March, 2009 | Mays Impacts - Part 2

While retailers scramble to survive in this challenging economic environment, examination of best practices and new research is vital to finding smarter ways to do business. That exchange of ideas is the goal of two events to be hosted this week by the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.

On March 31, the center will host 40 professionals from the retailing industry for the annual Sponsor Forum. Speakers for this half-day event include representatives from accounting firm BDO Seidman, LLP, and marketing consultants The Richards Group. Delegates from the center’s sponsoring companies will make up the audience for this event, which also involves breakout groups for discussion of current issues in retailing.

The following day, April 1, will be the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series event. This year, Sam K. Duncan, chairman and CEO of OfficeMax, will be recognized with the Visionary Merchant award. A lecture for an audience of students as well as retail professionals and community leaders will follow.

“While the center is best known for its educational programs for students, a key part of our mission is to serve the retailing industry with new knowledge and continuing executive education,” says center Director Cheryl Holland Bridges. “The forum provides a unique opportunity to gather our sponsor partners together, so they can learn from keynote presentations and network among each other. The executive presentations continue the following day with the M.B. Zale Lecture. Over 500 students and invited guests will hear Sam Duncan’s message on leadership and personal success. In today’s economy, we can all benefit from hearing fresh ideas for success in business and in life.”

The M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series is open to the public. The lecture begins at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1 in Ray Auditorium of the Wehner Building.

About the Center for Retailing Studies

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) is committed to excellence in retail education, research, and service. The center’s programs prepare students for careers in retailing and provide retailers with outstanding graduates. The CRS was the first retailing center partnered with a business school and it remains the nation’s premier institution of retailing education. Housed in the Department of Marketing at Mays Business School, the center is privately funded by more than 35 sponsor companies from throughout the nation.

Categories: Centers

It is difficult to go anywhere, speak to anyone, or turn on the radio or television without hearing about the economy. These are indeed unprecedented times and will obviously have an impact on business schools across the world. I’ve heard a number of times—with an obvious trace of sarcasm—”this must be a great time to be dean of a business school.” People seem shocked to hear me say, “it sure is!” Here are three reasons why things are better than ever at Mays:

  • We have a wonderful opportunity to provide a dynamic education to our students. Our classes have shifted from relying on textbooks and published cases to reviewing the latest information in the most recent Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, and other publications. Our top quality faculty members are teaching not only what is happening but also the reasons it is happening, and facilitating discussions on what outcomes may emerge.
  • Our students have an unprecedented opportunity to be part of a major shift. Our graduates will not be moving into a “business as usual” world with well-defined jobs. They have a chance to be part of something challenging, innovative, and evolving. They will witness changes in companies and industries as they begin their careers and be part of the solutions. This type of opportunity isn’t for everybody…but it is for students who are hardworking, creative, and not afraid to seek a challenge…like Mays graduates.
  • Employers will still seek talent from their best sources. Interviewing activity on campus is down this year; reading about the large number of layoffs, closures, and other corporate restructurings, that should surprise nobody. However, as employers become even more discerning about where they invest their recruiting efforts, due to our preferred status with many top organizations, Mays Business School will continue to see interest from recruiters; This was evidenced by the 112 companies who participated in our Business Student Council career fair last month.

This economy certainly presents challenges to all of us. Our goal at Mays Business School is not to prepare students for their first professional jobs, but to prepare them for their careers. This mindset, along with the top quality education our students receive, serves them well, particularly in times such as these.

Categories: Deanspeak

After 45 years of teaching accounting at the college level, Stanley Kratchman says he’s thinking of retiring in 2010. Kratchman, a professor at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, says he does have a few concerns about the state of the economy, though. In 2010, will his investments be enough to live on?

Ray Garcia ’90 has enjoyed a successful career at PricewaterhouseCoopers for the past 18 years, working up to his current position as an audit partner in the Houston market. Garcia has guest lectured in college classrooms and says that he’s considered teaching after he retires from accounting practice in another ten to 15 years. Even if he does make that career switch someday, Garcia doesn’t think he’d opt to go back to school for his PhD. “I wouldn’t mind teaching as a lecturer,” he said.

