Magic. That’s how Theresa Mangapora describes the outcome of the Mays student project Aggies Collecting Dollars for Cans (ACDC). The students involved in ACDC collaborated with A&M campus dining services to enable university students to donate unused money in their meal plan accounts to the Brazos Food Bank. In the last week of the semester, the effort netted $4,119 in donations. “They saw an opportunity that had been wasted,” said Mangapora, executive director of the food bank. “All the pieces fell into place…they were able to make magic happen.”

Every $1 contributed to the food bank purchases five pounds of food, says Mangapora, who estimates the student’s contribution to be about 20,000 pounds, or one semi truck-full. That’s roughly a seventh of the food bank’s monthly quota.

Almost 600 students participated in community service activities this semester as part of the sophomore-level Integrated Work Life Competencies course at Mays, doing everything from making sandwiches to staging dachshund races.
Almost 600 students participated in community service activities this semester as part of the sophomore-level Integrated Work Life Competencies course at Mays, doing everything from making sandwiches to staging dachshund races.

Team ACDC and 80 other student groups (nearly 600 students in all) were performing community service as part of a sophomore-level business class, Integrated Work Life Competencies. When tasked with the creation of $1,000-worth of value to a charitable organization, the response from Mays students was varied: some chose to build ramps for the disabled, others chose to mentor at-risk youth. The student-led projects taught participants a variety of lessons, from teamwork to professionalism to communication skills, but it impressed upon them one thing more: the value of selfless service.

At the end of the semester, all of the groups presented at a service fair, showcasing their achievements to judges and competing for scholarship money. Each member of the top four teams won a $250 scholarship for their upcoming semester. Team ACDC and three others were chosen.

Team En Fuego

The members of Team En Fuego assisted the Brazos Animal Shelter with organizing with their annual Wiener Fest fundrasier.
The members of Team En Fuego assisted the Brazos Animal Shelter with organizing with their annual Wiener Fest fundraiser.

When it came time to decide where they would focus their efforts, the seven members of Team En Fuego didn’t have to discuss their options for long. “We all had a keen interest in animals,” said group member Christopher Reed ’12. That shared passion led them to work with the Brazos Animal Shelter. The organization immediately put them to work, adding them to the planning committee of their annual fundraiser, Wiener Fest. Group members met their $1,000-goal by helping to organize and execute the event, which this year had nearly triple the attendance of previous years and raised $47,000.

“It was more fun than work,” said Reed, who values the event planning experience he received through this project. He says he was pleased that the event was so successful, as the increased profits will be used to purchase more land for the shelter to expand their facilities.

Mays 6.0

Members of Mays 6.0 sold peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the Wehner Building to raise money for meals for children in Kenya.
Members of Mays 6.0 sold peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the Wehner Building to raise money for meals for children in Kenya.

Mays 6.0 fed the hungry, starting within the Wehner Building. Partnering with the recognized A&M student organization The PB&J Project, group members sold peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to raise money for meals for children in Kenya. Students manned a table in one of the main halls of Wehner over the lunch hour for several weeks, encouraging their classmates to give up their lunch money (and any other change they possessed). In return, students received a PB&J and the privilege of providing a meal for someone in need. The team contributed $1,040 of value to the organization through their labor. Over the semester, the project collected more than $2,500.

The project hasn’t ended with the final grade. Like many other students in the class, Kevin Gilmartin ’12 says that he and group members plan to continue the effort next semester. “We want to see how much we can raise and how far this can go,” he said. “We don’t want things to go back to normal.” Gilmartin says it struck him when he heard that for $1.50, he could provide a daily meal for a child in Kenya—for a month. He’s spreading that message through the PB&J Project, telling his classmates that it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a difference in the life of a child.

Team Capace

Team Capace members donated time to multiple=
Team Capace members donated time to multiple projects at a local retirement community, including staging a show with some of the community’s residents.

