The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has named the 2008 recipients of the Aggie 100 Entrepreneurial Scholars Awards. Of the 14 proposals seeking funding, four were selected for a total of $20,000 in grant support.
After an extensive review process, the proposals chosen were from three PhD students and one faculty member. The selected individuals were:
Gautham Gopal, marketing PhD student, for his proposal, “How do early growth strategies affect the performance of start-up ventures? An empirical analysis.”
Michael Holmes and Justin Webb, management PhD students, for their proposal, “The relationships between entrepreneurs’ psychological characteristics, their behaviors and their performance.”
Ramkumar Janakiraman, assistant professor of marketing, for his proposal, “Tapping into word of mouth effect for new product launch: Insights from a start-up firm.”
Justin Webb, management PhD student, for his proposal, “Goal orientation as shaping entrepreneurial processes and firm performance.”
The proposals were judged on a variety of attributes including potential interest in the entrepreneurial and academic communities, reflection on Texas A&M University, practical ability to complete research in a timely manner, and overall quality of the proposal.
Each year the CNVE recognizes the 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned or -operated businesses through the Aggie 100 program. The funding for these entrepreneurship research grants comes from gifts from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Aggie 100 honorees. This is the first year the scholars program has been offered. The program accomplishes one of the center’s main objectives: to give back and support Mays Business School’s academic programs.
In the coming months, there will be an estimated $20,000 of additional scholarship support offered through this program for undergraduate and master’s students. The center hopes to repeat this program each year by creating an endowment with a portion of the annual contributions made by the Aggie 100 classes.
Renowned Mayo Clinic’s knack for acting small despite its size and long-standing reputation — demonstrating agility, efficiency and flexibility — is one secret of its outstanding employee relations and customer service, according to a book co-authored by a Mays Business School professor and a marketing professional. The book, Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World’s Most Admired Service Organizations, has an excerpt scheduled to appear in Business Week, is currently ranked first in Amazon’s healthcare category, is frequently first in the customer service category, and has been selected for IBM’s executive book club.
The book goes on to tell that another avenue where Mayo Clinic sets the tone for excellence is the hiring process — said to resemble auditions for a Broadway show.
“Despite demands or urgent needs to add staff, the clinic has been purposefully stubborn about not lowering its hiring standards,” notes the book, co-authored by Leonard Berry, who holds the rank of distinguished professor of marketing at Texas A&M University, and Kent Seltman, marketing director at the Mayo Clinic from 1992 through 2006. Berry also serves as a professor of humanities in the College of Medicine in the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center.
From the boardroom to basic patient care, Management Lessons takes a rare in-depth look at the renowned organization’s inner workings. The lessons explored and explained by the two authors not only explain the success of the $7 billion enterprise, they also provide a road map for other service organizations.
To research the book, Berry and Seltman interviewed leaders, clinicians, staff and patients and observed hundreds of clinician-patient interactions to understand the management culture and systems that produce Mayo Clinic’s signature service to patients and their family members.
Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor and author of How Customers Think, calls the publication, “Quite possibly the most important management book to appear in more than a decadeâ€¦ essential reading for the leaders of any type of organization.” Quint Studer, CEO of The Studer Group, suggests the book “should be required reading for every healthcare leader.”
At the heart of the clinic’s 100-plus years of success is a core value virtually all its employees believe in and can cite: “The needs of the patient come first.”
“This value is verbalized daily in the care setting as clinical decisions are made,” Berry says. “And, just as importantly, it is verbalized every day as well by the organization’s leaders as they determine operational and long-term strategies.”
The book’s lessons center on the allocation of talent, with recommendations to “Build Leadership Bench Strength” and “Focus on the Performers” — and on presentation of the product: “Play Branding Defense, Not Just Offense” and “Turn Customers into Marketers.”
Berry’s relationship with the Mayo Clinic dates back to 2001, when he served as a visiting scientist there. He also has written several best-selling books on the topic of service quality, and he serves on the board of directors of several major public companies and national not-for-profit organizations.
Want to see how Mays Business School at Texas A&M University compares to the hundreds of other accredited business schools in the world? AACSB International, the leader in business school accreditation, has announced a new resource for students seeking hype-free information about business schools.
AACSB’s BestBizSchools.com site allows prospective students to research business school options at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.
Prospective business students want to choose the best school possible, but the vast array of rankings reported in publications such as BusinessWeek and U.S. News and World Report can make it difficult to determine which school is the best fit for them. There is much controversy over the accuracy of these rankings, as part of the equation to determine rank is based on opinions from deans and alumni of the schools being ranked, depending on the publication.
AACSB’s solution to this quagmire is BestBizSchools.com, a comprehensive global online resource for students seeking information about accredited business schools at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The site provides a question-based search tool that allows users to search nationally and internationally for AACSB accredited schools that meet the user’s criteria.
Students can search by a variety of factors, including specific business programs, geographic regions, price, faculty-to-student ratio, and average GMAT or GRE score. This enables students to easily identify the programs that best meet their needs.