These stories offer some insight into the dilemma facing the accounting world today: as baby boomer academicians continue to leave the market place for retirement, fewer and fewer young people are choosing to follow in their footsteps to pursue a career in accounting higher education. The result is a nationwide shortage of accounting professors with PhDs—most acutely in the areas of tax and audit. If the situation is not remedied soon, it could lead to a shortage of accountants, as schools will lack the capacity to teach the number of students applying to their programs, says Mike Kinney, associate professor of accounting at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Supply and demand

This isn’t a new problem, but rather, one that has been slowly building over the last 15 years as the number of accounting PhDs granted annually has fallen from about 200 in the early 1990s, to less than 100 today (see article link below for The CPA Journal). Currently, Mays graduates three to four accounting PhDs each year, making it one of the largest programs in the country, says Kinney. In fact, according to James Benjamin, head of the Mays accounting department and Deloitte Leadership Professor, A&M has produced more PhDs in accounting than any other school in the U.S. over the past twenty years.

“The demand for accountants continues to be high,” said Kinney. “Those that are interested in an accounting career are more inclined to go into accounting practice than to an academic accounting career. The opportunities in that field are just very good. The dynamic that creates is that as the demand for practitioners goes up, the demand for students goes up and the demand for faculty goes up as well, but there’s nobody particularly inclined to fill the demand for faculty because they’re all going to the practitioner side of the industry.”

As the numbers of PhDs fell, Kinney says accounting programs have filled their faculty ranks with lecturers holding CPAs and MBAs. While those instructors lacking terminal degrees are usually wonderful teachers, bringing in a wealth of real world experience, Kinney says that success in our graduate education and research missions may be compromised when there are too few faculty members holding PhDs.

While stressing the high quality of his lecturer colleagues at Mays, Kinney says he fears the transient nature that has been created in other accounting programs across the nation that are filled with those whose training is solely in accounting, not education or research. “They are often part-time faculty,” he said, indicating that many still continue in an accounting practice while teaching on the side. “They are not as committed to the university. They are not as committed to the profession of teaching.”

Kinney cited a recent study that showed the average age for accounting professors in the U.S. that have a PhD is 55; their average age for retirement is 63. “If you think about that, you see we have a critical window of time for us to turn this thing around before this mass of people retires…When these people retire, we’ll have lost the expertise to train the next generation.”

One major obstacle a prospective PhD student must overcome is the four to five years of career interruption, as well as the monetary consequences of going back to school. For an accountant making a six-figure income in practice, a $20,000 per year PhD stipend doesn’t likely sound appealing; on the other hand, due to the shortage, a new graduate with a PhD in accounting is virtually guaranteed a job and is likely to earn as much teaching as he or she did when doing accounting, with the benefit of the more reasonable hours of an educator.

“You have to have a passion for it,” says Kinney of his profession. “There’s an intellectual dimension to it that isn’t attainable in [an accounting] practice.  There are some real benefits to academic life, but those things aren’t always apparent to people in practice.”

Hope on the horizon

The American Accounting Association is addressing the problem with a new tactic: the Doctoral Scholars Program in Accounting, which starting this fall will provide support for 30 students each year. More than 70 accounting firms across the nation have joined forces to create the $15 million fund, which will dole out $30,000 per year stipends to selected applicants. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Foundation will manage the money. In addition to giving financially, the firms involved are also committing to recruit their top employees for the program, encouraging more accountants to consider going back to school.

“The Big Four firms have become more aware of the importance of what we do to their business model,” said Kinney. “They understand that without a supply of incoming talent that their business is constrained. So they’re more aware now that they need to partner with us in developing faculty.”

And there’s more hope on the horizon: Kinney says the downturn in the economy is helping lessen the problem as well. Professors that are near retirement may now choose to teach a few more years and put off retiring until their investments and the economy are more sound; and, as the economy shrinks and layoffs occur, many chose to go back to school, waiting out the financial storm in the halls of academia.

“The quality of our applicant pool for this year is the highest I’ve ever seen it,” says Kinney, crediting this shift in part to the economy. “There are a lot of professionals looking for alternative careers.” However, there is a space constraint within many accounting programs as the number of terminal faculty available to teach PhD students dwindles. “It’s largely not a financial constraint. It’s more of a human capital constraint,” he says. In 2008, six students were admitted into the accounting PhD program at A&M. Kinney predicts that the same number will be admitted in the fall of 2009.