Team Capace group members gave of their time at Waldenbrooke Estates, a retirement community in Bryan, Texas. Over the course of the semester they facilitated an annual Meet Your Neighbor mixer for the residents and also planted an herb garden in memory of a former staff member of the facility. The bulk of their time, however, was spent creating a play tailored for the residents.

The activity started as an acting class, but the residents were interested in putting on a show. The students complied: They spent several weeks writing a script, collecting props and costumes, creating simple set pieces, and rehearsing the cast of 10.

They called the 20-minute show “A Very Gilligan Thanksgiving” (the residents chose the theme). Due to illness, two of the residents had to be replaced with students on the day of the production, but still, it was a hit. “Every chair was filled,” said team representative Nida Haq ’12, who estimated about 75 were in the audience. Both the participants and the audience loved it, she said. “That’s how we rated how successful our project was.”

Haq says that what started out as a class assignment evolved into something more over the six-weeks her group was active at Waldenbrooke. “It was a good bond. It wasn’t only community service. It was a relationship,” she said

To read more about the Integrated Work Life Competency class projects, see “Selfless service in the classroom” (MBO, November 2009).

Congratulations to the winning teams:


  • Autumn Sheridan
  • Marissa Seiter
  • Michael Stover
  • Ashley Hagood
  • Brian Spittell
  • Brooke Stockton
  • Christopher Reed

  • Allison Arizaga
  • Scholle Brown
  • Frances English
  • Clark Fiedler
  • Nida Haq
  • Meagan Lanier
  • Zack Springer
MAYS 6.0

  • Jenna Bonisolli
  • Kevin Gilmartin
  • Tyler Guinn
  • Dana Hall
  • Jared Hunt
  • Eric Mejia
ACDC (Aggies Contributing Dollars for Cans)

  • Brian Bunyard
  • Aaron Ebers
  • Liz Roberts
  • Emily Colbert
  • Candace Gilman
  • Aryn Akin

Categories: Programs, Students

The first day on the job is exciting as a new employee learn the ropes and the way around the office. There are dozens of fresh faces and it is easy to be swept away in the rush of new experiences. A few months later, the new job has become more like the old job and the employee often finds himself back where he started: wondering if the grass is greener someplace else.

Why is it that the novelty of a new job wears off so quickly? Does the company need to keep employees as excited about their workplace on day 100 as on day one?

Wendy Boswell, associate professor of management, Mays Research Fellow, and Director of Center for Human Resource Management and Abbie Shipp, assistant professor of management, collaborated to take a deeper look into the nature of this process and the measures employers might take to lessen the effects of the let down after the initial high.

According to research by Mays management professors Wendy Boswell and Abbie Shipp, employee satisfaction with a job tends the peak after three to six months after joining an organization.
According to research by Mays management professors Wendy Boswell and Abbie Shipp, employee satisfaction with a job tends the peak after three to six months after joining an organization.

The researchers’ paper, “Changes in Newcomer Job Satisfaction Over Time: Examining the Pattern of Honeymoons and Hangovers,” breaks the new job experience into two phases: honeymoon and hangover.

“The goal of this study was to understand what happens when you join an organization that leads to that decline in job satisfaction…how can organizations mitigate people from having a hangover, or at least better understand why it happens,” said Boswell.

In their article, Shipp and Boswell explored the attitude shift in a set of new employees over the course of one year. The sample group of new employees came from a public service organization in the southwestern United States, and were surveyed at four points throughout the year: the first day, and the three-, six-, and twelve-month marks. The surveys assessed the new employees’ levels of satisfaction both with their previous places of employment, as well as with their current position.

The research indicates that it’s fairly typical for an individual to go through the honeymoon to hangover process, though the severity of the shift from high to low varies between individuals. The employees that the Mays’ professors found to be the most at risk for a steep decline in satisfaction were those who came to the new job with baggage from their old job. People started the new job feeling deep dissatisfaction about their previous job will more likely feel a greater let down after the newness wears off because they felt the new job would be such an improvement. They’ve set themselves up with unrealistic expectations, says Boswell.