BestBizSchools.com also provides students with guidance on admission processes and financial aid, clarity to accreditation and media rankings, and overall general information related to potential business careers.
About AACSB International
AACSB International is an association of more than 1,100 educational institutions, businesses and other organizations in 70 countries that are dedicated to the advancement of business education worldwide.Â In addition to serving as an accreditation body for institutions offering undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting, the association also conducts a wide array of conference and seminar programs at various locations around the world.
About Mays Business School
Mays Business School currently enrolls more than 4,000 undergraduate students and 875 graduate students. Mays is nationally ranked among public business schools for the quality of its undergraduate program, MBA program and the faculty scholarship of its 110 professors in five departments.
Look around you: Chances are good you’ll see examples of international business. The computer you’re looking at right now was probably manufactured in China; your clothes were likely made in the Philippines, Mexico, or Indonesia; the coffee in your mug was probably grown in South America or Africa; in fact, you may be one of the few things in the room that was made in the U.S.A., a scenario that is ever more common as the United States becomes increasingly focused on service industry.
It’s an undisputed fact that “the nature of our economy is that almost anyone in a business career is going to be involved in global business,” says Kerry Cooper, executive director of the Center for International Business Studies (CIBS) at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. “Internationalism is important to all of [our students]. Whatever your major, you’re going to be interacting with people from other countries. You may not live abroad as part of your job, but you’re certainly going to be traveling abroad. That’s part of almost all business careers.”
So, to help prepare A&M students and faculty–as well as educators and business people across the nation–for careers in the global marketplace, CIBS stands ready with information and programs designed to enhance understanding of business in the 21st century.
A CIBS success story
Take Brittany Caudle for example. Raised on a ranch in west Texas, her international exposure was minimal until she went to college. After her junior year as an accounting major at Mays, Caudle participated in a study abroad trip to Strasbourg, France. “It was an eye opener,” she said. “I got to experience several different countriesâ€¦I now have a much better idea of what is going on in Europe.”
Once this small-town girl’s horizons had been broadened, there was no going back. Soon after her return to the states, she jumped at the opportunity to intern with Deloitte’s New York office. The city made a big impression on Caudle and she made a big impression on Deloitte: she graduates this August and will return to NYC where she has accepted a full-time position with Deloitte as an international tax accountant. She is already looking to the future with that company. “Deloitte has a program that after you’ve been there two years you can do an exchange for two years in another country, which I definitely want to do,” she said.
“Significant overseas experience” is an integral component of the curriculum for CIBS’ certificates in global business.
Caudle’s story is the perfect example of what CIBS is striving for, says Cooper. “The most important part for our students is that when they graduate they’ve been exposed to global business and they’ve learned the importance of being able to build relationships with people from different countries and different cultures.” However, knowing how to get along with diverse people isn’t enough; Cooper also stressed the need for students to learn about the environment of international business and understand the international dimension of their “functional” area of business, such as accounting or finance.
CIBS offers certificates (similar to a minor) in global business, Latin American business, and European business. About 200 Mays students graduate with one of these certificates each year. Each certificate program has specific coursework inside and outside the business school (such as language classes) and also requires a “significant overseas experience,” such as internships, study abroad trips, or total immersion through a reciprocal exchange program.
International travel: big adventure, big benefits
Cooper says reciprocal exchange is the best way for students to experience another culture. It’s a simple arrangement: The student at A&M pays tuition just as she normally would, then trades places for a semester with another student at a partner school. They each are responsible for travel and living expenses, but there is no additional cost for tuition or fees. Participating students typically live with a host family or in a residence hall, surrounded by people from that culture. “All the students that have done a reciprocal exchange have had a phenomenal experience. We have never had one that wasn’t satisfied,” said Cooper. Students can choose from a menu of 31 partner schools, from cities in Ecuador to Singapore, all offering business courses in English. Courses taken at the partner school count toward an A&M degree.
Each summer, Mays sends about 200 students to Strasbourg and Barcelona (pictured above).
An added benefit for this program is the scholarship money available. “I’m willing to say that for any Mays student that wants to be a reciprocal exchange student, we will find the financial means for him or her to do it,” said Cooper, crediting the availability of such support to financial gifts from former students.
Another option for Mays students is the faculty-led experience, which takes a group of Mays students to a foreign locale for a summer business and culture course. There is time for travel as well as class work and visits to local business firms. To enhance the cultural immersion, the classes are taught in conjunction with a professor from that city and local students take the course as well. Each summer, Mays sends about 200 students to campuses in Strasbourg and Barcelona, on a multi-country marketing tour of Europe, and to other locations as there is interest from faculty and students. Next year CIBS plans to add a location in China.
When it comes to internships, CIBS does not secure positions for students, but does facilitate the internship search process by providing information. While paid international internships are very hard to come by, unpaid internships can be highly valuable for students, and CIBS can help defray the cost.