“We’re trying to do our part to fix this PhD shortage. We’re trying to grow our program, especially in the tax area as we have some depth in that field,” says Kinney, who believes that A&M will continue to lead the nation for the number of graduates from their accounting program.

For more information

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories

For years, college students go to class, make good grades, and build their resumes in order to land great jobs. With a formula so simple, success should be easy, right? Wrong. Elise Hilgemeier, a finance major at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University is one of the many students around the nation feeling the crunch of unemployment as she struggles to find a job before her May graduation.

“You have to interview with more companies to be able to get the number of offers the same candidate would have received two years ago,” Hilgemeier said. “It is more work to search for and find companies who are hiring.” After searching for positions in several areas of business, Hilgemeier is still searching for that first job out of school.

“At this point, I’m still looking at all job offers,” she says.

As many jobless people in the U.S. can attest, having a degree from a top university doesn’t guarantee a full-time position in this economy. In January 2009, the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent, bringing the number of job seekers in the U.S. to a highpoint not seen in decades—thus increasing the competition in every industry.

While the economy shrinks as the pool of job hunters grows, new college graduates can improve their chances of finding a position, say the experts at Mays. Much of the advice holds true for job seekers at all stages, not only those with newly minted diplomas.

What job seekers need to know

Callie Schleider, business career coordinator in the Undergraduate Program Office at Mays, says she often sees students in Hilgemeier’s situation, weary and uncertain of their professional future. “A lot of students are coming in now, concerned about their GPR and their work experience or lack thereof,” Schleider said.

“The biggest challenge they face is making themselves stand out in such a competitive employment environment. That’s the key to landing a job in a time like this,” she says. Schleider had several tips for students as they begin their job search, including the importance of starting early and being well prepared for an interview. She recommends that students take full advantage of the Texas A&M Career Center, which offers resume assistance and reviews, job search strategies, interview preparation, networking advice, campus recruiting, and many other resources, including mock interviews and a career resources library.

Networking is a vital component of the job search, says Schleider who recommends job seekers consider opportunities available through family, friends, professors, former employers, and advisors. That was an important step for Nick Garrett ’08, an INFO/MIS major at Mays who is set to start a consulting position with Deloitte in July. “Today, so much of getting hired has to do with who you know. It’s important to make connections with anyone who could be a potential employer, so that you have a network to use in the future,” he said.

In addition to a solid network, Schleider cited communication skills as the number one thing that students must have when seeking a job; without them, you won’t even get to the interview stage. “Communication must be flawless in a pre-hiring situation. From e-mails to the way you answer the phone when a potential employer calls, it’s vital to be professional in every way,” she said.

Don’t be too picky

Don’t be too picky. That’s another key to finding a job, says Schleider, who tells job seekers to not be set on one specific position or industry to the exclusion of all others. “You might not be perfectly content with what the position is right now, but it is a starting off point,” she said. “Your first job is a stepping stone, and being too narrow in your search can be detrimental to finding a position.”

Marketing student Scott Niland ’09 agrees that you have to cast a wide net. “Take every opportunity that comes to you,” he said. “Even if it’s a company that you wouldn’t necessarily desire to work for, or your dream job. The experience that you gain from interviewing can make a tremendous difference.” Thanks to an internship this past summer, Niland will begin working for Anadarko Petroleum in June 2009.

Phaedra Williams, a recruiter for State Farm Insurance Company, visited the Mays Business Student Council spring career fair last month. You have to be extra aggressive in this kind of job searching atmosphere, she says. “You may have to work a little bit harder, but there are still a lot of employment opportunities out there,” said Williams. “It may not be your dream job right away, but most companies offer room to grow from that entry-level position to build a successful career. You have to start somewhere.”

Building a foundation for success

The recent career fair gave students the chance to talk to nearly 200 recruiters from thriving companies.

  • Take advantage of all networking opportunities.
  • Practice interviewing skills before the big day and have your resume reviewed.
  • Hone your written and oral communication.
  • Don’t be too picky—be open to all employment options
  • Start early. The sooner the job search begins, the better.
  • Use all of the resources available to you, including through the Career Center.
  • Stay determined and professional throughout the process.