The data they gleaned from this study indicated that the peak of a new employee’s job honeymoon tends to be between three and six months. Shipp reasoned that this makes sense, as it is during this period that a new employee is no longer apprehensive about beginning work, and the realization of his or her permanence in the organization is finally setting in.

One of Boswell and Shipp’s hypotheses was that greater socialization would have a role in preventing the hangover. This turned out not to be the case. The organization where the research was conducted took several steps towards making socialization important, including a first-day new employee orientation and planned activities and social events throughout the first year. The surveys revealed that even well socialized employees experience the honeymoon to hangover shift.

After examining the data, Boswell says it seems that job satisfaction has more to do with the individual’s attitudes and previous experiences than the managers’ efforts. Also, the honeymoon to hangover process is a natural occurrence, and does not necessarily represent a problem. “Even if you’re really enjoying what you’re doing and contributing to the organization, you may still experience this decline,” she says.

In fact, the absence of a rise and eventual decline in enthusiasm could indicate a problem, says Shipp. If an employee doesn’t exhibit those signs, it may be an indication that he or she is less engaged and more likely to leave the position.

Instead of trying to prevent a hangover, Boswell suggests that managers could do more to re-recruit their employees—in essence, give them a second honeymoon.

This opens the door for more research, says Boswell, who will pursue further studies to understand the relationship between the honeymoon and hangover cycle and its impact on employee retention.

Categories: Faculty, Research Notes

When it comes to her poetry, Tina Sylvester ’05 doesn’t wait for the muse whisper inspiration: her pen is for hire. Sylvester is an award-winning performance poet and her business, Tina B. Poetry, specializes in weddings, memorial services, and corporate events. She recently performed an original piece at the Aggie 100 luncheon hosted by Mays’ Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.

What is performance poetry? Simply put, it’s poetry composed to be spoken in front of an audience. The performance aspect includes dramatic vocal and physical interpretation and can be enhanced with music, dancers, props, costumes and sets. It’s related to rap and hip-hop music and is regaining popularity mostly among African American audiences, where it started in the 60s and 70s.

Sylvester’s road to a career as a professional poet has been unconventional. She earned a bachelor’s degree in construction science at A&M in 2005 and went to work as a project manager for Linbeck L.P. While she enjoyed the work, she began struggling with some personal issues about the same time. A friend took her to a poetry slam (a competitive event for performance poets), which inspired her to purge some emotion through words. She won the first slam she participated in, and soon she was being recognized in poetry circles as an up-and-coming artist.

Mays marketing grad student Tina Sylvester '05 started a career in construction management, but discovered a different calling after a few years.
Mays marketing grad student Tina Sylvester ’05 started a career in construction management, but discovered a different calling after a few years.

In 2007 she officially created her business while continuing to work in construction management. She says she didn’t intend to pursue it professionally, but it was something she couldn’t get away from as word spread about her skills. “It started as an accident,” she says. “Now it’s bigger than me.”

In addition to the performance part of the business, Tina B. Poetry also sells custom created art called Poetic Paintings®. Customers can submit a picture to be turned into an artistic rendering, featuring Sylvester’s tailor-made poetry. She’s also working on a book and a CD.

Can you really make a living as a poet? Sylvester says yes. In fact, the top performers in the craft are paid very well for their talent. She’s currently a full-time student in the MS in marketing program at Mays, operating Tina B. Poetry on the side. Already, she has more business than she can handle alone. After she completes her degree in 2010, she intends to work in the entertainment business (dream company: Harpo Productions), where she can learn the business and make connections that will help make Tina B. Poetry a greater success.

Deeper than her passion for performance or her desire to succeed in an entrepreneurial venture, Sylvester says she wants her poetry to touch others. “I write not only for myself for creative expression, but I write to give hope and inspiration, and positive motivation to other people,” she says.

More information

Find out more about Sylvester’s business, including clips of her performing at

Categories: Students

You want to succeed in business?

Then don’t learn how to manage people, learn how to serve them.