“We don’t arrange their internships, but we do provide scholarship support for internships as well as for study abroad,” said Karen Burke, assistant director of CIBS, who estimated they award $25,000 per year for international study.
Outreach going far beyond Texas
When CIBS was founded in 1985 it was one of the few centers of its kind in the nation. In 1990 it received the added distinction of being selected through a national competition conducted by the U.S. Department of Education to become a federally funded Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). This designation grants the program $1.3 million every four years to create programs that benefit not just Texas A&M, but the entire nation. Mays is one of 31 business schools to have CIBER status.
Part of the CIBER funding is used to support international business research conducted by Mays faculty. “International business research is often more expensive in regard to gathering data and other costs, so being able to provide support is important,” said Cooper. Mays students benefit from faculty doing this type of research, as having internationally savvy professors who give a global perspective to course material is invaluable.
There are also resources for elementary and secondary school educators as CIBS helps to maintain the nationwide SAGE program (Scholastic Assistance for Global Education). Originally funded with a grant from Bank of America, SAGE provides web resources for teachers in K-12 classrooms that want to include international perspectives in their curricula.
CIBER isn’t just about the academics, though. Kelly Murphrey, director of outreach for CIBS, works with small business owners in the U.S. that want to globalize their businesses . Murphrey has worked in conjunction with the small business advocacy group NASBITE International and other CIBER schools to develop a national credential, the NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional, to recognize the unique knowledge and skills required by global business professionals.
Hosting conferences for discussion of ideas regarding international trade is also a part of the CIBER mandate. Most recently, CIBS organized a border trade summit held in Windsor, Ontario, which brought together politicians, academics, and business people to discuss the economic impact of the hardening of the U.S./Canada border since September 11, 2001. Cooper says the next such conference will likely be about NAFTA, and will examine 15 years of research about the effectiveness of that program.
The biggest challenge
“Our biggest challenge really is getting the word out to people,” said Cooper. “A lot of our students arrive on campus knowing little about international business, not realizing how important it is and believing things that aren’t true. They often think that international business means you must master multiple foreign languages and live abroad for long periods of time. So we have to disabuse them of the things they believe that aren’t true and then teach them what is true.” Cooper and Burke agree that the best marketing tool for CIBS is word-of mouth from students that have participated in the programs and return to Mays excited about their experience.
Burke says that at freshman conferences in the past few years, students are showing much more interest in what CIBS does. “And the parents are very interested in them gaining experience in international business, and that’s a change,” she says.
“I think our job will get easier as more and more of the students that arrive here will be excited about what we have to offer,” Cooper added. “Our role is to make them aware of what is available at Mays, and the importance of taking advantage of these opportunities.”
With the ever-increasing cost of gasoline, the acclaim of Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” and one natural disaster after another blamed on climate change, people have never been more aware of the need for sustainable business practices. The evidence may be seen from department stores to coffee shops: marketers are bowing to the demands of their environmentally conscious clientÃ¨le, and capitalizing on the trend.
What are marketers doing to “go green”? How is it affecting business? What marketplace trends related to sustainability are emerging? At Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, a number of marketing professors and researchers are asking these questions and watching the news for answers about the eco-friendly bandwagon and its impact on marketers and consumers.
I sat down with three Mays marketing professors to discuss this fascinating area of emergent research. Cheryl Holland Bridges is the director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays and has more than 25 years of experience in the retail industry; Kelly Haws and Karen Winterich are assistant professors of marketing with a research focus on consumer behavior. While none of these researchers claims expertise on environmental issues, they all have interesting insight to share based on things they’ve read about or experienced in the marketplace. What follows is a condensed version of our conversation.
MBO: What are you seeing businesses do right now to go green from a marketing perspective or corporately?
Cheryl Holland Bridges: I think the biggest one is Wal-Mart. It’s the king of green right now. They’ve made a huge push for sustainability. They announced at their annual shareholders meeting last year that sustainability was going to be a main focus. Sales were soft in ’07 but at a recent meeting Wal-Mart leaders announced great results, even in this tough economy. They attribute some of that success to their sustainability efforts.
Kelly Haws: People are not necessarily willing to pay a premium for more ethical products or for companies that act more responsibly, but that’s what makes Wal-Mart fascinating. The first thing we associate with Wal-Mart is low prices. They’ve found a business model where you’re seeing green procedures and products combined with low prices.
Current research is showing that consumers think that green products are going to be more expensive and less effective. Those are two barriers to consumer adoption of these products. If you’re able to overcome those barriers, as Wal-Mart is attempting to do, then enormous progress can be achieved that can create a ripple effect across multiple industries.
Cheryl Holland Bridges: Wal-Mart is making big changes such as shrinking packaging and putting less air around products, so each unit takes less space but has the same amount of product. So you have less waste in your packaging, and each truck can haul more goods and use less gas. And they’re using more recyclable materials.