Prior to the two-day event, the Career Center hosted an informational session, “Making the Most of the Business Career Fair.” During the presentation, Mills Menke with Shell Oil Company offered a number of tips for students to ensure a positive career fair experience. He pointed out the importance of researching each company before speaking to their recruiters, presenting a professional appearance, and the best actions to take when speaking to company representatives. Schleider emphasized Menke’s suggestion to follow up with every recruiter and after each interview, whether by e-mail or mailing a thank you note. Regardless of the medium, Schleider said it is critical to acknowledge the time taken by the recruiters to speak with each potential candidate.

Even in the current economic situation, Schleider says that there will be options for Aggies if they take the right steps in the job searching process. “Texas A&M University has fortunately, even with the downturn of the economy, remained a top school for recruiting. We have a history of producing good candidates, and I hear so often how our students are incredibly professional and prepared for our interviews,” she said.

She added that if the students continue to be prepared and take the right actions in the job search, there is no reason a job will not work out for them. “The only difference between now and any other time is that you don’t have an option: you have to be that much more professional, that much more prepared,” said Schleider.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Featured Stories, Students

Egypt: No hugs in mixed-gender greetings. Mexico: Double cheek kissing may be expected. The culture surrounding professional practices varies around the world and knowing those differences creates respect for the faculty and staff of the Center for Executive Development at Mays Business School, which provides custom programs for large, multinational firms such as Halliburton and KBR, as well as smaller organizations, like Houston Area Community Services.

Fully one-half of the center’s corporate clients are international. “They’re from all over. From Latin America, from Africa,” said Ashley Hilgemeier, program manager for the center. “This week alone we have people from Indonesia, Scotland, Brazil, and different parts of Europe.” Depending on the location and class size, frequently Mays faculty travel to present a course rather than bring the participants to campus, traveling to destinations such as, Russia, Egypt, Canada, and Malaysia.

The three-week course taken by Craig Anderson has attracted law enforcement officials from across the state to the Center for Executive Development.
The three-week course taken by Craig Anderson has attracted law enforcement officials from across the state to the Center for Executive Development.

“It’s great because it gives us a chance all around the world to showcase Texas A&M, which many of the participants have never heard of before,” says Ben Welch, assistant dean of education for the center and clinical professor of management at Mays.

Housed at Texas A&M University, the center is a big business: in the 2008 fiscal year, the center’s revenues exceeded $3 million, touching 1,222 participants at seven organizations through 60 weeks of programs (some programs run consecutively). All of this is accomplished with a small staff: five full-time employees, one part-time (Welch’s position is divided between the center and teaching in the management department at Mays), and a handful of student workers.

No matter where, people are the key element

“The key factor that we see in executive ed is the commitment that the employees have to be here,” says Welch. “They have a sense of humility and a great desire to learn everything they can.”

Welch sees the mission of his center as being closely aligned with the purpose of a university: outreach and education to many audiences, bringing the latest research to the business place where it can be applied. The CED routinely covers topics such as marketing, finance, and effective communication with its management clientele, incorporating information and examples specific to each company.

“Our purpose, our mission is to provide customized training in the area of executive education. We find out what our customers need and then pair our best faculty with them to meet those needs,” says Welch. “We cover all the disciplines.” Depending on those organizational needs, the center occasionally invites top faculty from other colleges within Texas A&M, as well as experts from beyond the university.

The center uses a variety of techniques and approaches to provide customized training in the area of executive education.
The center uses a variety of techniques and approaches to provide customized training in the area of executive education.

The center is focused on building the human capital of an organization, says Welch. “Your human capital is so much more important than your [financial] capital within the business, because it’s your human capital that creates your sustainability within an organization.”

From Halliburton executives in Russia to golf course managers for the military, the center’s staff sees a wide range of businesses represented in their classes. The common denominator among them all is leadership and maturity: most have a college degree and a minimum five years of supervisory experience; some have advanced degrees and have been with their companies for more than 25 years. “They bring a wealth of experience to the classroom,” said Welch, contrasting the executives with the undergraduates he also teaches.

Depending on the business location, it can be very expensive for a company to contract with the CED staff for this specialized training, so participants are handpicked by their organizations to participate. The average class size is 30.  Programs last from three days to three weeks, with the average being one week.