That’s the advice of Texas entrepreneur Joe Tortorice ’70, founder of Jason’s Deli. Tortorice says servant leadership is the backbone of the corporate culture he’s so proud of, and the secret behind the success of his sandwich-making venture. “How do you get people to follow you? I believe it’s to serve them,” says Tortorice. Do more than merely pay them well: through encouragement, humility, and generosity, help them to live well.

“How do you get people to follow you?” Joe Totorice ’70 asked Mays students during his guest lecture. “I believe it’s to serve them.”

People frequently ask him, “Joe, where do you get your people?!” He loves when others recognize his outstanding employees, but his response is always the same: The same place you get them. It’s what happens to them after they join the company that makes the difference.

Like the Jason’s Deli Fishing School, named for the “teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” adage. The Fishing School offers free classes on life skills to employees at every level—financial planning, marriage enrichment, spiritual and physical wellness. “You’ve got to do something other than work to be better at work. To be more effective at work, spend more time with your family…. you’ve got to balance your family, your health, your spiritual, and your professional areas,” says Tortorice, who believes that’s as true for him—president of the company—as it is for the hourly wage earner mopping the floors or making sandwiches. When you help your people to accomplish their goals, then they will do all they can to help you accomplish the company’s goals.

“You can have everything you want in life, if you will just help other people get what they want,” he says, quoting Zig Ziglar. “You have to get buy in from your people. How do you get buy-in so that they will follow you? By being humble and constantly encouraging them, and by being a generous person…Generosity is one of the great business secrets of all time.”

That mindset is evident in the Jason’s Deli Leadership Institute, a management-training program that takes line workers without a college degree and turns them into store managers. Nearly a third of his managers come through the program, a point of pride for Tortorice, who sees it as an opportunity to change lives—not only for the employee, but for his or her family, as well. The Leadership Institute also offers courses for managers on topics such as emotional intelligence—a trait that Tortorice feels is invaluable in creating the environment of service leadership he strives for.

“We’ve got to produce more for less and with greater speed than we’ve ever done before. The only way to do that in a sustained way is through the empowerment of people. And the only way to get empowerment is through high-trust cultures and an empowerment philosophy that turns bosses into servants and coaches.”
Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf

Even in a recession economy, even though there are many, many places where one can buy a sandwich, Tortorice says the business continues to thrive. He chalks it up to service—and not the your-order-is-right kind of service. Serving customers to him means crafting a menu that is more than delicious, it’s also healthy: the chain has eliminated MSG, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup from their food, and many of their ingredients are organic. He admits it costs more to do business that way, but he believes it’s the right thing to do. He’s worried about the childhood obesity epidemic—”Do you know that kids today are the first generation predicted to not live as long as the generation before them?”—and his commitment to healthier menu offerings is part of his contribution to solving the social problem.

His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed: earlier this year, Parents magazine listed Jason’s Deli second on their top ten best fast-casual family restaurants, based on their nutritious and value-conscious kids menu.

  • Set a vision for your organization and then remove obstacles in front of your people’s goals to accomplish that vision.
  • Serve yourself first. Leaders are readers. Improve yourself daily.
  • Continuously encourage others.
  • Always remain humble. Listen to your people and heed their suggestions.
  • Practice caring spirituality. Pay attention to your inner restlessness and need for purpose.
  • Be generous.
  • Emotionally connect with others.

Tortorice started out managing a sandwich counter at his father’s dry cleaning store; today there are 215 Jason’s Delis in 28 states, including his first store in Beaumont, Texas. He says he never dreamed his business would get so big. “I started out just to make a living, to make ends meet, and somehow by the grace of God, we’ve had some good things happen to us.”

Spirituality is an important element to Tortorice’s business, as he says, “Grateful people can’t be unhappy.” He opens meetings with prayer and posts inspirational thoughts, appropriately called “daily bread” in each of his stores. He encourages employees to be thankful—to realize that all of the good things around them aren’t accidents, they’re blessings. “Start your day out giving thanks for something. I do, and it’s made a world of difference for me.”