Karen Winterich: I do wonder, though, about Wal-Mart and the packaging if there’s going to initially be backlash when customers see a smaller box. “I’m paying the same price for a smaller box? That’s a rip off!’ I’m sure the box will say it’s got the same amount, but how long will it take for consumers to notice that?
Kelly Haws: Studies demonstrate that if a company needs to cut costs, it is better for them to slightly reduce the quantity than to slightly increase price of a product, because consumers are less likely to notice that change. That’s a very important difference in consumer perception. That plays into what Karen said. If you’ve obviously shrunk the packaging it’s going to set off alarm bells for the consumer.
Karen Winterich: A similar example is laundry detergent, which is now two and three times more concentrated. Some might not understand why it costs the same for less product. It forces a change in consumer behavior and perception.
Cheryl Holland Bridges: Something else Wal-Mart is doing is reducing the amount of packaging around products in shipping in their trucks. That’s something the consumer wouldn’t even see. They’ve figured out how to be more efficient internally.
Karen Winterich: That makes me wonder if companies will start doing that across the board. Like Amazon. You order one book and it comes in this big box with all this packaging. It’s a bookâ€”it could come in an envelope. When will that kind of thinking kick into gear? Polls indicate that people say that they care about the environment, but there’s a lot more talk than action.
Kelly Haws: That’s why what Wal-Mart is doing is so key, because if they can make sustainability changes in such a way that the consumer is not even directly impacted, then that’s when you start to see some real change in the way business is done.
“There’s a lack of basic knowledge about this issue, and a lack of consistency about these titles. There’s a lot about these green issues that consumers don’t understand fully. It’s hard to know what does make a difference.” – Kelly Haws, assistant professor of marketing, Mays Business School
MBO: What role does the age of the consumer play in eco-marketing?
Cheryl Holland Bridges: The Generation Y group [those born from 1980-2001] is very concerned about the environment and social responsibility. That’s something that we’re seeing with our students when they take jobs with retailers. They used to ask questions such as what are the benefits like, how much vacation do they get, when do they get paid. Now one of the top questions is “What is your company doing responsibly?”
Karen Winterich: NBC has a lot of programming for younger to middle-aged audiences, like “The Office” and “30 Rock” where the show, and the advertising during the show, often focuses on going green, almost to the point where it makes fun of it, but also plays it up and gives it attention. It’s not that they’re not hitting green advertising to older consumers, but they’re certainly playing it up in younger consumer markets.
MBO: How much of what companies are doing is because it makes financial sense versus because it is good for the environment?
Cheryl Holland Bridges: I do know it’s profitable for companies. It does help their bottom line. I don’t know if that’s because the consumer gets it, and thinks, “Oh, I’m going to go shop Wal-Mart because they’re doing all these great things.” Kohl’s has a big push in how they cool their buildings and how they use solar lightingâ€¦and if they save energy, they save money.
Karen Winterich: I find it very hard to believe that any company would invest in some sustainability effort that did not break even, if not create a profit.
Kelly Haws: Yes, they still have to make money.
MBO: Which is a more weighty concern for companies: bad press from being seen as environmentally unfriendly, or positive press from doing something good for the environment?
Karen Winterich: The negative information! There’s tons of research that shows as soon as you hear negative information, it affects your decisions, it affects your judgment. A little bit of positive information is quickly outweighed or overlooked compared to the negative. Negative publicity is generally much more harmful than positive press is helpful.
Kelly Haws: As more companies get involved and go green, the positive of saying that you’re going green will become less effective.
Karen Winterich: Because if everyone does it, it will become the norm. The one company that doesn’t, we’re not going to shop there, because they’re not green like everybody else.
MBO: What does it take to change a consumer’s habits? Not only about green issues, but if there’s product A that the consumer has been buying for 20 years, what would motivate them to change to product B?
Kelly Haws: Most of everyday consumer product decision-making is habitual. They continue to do what they’ve been doing. Especially in your scenario, 20 years of buying the same product, why are they going to change? There has to be a compelling reason.
Cheryl Holland Bridges: Innovation, something that’s really earthshaking will force a consumer to change. We change our cell phones because new ones are smaller and they take a picture.
Karen Winterich: When it comes to changing behaviors, I think of those compact light bulbs that say they can save you so much per year. As a consumer you don’t believe that, you can’t see that immediately. It will take you eight years to realize the savings. But as it becomes the norm and the other light bulbs are phased out, then it will be no problem.
Kelly Haws: That’s why companies have to continue to innovate and do the research and development to come up with these things that will be the standards of the future.
MBO: This “save the earth” idea has been around for quite sometime and was a big deal in the 80s, but lately it’s seen a resurgence. What is motivating this movement? Is this a trend or the way of the future?
Kelly Haws: I think it’s a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think it’s a trend. Companies are going to want to integrate these greener and more efficient ways of doing business from now on. Like Wal-Mart with its cost savings through these distribution channel improvementsâ€”to compete, businesses are going to be forced to adopt some of these measures. If we can figure out ways to both be environmentally friendly and be more efficient and save money, who wouldn’t do that?