“In an economy where there’s such an economic downturn, what the company is saying to this employee is, “we believe in you and we believe in your contribution to our success,'” says Welch. “The company is making a financial contribution to that individual…the company expects to see a return on investment. They want to see how it will change them as a manager and leader.”

Cindy Bigner is Halliburton’s director of human resources for the Eastern Hemisphere. She’s spent 18 years with the company, the last two in Cairo, Egypt. Staff members from the CED traveled to work with her and others in her area for a recent program. “We have seen tremendous value from these courses and from having them both in College Station and within the regions of Eastern Hemisphere,” she says. “Every person who takes a CED course, without fail, tells me that it is the best course they have ever taken.”

“The training with the CED has played a part in many opportunities for me within Halliburton,” said Bigner. “It has shown me most of all how much the company cares about employees’ growth and development.”

No matter the location, language barriers are not usually a major concern, says Hilgemeier. Most of the participants speak English, as it’s increasingly becoming a business necessity, especially within the leadership of the company. The international aspect brings with it other challenges, though, as the staff must be sensitive to the customs of a wide variety of people.

Closer to home

Patrol cars cruising down dark alleys. Officers on foot, pursuing dangerous criminals. These are the images that come to mind when most imagine a career in law enforcement, but what about the less glamorous tasks? Financial spreadsheets? Scheduling?

Craig Anderson was a sergeant with the College Station, Texas, police department when he first came in contact with the CED. Anderson liked his job, but knew he wanted more—he wanted to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Mays and CED faculty members, such as Clair Nixon, hold classes in College Station and around the world.
Mays and CED faculty members, such as Clair Nixon, hold classes in College Station and around the world.

Not everything he needed to know for promotion could be learned on the job, said Anderson, such as how to create a budget or interact with the media. “As police officers, as we go through our careers, we need executive training to improve our skills,” he said. To achieve that end, Anderson took part in a three-week course offered through the CED that was tailored to Texas law enforcement officers.

The course was challenging, but Anderson says it was worth it. “It helped me out on things I needed to know so that I could move into a leadership position,” said Anderson, who made lieutenant shortly after completing the program.

In his current position, Anderson is often called on to speak publicly on behalf of his division. “The training has helped me develop leadership skills so that people can have confidence in the police department…I’ve taken those tools I learned in the classroom and applied them to my career,” he says.

Anderson’s advancement is the sort of story that excites Welch. “It’s all about people development,” says Welch. “We want each of [our participants] to feel that we have developed them as a leader.”

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories

For what or whom would you give all you have in exchange for self-imposed homelessness? What makes your heart ache?

In September 2008, I traveled with students in the Mays Business Honors Program to Washington, D.C. To say that this trip was life changing is an understatement. Although I thoroughly enjoyed our guided tour of the Pentagon, our private meeting with Congressman Chet Edwards’ assistant, and dining in Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ office, I was most impressed with a homeless woman. She lives on the sidewalk across the street from the front entrance of the White House.

Concepcion Picciotto has lived in Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Park since 1981 protesting against nuclear proliferation. [Image courtesy of dawvon]

A true champion for her cause, Concepcion Picciotto can be found every day in Lafayette Park, where she first took up residence in 1981. Her valiant message:  “Stop building nuclear weapons, and let’s use the money to eliminate poverty.” I expect this may strike a chord with some of you, but my intention is not to condemn or condone her proposition. Rather, I am intrigued by her selfless devotion to a particular cause for nearly three decades.

Over the course of twenty-nine years, Mrs. Picciotto has been harassed by police; She has been the subject of foul language from tourists; She’s frozen in the winter’s chill and sweltered through the summers; She’s even been physically abused by one of this nation’s servicemen. Yet you will always find her in her homemade tent. A milk crate serves as her makeshift bed and she survives only on what is given to her by local residents and visitors, whether it is a loaf of bread or pocket change. She suffers for her cause, but she does not complain. She rejoices in people willing to listen to her cause.

Picciotto is originally from Spain and is fluent in seven languages. I had the privilege of watching her give her message to a group of French tourists passing by one night. I had absolutely no idea what their conversation consisted of, but I remember feeling a strong sense of peace. I was content in watching this woman exercise her fundamental right to free speech amid persecution.