Joe Tortorice is about more than making sandwiches, or making money. As a servant leader, he says he wants to bring joy and enthusiasm to his people. “We’re in the people business,” he says. “Our product just happens to be sandwiches.”

Joe Tortorice holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Texas A&M University. He recently visited campus to address students at Mays Business School.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

When Phil Pace ’86 was nearing graduation from A&M with a degree in finance, he was offered two jobs: one at an investment bank and the other at an energy company, where he would enter an engineering training program. The banking job paid a few thousand dollars less, but sounded like it might be a better training ground for his career. “I grinded over that decision for months,” he said, eventually settling on the banking job where he hoped he’d “learn a little bit about Wall Street, a little bit about energy,” and then figure out what his career ambitions really were.

“Boy was that a good decision,” he says today, 23 years and billions of dollars in energy trades later. He recently visited Mays Business School to talk to finance students about how to manage a career in commodities trading.

“If you haven’t been humbled by the market yet, you will be…,” Phil Pace ’86 told students during a recent visit to Mays. “That’s how you learn.”

“The best traders know the business. You’d be amazed at how much money gets whipped around by people who don’t know an MCF from a barrel,” Pace told students as stock information flashed around the screens surrounding them in the Reliant Energy Securities and Commodities Trading Center. “You don’t want to be the guy or the gal who doesn’t know the difference between an MCF and a barrel.” Learn all you can about the business now, he told students, because your employers are probably not going to give you time to learn all the things you need to know to be great. Pace practices what he preaches, arriving at his office before dawn each day to read up on all of the business news from around the world.

“Know what you know. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Because you’re competing with people who do know,” he says, telling students that the market is brutal when it comes to flushing out people who don’t know what they’re doing.

“In this business, you cannot fake good performance and you cannot hide bad performance.”

Also, learn how to use Excel like a pro, he recommends. It’s an indispensible tool for analyzing the market. “You’re going to need every trick you can find” in Excel, as well as PowerPoint, because in this business, you’ll use it almost every day.

While Pace has had plenty of good days in his career—and has made a great living in oil and gas—there were plenty of bad days, too. Sometimes the stock you’ve been recommending goes from $35 to $10 per share in a day, “and you just want to crawl under a rock,” he says. But that’s the nature of high finance. “You will make disastrous mistakes. I promise. It will happen. You’ll step into something and shake your head and think “how did I get here?'” And that’s okay, as long as you can do two things:

  1. Be humble. Own your mistake. “If you haven’t been humbled by the market yet, you will be…that’s how you learn,” he says.
  2. Be logical and rational in your decision-making, so that when a stock blows up, you can defend your actions. “Be accountable to your ideas.”

“The measure of your success is how well you hold up when you make mistakes,” he told students. “Everyone is gracious in good times.”

Most of all, remember that trading is a business full of ups and downs—you might make a million one day, and lose two the next. You can’t let the market determine your level of happiness in life. Instead, you’ve got to find balance, separating work from the rest of your life and shrugging off the things that are beyond your control.

Pace has built a career as an analyst at several major banks such as Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and Lehman Brothers, where he worked for one week before they went bankrupt. His experience at Lehman Brothers is part of what convinced him to start his own business with fellow Aggie business partner Robert Chambers ’89. “We decided not to tie ourselves to investment decisions made by people 1,000 miles away,” he said. Over a year ago, Pace “retired,” enjoying six months of leisure (an activity he’d hardly had time for previously) before joining Chambers in the start up investment venture Chambers Energy Capital, where he wears the title of managing director.

Despite his success, Pace hasn’t forgotten his roots, keeping active with Mays. Though he currently lives in The Woodlands, he hosted the Aggies on Wall Street group several times in NYC. In 2005, he and his wife Linda established a business excellence fund at Mays to support and enhance programs and opportunities in business.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

You have two options: You can either be the kind of person that meets adversity head on and makes things happen, or you can be the person that sits back and watches while others change the world. Fred Rusteberg ’68, president and CEO of IBC Bank in Brownsville, says he chose the first option years ago. Now, looking back on a long and successful career, he says there are at least four key elements young people need to focus on to develop their lives and careers: work ethic, attitude, hunger for success, and integrity.