Cheryl Holland Bridges: There’s so much evidence that global warming is happening. Antarctica is melting. The glaciers are melting. I think most people are more serious about it than they were in the 80s. I was a member of Greenpeace then and I carried the flag, but I wasn’t all that worried. I’m scared now. I think it’s real now.
Kelly Haws: I think our increasingly global perspective has heightened fears about environmental issues. We’ve seen the emergence of China and India as mass industrialized nations having an impact on the planet. That contributes to people’s concern.
“Polls indicate that people say that they care about the environment, but there’s a lot more talk than action.” – Karen Winterich, assistant professor of marketing, Mays Business School
MBO: Most everyone wants to do their part to save the world, but being a green consumer can be confusing. What are challenges to consumers to be eco-friendly?
Cheryl Holland Bridges: I don’t think there are that many products to buy that are really green. Also, price. You go to the grocery store and see organic products, so that’s healthier, that’s greener, but it’s twice as expensive.
Karen Winterich: Lack of trust that a greener product will work the same, so effectiveness is part of it. Confusion about which product to use and if it will really work, or how to use it if it’s different.
Kelly Haws: Besides price and convenience, that lack of understanding and suspicion of effectiveness impacts decisions about buying eco-friendly products.
Karen Winterich: Everyone seems to have a different definition of what’s green. Does that mean it’s organic and doesn’t use chemicals? Or that they use recyclables? People don’t know.
Kelly Haws: There’s a lack of basic knowledge about this issue, and a lack of consistency about these titles. There’s a lot about these green issues that consumers don’t understand fully. It’s hard to know what does make a difference.
MBO: Any closing comments about the topic of green marketing?
Karen Winterich: I think it’s just an issue of consumers not understanding, or not having enough benefits for them to change their behavior, because studies show that most consumers report that they care.
Kelly Haws: I just think overall there’s been enough abuse or loose use of the term “green” that there’s a lot of confusion out there. There are barriers to overcome. Consumers are skeptical. Until we can get cost and convenience as part of the equation, we’re not going to see major changes.
Cheryl Holland Bridges: Based on my conversations with representatives of large corporations, I think it’s companies that have the power to really make the difference. How they package or transport their goods, or light, cool and heat their facilities, those are the things that are going to make a huge difference. I think corporations will make the biggest dent.
Four well-dressed students stand at the front of a classroom presenting their final project. With impressive oratory skills, they demonstrate a superior grasp of the accounting and marketing concepts needed for the project with their technical handouts and detailed PowerPoint presentation. This would be a pretty normal scenario at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, except for a few things:
1) there are judges trying to pick the presentation apart.
2) there are giant, paper cupcakes on the students’ heads.
3) the participants aren’t Mays students, and most have never taken a business course.
23 high school seniors found creative ways to showcase their business acumen during the Business Careers Awareness Program
Recently 23 high-achieving high school seniors were invited to take part in a weeklong crash course and competition at Mays called Business Careers Awareness Program (BCAP). Now in its eighth year, BCAP is impacting not just students’ lives, but the face of Mays Business School and (potentially) the marketplace. BCAP is open only to a select few of the brightest young scholars from the state of Texas from “underrepresented” populations.
According to Sonia Garcia, BCAP coordinator and assistant director of the Undergraduate Programs Office, “underrepresented” at Texas A&M means African American, Hispanic, and Asian students. But no matter what their race, Garcia stresses that the student must be highly qualified. Participants have to be exceptionally talented to be able to keep up during the strenuous program, which involves lessons from Mays’ best faculty and an extensive group project, which gives practical application to their class work. The conclusion of the week is a competitive presentation that amounts to an oral exam and marketing pitch rolled into one.
But the hours of toil are well worth the effort, say participants. Not only is the program all expenses paid, it is also an inside look into the world of business that most young people considering college do not have.
A tasty lesson
Working in teams of four, each group was tasked with the creation of a business plan for a unique restaurant in the Bryan/College Station area, taking into consideration all of the financial trappings of starting a new venture. Not only did they get to do the “fun stuff,” like filming a commercial and picking out the furniture and place settings for their store, they also did more technical tasks such as market research to support a sales estimate and preparing a series of operating budgets to estimate the costs of running their business for the first year of operation. These budgets formed the basis for a projected income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement.
On the final day of the program, students presented their group business plans to a panel of judges.
Though it is a fictional venture, the students’ numbers had to be firmly grounded in reality. Judges examined their financial statements closely on the final day of BCAP during the group presentations. Just like in the real world of business, fishy financial reporting was not acceptable.
Leo Flores drove up from Laredo to take part in BCAP. He says his father is in real estate, so he knew a little about business, but the experience was enlightening for him. “I’ve learned the basic outline of a business, the business plan, and what you need make sure to accomplish before you even start coming up with ideas,” he said. “Like your mission statement. What’s the foundation of the business is going to be? Because without that, it’s all going to break down.” Flores’ group won second place in the competition with their restaurant called JAM, a student hangout featuring open-mic performances and gourmet jams and breads. “Our idea was two things that have never really come together in a businessâ€¦we wanted a one-of-a-kind place,” he said.