In reflecting on her dedication to halting nuclear efforts, I found myself searching for something in my life for which I would be willing to sacrifice the roof over my head. My stomach knotted over the answer that, at that time, I could not produce.

Ms. Picciotto inspired me to sit down and examine how my current ways will impact my future. Was I content with the direction in which I was headed? Did I really want to pursue the career I was working toward? Through a great deal of prayer, persecution, and grace, I emerged confident in the path on which I now walk. I know who I am willing to suffer for and rejoice in persecution.

For what or whom would you give all you have in exchange for self-imposed homelessness? What makes your heart ache? Most people avoid answering these questions because of the unpleasant feelings such convictions bring. I challenge you to consider this: Take away the car, the signing bonus, the diploma, the debit card, all of life’s conveniences, and are you content with the person staring back at you in the mirror? If I can find peace, surely you can too!

Categories: Perspectives

What’s at the root of our country’s economic woes? A lack of integrity, says Michael C. Jensen, emeritus professor of business administration at Harvard University. Jensen recently presented his theories about integrity and finance to an audience of faculty and staff at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Noted scholar Michael C. Jensen recently spoke to Mays faculty and staff about the relationship between integrity and finance.
Noted scholar Michael C. Jensen recently spoke to Mays faculty and staff about the relationship between integrity and finance.

Jensen’s definition of integrity is divorced from concepts of morality and ethics. Instead, Jensen says we should think about integrity more like the law of gravity; gravity is neither good nor bad, and if you attempt to violate that law, you will experience negative consequences.

“Something is in integrity if it is whole, complete and sound,” says Jensen in a summary of his presentation, “Putting Integrity into Finance: A Positive Approach.”

According to Jensen, “Integrity is closely related to workability because an entity or system that is out of integrity will not be whole, complete and sound. Workability is the bridge to value. The farther out of integrity, the less well any given entity will work.”

Jensen asked the audience to think about a wheel with broken spokes: the integrity of the wheel would be compromised, and therefore the wheel would not work. “Without integrity, nothing works,” he said.

Jensen says he sees a lack of integrity within the capital markets, where managers and CEOs are expected to manipulate financial reports. Jensen questioned how a system could function where such basic information cannot be trusted. In his theory, as integrity declines, workability declines; as workability declines, value declines as well.

“Integrity matters, not because it’s virtuous but because it creates workability,” he said. “Workability increases the opportunity for maximum performance, which is necessary for maximum value.” As an example of a lack of integrity, Jensen cited a study of employment contracts for major corporations’ CEOs; in 96 percent of these firms, Jensen says that if a CEO is fired for breach of fiduciary duty to the organization, the CEO must still be paid the full amount of his contract. “This is a system that is out of integrity,” he said, and the effects to the global marketplace are obvious.

“Without integrity, nothing works,” Jensen told the audience.

Mays Professor of Finance Don Fraser said he appreciated Jensen’s presentation. “It was an insightful way to relate his in-and-out of integrity concepts to the existing academic literature in finance. As such, it provided a new perspective on that literature,” he said.

A scholar of renown, Jensen has done pioneering work in his core field of finance, founding and serving as the first editor of the Journal of Financial Economics, one of the field’s leading journals. In his article about the performance of mutual funds in the Journal of Finance, he developed a new risk-adjusted measure of stock mutual fund performance now widely known as “Jensen’s Alpha,” a measure used throughout the financial world.

Jensen is also well known for his work on agency costs, exploring how corporate managers frequently act in their own best interests rather than in their proper role as agents of the shareholders. This opportunistic behavior can have dire implications for the marketplace.

Jensen’s scholarship has appeared in numerous publications such as American Economic Review, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Financial Economics, and Harvard Business Review. He has also testified widely before Congress and a number of state legislatures on proposed shareholder rights legislation, and has served on various corporate and non-profit boards of directors.

Jensen is the founder of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), and continues to serve as chair of its parent organization. SSRN has played a major role in electronically disseminating social science research.

Categories: Executive Speakers

How did you get started in business after you graduated? What’s the biggest business mistake you ever made? What advice do you have for students that are worried about finding a job in this economy?