A strong work ethic is something he learned growing up on a farm and also while serving in the Army. Right after finishing school (a finance degree from A&M and an MBA from Texas Tech University) he headed to Korea as a U.S. Army officer, where he spent six to eight hours a day in the cockpit of a helicopter. “One of the times that I dreaded the most turned out to be one of the more rewarding times of my life,” he said of his years in the service. As an officer, he also learned much about leadership. “I learned more at a young age than many of my peers did about how to manage people. It was a wonderful opportunity.”

“Success can be defined in many ways,” said Fred Rusteberg ’68, president and CEO of IBC Bank in Brownsville. “Over the years, it has been proven that success has less to do with super-talent and more to do with identifying an opportunity and being able to seize it.”

He had long dreamed of becoming a banker, but life had other plans for Rusteberg when he left the military. He settled his family in his hometown of Brownsville, Texas, amidst a serious recession, and despite his education and experience, he couldn’t find a job. Then his infant son developed serious health problems, requiring a lengthy hospital stay that wiped out their savings. “Sometimes we need adversity in our lives to help spur us on,” he says. “It makes you find your inner strength.” Rusteberg’s hunger for success was ignited by this challenge, as he explored every company in Brownsville looking for a job, despite loads of rejection.

Eventually, his son recovered and Rusteberg became the assistant director for the port authority of Brownsville—far from his original dream job, but he says it was a valuable parallel experience. The job required frequent trips throughout the Republic of Mexico and daily interactions in Spanish, both of which served him well when, years later, he was offered an opportunity as a lender in banking. Subsequently, he had the opportunity to start a branch of IBC bank in his hometown as President/CEO, where a majority of the customers were Hispanic.

“There’s no place to hide when you’re the CEO, especially of a start-up,” he said, recounting the management challenges he faced when he took on the position. “When you’re the CEO, people expect you to have all the answers, even if you don’t exactly have all the answers,” he said. The hours were long while, over time, he and his team helped create a great bank—one of his proudest career achievements. IBC-Brownsville, with 15 branches in Cameron County, is now celebrating its 25th anniversary of high-performance banking and service to the community.

As he grew the banks, his management, investing, and lending skills grew as well. One of the keys to getting your people to give their all to the company is ownership, says Rusteberg. That’s why his officers receive stock options, so that they have an ownership interest and commitment in improving every aspect of the bank, from a piece of litter in the lobby to portfolio and earnings performance.

Rusteberg proudly bragged on his bank: In the financial turmoil of 2009, 106 banks have closed in the U.S., and a further 400 are on the FDIC endangered list. His bank and company, however, are still highly profitable and have a spotless track record of safe lending and investing practices. In October 2009, his bank was recognized with the Gibraltar Award from the National Bankers Association for its strength and strategic investment practices through the years. His parent corporation (International Bancshares Corporation) was ranked #11 out of all U.S. banks by the American Bankers Association’s Banking Journal for its strength and prudent business practices.

Besides work ethic, attitude, and hunger for success, Rusteberg says he’s built his bank on integrity, and that’s one of the reasons it’s standing strong today. “I can’t over emphasize the importance of integrity, because integrity can never be compromised…customers and employees entrust their money, their businesses, and their future to us…If you violate that trust, you’re done, and if you show consistent integrity, together with the other necessary values, you will build a valuable franchise.”