After the week of classes and group work, Leo says BCAP gave him insight into what you need to do to have a successful business. “I have a really good head start on my future,” he says. Flores is now planning to pursue a business degree either in marketing or accounting, and is deliberating between A&M and the University of Texas, Austin.
Recruitment is key
Recruiting is a major component of the week, says Annie McGowan, associate professor of accounting at Mays. McGowan was the creator of BCAP and still works closely with the program.
Recruiting is a major component of BCAP
“I’m really dedicated to seeing the minority population here grow,” she said. “The retention rate for the program is about 60% each year. So 60% of the students come to Texas A&M, though not always to the business school.” Garcia and McGowan agree that 60% is a great number, when you consider that these students are “high-fliers”: Garcia’s term for students that can go to college just about anywhere they choose. “We had all award-winning professors participating in the program. We try to get the best faculty in front of them so they see what the quality of the education is like,” said McGowan.
McGowan says they also “like to expose them to the other education.” BCAP participants stayed in Traditions, a luxurious residence hall, and had time for an evening at the rec center, a movie at the Cinemark, a campus tour, and dining at many of the best student eateries in town.
“We treat them first class, with the expectation that they will remember Mays,” said Garcia. “I want them to leave this place with the sense that this is the “whole package.’ This is quality. If they come here, they’re going to get a great education.”
“Time and time again we hear “you have changed
my mind about A&M.'” – Annie McGowan, associate professor of accounting, Mays Business School
The program is free to participants. A large portion of the funding for BCAP is provided by Ernst & Young, which is also a major recruiter at Mays. “The value for Ernst & Young, and all of our sponsors is we hope that it improves diversity in their workplace as they hire our students,” said McGowan. “We want to get sponsors names in front of the students to get students interested in them early.” Other sponsors are Boeing, which provides money for the weeklong program as well as BCAP scholarships, and Shell.
McGowan hopes that BCAP not only interests the best students in a business education, but that it will also dispel some racial myths about the Texas A&M campus. Many times, African American students overlook A&M because of its lack of diversity and reputation for not being a welcoming place non-Caucasians, said McGowan. “Time and time again we hear “you have changed my mind about A&M,'” she said. “We want to give them a realistic view of what our campus looks like, and let them know that it is a friendly place.”
Changing the future, one student at a time
A college-bound high school senior has a lot of interrelated decisions to make: What are my talents? What are my professional goals? What should I major in? What college will be the best fit for all of my needs?
McGowan says it can be a daunting decision for young people to make. If they haven’t been directly exposed to business, they are not likely to choose that academic discipline. “A lot of these kids are not only trying to decide on what school to go to, most of them don’t know what they want to major in. And it’s hard to know what being an accountant is really like if you haven’t seen it,” she says. So to solve this problem, McGowan incorporates lectures from all of the business school’s departments, as well as a careers panel with question and answer time. “We tried to get people down on their level on that panelâ€¦.what are the jobs really like, how do you prepare for it. We’re trying to help them find their career path,” she said.
“I credit BCAP with a lot of things in my academic
and professional life.” – Jason George ’07, tax consultant, Deloitte Tax, Houston
The program was certainly helpful to Jason George ’07, who participated in BCAP in 2002 and found a path to a rewarding profession. After the week at Mays, George says, “I went back to high school for my senior year and took an accounting course, and that cemented in my mind what I was going to do in college: major in accounting and do the Professional Program in accounting. It was actually BCAP that sealed the deal for me to go to A&M rather than to that other school down the road.” George now works for Deloitte Tax as a consultant in Houston. He credits BCAP not only with sparking his initial interest in accounting, but also with creating opportunities for his success. “Through BCAP I made contacts at Ernst & Young that I would be recruited by later in college. I got to know some professors and leaders in the business school as wellâ€¦It opened a lot of doors for me, even before I got to college. I also got a scholarship from BCAP that was a tremendous help. I credit BCAP with a lot of things in my academic and professional life.”
“I had not considered A&M as a serious option until I came to this. I’m definitely going to apply.” – Emile Gerard, BCAP participant
For Emile Gerard, BCAP’s influence is just beginning. Gerard, who is originally from Mexico, participated in the program this year. He said he hadn’t really considered business or Mays prior to the program, but now he’s convinced. “I want to do something in the field of business,” he says, possibly in management, maybe even get his MBA in a few more years. “Before I came here I didn’t really know if I wanted to do business because I didn’t know what the classes would be likeâ€¦This has made me sure about the classes and it made me really like the school as well,” he said. “I had not considered A&M as a serious option until I came to this. I’m definitely going to apply.”