These were a few of the questions students put to two executive speakers at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. Former students and highly successful businessmen Terry Hatchett ’68 and Brandon Coleman ’78 shared their accrued wisdom with current students at Mays during recent visits.

“You never know where opportunities will come from,” Brandon Coleman ’78 told students. “It’s about who you know, way more than what you know.”

Both men chronicled their professional highlights. For Hatchett, that included a 34-year career with Arthur Andersen, involving worldwide travel and progressive management positions such as managing partner and COO of Andersen’s North America division, responsible for $4.3 billion in revenue and 28,000 employees. Coleman’s path to success was more entrepreneurial: while working for an ad agency only a year out of college, this motivated Aggie started his own marketing firm. After 20 years of success he sold the firm to a New York marketing conglomerate and has been consulting with select clients ever since. In three decades of leadership in marketing and brand development strategy, Coleman has represented more than 600 clients in a variety of industries.

During his visit, Coleman addressed an audience of more than 300 students in an introductory management class, as well as a more intimate group of 20 Business Honors students. Hatchett met with two small groups of students in the Professional Program. Each invited students to ask questions about their business and life choices, willing to share, as Coleman put it, “WOMA: Wise Old Man Advice.”

“What has made you so successful?” one student asked Hatchett. He answered with an example:  When the Medicare program was created in 1965, it was not well understood by people in the marketplace. He had an interest in the program and so conducted research on its audit implications, inadvertently becoming known as the expert at his firm on the subject. As the program continued to evolve, he was frequently asked to speak to medical offices and hospitals. “It’s really having something that makes you stand out that makes you successful,” said Hatchett.

He counseled students to pay attention to marketplace trends and learn all they can about the next big thing before everyone else. His advice as to what is coming down the line? “Bet on China,” he said.

Terry Hatchett ’68 (right) advised students to stay on top of marketplace trends and focus on “having something that makes you stand out” from their competitors.

But his best advice to the audience was to avoid ethical quagmires that fill the marketplace. “When in doubt, tell the truth,” said Hatchett.

Coleman’s advice focused on new ventures as he reminded students of the opportunities that lie in challenging economic times. “It’s a great time to launch a new business,” he said, encouraging students to keep a positive outlook, as that is a key to success in any circumstance.

When students asked for advice about landing a job in this economy, Coleman’s response startled some: work for free. Offer to take an unpaid internship if that’s what lands you with a great firm, then work hard and prove yourself. Put some skin in the game and do whatever it takes to be noticed. You may not always be rewarded with a great job, but you’ll have learned valuable lessons and made contacts that can propel your career.

“You never know where opportunities will come from,” he said, recounting how a chance conversation with a businessman at a party helped launch his first business. “It’s about who you know, way more than what you know. You don’t get a chance to tell what you know until you know somebody. Then you’ll have a chance.”

Coleman’s biggest message to students was, “There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. You never do it by yourself. It’s impossible…Nobody does it by themselves. It’s all about other people.”

In 2005, both Hatchett and Coleman were honored with Outstanding Alumni Awards from Mays Business School. Both men have contributed generous financial gifts to Texas A&M and to Mays over the years for scholarships and faculty support.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

According to many researchers, the key to stimulating a struggling economy lies in increasing domestic investments, not in providing a tax holiday for U.S. multinational firms. Roy Clemons, doctoral graduate from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, is one supporter of this claim. Recently, his research on the pros and cons of enlisting a tax holiday for U.S. businesses operating overseas has been a focus in the media and was cited in a debate on the Senate floor.

Clemons’ 2008 dissertation focused on a tax holiday for repatriation provided under the Jobs Act of 2004. With the help of Mays Associate Professor of Accounting Michael Kinney, Clemons studied the results of a previous congressional decision to cut U.S. multinational firms a break when they decided to send their foreign profits back to the United States (repatriation). The tax holiday decreased the tax rate paid by these companies tremendously, enabling foreign investing companies to retain a significantly larger profit. The downside to this, notes Clemons, is that though firms appear to have responded to the opportunity to reap tax savings from the Jobs Act, they didn’t use the funds to increase domestic investment. Thus, the research suggests that the tax holiday was ineffective in achieving the Jobs Act’s intended objective of increasing domestic investments.