“The privilege of a great education is accompanied with a great responsibility. You’re going to be trusted to do the right thing. And you can’t just do it once, you’ve got to do it consistently, all the time. Every day. There are going to be temptations in any business. But if you err on the side of being conservative and in doing the right thing, it always pays off positively for the long term.”
— Fred Rusteberg ’68

“One of the great values and traditions that is instilled at Texas A&M is the volunteer ethic: giving back, adding value to our business, our community, our world, and helping future generations coming up,” said Rusteberg. He stressed the importance of community involvement at IBC: he expects all of his officers to hold leadership roles in at least three community organizations. “We do more,” is the slogan of IBC Bank. It seems to be Rusteberg’s personal motto, too. He has held leadership roles in numerous groups dedicated to improving the community of Brownsville and the region, including co-founding the Brownsville Economic Development Council, and co-chairing the “Imagine Brownsville” Task Force, which created a comprehensive 10-year plan for the city. In addition to economic development, he is also active at the University of Texas-Brownsville, where he has provided scholarships and served on the development board for 14 years, three of those years as chairman. He has a vested interest in the region, as his grandfather moved there 103 years ago and his family has made a home there ever since, helping the international region to successfully develop.

His circle of service also includes Mays Business School. Rusteberg visited several classrooms on a recent visit to guest lecture, giving advice to the next generation of business leaders. “You’re very fortunate to receive a wonderful education. Now, what are you going to do with it?” he asked students. “You’re going to be successful, and at some point, you’ve got to share your knowledge. You’ve got to give back.”

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

For the middle school students involved, the lessons were about personal investment and budgeting. For the college students, the lessons were about communication, planning, time management, and the benefit of volunteerism. Nine students from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University donated their time in local classrooms over a six-week period this fall to teach middle school students basic lessons on personal finance and stock investment.

Students from two local middle schools visited the Reliant Energy Trading Center as part of a field trip mark the end of a six-week course on personal finance and stock investment led by Mays students.
Students from two local middle schools visited the Reliant Energy Trading Center as part of a field trip mark the end of a six-week course on personal finance and stock investment led by Mays students.

“It’s always good to have a diverse group of students coming in to tell them about college,” said Amanda Mann, a teacher at A&M Consolidated Middle School, one of two schools to participate. In addition to science, Mann also teaches the class that Mays students visited, the AVID class, or Advancement Via Individual Determination. Economically disadvantaged but academically gifted, many of the AVID students will be the first in their family to attend college. Mann hopes the class will prepare them for the rigors of advanced courses in high school that will propel them into college. Mann says that her students respond differently when she tells them they should start planning for college than when A&M students tell them the same thing: they take it more seriously when the Aggies say it.

The Mays course and stock contest was the brainchild of Brett Muller ’09, a Professional Program in Accounting with concentration in finance student. He had heard of a similar program at another university and was inspired to try organizing one at Mays himself—not for class credit, but because he wanted to do something that would help others. Muller led the team of Mays students as they prepared the lessons, presented each Wednesday at A&M Consolidated and College Station Middle Schools. His co-leader was Silvio Canto ’09, also in the Professional Program studying finance.

Part of the course focused on stock investing. Each of the middle school students followed a few stocks throughout the course to chart its gains and losses using They had the opportunity to trade once a week. Muller says they didn’t get into financial statements or ratio analysis. Instead they instructed the middle schoolers to take a very common sense approach: “What products do you like? What company makes those products? Chances are if you like a product, somebody else is going to like it, too, and it will be a good investment.”

When they weren’t watching the DOW, the students were learning how to budget and save, how the economy affects them, and some very basic business etiquette, such as handshakes and phone calls.

Muller says he hoped the students would come to understand that business isn’t all stock swaps, it’s about every day investments. He held Warren Buffet up as an example, telling students about Buffet’s first investment when he was 14. He and a friend bought a pinball machine and placed it in a barbershop. Soon they had enough money to buy a few more machines. That lesson made sense to one participant, who, when asked what she learned through the course replied, “I learned that I should budget my money wisely and not spend it all so that I can be rich when I retire.”

“Interest is good for your savings,” another student added. “And make money, don’t spend it.”

The course concluded with a visit to Mays and a final lesson and awards ceremony in the Reliant Energy Securities and Commodities Trading Center.

“It was a ton of work and I’m glad it’s over, but I had a fantastic time doing it,” Muller said. “The kids were amazing…they exceeded my expectations in every way.”

Muller interned with PricewaterhouseCooper’s office in New York City in Spring 2009 and will return for a job when he graduates this December. Thanks to his connection to the firm, he was able to secure sponsorship from PwC, which provided prizes, tee shirts, and a pizza party for the 27 middle school participants.

