’s hoping to bring more Aggies into the corporation. “JCPenney really helped the transition into work life and out of college life,” Norbin said. “It’s a very diversified company, and I love it.”

While each company put their own spin on why students should work for them, company representatives all shared a central idea: They want people who will grow with the company.

Store managers are needed, but opportunities are also available at corporate offices. Companies such as Barnes & Noble, Bridgestone and Dillard’s need people for marketing, sales, allocations and buying. Most highlighted their search for graduates who’d fulfill the “quality people” aspect that mirrors their products.

Retailers know the early bird gets the worm, so they use events such as the Retailing Career Fair to recruit productive students to represent their products. The fairs let retailers grab students while they’re hot, and teach them that once on the wagon, they should stay along for the ride. After all, as a recruiter from Adplex told students, “You want to be where the puck it headed—you don’t want to be where it’s been.”

Categories: Centers, Former Students, Programs, Students

Know a successful Aggie business owner or leader overseeing an established, growing company? The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship needs your nominations for the third annual Aggie 100 program, which celebrates the 100 fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world.

To learn more about qualifications and how to nominate a company, visit http://aggie100.com/. The deadline for nominations is May 31.

Applicants will be ranked by compound annual revenue growth rate for the 2004 to 2006 period. Graduates from every Texas A&M degree program are welcome. The 100 companies with the greatest percentage growth will be named members of the 2007 Aggie 100.

Categories: Centers, Programs

A chemical technique that could ease targeting of diseased cells in pharmaceutical drug delivery isn’t quite ready yet for the market, but still holds promise if research continues. That’s the judgment of a team of MBAs and their informal technology commercialization board—the 135 industry representatives judging the Ford MBA Technology Transfer Challenge.

First-year MBA candidates Matt Hancock, Samuel Kerns, Janet Marcantonio, Brock Roark and Scott Schun took first prize, winning $3,000, in the 5th annual challenge, sponsored by Mays’ Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.

The challenge is a required part of the curriculum for all first-year MBAs. Students have a week to assess a new technology, identify markets for it and determine its potential commercial viability. They must then make a “go” or “no go” decision on the technology and defend their decision to potential business and venture capital investors.

The challenge is underwritten by Ford Motor Company. CRA International provided the $3,000 grand prize; Ozona Grill & Bar-Ford Restaurant Group sponsored the second-place, $2,000 award; and Hewlett Packard sponsored the third-place prize of $1,000.

Other winning teams include:
Second place: Design of a Portable Buoyancy Driven PCR Thermocycler, presented by Tanya Arora, Olubanke “Banke” Awofeso, Aritada “Pam” Changchit, Rachana Chidanand and Jennifer Hoffpauir

Third place: Radio-Frequency Encoding (RFE) Probes for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, presented by Todd Johnson, Jesse Durden, Sean Green, Samuel Kirk and Leandro Salgado.

Categories: Programs, Students

When it comes to risk, don’t gamble in Vegas—gamble in the business you know well. That’s what Texas oilman and financier Clayton W. Williams, Jr. ’54, told a roomful of marketing students as he accepted the 2007 Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award at Wehner in mid-February.

“If you don’t take risks, you’re probably not going to get very far. Not with the girl you want to marry or the business you want to run,” explained Williams, a 1954 Aggie graduate who established 26 companies in his long career as Texas businessman. “Risks should be calculated and within reason. I only gambled with wildcat wells.”

And those gambles, after the 1980s energy slump, have worked well for Williams. In the past 50 years, Williams has drilled 1,000 wells and 300 horizontal wells, and been part of efforts to drill an additional 2,400 wells. He took his oil and gas company, Clayton Williams Energy, public on the NASDAQ in 1993. He is also an active alumnus of Texas A&M, where The Association of Former Students’ building bears his name.

The Kupfer Executive Award at Mays serves as a lasting tribute to Harold L. Kupfer ’54 and his career and contributions to the Texas business community. The award, established in memory of Kupfer by his friends Gerald Ray ’54 and Donald Zale ’55, recognizes leading business executives who exemplify professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to service.

The Kupfer designation is far from the first honor for storied Aggie Williams. Williams is a 1981 Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni, a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Energy Award, and a Champion of Free Enterprise award winner. He was inducted into the Petroleum Musuem’s Hall of Fame in 2005. And in 2006, the Texas State Historical Society named him Businessman of the Decade.

It turns out it’s not who you know or what you know that earns you business success, Williams said: It’s both. “Oil and gas, or any industry in fact, is a business of people. In the long run, if you know somebody and have a legitimate opportunity to put in front of them, that’s OK,” he said. “But focus on running your own business and putting your people first. And don’t worry so much about who you know, so long as you have good friends to share your life with.”

Kupfer Award founders Ray and Zale also honor Corps of Cadets students for their academics and leadership, and—in a new award introduced this year—for their courage and perseverance.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

Michael R. Houx ’73, president of Sandia Automotive Corp. in New Mexico, was named the 2007 TIME Magazine Quality Dealer Award for his record of community service and industry accomplishments.