As I am writing this, one of the world’s biggest events is taking place and unfortunately, the U.S. is generally oblivious to its significance. Yes, I am talking about the European Football Championship — the one where Turkey had a Cinderella run to the semi-finals, where England did not even qualify, and where the Dutch were knocked out of contention in the quarter finals after a whippin’ by the Russians. It’s Spain versus Germany in the finals. You call it soccer. We call it football.
It is impossible to convey to most Americans how big this really is (even more so when we’re talking about the World Cup, scheduled for 2010 in South Africa). I tell them to imagine a rivalry as intense as Army vs. Navy football games, or UT vs. A&M, and multiply that by a factor two or three and scale it up to an entire nation. If the Dutch team is successful in a major international soccer tournament, people take vacations, businesses shut down on game days, and pub owners will paint not only their faces bright orange, but their buildings as well. Think St. Patrick’s Day, but on a larger scale. And the Dutch are far from unique in this respect. Legendary Dutch football coach Rinus Michels is famous for one very short quote: “football is war.” Football matches are ways to settle (or perpetuate) collective grudges, either because of a past war or because of a spanking in a match decades prior.
Fans turn out in large numbers for soccer matches across the globe, such as this 2006 World Cup match between Serbia-Montenegro and the Netherlands.
So why don’t Americans get this?
This is the million-dollar question at the heart of most cross-cultural miscommunication. Most of these questions are variations of the following question: Why can’t “they” be more like “us“? And upon immigrating here to the U.S., I have learned that nine out of ten times, this is the wrong question to ask.
It was the summer of 1981. My parents had made friends with an American, a civil engineer like my dad. He had visited us at our home several times and we liked Mr. Matt a lot. He invited me and my older brother to stay with him and his family in the United States of America, and my parents decided that it might be good for both of us to have that experience.
Of all the impressions I got during my visit — many of which are not very profound as I was a 7th-grader — there is one that is etched in my mind. My brother and I had just cleared immigration when we were met by Matt and his wife Dawn, there to pick us up. Matt showed us a smile of recognition, but Dawn’s greeting was a different story. A complete stranger to me, she opened her arms wide and looked like she was about to cry. She greeted me with the world’s biggest (and most suffocating) bear hug, as if I was her own long-lost child. My brother was fortunate to be able to avoid this awkward situation, because at 16 years old, he was a little too manly for such a greeting. But me, I bore the brunt of this strange expression of affection.
I realize now that it was a sweet response, possibly even genuine in some odd way, but certainly sweet. I did not get that at the time. I froze with panic. I thought to myself, who is this woman? What does she want? Why is she touching me like this? Everyone else just shakes my hand. And why is she asking me how I am doing? That’s not her business! A million thoughts raced through my mind. I was too confused to utter even a sound. But in that moment, everything I had ever heard about Americans, which seemed to revolve around them being superficial, was brought home in that incredibly uncomfortable moment. Dawn, of course, never had a clue.
“In terms of cross-cultural competence, I have come to realize that one never arrives; one either accepts or declines the journey.”
Three years later, in 1984, my family and I actually moved to this country when my father was reassigned to New York. I learned to say “nice to meet you” even when the words sounded completely hollow to me. After all, how would you know if it’s nice to meet someone at the time of the introduction? Wouldn’t it take some time to come to that conclusion? Of course, I interpreted others’ “nice to meet you” as a kind but otherwise meaningless gesture. Also, I quickly realized that Americans don’t really want to know how you’re doing, and that it can be very awkward for them when you actually tell them. In fact, I learned to have quite a bit of fun with that! You see, where I grew up, yes was yes and no was no. You say what you mean and mean what you say. And you don’t ask anyone about their business unless you have an established relationship that allows those kinds of personal questions, generally reserved for friends or close acquaintances.
It was the winter of 2002. I was back in the Netherlands for a vacation, visiting high school friends of mine (“friends” in the European sense of the word, not the American). They introduced me to a friend of theirs named Rob. Shaking hands was an awkward moment for me, because it felt as though I was supposed to say something beyond “hello,” but I couldn’t think what it was. So I said, in Dutch, “nice to meet you.” While Rob remained oddly quiet, my friends realized what had just happened. Pointing their finger at me, they burst out in laughter, basically saying, “You are soooo busted!” It was one of those moments I would prefer not to remember. Unfortunately, my memory seems to have a will of its own.
All of these experiences — and plenty more — have contributed to my interest in culture. They have made me realize that even though I may consider myself bicultural, I still will screw up, both in my home culture and in my host culture (not to mention other cultures). In terms of cross-cultural competence, I have come to realize that one never arrives; one either accepts or declines the journey. Mine has been unpredictable, painful at times, but overall, very rewarding. Depending on the circumstances, I now seem to end up on different sides of the “us” versus “them” divide. It is for this reason that this divide makes so little sense anymore, which is also why that question, why can’t they be more like us?, is such a fruitless approach when trying to enhance understanding across culture.