Categories: Programs, Students

Mays student places 1st in national WSJ competition

Being an early riser benefitted Drew Carden ’10, who placed first in the nation in a solo event at the annual Fisher School of Business Biz Quiz in November. Hosted by Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, the Biz Quiz tested participants’ knowledge of material in six-weeks’ worth of The Wall Street Journal. Fifty-four students from 18 colleges and universities from across the nation participated in the event. Carden says to prepare for the event, he woke up early to read the Journal for two hours every morning for a month.

The 2009 Mays Biz Quiz team (left to right): Corey Walter '10, advisor Risa Holland, Jeremy Knop '10 and Drew Carden '10
The 2009 Mays Biz Quiz team (left to right): Corey Walter ’10, advisor Risa Holland, Jeremy Knop ’10 and Drew Carden ’10

Carden placed first in the marketplace competition, which taxed his memory on only that section of the newspaper. There was also a team event at the Biz Quiz, in which the Mays team (comprised of Carden and two others) placed 5th out of the 18 competitors. The Mays team jockeyed for position against several of the nation’s top colleges including Emory, University of Texas, and SMU.

In addition to individual preparation on the part of the team members, Risa Holland, the team’s advisor, quizzed the students on WSJ content each week. “I am very proud of our students,” said Holland. “They represented Mays extremely well and have confidence they will continue to excel in their coursework and after graduation.”

Members of the 2009 Mays Biz Quiz team were Corey Walter ’10, finance, Certificate of Trading and Risk Management Program; Jeremy Knop ’10, finance; and Drew Carden, “10, Professional Program, finance track.

INFO grad students sweep regional IT competition

What’s the value of IT management? Ask graduate students from the Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MS-MIS) program at Mays: a team from the program won a regional case competition on the strategic value of IT management, held in Tucson, Arizona, on November 12.

(left to right) Lakshminarayan Subramanian, Bedanta Talukdar, Beth Lipton and CMIS director 'Jon Jasperson
(left to right) Lakshminarayan Subramanian, Bedanta Talukdar, Beth Lipton and CMIS director ‘Jon Jasperson

Mays’ team beat out competition from the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of Arizona to qualify for the international competition finals. In May, the team will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete in the final competition at the CA World 2010 symposium.

Congratulations to the members of the winning team: Beth Lipton, Lakshminarayan Subramanian, and Bedanta Talukdar.

Marketing students take the top spots in university-wide sales contest

Forty-eight students from across the A&M campus participated in a collegiate sales contest called Aggies exSELLing, hosted by Mays on November 7. The event was open to all majors and tested the participants’ ability to perform in a mock business-to-business sales setting. Two marketing majors, Garrett Cathey ’11 and Lauren Heintzelman ’11, nabbed the top spots, taking home prizes of $1,000 and $700 respectively.

They faced stiff competition not only from other marketing majors, but also from members of the agriculture and industrial distribution programs. Each participant was judged by a panel of industry representatives from companies such as PepsiCo and Hormel Foods, who ranked them on their ability to sell a given product to a hypothetical company. Students had the opportunity to network with the representatives, and each also received a certificate of completion for competing.

Categories: Students

The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has forged a new partnership with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), one of the most respected real estate think tanks and member organizations in the nation. Headquartered in Washington D.C., ULI is the premiere organization for real estate developers. The Real Estate Center at A&M has replaced Rice University as ULI Houston chapter’s academic partner.

Center Director Gary Maler says this sort of relationship has been his goal for the Center for many years. The partnership will be valuable to the center as it will allow for closer relationships within the development community, as well as to the organization as the center provides them with the latest market research.

The purpose of the center is to improve decisions about real estate; a purpose that Maler says will be advanced through this new partnership. The two groups recently sponsored their first annual Forecast Conference in Houston. More than 530 real estate professionals attended.

Maler will also now serve as a member of ULI Houston’s executive committee.

Categories: Centers