Congress recently considered bringing back the tax holiday for repatriations, causing controversy on the Senate floor. On February 3, a provision to grant a repeat of the tax holiday offered under the Jobs Act of 2004 was debated, citing the research of Clemons and Kinney. Clemons also provided his opinion on how his research should contribute to the future of the U.S. international tax policy. “Senators from both sides of the debate indicate that the U.S. international tax policy will be reformed, and my research provides Congress with empirical data to evaluate the deficiencies that exist under the current U.S. international tax system,” said Clemons. “Fixing ineffective policy would help U.S. firms to become more competitive, and it would also help the government to use its resources more efficiently.”

Congress denied a resurgence of the tax holiday for repatriations granted under the Jobs Act of 2004, placing Clemons’ research in an influential role that helped settle the debate. The research contributed to the argument that the current system encourages firms to shift their income to low-tax jurisdictions to avoid U.S. taxation. Clemons feels that existing tax deferral for repatriations will soon be eliminated from the tax code under President Obama’s economic plans.

Categories: Research Notes

Hiking through miles of dense rainforest in well-worn boots, greeting a family of monkeys as they swing from tree to tree, climbing higher and higher until your head spins and each breath is a challenge. For Scott Hudgins “12, an accounting major at Mays Business School, this was winter break.

After finishing the last of his final exams, Hudgins packed his bags for Africa where an incredible adventure awaited him—one that few college students get to experience. After twenty hours on an airplane, Hudgins and his father, Jack ’81, landed in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital city, where they would start their climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. Often referred to as the Crown of Africa, at 19,331 feet, this dormant volcano is the highest peak on the continent.

Mays accounting student Scott Hudgins '12 (right) and his father, Jack '81 (left), spent nine days ascending Mount Kilimanjaro this past December.
Mays accounting student Scott Hudgins ’12 (right) and his father, Jack ’81 (left), spent nine days ascending Mount Kilimanjaro this past December.

Before they even hit the trail, they began the trip by roughing it. Hudgins and his dad rented a room at the city’s nicest hotel for the evening: a cubicle featuring a full-sized mattress just over an inch thick, a tiny bathroom, and no air conditioning.

The next morning, Hudgins donned his climbing gear, loaded up his backpack, and met with the two Tanzanian guides to begin the nine-day climb. The team typically climbed for seven to eight hours each day, stopping at strategically placed campsites only for necessary meals and sleep. On the longest day, Hudgins and his team climbed for eleven hours, skipping a campsite.

Starting in the tropical rainforest, Hudgins ascended into five climate zones before reaching the mountain’s summit on December 23. He described the weather of the desert-like scenery as very hot during the day and incredibly cold after sunset. When they finally reached the mountain’s summit, Hudgins and his father were welcomed with woven bracelets by their guides who exclaimed, “You’re part of Africa now.” For Hudgins, this acceptance into the culture was the best part of the journey.

After some rest and time for pictures at the campsite, the climbers left the barren rock landscape of the summit and began their trek downward, where Hudgins boasts that he raced his guide and completed the descent two days ahead of schedule.

Hudgins saw more of Tanzania than just the mountain, where he witnessed poverty filling the streets of the capital city. “There weren’t enough tiny huts to house the amount of people living in Dar Es Salaam,” he said. The city’s pollution is another major issue; many American cars were visible on the streets, but without the filters for fuel and exhaust that keep them environmentally friendly in the U.S.

Another disparity Hudgins noticed was the lack of opportunity for Tanzanians to achieve professional success. “Our guide was incredibly intelligent, speaking five languages. If he were in the U.S., he could really make something of himself, but it’s much more difficult in Tanzania. The opportunities just aren’t there,” said Hudgins. “These people really look up to us and admire the things that our country does. I was asked “If the U.S. doesn’t lead the world, then who will?’ It was then that I realized how much other nations rely on us for support, and that despite all of the negativity associated with the U.S. right now, we really have so much to be thankful for.”

So what’s next for the outdoor adventurer? Hudgins says he and his dad plan to trek to the base of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. They are also considering an expedition to the North or South Pole. But for now, it’s back to school and work for the climbing duo. Hudgins’ father Jack, who graduated from Mays with a degree in accounting, is a CPA in Amarillo. He is a partner in the accounting firm Hudgins Crosier Sumpter, PC.

Categories: Former Students, Students