I have not yet put my finger on the right question to ask. If and when I do, I’ll write the book. But the Dutch have some folk wisdom that might be a good place to start. The saying goes: Verbeter de wereld, begin bij jezelf. It roughly translates as follows: If you want to change [improve] the world, you must start with yourself. My experiences have taught me to stop trying to “fix” the other. I can’t get all Americans to “get” the European Football Championship. But If I can get just a few students to start asking different questions about culture, I know I will have made a difference.
I’d love to keep writing, but I have to wrap this up now — the Euro 2008 Finals are about to start. Doei!
I am proud of Mays Business School. I love to tell people that I am associated with this great school, with its top-notch students, faculty, and programs. I was privileged recently to take a trip to New York City to represent our fine school and while I was there, I was able to spend some time with Mays students participating in the Aggies on Wall Street program. If our success as educators can be gauged by the students on this trip, then I’d say we are certainly doing something right. I was so impressed with the maturity level of our students as I saw them holding their own, interacting with executives from the world’s most prestigious banking and investment firms.
The Aggies on Wall Street program takes 20 top finance students on a two-week trip to New York’s financial district each year.
The Aggies on Wall Street program takes 20 top finance students on a two-week trip to New York’s financial district each year at the conclusion of the spring semester. This is an opportunity for our students to be exposed to careers available to them in that exciting city. It’s also an opportunity for them to network, as many former students that live in New York City are delighted to show the current students around their places of business in the financial and investment communities. And it’s an opportunity for us to showcase the high quality of our students and increase awareness about Mays. This trip has a ripple effect back to our campus, as businesses are more interested in recruiting our students once they’ve met this advance guard of our elite.
The wonderful thing about this program is seeing the Aggie network in action. Former students are very involved in the coordination of this program, and are willing to do what they can for younger members of the Aggie family. It’s encouraging to see them giving back in such a meaningful way.
While in New York, I was also very pleased to sit down with a reporter from BusinessWeek to talk about the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program. I am so pleased that Mays is partnering this year with other schools to offer this valuable program to our servicemen and women who have sacrificed so willingly for the cause of freedom. This program will truly change lives, and I was glad that such a well-known publication wanted to feature our involvement.
Programs like Aggies on Wall Street and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans are what makes Mays so special. People care about success here; not just their own success, but the success of those around them as well. That teamwork and sense of family are very unique. I couldn’t be prouder to call Mays my school.
Thank you for partnering with me in this exciting work!
Stanley Kratchman, a professor of accounting at Mays Business School, was recently named the recipient of the KPMG Mentoring Award from the American Accounting Association Gender Issues and Work-Life Balance Section. This national award is given each year to a teacher who has impacted the lives of women in accounting. The award will be presented on August 5, at the AAA annual meeting in Anaheim, California. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize.
Kratchman is in good company, as in 2005 fellow Mays Professor of Accounting Robert H. Strawser also received this award.
Nominated candidates are judged on two major criteria: significant mentoring of women in accounting as measured by the levels of achievement of those women; and a demonstration of mentoring activities for at least ten years. Kratchman has been an educator for more than 40 years, the last 31 of which have been spent at A&M. He was one of the original members of the university’s Mentor Program, a service that provides students with a safe haven for questions about anything from life, to relationships, to careers.
“Stan Kratchman has been a particularly dedicated and caring professor throughout his career,” said Jim Benjamin, head of the accounting department at Mays. “He is known for his enthusiasm for his teaching and he always makes the extra effort to encourage and mentor his students.”
Kratchman has guided the academic progress of female accounting students at all levels, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students. With Kratchman’s guidance, these students have gone on to successful careers in public accounting, industry, and academia.
Though many of his students have achieved tremendous professional careers, Kratchman says that to him, their overall happiness in life is a much greater indicator of their success than their job title.
Among his former students is accounting professor Susan Ivancevich at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. “Dr. Kratchman is absolutely a wonderful person and professor,” said Ivancevich. “He is extremely nice, caring, and always interested in his students as both students and people. He is patient, fair, approachable, highly ethical and is a superb mentorâ€¦I owe a good portion of my success to him, as I am not sure I would have finished my PhD without his help.”
Kratchman has done research in the area of gender issues in accounting, and says he’s seen a gradual shift in his academic career when it comes to women in the field of accounting. Where once women were seldom seen in his classes, he says now, they outnumber male students in the classroom. “This profession has gone from very, very male dominated in the 50’s and 60’sâ€¦now there are a lot of females in the field of accounting, but their movement up the ladder can still be very slow,” he said. Kratchman says that the biggest challenge now for some women in accounting is finding a balance for home and work life. “It’s a very demanding jobâ€¦it’s not a nine-to-five job. In large CPA firms, 60 and 70 hour work weeks are common.”
Kratchman has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching, including two Distinguished Teaching Awards from the Texas A&M University Association of Former Students. He has received awards for outstanding service to Mays Business School and a Teaching Excellence Award from the University’s Beta Alpha Psi Chapter. He has also received two certificates of merit for papers presented to the National Association of Accountants.