Houx is one of only 60 automobile dealers, from more than 19,500 nationwide, nominated for the 38th annual award. Recipients are those who demonstrate a long-standing commitment to effective community service and are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers.

An Aggie management graduate, Houx is a BMW and MINI dealer in Albuquerque and Santa Fe who got his start at the age of 24 as a sales manager for a Dallas Porsche Audi dealership. In 1986, he bought a BMW dealership in Albuquerque; in 2004, he added the MINI franchise; and in 2005 he added a BMW Motorcylce franchise—making Sandia BMW in Albuquerque one of the few BMW campuses in the nation to offer all BMW products in one location.

Houx and his dealership have also supported a wide range of organizations and causes, including Texas A&M, where he and wife Debbie have established a learning endowment to build entrepreneurship studies at the business school. He’s also been a major benefactor of Texas A&M’s collegiate equestrian program, and in New Mexico is on the board of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.

Categories: Former Students

A team of first-year MBA students has advanced to the semi-finals round in the National University of Singapore’s annual business plan competition, called Cerebration, placing them among the top 18 teams of an original pool of 568 teams. That keeps them in the competition along with such schools as MIT, HEC Montreal and Rice.

Students Lindsey Galloway, Mandar Marathe, Sasiri Yapa and JaeHwan Yoo developed a plan for Singapore-based home healthcare retailer OSIM International that would allow them to increase points of sale 200 percent by 2013. The next step in the competition could take them to Singapore to compete in the final round with 6 other teams.

Categories: Programs, Students

More than 80 members of the Business Student Council worked to “Keep Wehner Clean” this January in their first-annual service project to remind business students of their role in keeping clean and orderly classrooms and hallways. In this photo, BSC members show the trash bags they filled after scrubbing down Wehner’s largest lecture hall, the Ray Auditorium. BSC President Dawn Wolfe had asked custodians to leave the room untouched for a week to let students see firsthand the amount of waste they often leave behind. “It definitely drew attention to the matter,” she says.

Categories: Programs, Students

Charles E. Lake ’52 is well versed in a variety of life’s roles. But his lead role is family man who values education. Lake’s appreciation of the foundation that Texas A&M University provided for him is immense—and now he’s laying the groundwork for others to have that same opportunity.

Lake and wife Joyce have created the Joyce and Charles E. Lake ’52 Endowed Scholarship Fund with a gift of $25,000. The fund was made in conjunction with Lake’s former employer, Texas Instruments, and will support scholarships for full-time students pursuing a degree at Mays.

At Texas A&M, Lake was a member of the Army Security Agency in the Corps of Cadets. Upon graduation in 1952 with a degree in statistics, he served as an officer during the Korean War, primarily in Okinawa. In 1960, Lake and his family moved to Richardson, Texas, where he spent the majority of his professional career as a data processing systems analyst at Texas Instruments.

Joyce Lake was a secretary who became a homemaker raising four children, two of whom graduated from Texas A&M. Now grandparents of eight, this couple—married 51 years—enjoys traveling, supporting their church ministries, and occasionally playing in bridge tournaments.

“Texas A&M has always been known as a fine engineering and agriculture institute, but I’ve always wanted to see them have the same recognition in the business school,” Charles Lake said. “Our modest contribution is a way to help fund students and say “thank you’ to A&M.”

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Harvard-educated L.E. Simmons knows about the values of Aggies in business: He has worked with Texas A&M graduates in Houston’s oilfield services sector for decades. But it wasn’t until he toured Mays with his son last fall that he realized how impressed he was with the students, programs and Aggie standards that could shape a business career.

Thinking of the Aggie leaders he has watched in business, Simmons wanted to support the institution that molded their careers. And he wanted to help to mold future careers. So he decided to endow a $25,000 scholarship fund, creating the Avalon Advisors Scholarship for full-time students at Mays.

The scholarship is named after Avalon Advisors and its partner, Willie Langston ’81, an A&M graduate Simmons has watched over the years. “Langston is just so supportive of A&M, and he exemplifies what A&M is all about,” Simmons explains. “Scholarships are always meaningful to students, and I wanted to tie that meaning to a firm Aggies can be proud of.”

Simmons grew up in rural Utah, the son of a savvy bank teller who rose to become chairman of Zions Bancorporation in Salt Lake City. Dinnertime conversations sparked an early interest in business, and Simmons earned his degree in economics from the University of Utah (finishing at the London School of Economics) in 1970 and an MBA from Harvard in 1972. He moved to Houston with brother Matt to establish Simmons & Company in the 1970s, eventually starting SCF Partners, a private equity firm specializing in energy services companies located throughout the world.

Simmons and his wife, Ginny, have been married for 23 years and have two children: Virginia, a freshman in the Honors Program at the University of Utah, and William, who is expected to join the Business Honors Program at Mays this fall.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students